If you brought up amazing dining experiences even ten years ago, no one would imagine that Animal Kingdom would be a host to a vast array of dining experiences that could keep everyone in the family satisfied. Animal Kingdom had the long reputation of being just a half a day park with limited eating locations, but they have come a long way.
“Tusker House” by HarshLight licensed under CC BY 2.0
Whether you are looking for a signature dining experience or a quick service meal to hold your over between fastpasses, you are going to find something to fit any time frame and taste buds you will have in your party.
What is Tusker House?
The Tusker House is going to be an all you can eat dining experience located right in the heart of Africa at Animal Kingdom. Located just a short distance from the Kilimanjaro Safaris, the Tusker House is going to be the only dining location at Animal Kingdom that will offer a breakfast, lunch and dinner meals.
Their breakfast service runs from 8:00AM to 10:55AM. Lunch service is going to be from 11:00AM to 3:30PM and the dinner service is going to be from 3:335PM to 8:00PM. No matter what time of the day you believe an all you can eat buffet will suit you best, the Tusker House will be open. One of the things I love the most is that if I want to eat at the Tusker House, I can really pick whatever time I want, but one of the most popular times is going to be breakfast. Everyone wants to start their day with a full belly and with the Tusker House will always be there.
But no matter what time of day you want to eat at the Tusker House, there is one thing that will always be in common and that will be the need for dining reservations. This is going to be one of the most popular dining locations in Animal Kingdom especially for breakfast and if you going to want to make this a must do while planning your vacation then you need to grab a dining reservation. Remember you can make those 180 days beforehand so jump on this as soon as possible. The more prepared you are the easier your vacation planning will be.
But Why The Popularity?
The answer for this is going to be simple. It is character dining at Disney World. That is correct while you are devouring a delicious all you can eat buffet, Donald and his friends are going to make their way around the dining room signing autographs and taking as many pictures as your little heart desires (within reason of course!).
This is going to be one of the best character buffets you can have while dining at Disney. Not only is the food delicious and unique (more on this later) but the characters are dressed in theme and really take their time moving around the dining room.
Unlike other character experiences you will have on property, Tusker House really goes above and beyond making each individual guest feel important. And who doesn’t mind feeling like the most important person in the room? I know I sure do. The looks on my kids’ faces as Donald approaches them with his big goofy attitude always makes them wild and their seat. It is going to be the best experience you can pay for while at Animal Kingdom when it comes to dining.
Now because the characters do make their way slowly around the room one table at a table and one character at a time, be prepared for this to be one of the longer meals you eat. When planning your fastpasses make sure you do not double book and give yourself plenty of time to sit and eat while waiting for the characters to come around.
Honestly, one mistake I have made more than once is not giving ourselves enough of time to enjoy character buffets when we are inside a theme park. I am so worried about trying to make sure we make it to our next fastpass that I do not give us enough of time to sit down and wait. Do not make this mistake. Between travel time, waiting to be seated (yes even if you have a reservation it does take a hot minute to be seated), eating and waiting for characters I try to carve out at least 1.5 hours. If I book stuff too soon we either end up stressed out or cutting time short. Do not do this to yourself. It is never worth it.
But What About The Food?
Well, if characters are not enough to make you want to book your dining reservation now for the Tusker House then the food is differently going to seal the deal for you.
For breakfast you can expect some classics with a little flair including:
- Scrambled Eggs
- Bacon and Sausage
- Assorted Cereals
- Breakfast Breads, Cinnamon Rolls and Croissants
- Mickey Waffles
- Breakfast Potatoes
- Seasonal Fruits
- Morning Frittata
- Banana Bread Pudding
- Beef Bobotie
- Fruit Chutneys
For lunch the options include:
- Selection of Fresh Breads and Pitas
- Fruit Chutney
- Peri Peri Whole Salmon
- Vegetarian Option
- Fruit Salad
- Tabouli and Hummus Dips
- Spit-roasted Chicken
- Roasted Pork
- Basmati Rice and Curry Chicken
- Black-eyed Pea Salad
- Vegetable Salad
- Banana Bread Pudding
- Strawberry Shortcake
- Kid’s options include: macaroni and cheese, mini corn dogs, mashed potatoes and deli meats and cheeses
The dinner service also includes all of the above options so there is nothing more truly offered for dinner just a later time slot.
The overall theme is going to be African cuisine and you can see that throughout the menu. Although if you do have picky eaters in your family there are still plenty of options for them too. This is going to be the best table service location at Animal Kingdom that will satisfy the entire family.
So What Is This Going To Cost Me?
One of the beauties of using the Disney Dining Plan is the ability to go to multiple character buffets without having to really pay more for the experience. This is going to be worth one table service dining credit. And this is a pretty common theme with almost all of the character dining buffet.
This is going to be a way to get some character interactions with your favorite Disney Pals and a meal at the same time and it is honestly one of the best selling points of the dining plan in my opinion. But some families do realize that the dining plan might not work for them.
Before you decide where or not to spend money on the dining plan the first thing you have to do is figure out where you are going to eat. Look at the prices and then add up what you think you will spend. If you type “Disney dining calculator” into your search bar you are going to have various options to plug in your numbers and see which will be the best way to save money if you are doing Disney on a budget. Personally, I enjoy paying for the dining plan before I arrive for my vacation. This gives me the ease of knowing that everything is paid for beforehand, but if we are trying to make a quick Disney trip on a tight budget then I prefer to budget myself and find the most cost effective way to maximize my worth of a dollar.
So now that we know that it is worth one table service credit, but how much does it actually cost to dine there? Well that is going to run you about $35 to $59.99 per adult. Keep in mind that breakfast is always going to be the most inexpensive meal of the day, so if you are going for just the character experience I always suggest breakfast if you are worried about value.
But maybe you want to try the cuisine that isn’t so well American. Lunch and dinner are going to be your best bet. If you are looking to save some money then opt for lunch. If you are looking to cap off your day and have some more time to spend there opt for dinner. There is going to be the same selection either way and they both have their own perks, but either way you are not going to be let down.
So What’s The Verdict?
After all that you may still be wondering if this is worth the hassle? YES! This is more than worth the time and effort and homework you will have to do to score the reservations. The pictures that your party snags with Donald and his pals. You just have to be prepared.
I am the first to admit that I am the ultimate procrastinator. It doesn’t matter how much anyone warns me that I should start earlier. I love waiting to the last minute. From one procrastinator to any other out there, do not do this. It is literally the worst decision you can make when trying to snag dining reservations or even fastpasses.
Do not make any of my mistakes and do your homework as early as possible. Once you have figured out where you want to eat (make sure you include Tusker House on your list), it will be a lot easier to snag those reservations as early as that window opens. Now dining reservations are available 180 days in advance so that gives you plenty of time to jump in there.
Make sure you charge your phone as well. You are going to want to take as many pictures as possible and you do not want to miss out on those precious moments because you forgot to throw your phone on the charger the night before. I always set an alarm at the end of the day when we are back at the hotel room so I remember to throw my phone on the charger and are prepared. But sometimes life happens on your vacation. If that is the case, you can always grab a portable battery from one of the kiosks. It is about $30 and once you buy one you can turn it into any other kiosks for a freshly charged one.
So now you have remember your dining reservations and you know to keep your phone charged. You made sure that your fastpasses give you plenty of time to make your way over the restaurant and have plenty of time to eat, but what else do you need to know?
Make sure your entire family is happy with your plans. The one thing about dining at Animal Kingdom is that some places are not the most friendly for picky eaters. Make sure you go over the meal with them beforehand. From personal experience of all the table service dining locations this is going to be the most friendly for anyone who does not like to venture with their food. Even with that, I know that some people can really make any change unbearable, and if you think that might be your family it may be worth selecting another dining experience or just go to one of the quick service locations instead. If you think you can sway any picky eaters in your family with Donald Duck and his number one pals, it is always a go to bargaining chip for me.
So this would be a 4.5 out of 5 stars in my book. I hate that I have to sell the picky eaters in my family, but the way Disney has managed to make this one of the best character experiences on Disney property makes this worth however many dining credits or dollars you need to spend to make this possible. So do it. Do it every vacation. Never forget about it. And plan it into your magical day to make sure you can post all the excitement you family had to social media. And snag a fastpass for Kilimanjaro Safaris for the whole African experience at Animal Kingdom to be complete.
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