A Fun & Relaxing Lunch
I’d always heard good things about Tusker House, though admittedly we never spend much time on that end of the park when we’re visiting Animal Kingdom. But my wife and I hadn’t had a character meal in quite a while and were looking for something a little different to try besides Yak & Yeti, so we thought we’d give Donald’s Dining Safari Character Lunch a try and needless to say, it ended up being well worth breaking out of our usual patterns!
Characters Aren’t Just for Little Kids
I think it’s somewhat of a misnomer that the characters around Disney World are primarily for families with kids – even though we don’t yet have any ourselves, a lot of times we get the biggest kick just out of watching Mickey and Minnie and Donald and Goofy interacting with everyone else because it’s such an overwhelming display of joy that you can’t help but smile yourself even when watching somebody else’s kid meet their favorite character for the first time. And Tusker House had a neat setup wherein not only did the characters wander around for pictures and autographs during the meal, but every 45 minutes they also handed out musical instruments and led anyone who wanted to join in on an all-out conga line around the restaurant! Very, very cute…
Notable Lunch Buffet Features
- Cape Malay Curry Chicken
- Marrakesh Couscous with Roasted Vegetables
- Peri-Peri Marinated Salmon Filet
- Oven-Roasted Yukon Gold Potato Wedges
- Corn Dog Nuggets
- Banana-Cinnamon Bread Pudding with Vanilla Sauce
- Mini Ginger & Chocolate Lava Cakes
Now as for the food, it may not have been amazing from front to end, but I have to admit that the buffet did have a lot of particularly intriguing African-inspired dishes that we both ended up really enjoying. I also loved the corn dog nuggets, because part of me is still five years old, and also because I knew that we’d be heading to the Magic Kingdom later and it meant I wouldn’t be yearning for them from Casey’s Corner quite as bad! And as for the dessert bar – it was a decent combination of both your typical assorted cookies & pastries as well as a pair of decadent banana-cinnamon and cherry bread puddings that I could’ve eaten considerably more of if we weren’t headed for a date with a yeti directly after lunch…
Pipe Down the Photo Prices
Before you head into the restaurant, your party first has an opportunity to get their picture taken with Donald Duck outside, and if I have but one complaint about the entire experience at Tusker House, it was just how ridiculously overpriced the resulting photo package ended up being … $31.99 for one 8×10 and four 4×6 photos is just insane. You could tell that they don’t sell a lot of them because when I asked if we could just get the one 8×10 by itself (what couple without kids has a need for five copies of the same photo?!), I was kinda quickly brushed off that no, it wasn’t an option, and that it was clear that the package just wasn’t for me. I didn’t let it bring the rest of our meal down because everything else was great, but it was too bad because the picture was pretty cute and had it maybe been $10 or $15, we probably would’ve bought it.
Nonetheless, despite said brief photo faux pas, I’d definitely go back again because at the end of it all, it was still one of the cheaper table service meals we’ve enjoyed – especially considering that characters were included – it was fun watching all of the safari-ready cast interact with the kids around us as we ate, the food was pretty good, and I also really enjoyed the African market setting that the buffet itself was setup around.
To take it even a step farther, I would probably make Tusker House my new top recommendation for table service in the Animal Kingdom, and I look forward to returning one of these days either with kids of our own or even just out of town visitors with kids so that we can better take in the ambiance all the more…
Review based on a dining experience from May 2012.
Even More Related Posts:
- (Photo Galleries) Tusker House
- (Disney MoBlog) Waiting for Tusker House…
- (Dining Around the World) Fulton’s Crab House dining review
- (Dining Around the World) Paradiso 37 dining review
- (Dining Around the World) Bongos dining review