Jambo, friends! You may remember that Tusker House in Animal Kingdom was a popular character buffet prior to the COVID closures. Well, it’s back with a few changes and modifications. It’s still as good as ever and we’re here to tell ya allllll about it! In our review, we’ll be dishing out all the info you’ll want to know such as the location, atmosphere, meal and menu offerings and character interactions, as well as our tips for booking your reservations, plus a few more tricks to help to make the most out of your experience. I hope you’ve come hungry because you’re going to need a big appetite for this post!
Overview of Tusker House Restaurant
Tusker House is located in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. Specifically, you’ll find it in the heart of Harambe in the Africa section of the park. In order to get to the actual restaurant, you’ll have to pass by the Dawa Bar. Look out for this sign and covered patio area. For reference, this is across from Tamu Tamu Refreshments. If you’re new to Disney, you can use the map and directions features found in the My Disney Experience app to help guide your way. Also, don’t be shy. You can ask any cast member and they will be more than hoppy to point you in the right direction.
Once you pass under the covered patio area at the Dawa Bar, you'll see the host stand. You’ll need to check in here prior to being seated. Or you can use the My Disney Experience app to do a virtual check-in. On the day of our visit, we didn’t end up waiting too long for our table. But if we would have, we’d surely grab a cool drink and a table from the Dawa Bar to help pass the time (may we recommend the Safari Amber or a Ngumu Jungle Juice — made with Tusker's famous Jungle Juice and vodka!). This waiting area is outside, but it’s a bonus that it’s covered and shaded.
When our table was ready, we got a text notification to return to the host stand. From there, we were escorted around the corner to what kind of felt like the back area of the restaurant but was actually the entrance. Once we made our way around the corner, we found ourselves in a super immersive courtyard made with a stone pathway filled with African architecture, decor and artifacts. We really felt like we have stumbled across an African eatery in the heart of Harambe!
Tusker House's Atmosphere
Upon entering the restaurant, we were greeted by a friendly cast member, and we were swiftly escorted to our table. On our way, we just so hoppened to bump into Donald Duck! He was busy greeting other guests, but he gave us a big ‘ol wave as we passed by. He, of course, made his way to visit us a little later, and we got to spend more time with him then. But keep reading because we’ve got all the details about the characters further down in this post!
The interior of the restaurant was warm and inviting. We noticed a lot of earth tones in the paint, flooring and decor. The tables and chairs were finished in a rich espresso stain, and we felt like we had arrived at an African open-air market. Beautiful artifacts were hanging on the walls and ceiling, and every room of the restaurant had its own unique vibe. Animal Kingdom gets one of our top spots for the best theming in all of Walt Disney World, and Tusker House Restaurant fits right in regarding the atmosphere and theming. There are so many details to take in that you just won’t be able to see it all in one trip. (All the reason to book another Disney trip, right?) The interior is unique and beautiful but casual — no need to dress up here. You’ll fit right in with a T-shirt, shorts and mouse ears!
Dining Information at Tusker House
As we were seated, we noticed simple place settings and a QR code to scan to view the menu. QR codes are being used in place of the regular menus for reduced contact. While we were looking over the menus, our waiter brought each of us a glass of ice water and explained what we could expect throughout the dining experience.
Tusker House Restaurant is practically open all day! It currently offers character dining for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This is the only character meal at Animal Kingdom and is one of the six character meals available now at Disney World. As mentioned before, this used to be offered as a buffet. Now the entire meal is served family-style. Disney calls this an all-you-care-to-eat meal, as you can request more of anything you’d like!
The menu is a prix-fixe, meaning that you’ll pay a fixed price for your meal. For breakfast, this price includes a pastry basket and fresh fruit for starters, followed by a giant breakfast platter for the main course. The lunch and dinner price includes a three-course meal with an appetizer, main course and dessert. Alcoholic beverages are an additional charge. For breakfast, the prices of the meals are $42 for adults and $27 for children. Lunch and dinner prices are the same: $55 for adults and $36 for children. Gratuity is not included in the cost, so you’ll need to account for that.
We love the food options at Tusker House. The food is delicious, but the menu also includes foods that are unique and different. The dishes are African- and Indian-inspired. You’ll find dishes that include curry, Moroccan spices and Berbere. If you’ve got picky eaters, there is no need to stress. The food options include enough family favorites to keep most hoppy such as pastries and bread, Mickey (and Simba!) waffles, macaroni and cheese, plus meat and veggies.
Tusker House Menu for Breakfast
The breakfast meal begins with a pastry basket complete with Safari bread, multigrain croissants and cornbread served with whipped butter, chocolate-hazelnut spread and strawberry preserves. There’s also fresh fruit with a honey yogurt sauce. The main course is a huge breakfast platter filled with scrambled eggs, Mickey and Simba waffles, Durban chicken, and egg curry, and served with Jasmine rice, bacon, sausage and roasted potatoes. A plant-based version is available upon request. Talk about yum!
Tusker House Menu for Lunch and Dinner
For our visit, we went for dinner, but the lunch and dinner menus are actually the same! Our meal started with the bread service. This included assorted house-made breads, crispy and delicious papadam bread and three spreads. The spreads were red pepper hummus, chimichurri coriander and mango chutney, and we thought all three were very good. This is similar to the bread service that you can get at either Sanaa or the Nomad Lounge. But let us be the first time to point out that it’s bottomless when you get it here! You can enjoy all the bread service you want while at Tusker House, and of course, our two tadpoles took up that offer. We’d usually encourage them not to fill up with bread before a meal, but hey, we’re on vacation!
The bread service was quickly followed by a bright and fresh salad. This is the African-inspired Arcadian Green Salad. It is served with a citrus vinaigrette dressing and a little bowl of veggies: the Kachumbari. Kachumbari is a Kenyan fresh tomato and onion salad. We appreciated having something green and healthy to balance out all of the other rich foods in the meal. Not to mention, it has such a pretty presentation!
Now, for the main course! Let’s just say that Tusker House delivers in the protein department. The meats were delicious! All of the meat dishes were served together on a large platter. This included three different types of protein: Moroccan-spiced beef, spit-roasted herb chicken and Berbere-marinated pork. The meat is served on Jasmine rice and a green bean, carrot and corn medley. There are roasted potatoes as well. We thought the beef was cooked to perfection and all of the sides were very flavorful. Our favorite was toadally the Moroccan-spiced beef, and we ordered several rounds!
The side items include a house-made macaroni and cheese and a Cape Malay green curry shrimp. The macaroni and cheese was a welcomed favorite and one that our little frogs loved. It was thick and creamy and made their frog tummies hoppy! On the other hand, Leap and I could not get enough of the Cape Malay green curry shrimp. Talk about flavor ... if you like curry, this is the dish for you! The shrimp were big and juicy, and the curry, veggies and rice were almost addicting. This was the winner of the whole meal!
Don’t forget that you can ask for more of anything. Seriously, bottomless mac and cheese?! Certainly! You better run (don’t walk) and make your Tusker House reservation STAT!
Dessert Menu at Tusker House
I know it seems like an impossible feat, but we did save a little bit of room for dessert. And I’m so glad that we did because the desserts did not disappoint. The menu lists the desserts as animal-inspired mini desserts. This includes three mini desserts, and each of the offerings is fun, colorful and tasty!
The cupcake isn’t too unique. It’s your basic vanilla cupcake with buttercream frosting. The ears are super awesome, though! Leopard-printed chocolate mouse ears?! Yes, please!
The Flourless Honey Bee Cake was Lily’s favorite. It's photogenic, and the flavor was unique too. It is made of layers of real honey filling, between flourless chocolate cake. It has a light and fluffy consistency and was a fun treat to try!
The last dessert, the Tree of Life Brownie, ended up being our top favorite. This dessert is a chocolate-y fudge brownie, rolled in green tea and coffee flakes. It also has the cutest decorations on the top which include a white chocolate Tree of Life, and chocolate and meringue mountains. These desserts were frogtastic!
Characters at Tusker House
OK, now onto the most exciting part of our meal — THE CHARACTERS! We love being able to interact with Disney characters and having personal experiences with them while dining over a delicious meal. It almost doesn’t get any better! At Tusker House, you’ll be able to visit with Donald (the host) and his friends, Daisy, Mickey and Goofy. All of the characters are decked out in their safari gear. It looks like they’ve just returned from a safari, and we can’t get enough of their cuteness!
The characters each made a stop at our table and were very interactive with their animated personalities. They greeted us with open arms, big waves, happy dances, air hugs and kisses. Each character made themselves available for distanced photos. Character experiences are still modified right now, so we weren’t able to touch, hug or get an autograph from the characters. But traditional character greetings will be returning as early as April 18! We don't know if this will apply to character dining just yet, but we're hopful it won't be too long until they can properly dine with us again.
Keep in mind that you’ll want to have your camera ready. There aren't any Disney PhotoPass photographers here to take your photo. If you’d like a family photo, you may ask the character attendant. They may be able to snap a photo or two for you. Just ask nicely.
During the time of our meal, we felt like we had plenty of time to visit with the characters. A few of the characters stopped by our table at least twice, and we also saw the characters perform a fun dance throughout the restaurant.
Our Final Thoughts About Tusker House
We loved our experience at Tusker House and highly recommend it to anyone who loves character meals, likes to try unique and different foods or has a big appetite and is looking for generous portion sizes. On the flip side, Tusker House might not be the best fit if you’re on a tight budget, have super picky eaters and are not looking to spend an hour or two for a sit-down meal.
Tusker House is a very popular dining location, and reservations can fill up quickly. You can make dining reservations 60 days in advance, and we highly recommend that you do just that. Be sure to mark your calendar or set a timer on your phone, so you’ll remember to make this reservation 60 days out. You can make a reservation on the Walt Disney World website, the My Disney Experience app or by calling (407) 939-3463. We'd opt for the website or app, as the dining line can have long waits.
If you are unable to score a reservation, don’t stress about it too much. You can keep trying! Many times, other parties cancel and you’ll be able to snag an open reservation closer to your trip. If you’re willing to be flexible, we’ve been able to snag reservations a day or two before our visit. You can also try to join the walk-up list. You can join this as soon as you enter the park by joining on the app, or by stopping by the restaurant early on in the day and asking if they have any walk-up availability. The earlier in the day you do this, the better your chances.
Tusker House does honor DVC and passholder discounts, which will score you 10 percent off your meal.
In sharing our experience, it’s no secret that we are big fans of the Tusker House Restaurant. We think the food offerings are really tasty and unique. We also like how this character meal offers food much different from any of the other character meals on Walt Disney World property. Our character interactions were fantastic and allowed us special time and photo opportunities without having to spend time in long lines at the parks. It’s also great that we can see characters here at breakfast, lunch and dinner! Overall, we think you’ll have an enjoyable dining experience here, with delicious offerings that appeal to every member of your squad — and once you have hoppy bellies, you can hop right over to the Kilimanjaro Safaris to continue your adventure!
So, do you plan on adding Tusker House to your Disney World itinerary? What questions do you still have? Drop them down in the comments below. We love to help you plan your most magical vacation. Until next time, Kwaherini! Go well, froggy friends!