While Animal Kingdom doesn’t have a plethora of options if you want to sit down and relax for a table service meal, the four they do have (Tiffins, Yak and Yeti, Rainforest Cafe, and Tusker House) are all incredible in their own way. If you want to give your family or group the opportunity to sample offerings from all over Africa within Disney standards of comfort, quality and safety, the best option is Tusker House. Plus, this is the only character dining restaurant in Animal Kingdom.
5. Character Dining
Anyone who has ever waited in a line for a Disney character knows that an opportunity to snag that ever important picture or autograph with Mickey, Goofy, Donald, or Daisy can be time-consuming. Tusker House offers you and your family the chance to meet your favorite characters right from the comfort of your own table. Just enjoy your wonderful meal and wait for the characters to come to you. And even if you didn’t bring kids, don’t worry. The characters stop for everyone!
Walk into Tusker House, and you will feel as though you’re walking into the streets of Agraba. You may half expect to Aladdin and his friends pop out of a window. The open-air restaurant has the look and feel of an African market, instantly transporting you and your family. With gorgeous fabrics draped above your head and each section of the buffet set up to look as if food is being served from an African street vendor, once again Walt Disney World has hit a home run with their décor choices here.
Something for everyone is exactly what you want out of a buffet. For the more adventurous, though, sometimes buffets can fall flat. If you have an adventurer in your party, he or she will not be disappointed here. Let’s start with the salads. Of course, the standard fare of season or mixed greens is offered here, for those who want to stick with the familiar. But for others, a whole new world of salads awaits. Tomato and cucumber salad with mint yogurt dressing, chickpea and cucumber salad, quinoa salad with shrimp, watermelon and feta salad, and toasted couscous salad are all perfect ways to start a meal. Make sure you grab some bread as well, so that you can sample the spicy South African preserves. But don’t stop there though. The hummus and tabbouleh (which is more of a salad but I find goes great as a topper as well) goes great with some lavosh (a kind of bread). We haven’t even gotten to the main dishes yet, and I’m already starving just writing about it. The seafood stew is definitely a must. And grab some of the countless meats and rice/potato dishes with authentic spices that really take these dishes to a unique place. I know with all of these amazing options it’s going to be hard to leave room for desert, but trust me, you will want to. The cookies are one of my favorite things to grab when the meal is coming to a close. For a change, you should also try the baklava and the banana-cinnamon bread pudding – both are excellent ways to end a delicious meal.
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Every corner of Animal Kingdom has things to see, and usually every corner is pretty jammed-packed with people. What a brilliant touch it was to have the Tusker House entrance, and therefore the restaurant itself, off the beaten path. After you sign in just off the main Africa corridor, you will be ushered behind the building into a whole other area which, without a reservation to the restaurant, you wouldn’t have an opportunity to see. This outdoor waiting area sets the tone for the restaurant, allowing you to escape and relax, so that your meal can rejuvenate you and your party before heading back into the hustle and bustle of the park.
1. Dawa Bar
Even when you have reservations in Walt Disney World, from time to time you may have to wait for a short while. Just outside this beautiful restaurant is a small bar area where you can order some incredible drinks and at certain times of day enjoy live music from a small group of talented musicians playing songs appropriate to the African theme of the area. The Dawa Bar is also one of the only covered areas in the vicinity, so if it rains and you have a reservation coming up, it is a great place to relax for a short while out of the rainy Florida conditions.