Tusker House: A Not So African-Inspired Meal

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Know Before You Go

Tusker House is located in the Africa section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. Lunch and dinner are character dining featuring Mickey, Goofy, Donald, and Daisy in their Safari garb. Meals are served in an All-You-Care-to-Enjoy format: dishes are brought to your table family-style and you can order more of anything, as much as you like. Disney describes the cuisine as African-inspired flavors.

With the character dining experience you’ll get an autograph card with all four signatures at the beginning of the meal. While you’re eating Mickey, Goofy, Donald, and Daisy will rotate around the room and stop at your table for pictures.

Tusker House serves the same menu for lunch and dinner, at a cost of $55 per adult and $36 per child ages 3-9. Annual Passholder and DVC-member discounts (currently 10%) are available. Since Tusker House is in-park dining, you’ll need both a dining reservation and a Park Pass reservation for the date of your meal (or the ability to park-hop if you’re doing dinner). Reservation availability varies a lot; if Tusker House is on your must-do list we recommend booking well in advance of your trip.

Starters

Assorted House-made Breads
served with Hummus, Coriander and Mango Chutneys

African Inspired Salads

Kachumbari and Arcadian Green Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette Dressing

The bread service was fresh (our rolls were still warm) and tasty. The papadam was not spiced, making it a relatively plain cracker that was still a good foil for the accompaniments while being friendly to picky kids’ palates. The chutneys were the winners here – the hummus was good, but a little on the bland side. This was no Sanaa bread service, but it was a nice start to the meal.

The salads were fresh with a nice light dressing. I can’t say that I would ever look at them and think “this is African inspired food”, but they were good. I do wish that the plate had been adjusted for the size of our group; the kachumbari was two servings in a small included dish but we were five people. Of course you can ask for more, but this felt like an odd note.

Mains

Entrees: Moroccan-spiced Beef, Cape Malay Green Curry Shrimp, Spit-roasted Herb Chicken, Berbere-marinated Pork

Sides: Green Beans with Carrots and Corn, Roasted Potatoes, Jasmine Rice, House-made Macaroni & Cheese
(Plant-based Impossible Durban Curry available on request)

Secret menu: Chicken Tenders, Mini-Corn Dogs, French Fries

The shrimp curry was fragrant and delicious without being at all spicy, and was my favorite of the mains. The beef was beautifully cooked: tender and subtly spiced. The chicken and pork were moist and flavorful – but it was pretty much just the flavor of chicken and pork.

The sides were mixed. The roasted potatoes were a crispy, deep mahogany on the outside and soft on the inside. But the green beans and corn looked like the same frozen vegetables you’d pull out of your freezer for a hurried weeknight dinner. The mac ‘n’ cheese was yummy and creamy, but the cheese was such a mild flavor that one of my kids noted that “it didn’t seem that cheese was particularly involved in the preparation”.

If you’ve eaten at Tusker House in the past when it was a full buffet, your children might have fond memories of the kid’s section with the mini-corn dogs. We were surprised and pleased to find that you can ask for these at no additional charge, even though we couldn’t see them on the menu anywhere. The corn dogs were 5 to an order, and the chicken fingers 4 to an order, and both came with french fries.

Dessert

Animal-inspired Mini Desserts

Plant-based Chocolate Mousse
available upon request (Plant-based)

The cupcake was the best of the three mini-desserts, with a light, flavorful cake and a sweet buttercream frosting. The layered bee cake was meh, with no distinct flavor. The chocolate brownie had a nice, fudgy flavor, but it was a bit on the dry side. My recommendation? Ask for the chocolate mousse – this was an intense chocolate flavor with a great texture and fruit crunchies to add some flavor contrast. This was the only dessert that anyone had more than one or two bites of.

Wrapping Up

We had a very pleasant meal and the food was tasty and properly cooked. However, there is a big elephant in the room, which is that when it was a buffet Tusker House was commonly thought of as “Boma-lite”. The comparison to what many consider the best buffet at Disney World was deserved, and if you’re expecting to see that heritage in the new All You Care to Eat format then you’ll be disappointed. There are flashes of that experience in the curry and the beef, but most of the food is just a solid offering of similar quality to what many home cooks could prepare, and it’s only worth the $55 price tag if you came to meet the characters.

Mickey, Goofy, Donald and Daisy were as delightful as ever, and if you have kids and are looking for a character meal this is a good choice. If you don’t care about characters and are looking for African-inspired food in an all-you-can-eat format, take a little extra time out of the parks and go to Boma instead.

Have you eaten at Tusker House? What did you think about your meal? Let us know in the comments!

 

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Jennifer Heymont

Jennifer Heymont has a background in math and biology, but since she couldn't pick between the two she ended up in Data Science where she gets to do both. She lives just north of Boston with her husband, kids, and assorted animal members of the family. Although it took three visits for the Disney bug to "take", she now really wishes she lived a lot closer to the Parks.

6 thoughts on “Tusker House: A Not So African-Inspired Meal

  • August 9, 2022 at 7:55 pm
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    It’s a shame. This was, IMO, the best character buffet on property. Great price, great food. I miss breakfast there and at Waves.

    Reply
    • August 10, 2022 at 11:50 am
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      Hi Asia, I agree. Many of the character meals aren’t good enough to be must-dos just for the food, but this one definitely used to be.

      Reply
  • August 10, 2022 at 8:34 am
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    Thanks for the review. We visited over Christmas and I think your assessment is spot-on. Our meal was fine, but nothing like the choices from before, and nothing particularly unique. This actually might be a good thing if you are trying to please picky eaters I guess. And since we don’t particularly go for character interaction, it felt overpriced for us. Still a really unique setting and decor, though!

    Reply
    • August 10, 2022 at 11:57 am
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      Hi Alice, thanks for weighing in. I admit I was secretly hoping that maybe we were just there on a less-than-stellar day for them, but it doesn’t sound like this was the case. What I really missed was the variety of salads and sides from the buffet, but I agree with you that those with less adventurous tastes will probably find the current offering more appealing.

      Reply
  • August 11, 2022 at 11:30 am
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    Any word on when/if the buffet will be coming back?

    Reply
    • August 11, 2022 at 11:44 am
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      Hi Jenny, I don’t think anyone knows anything.

      Reply

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