There is one place in all of Walt Disney World to meet Mickey, Donald, Goofy, and Daisy living their best safari lives. Trust us when we say you don’t want to miss them and the meal they accompany.
When visiting Animal Kingdom, Tusker House Restaurant is the character dining experience available that is also well-themed to the park.
At Tusker House (located in the heart of Africa), you can book a buffet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
This is a unique character dining option thanks to the costumes, theming, and food. You get to meet Donald and friends wearing their best safari outfits!
We’ve eaten here several times, including when the restaurant switched to all-you-care-to-enjoy family-style meals during the pandemic.
But, now that Tusker House is back to its original buffet service, we thought it was time to visit here again in 2023 and see how the character dining location is holding up.
It’s important to note that the dinner buffet served here is exactly the same as lunch. The breakfast buffet is, obviously, different. So, if you’re debating whether or not to book lunch or dinner at Tusker House, know that the characters, food, and pricing detailed below are exactly the same.
Here is our review of Tusker House.
Tusker House offers character dining featuring Donald, Daisy, Mickey, and Goofy in safari attire. Meals here are served buffet-style.
Location type: Buffet-style character dining
Type of food: African, American
Meals Served: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
Seating Available: Indoor
- On the Disney Dining Plan? Yes, 1 Table Service credit(s)
- Pros: Lots of good food (standard breakfast items, various African dishes available at lunch and dinner).
- Cons: On the pricier end of restaurant prices at Animal Kingdom, service can be inconsistent.
- Tips: This is probably the most popular dining reservation at Animal Kingdom. Be sure to book 60 days in advance, particularly if you want the much-coveted 8 a.m. breakfast reservation.
How we got a Tusker House dining reservation
Tusker House is probably the most popular dining reservation to get at Animal Kingdom.
We recommend (like we do with most dining reservations at Disney World) making reservations as soon as you can.
Reservations for all the restaurants at Disney World currently open up exactly 60 days in advance — and you should book dining as soon as you can.
Grabbing dining reservations at Disney World is extremely competitive. We were somehow lucky enough to snag a lunch reservation for Tusker House 47 days before our trip.
You never know when there will be availability, but the most surefire way to get any reservation is booking 60 days before your trip begins.
Other ways to score a Tusker House dining reservation
Set dining alerts
If you don’t get a Tusker House reservation or want to try to book one last minute, try setting up a dining alert.
Reservation finding services are built to constantly check for openings at restaurants that you choose. Depending on the service, you can receive an email and/or text alert or a push notification when something becomes available.
You can also keeping checking yourself to see if anything opens up. We’ve had a lot of luck with this method. Trust us when we say reservations become available all the time — even the day of!
Join the waitlist
Many Disney World restaurants also have a waitlist option that you can either join in the My Disney Experience app or in person.
If you don’t have luck snagging a reservation, this might be your next best bet. But, keep in mind, it’s not always a guarantee.
Like with many Table Service restaurants across Disney World, you are able to check in for your reservation 20 minutes prior using the My Disney Experience app.
We actually ended up checking in 6 minutes after our reservation time due to Heather and Felicia wrapping up touring plans with and without Genie+ at Animal Kingdom.
We always recommend showing up on time (a few minutes early is a good thing too) for any reservation, but Disney typically holds your dining reservation up to 15 minutes after your scheduled dining time. If you’re later than this, they can and will reallocate your table to other diners.
After checking in via the app, we went up to the check-in desk (which you can find next to Dawa Bar) to make sure we still had our reservation since we were late – and we did! We walked into the restaurant at 1:10 p.m.
What’s included at Tusker House lunch and dinner
Let’s take a look at what’s included during lunch and dinner at Tusker House…
The all-you-can-eat lunch and dinner buffet at Tusker House includes:
- Beverages (select non-alcoholic drinks are an additional price; all alcoholic drinks cost extra)
You meet four iconic Disney characters in safari outfits (they all sign autographs and you get an autograph card to take home):
Who doesn’t want to meet classic Disney characters wearing safari gear? They are the cutest.
The characters at Tusker House include:
We met each character once. But, like with most every other character meal on Disney World property, the characters come around multiple times.
Don’t worry if you’re in the buffet line, using the restroom, or anything like that, because you will get to meet each character.
What we loved about meeting the characters at Tusker House is their meet and greets were perfectly spaced out. You never felt rushed, nor was there ever a long drag between each character.
We dined in a room off of the main dining area where the buffet stations are and each character made a complete round before another character would enter.
- Goofy enters
- As Goofy finishes at his last table, Donald enters
And so on.
Meeting the characters didn’t seem as chaotic compared to when we had dinner at Chef Mickey’s. The dining room could be loud at times, but, overall, it was a pleasant experience saying hello to Donald, Daisy, Goofy, and Mickey in their safari gear.
They were super fun and even interacted with each other a lot, like Donald throwing a fit when Mickey came into the room and everyone cheered. This is what you want to see during a character meal!
The characters also do a little dance around the restaurant to a song that is perfectly themed to Tusker House and Animal Kingdom. Don’t say we didn’t warn you about getting it stuck in your head. We’re still singing, “Jambo! Jambo!”
If you’re wondering, yes, the characters sign autographs and you also get an adorable autograph card!
Tusker House food and drinks
Tusker House serves a buffet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This means you can eat as much as you want – or as little as you want, as well.
Here’s what was included in the lunch buffet during our visit to Tusker House on May 2, 2023 (keep in mind that menus and prices change, so the following may not always be the same):
The Main Buffet Line
Tusker House mainly serves African-inspired cuisine and it is all excellent. But, the dishes are not for everyone.
There are a lot of curry type flavors, so you should definitely keep that in mind, especially if you or someone you’re traveling with is a picky eater.
Don’t worry about little ones, because there is plenty for them to enjoy, like corn dog nuggets, macaroni and cheese (this has a white sauce and it is uh-mazing – if we could insert a drool emoji, we would), chicken legs, green beans, and mashed potatoes.
Other things you can expect are lots of breads and dips, like adorable mini zebra loaves, honey-rosemary rolls, cornbread muffins, and naan bread served with your choice of house-made hummus (this was some of the best hummus we’ve ever tried), mango chutney, and tazatiki sauce.
There are loads of salads, including (to name a few), black-eyed pea, roasted cauliflower, quinoa and chickpea.
If you want some vegetables, the feisty green beans are delicious – and plant-based! You can also find regular green beans and corn.
You can also try a range of protein, like spit-roasted tandoori chicken, berbere-marinated pork, green curry shrimp, chicken curry, za’tar beef, and chermoula salmon filets.
For anyone who is vegan or vegetarian, there are so many amazing choices! This is Allyson’s favorite character dining for this exact reason.
Plant-based items include: jollof rice with Beyond sausage, braised collard greens, roasted root vegetables, mashed potatoes, feisty green beans, cauliflower bunny chow, chocolate mousse, and fresh fruit salad.
Typically, character buffets at Disney World don’t have the best desserts. But, we can happily say that Tusker House nailed the majority of their sweet treats!
From cute cupcakes, to zebra cookies, to 7 layer bars, they were absolutely delicious! Also, look how perfectly themed they are.
Here’s what you need to know about beverages…
Water, soft drinks, juice, coffee, tea, and milk are all included with the cost of your meal.
Non-alcoholic beverages for an additional price
There are a variety of specialty non-alcoholic beverages available, like lemonades, smoothies, and mocktails. We did not try any of these, but there seemed to be a good variety of non-alcoholic drink options.
Alcoholic beverages for an additional price
You can also order beer, cider, seltzer, wine, or cocktails. We didn’t try any alcohol during our lunch reservation.
Important: If you or someone in your party has dietary restrictions, many Disney World restaurants have accommodations and they also sometimes list the allergy-friendly items on the menu (online and in the My Disney Experience app). If you have questions, be sure to chat with a Cast Member and they’ll be able to assist you.
Our most recent review of Tusker House
We aren’t over-exaggerating when we say Tusker House is one of the best character dining experiences at Disney World.
It’s popular for good reason. While the food may not be for everyone due to its uniqueness, there are still plenty of options for pickier eaters.
And we also encourage you to go outside of your comfort zone and try something you might not normally, because the food is that good here.
For vegetarians and vegans, this is top-notch character dining. There are so many fabulous offerings that range in flavor and variety. You can’t go wrong with any item.
Part of what made our lunch so enjoyable was our server. He was personable, funny (but not too much that it becomes overbearing), and informative.
Better yet, the character flow really made a difference. It was enjoyable without being too fast or too slow.
We were in and out in 60 minutes, which was the perfect timing, especially after a busy morning and afternoon at Animal Kingdom (we were ready to go back to the hotel to cool off, chill, and shower).
Is Tusker House worth for lunch/dinner?
So, we know you’ve been waiting for us to reveal whether or not lunch/dinner is worth it at Tusker House. And we have a feeling you probably already know the answer.
Yes, very much so.
Tusker House is the perfect way to experience Animal Kingdom. Not only did they nail the theming, but you get to try African-inspired cuisine and meet 4 core Disney characters in safari costumes.
It’s so unique in all kinds of ways!
But, we also feel it’s important to note that there are lots of families and little ones who usually dine here, meaning it can get loud. This certainly isn’t for everyone. That said, you can usually be in and out of Tusker House around 60 minutes, which isn’t bad whatsoever.
Unlike Chef Mickey’s which is very bright with a colder type of environment, Tusker House is the complete opposite. The lights are dim, making the dining rooms cozy, warm, and inviting.
Tusker House also offers three meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), which gives you more of an opportunity in your day to eat here.
So, who is Tusker House good for?
- If you’re looking for a unique meal with food that fits the vibe of Animal Kingdom
- For those who want to meet a handful of characters at once – and in cute safari costumes
- Anyone visiting Disney World for the first time
- Guests traveling with kids
And as we’ve said time and time again, buffets can be difficult with kids. There is a lot to juggle and maneuver. So, if you’d rather enjoy a character meal that’s not buffet-style, Garden Grill at Epcot or breakfast at Topolino’s Terrace are two solid choices.
Keep in mind that character dining isn’t cheap. You simply have to figure out how you want to spend your money when visiting Disney World and for some guests character dining is very much worth the heftier price tag.
Next time you’re at Animal Kingdom and you’re looking to meet characters, all while gobbling down delicious food, Tusker House is definitely a great choice!
Have you ever had lunch or dinner at Tusker House? Let us hear your thoughts in the comments!
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Wednesday 3rd of May 2023
Our family Absolutely loves Tusker house and will do it again and again.