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Tusker House offers Disney character meals with a taste of African cuisine

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Tusker House's dessert bar is the first thing you see -- as it should be -- in the Harambe Marketplace.

Tusker House at Disney's Animal Kingdom is home to Donald's Dining Safari Breakfast and Lunch, the only character meals at that Walt Disney World park. Recently, I was invited to experience the lunch buffet, which features African cuisine, as well as plenty of American favorites.

Our experience began after we checked in at the outdoor podium. There is a large, shaded waiting area with tables and even a bar for those seeking adult beverages. It's definitely one of the nicer waiting areas, though you don't have to be eating at Tusker House to sit there. It's open to anyone in the Harambe, Africa section, which also has a snack counter on the opposite side from Dawa Bar.

When our party was called, we were led around the corner to a queue to have our pictures taken with Donald Duck. As with all Disney character photos, guests may take their own photos in addition to the ones snapped by the Disney PhotoPass photographer. A photo package that includes one 6 x 8 in a decorative folder and four 4 x 6 prints plus a character-only stock photo will be brought to your table during the meal. It's about $31 if you choose to purchase it. These photos also can be added to your Disney's PhotoPass account after purchasing the prints.

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The Disney characters visit guests in four dining rooms.

Inside the restaurant, our hostess explained the concept of the Harambe Marketplace, which features quite a few short buffet lines. She stood in front of the dessert lines (yes, plural!) during her talk, and suggested that diners can even eat dessert first. The children in our party took her up on that, and I feel certain my kids would do the same, especially when they saw the chocolate-frosted donuts with colorful sprinkles.

For those of us who decided to eat our vegetables first, there were numerous salads, many with African-inspired flavors. As the main course, guests could choose from carved sirloin or pork loin, curry and rotisserie chicken and salmon, plus a selection of stews. And, of course, there were many side dishes. Vegetarians, there is a buffet just for you, too.

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Kids can choose from white or wheat bread when making their own PB & J sandwiches. Chilled applesauce is on this bar, too.

The kids' buffet had a lot of the usual crowd favorites, but there were two fun additions -- corn dog nuggets and a table to make real peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The PB&J bar was a nice touch, especially when so many Walt Disney World kids' meals come with Smucker's uncrustables. The young and the young-at-heart are invited to choose items from the kids' buffet. (See a complete menu at the AllEars page http://allears.net/menu/menu_tus.htm)

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Daisy Duck strikes a pose.

In between your trips to the numerous buffets, Disney characters circulate through the four dining rooms, meeting families at their tables. Donald stays outside, but Minnie, Mickey, Daisy and Goofy greet guests inside, posing for photos and signing autographs. They each patiently allowed our party to take multiple photos, and Daisy really was funny -- striking pose after pose, like a model. One character also leads the kids around the room in a makeshift parade, complete with handheld instruments.

Lunch prices vary slightly depending on the season: Adults are $27.68 to $31.94; and children ages 3-9 are $15.97 to $18.10. (Tax is included; gratuity is not.) A standard, non-alcoholic beverage is included in this price. Admission into Disney's Animal Kingdom is required. These prices are typical of character lunches at Disney World.

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Well-known Disney Imagineer Joe Rohde and his infamous earring are celebrated with these Tusker House decorations.

I would recommend Tusker House to those guests who love to try different foods and flavors, or those who already have a taste for African cuisine. And all the Disney character meals have one great advantage in common: They allow diners to meet many Disney pals in such a short time, which clearly saves time waiting in individual lines.

See the AllEars resource page http://allears.net/din/cbchar.htm to find out where all the Disney World characters dine.

Disclosure: As an invited media guest, my lunch was paid for by The Walt Disney Company. Opinions expressed herein are solely mine and do not reflect the opinions or policies of The Walt Disney Company or its affiliates.

The previous post in this blog was 'The Lion King' performer Amyia Burrell talks about her start at Walt Disney World .

The next post in this blog is Disney World scores with youth soccer camps this summer.

Comments (24)

Rhonda J:

Tusker is the BEST - we recently discovered LUNCH there - awesome food!

Deb Ragno:

We enjoyed Tusker House for lunch on our last trip and had been looking forward to eating there again. However, since it is now character dining, we won't have that opportunity as we don't do character dining. I'm very disappointed to be "blocked" out of another nice restaurant because of the characters. At least I'm glad we were able to try it when we did, and if the characters go away, we'll be eager to eat there again.

Susan:

Kristin, is the menu/buffet at Tusker House similar to Boma?

Jen:

We ate breakfast there on our last trip in December and the entire experience was wonderful. We would definitely do it again...character meals are a definite favorite for our family!

Sonja:

You mentioned that in order to get the photos on your photo pass card you have to purchase them. Is this where the Photo Pass+ would be an advantage? Because I wouldn't have to purchase the photos, right?

Robert:

For a real treat, ask for Summer (AKA Lisa); she has been our favorite (I hate to say waitress--she is so much more) for years!

Debbie F:

I agree! We loved their salmon plate before it became a character buffet. We don't do buffets typically. Would also like to see this return to the way it was before. I miss looking at the decor.

Tracy:

Minnie Mouse is not usually at Tuskers. We love Tuskers even more than Boma.

Christy:

@Deb... I'm sure if you told the hostess that you didn't care for the characters then your party wouldn't be bothered by them. I mean, yeah, they'd still be in the restaurant but don't let that stop you from enjoying yummy food! :) Of course, if its more the noise from excited children/adults that's the problem, well not sure if you can escape that at Disney. LOL.

Susan:

I, too, do not do character dining. I have no desire to meet the characters while eating.Tusker House was our favorite restaurantprior to its going all character. The same thing happened with the buffet restaurant in Norway. I wish Disney would keep at least 1 meal character free at their restaurants.

John:

I don't believe Tusker House has characters at dinner....only breakfast and lunch, so feel free to visit later in the day!

Jennifer Butcher:

I am a bit surprised to find people are complaining about things being turned into a character meal. Characters are the heart of Disney and I, for one, think that adding a character meal in the one park that didn't have one was a brilliant idea. This way no matter what park you go to, you can have the characters, for yourself or for your kids.

Robert:

We have enjoyed Tusker House several times for breakfast, and look forward to having a lunch time experience there very soon.
for us, the interaction with the characters, as brief as it is, still remains a highlight of every trip.

Joy :

We have not tried Tusker House Character Dining, but it will definetly be on our list to try this year. I love the character dining and I am 46 yrs old....to me, it's not Disney if you don't have the character's there to come around and take pictures with.....that's what makes you feel like a kid again(and that's why I love to go to Disney sooo much)!!!!!

Elaine:

It is my understanding that the character meals at Tusker are only breakfast and now the new lunch one. Dinner is still the great food but without characters. We are not big on the characters anymore either so that is why we are booked for dinner this Friday.

Andrea S.:

We ate lunch at Tusker House for the first time last May and loved it. We are returning there on our next trip and we are very excited that Donald and gang will be joining us. The breakfast is good, but we love the lunch...I can't wait for August :)

Eileen:

I think the Tusker House character breakfast is one of the best and I am looking forward to trying lunch. Regarding the character v. non character debate-I have been coming to Disney World with grandkids for 10 years now and have found that with the popularity of the dining plan, it is increasingly more difficult to book these character meals. I personally feel they need to offer more character dining to accomodate those who seek these meals. However, perhaps there could be a compromise where some days of the week, a meal could be character-free.

Kati S.:

For those wanting to avoid the characters, last time I went my waiter recommended doing dinner reservations instead of lunch. It's the same food and much less crowded. Plus no characters. I love eating at Tusker house (even more than Boma!) so I will be booking early dinner reservations for our next trip to AK.

Sarah-Jane:

We are coming to Disney in Feb 13 when I will celebrate my 40th birthday! Came here for breakfast in 2010 for my son's 6th birthday so maybe we'll repeat the experience and I'll get the cupcake this time!!!

J. Smith:

Despite the addition of the characters, it's not worth the money. the food was good, but the service was just lackluster. Even the manager who i complained about the service was insincere. But the worst thing was the fact that i heard that the nemo dining package was thrown out in favor of this. You're better off going to either Rainforest Cafe, Yak and Yeti, or even Restaurantosaurus.

Mary:

I've been wondering about eating here for a while now. We don't have kids, but my husband is a huge Donald fan, and I love trying new kinds of cuisine!
Regarding the character vs. non-character debate: We've done both, and I think that both are fun, but I prefer non-character just because the prices are a lot better. You pay a lot more money for those characters to come by, and usually you can see them for free somewhere else. I'd love to eat here, Crystal Palace, Akershus, etc for about $10 less per person and see the characters elsewhere. Sometimes I wish that option was more available in many of the character dining locations.

Paul:

I like Tasker House when it first opened. I know that at that time there was not table service at AK but who cares. I felt that it added to the adventure theme. AK closes at dusk so eat at a resort for dinner. The characters at most of the meals are the same. How may times can Micky sign the same book on the same trip. It would be great if they could have Turk, or Brother Bear meal. They used to have the Donald breakfast at Restraentasouse. They do not need to change anything also it is broken.

Darlene:

Sonya...did you find out if the still have to purchase the photo package at Tuskers if you have the Passport Plus? Really interested in knowing...this might change my mind on upgrading. Thanks!

Tim:

Having a character meal at Tusker House for breakfast is enough. It was a nice restaurant to escape from the heat and quite peaceful for that matter for lunch. Will miss that.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 1, 2012 7:04 AM.

The previous post in this blog was 'The Lion King' performer Amyia Burrell talks about her start at Walt Disney World .

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