Where to Eat: Lunch at Tusker House in Disney's Animal Kingdom

December 8, 2015, 1:37 PM · My family recently visited Tusker House for lunch after completing the Jingle Jungle 5k that morning in Animal Kingdom. We certainly had big appetites after the race and Tusker House seemed like the perfect place to refuel! We had an 11:45 AM priority seating and were promptly checked in. We were surprised to see, though, that instead of receiving a pager, we were asked for a cell phone number and were told we would get a text when our table was ready. I guess this is a good thing if you plan to wander around the shops in the area (or visit the nearby bar, which had some interesting “morning cocktails” - watermelon mimosas, anyone?) but we went directly to the back where the entrance is located.

Another change since our last visit was that there is no longer a family photo opportunity with Donald outside - he greets guests inside now with everyone else. This was fine for us but I can see how people might be disappointed if they had the Memory Maker, as none of the characters inside came around with a Photopass photographer. Within minutes of checking in, we received our text message and returned to the host stand.

Tusker House

Tusker House has two seating areas: the large, main area, and a smaller room with about 20 tables total which is off to the side (closer to the restrooms). We were in the smaller room, which was fine with us (it was quieter - as quiet as a character meal at Disney can be, anyway). Our only issue in this room was several small windows up near the ceiling that did not have window coverings on them. As the sun streamed in, our little corner table became quite warm and sunny but we opted to not switch as we were already settled and halfway through our meal when it first occurred.

Our server was a lovely woman from Japan who was extremely efficient. We never had to ask for refills and she returned frequently to remove plates. We were very pleased overall with the service.

Tusker House is set up like an African marketplace, with the buffet arranged in stations throughout a large, open area in the center of the restaurant. The plates and bowls are on shelves just below the food, which makes it easy to hop in and out of each area and choose what you’d like without having to wait in a long buffet line. Right in the center is the dessert section. To the left are breads, spreads, and salads, and to the right are the main courses and side dishes. It’s well organized and we never had to wait for anything except the carving station.

We arrived just as breakfast was ending, so we were able to sample some of the breakfast dishes before they were removed. The Mickey waffles were a welcome surprise for our three-year-old daughter! Despite the fact that breakfast had started almost four hours prior, everything we tried was still hot and fresh.

The lunch offerings were different than our last visit but still good and everyone was able to find something they enjoyed. Some of the food at Tusker House is more on the exotic side - several curry dishes come to mind. This should not deter you from trying this restaurant - they have plenty of variety and many familiar dishes as well. At the carving station, a chef was slicing sirloin beef and a pork loin. Both were perfectly cooked on the fire-roasted spits that line the back of the buffet area and while they had some spice to them, they were mild. There were also coordinating sauces to up the flavor even more. In addition, there was salmon, rotisserie chicken, roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes, rice, vegetables, and my personal favorite, mealie pap (a cross between grits and a corn pudding). There is also a kiddie buffet (plenty of adults were helping themselves to this, as well) with corn dog nuggets, macaroni and cheese, corn and carrots, sauteed green beans, and sandwich fixings. Everything we tried was perfectly cooked and replaced frequently.

The dessert selection was good, although not as extensive as previous visits (the lemon bars were definitely missed). They offered a selection of cookies, chocolate lava cakes, carrot cakes, fruit tarts, coconut macaroons, and a few other items. All the desserts are small, allowing you to sample multiple things. There was also fresh fruit salad. I do feel like they could have added some more choices to the dessert bar - some self-serve soft ice cream would have been great.

Daisy Duck

In addition to the delicious food, one of the best reasons to visit Tusker House is the opportunity to visit with your Disney favorites in their safari clothing with no lines! Donald, Daisy, Mickey, and Goofy all visit your table, often multiple times. They will sign autographs, pose for pictures, and interact with your family (especially Goofy - he was lots of fun). It was great to see all of them and not have to wait in lines in the parks to see them. However, I wish they would consider adding Minnie to the rotation. It felt strange to have Mickey there without Minnie. Our three-year-old loves Minnie and it would have been just perfect for her to meet Minnie at the same time.

Tusker House is a great restaurant to visit while at Animal Kingdom. It has good food, great character interaction, and it is the perfect location to walk out after a meal and go see Festival of the Lion King or take a ride on the Kilimanjaro Safaris.

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Replies (3)

December 8, 2015 at 4:15 PM · Tusker House is an amazing place- the food is very delicious and it is diverse but not too exotic. I would probably call it one of the top 3 best eateries at WDW.
December 8, 2015 at 5:05 PM · Great article highlighting one of the best kept secrets on WDW property! Tusker House is a must do for my wife and I on every single visit. It saddens me that it rarely gets the attention it deserves when places like Teppan Edo get rave reviews. I attribute that to the somewhat exotic menu but as huge curry fans from New York we love all the offerings. If you're looking for delicious and unique food, in a beautiful setting with excellent service, and the opportunity to meet and greet with characters without the usual madness, then Tusker House is tough to beat.
December 9, 2015 at 12:32 PM · Tusker House has a great bar. Several times we have had drinks while the Jungle Jammin parade passes by. If you're not looking for a character meal but want the African flavor, catch the 5 minute bus over to the hotel/villas and try the Boma buffet or Sanaa which is Indian-influenced, absolutely delicious, and has views of grazing animals outside the restaurant windows. One of WDW's very best dining experiences.

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