REVIEW: Tusker House Restaurant Character Breakfast Buffet Returns to Disney’s Animal Kingdom

For the first time since March 2020, buffet dining is back at Tusker House Restaurant in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. But what, if anything, has changed? Let’s find out!

Check-In

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Unlike at the other Walt Disney World parks, there’s no separate entrance line for early dining reservations, so we had to wait in a long line just to get into the park. Once we entered the park, the only option was to get in the line meant for early entry for Disney hotel guests. A Cast Member working this position seemed confused when they found out our party weren’t resort hotel guests, but eventually we were let in.

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Heading into the Africa section, things were much easier. A Tusker House Restaurant Cast Member stationed just before the bridge leading into Harambe helped guests get checked in before they crossed over to the restaurant.

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Breakfast costs $45.00 per adult, and $29.00 per child, and doesn’t include tax and gratuity.

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Once we got our text message telling us we could be seated, we entered through the doors around the corner from the entrance. A-frame signage directs guests to the correct location.

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Upon being seated, coffee was already set out for us on the table, and we were quickly brought glasses of POG (passion fruit, orange, and guava) juice and a bread basket. Additional beverages are available to order, non-alcoholic are included in the buffet price.

Bread Basket

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The basket has zebra bread, multigrain croissants, blueberry muffins, and two pieces of zebra coffee cake.

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The whole thing is accompanied by a mixture of butter and honey.

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One size of the bread is colored red, orange, yellow, and black to resemble the sunrise at the beginning of “The Lion King.” On its own, it’s just a basic bread, but the butter and honey help it immensely.

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The croissant and muffins are standard Disney buffet fare, which is still decent. The coffee cake surprised us with just how moist it was, as we were expecting it to be drier. It turned out to be the best item in the basket. But don’t fill up too much, as there’s a whole buffet to explore!

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Characters

Mickey Mouse, Donald and Daisy Duck, and Goofy made the rounds to delight guests.

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They move around a lot (especially during the sporadic dance parties), but they made sure to stop for some quick photos and autographs.

Buffet

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The first station is your standard bread and pastries. They’re the same as they are at most Disney breakfast buffets, so unless you really want it, you can probably skip it. There is more of the zebra coffee cake though, so it might just be worth making a stop after all.

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Next to that are spreads and accompaniments typically used for bagels, like cream cheese, smoked salmon, tomatoes, red onion, and capers.

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The following stop has a variety of cold options, like hard-boiled eggs, overnight oats with berry compote and house-made granola, fruit salad with ginger syrup, and honey Greek yogurt.

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The overnight oats were one of the highlights of the whole menu. The berry compote makes it very sweet, but not overly so. If you came here just to have four or five servings of this, we would completely understand. Be sure to get this!

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Next is a trio of salads, including a carrot and chickpea salad, a watermelon feta salad, and a black-eyed pea salad.

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While it may be unusual to have a cold salad with breakfast, they do offer some unique flavors. The black-eyed pea salad was a bit dry, but that was offset by the freshness of the tomato and cucumber. We definitely appreciated the lightness of the watermelon feta salad compared to some of the heavier breakfast options, while the carrot and chickpea salad was too dry for our taste.

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The next stop has morning standards like bacon, sausage, and tater barrels.

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The sausage was just about what you’d expect it to be from your local fast food restaurant, while the tater barrels were decent.

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The bacon is basic. It’s not bad, but not outstanding either.

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Then we get to pancakes and mini Mickey waffles, along with waffles that have Simba on one side and Nala on the other.

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We were pleasantly surprised by how fresh the pancakes were. Normally, with the staples, they’re left out for a while, but everything still tasted newly-made, which was enjoyable.

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Despite popular opinion, we’ve often been left disappointed by mini Mickey waffles, often finding them either overcooked or undercooked. This time, however, they were crispy on the outside and not too doughy on the inside.

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Up next are some non-traditional options, which match the exotic feel of Tusker House: Cape Malay chicken curry, jasmine rice, and malva bread pudding.

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The rice was well-cooked and had a strong buttery taste, but we enjoyed it.

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The chicken curry has a very mild spice to it, so those averse to spicy foods shouldn’t be afraid to try it. The chicken itself was tender and moist, which was pleasant. If this were something you’d get at a restaurant, it’d be fine, but we’d prefer something spicier, to be honest.

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The malva pudding is served in muffin-like balls. It’s sweet, and despite the appearance of thin ribbons, there’s more than enough icing. The taste feels like a cross between a bread pudding and a raisin muffin.

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For those who like eggs and potatoes, there’s a station with breakfast potatoes, shakshuka (which is made with eggs, tomato sauce, and bread), and a vegetable frittata.

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The potatoes were adequate. They weren’t over-salted, and cooked properly, but compared with other options on the menu, they just weren’t as exciting.

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The shakshuka was okay, but we’d prefer to see it on a lunch menu than a breakfast one. It’s rather heavy, and the flavor profile is fine, but not quite what we like.

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The frittata was made with spinach, onion, and potato. It tasted good, but we got a huge chunk of potato in ours. It would’ve been better had that been chopped finer.

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Plant-based options are the focus of the following station, with tandoori-spiced roasted tomatoes, feisty green beans, Impossible bobotie and chakalaka, and oatmeal.

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The tomatoes are have a light seasoning (to the point of being underseasoned), but beyond that, there’s not much going on. It looked dry to us, but when we tasted it, it was quite juicy.

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Normally, we like green beans, but these were just bad. The spicing was off, and the beans had a slimy texture. They tasted like they were drenched in oil. If you’re going to skip anything here, skip this, because it was vile.

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It’s not going to appeal to everyone, but we thought the bobotie was very good. It’s very earthy, with heavy amounts of raisins and Impossible sausage, but if you want or need something plant-based, it’s a solid option.

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The oatmeal can be garnished with brown sugar, raisins, or house-made granola.

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For the fruit lovers, there’s also whole apples, oranges, and grapes.

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If you’re in the mood for cereal, there’s Rice Krispies, Frosted Flakes, or Froot Loops.

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The carving station has options like cheese omelets and rotisserie ham.

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The cheese omelets were incredibly dry. Don’t let the cute size fool you, they aren’t worth it.

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Items can be accompanied by chakalaka and sweet and spicy mustard.

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The ham is carved on site, but the chef was putting it into a serving tray. We didn’t try asking for a fresh piece, but it’s likely you’d be able to get one. It’s on the sweet side, and not dry at all. We’d get this again.

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For the sausage fans, there’s patties and pieces of andouille sausage.

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Looking for condiments, there’s a dispenser for syrup, along with tiny carafes, and shredded cheese.

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Finally, there’s more breakfast classics, with more Mickey waffles and bacon, along with scrambled eggs and mealie pap with chakalaka.

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Like most Disney breakfasts, the eggs were as runny as ever. They were as wet as the omelets were dry.

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Overall Thoughts

Tusker House Restaurant has always been an acquired taste. We personally like some of the more non-traditional options, but those with less adventurous palates probably won’t find it quite as appealing, and may feel that it isn’t worth the price for the standard fare alone (i.e. scrambled eggs, bacon, and Mickey waffles).

One of the most notable things to us was the lack of sweet pastries. There was the zebra coffee cake and malva bread pudding, but there wasn’t anything like a Danish or a cinnamon roll. Still, you can satisfy your sweet tooth with the overnight oats, which were our clear favorite. Beyond that, there were enough solid options for us, but there were clear winners and losers. (Avoid the omelets and scrambled eggs, and stay far away from the green beans.)

As for it being character dining, kids will likely enjoy the characters and find enough to eat, but there are better options around Walt Disney World, like Minnie’s Beach Bash Character Breakfast at Cape May Café in Disney’s Beach Club Resort. All that being said, while most things were good, very few were outstanding. It’s certainly a vast improvement over the family-style meals they were serving since reopening from the COVID closure, but the increased price makes it hard to stomach. We don’t regret trying this, but we don’t think we’ll be running back here too quickly to start our day.

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