When I went to Disney World with my family a few months ago, all of the planning was geared around the kids. I don’t always include character meals in my itinerary, but with young kids in tow it seemed like a no brainer. After picking a resort, the family left most of the planning up to me. As I pondered where to take them, one place stuck out for me. There are tons of places where guests can have a good meal and interact with their favorite Disney characters, but Tusker House was one of the first things that can to mind for several reasons:
I knew we would be spending time in Disney’s Animal Kingdom since the girls are little veternarians in training. My nephew is nuts about Mickey Mouse and Tusker House is one of the only character dining experiences featuring the man himself. Since my family hadn’t been to Disney World in a long time, and some hadn’t been at all, I wanted to show them Disney cuisine is more than just cheeseburgers and fries. We opted for lunch here since that’s what best fit into our schedule and they had recently added characters to the midday meal. So was our meal a success?
When we arrived we waited a while to be seated since we had checked in late and it was a busy day in the parks. We were honestly thinking about bailing when our pager finally lit up. We weren’t thinking of leaving simply because we were impatient, but because my family had to get back to the resort by a certain time to pick up their Disney’s Magical Express bus back to the airport. If you wind up waiting a while you could grab a drink and relax by the nearby Dawa Bar. Guests should be aware the waiting area is outside so on rainy or hot days it may not be the most comfortable experience.
While you’re waiting you have the opportunity for your first character interaction of your meal. Donald Duck is outside ready to take pictures with anyone who will be dining there. He wasn’t busy and the photographers were practically begging for people to hop in line to meet Donald so feel free to take your time with him. My nephew was the only one interested in meeting Donald, so he went up and played with him for a few minutes while we took pictures. There is a Photopass photographer on hand to take pictures as well.
Eventually we were seated and when I let our server know we were in a bit of a rush he was great about it. Since this is a buffet it’s easy to make a fairly quick meal out of your experience. Our server quickly took drink orders and explained the buffet and allowed us to head right over to the food. I really love the food at the Tusker House since they offer something unique. If you like Boma or Sanaa I’m sure you’ll find something to please your palate here too.
Since the restaurant is in Animal Kingdom’s Africa there is plenty of African influence in the menu. There are several dishes prepared with curries and other spices you might not expect to find in a Disney theme park. I realize these kinds of choices aren’t for everyone, but I really love it and I encourage you to give it a try. There is a great variety here including a carving station as well as a good selection of fish dishes. Stews and hearty salads are also a specialty here. And of course there is plenty of dessert to go around. If the kids in your family aren’t adventurous eaters there is an area with typical kid friendly foods like mac and cheese available for people of all ages. Many of my vegetarian friends are pleased with the wide variety of items they can eat on this buffet.
While I really like the food here the main event is obviously the character interaction. Mickey, Daisy, and Goofy make the rounds to tables to greet kids of all ages. Even though we were rushing we still got to see these lovable guys during a couple of their rotations. My nieces and nephews loved their time spent with these furry friends and it was a blast to watch them give them hugs and giggle with them. My nephew got so excited about seeing Mickey he threw his head back and whacked it on a chair. It was an oddly adorable moment.
Although we were rushed since we were trying to get back to the resort so my family could catch their Disney’s Magical Express bus, I really liked our experience at the Tusker House. The character visits were more than adequate since we saw most of them multiple times. The food was excellent and everyone seemed to enjoy it. Service was friendly and quick. What more could we ask for in a Disney character meal? I’m sure I will return here again in the near future.
There are a few odds and ends about Tusker House guests should know before they make their Advanced Dining Reservations. First of all a credit card is required to make this reservation. If your party does not show up for their seating a $10 per person charge will be applied if your ADR is not canceled more that 24 hours in advance. This location will cost you one table service credit on Disney’s Dining Plan. If you would prefer to have breakfast with the characters that option is also available here. If you’d like to try the unique flavors at Tusker House but would really rather not dine with Mickey, dinner is offered without characters.
How about you? Have you had lunch at Tusker House? Tell me about your experience in the comments!