Monday, March 12, 2012

Donald's Safari Breakfast at Tusker House.

There's plenty of time to interact with Donald.

Donald's Safari Breakfast, located in Tusker House in the Africa section of Animal Kingdom, is my hands down favorite breakfast buffet in all of Walt Disney World. Fresh food, great character interaction and service, all in a beautifully themed location, make it a win every time. 

Atmosphere:

Like most everything in Animal Kingdom, Tusker House has been perfectly themed to reflect its surroundings, in this case, a small outpost town in Africa. Walls are designed to have the look of aging plaster, with spots missing and old paint showing through here and there.  Fixtures and hinges on the doors are shabby and rustic, as if they've been neglected for years. Noticing these small details, you'll see the extensive work and great care that goes into theming this park. 


Despite my youngest child's sad face, my boys enjoyed Goofy the most.

The buffet is located in the center of the restaurant in an area designed to look like an outdoor market.  You'll come out of one of the dining areas into the buffet area. Unless you're in the far back of the restaurant, it's not that far of a walk, but if you're there alone with a young child, you may want to ask to be seated closer so that you can bring food to the table more easily.

Tip: Making your dining reservations close to your travel dates?  It's often easier to get reservations for this character meal than others, such as Chef Mickey's. 

Food:

Almost all breakfast buffets at Disney World are good, but Tusker House is a step above the average buffet.  You'll find a section full of fruit and yogurt, cereals, bread and bagels for toasting, pastries, and a hot bar with eggs, fried potatoes, ham and cheese frittata, mealie pap (a type of porridge), oatmeal, bacon, sausage, biscuits, and gravy.


A selection of bagels, fruit, cereal and yogurt. Note the
plates under the buffet tables.

There's also normally a ham being carved.  Go head--it's a big park and you'll need all that protein for energy.


Ham with a spicy African-inspired sauce.

The buffets are kept clean and free of messes and the food is always fresh. As soon as a dish gets close to being empty, a new one replaces it, so you'll never find yourself scraping the bottom of the bowl for eggs.  Fruit selections include strawberries, grapes, bananas, raspberries, and melon.  In the middle of the buffet area, there's a separate station for pastries, which includes small chocolate and plain croissants, which are surprisingly good but bear very little resemblance to a real croissant, as well as fruit turnovers and donuts. Yes, I said doughnuts.  Unlimited, delicious, fresh doughnuts.  Again, go ahead. You're fueling up for later, right?


The pastry portion of the buffet is huge!

When you arrive, your server will take your drink order, but she'll also bring you Jungle Juice, Tusker House's signature beverage. It's a mixture of equal parts guava, passion fruit, and orange juices.  Refills on beverages are free of charge.  As soon as you place your order, you can take hungry kids up to the buffet.  Plates are available at the buffet and when you're finished with one, your server will take it away, leaving you free to get a fresh plate.

I'm not a big fan of buffets, but in my experience, the food at Tusker House is always excellent. It's hard to keep a big plate of scrambled eggs from tasting dried out, but these were delicious and fresh, like they'd just come off the stove. The biscuits are large and fresh tasting as well, although the gravy that's served alongside of them is bland and barely hints at any meat; Southerners who are used to covering their biscuits with white gravy full of sausage may want to pass on this one.  The spicy corn beef hash was a nice addition to my meal, something that I normally wouldn't order.  The bacon was too thin, a common complaint, but the sausages were excellent, nicely flavored and not overcooked.

Service and Character Interaction:

Africa is in the back of the park, so give yourself a full thirty minutes to walk through security to Tusker House, as you'll want to have time to look around on your way. If you're arriving before the park opens, this is a great opportunity to take pictures in a nearly empty park.  Tusker House is right over a bridge on the left as you walk into Africa.  You'll give your name to the cast member at the outdoor podium near the front of the restaurant and be given a pager. After a short wait, you'll be shown back--and face a rather daunting line of your fellow guests waiting to meet Donald.



Whether or not the line moves quickly is largely dependent on how quickly parents shuffle their children through, as I've never seen cast members here rush anyone--a nice touch unless you're really hungry.

After you meet Donald, you'll be brought into the restaurant by a cast member and shown to your table, where you'll have an opportunity to meet the rest of the Fab Five dressed in Safari clothes as you eat your meal. Characters will come over to your table and pose for pictures. I didn't find the character interaction to be rushed as I sometimes do at other locations, which was very welcome. You'll have ample time for pictures and autographs.


You won't see Donald inside but you can meet Daisy.

Hourly, kids are invited to come up and join the characters as they form a parade around the room. They'll be given shakers and other African instruments, so it's loud! In fact, if you have kids who have sensory issues, consider not sitting underneath the speakers, which are turned up very high during the parade. You can see the speakers on the wall in the photograph below. 



Service here, as in most Disney restaurants, is efficient and friendly. Don't forget that your tip isn't included on the Disney dining plan!

If you have an early breakfast reservation, you can leave Tusker House right as the park opens. Head over to the Kilimanjaro Safari, which is just a few steps away, or have one of the faster people in your group run over to Expedition Everest to get fastpasses for everyone who wants to ride.

Tusker House is one table-service credit on the Disney Dining Plan.

6 comments:

Surrounded-By-Boys said...

This is DEFINITELY one of my favorite character breakfasts!!! The food is AMAZING too!!!

Cheryl said...

I think we might try this next trip! We did Crystal Palace last trip and it was a big hit with everyone.

Caleb R. said...

My fiancé and I visited here during our past 2 trips (Jan & Sept '11) and during our second trip we knew that we wouldn't be purchasing our picture package with Donald so we told the cast member we did not want to take our picture and it saved us atleast 20 min. of waiting in line to pose for a picture we would not get to bring home. We were both relieved to be able to skip the line and get straight to the food and the characters inside. If you are in a hurry to get to the food or just do not want to wait for a picture that you do not wish to pay for then I suggest that you tell the cast member you do not want to wait for the picture.

Christina Wood said...

Caleb, great advice.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

We always eat one breakfast and one lunch at Tusker House. I have always seen Donald inside, never outside and we were just down there.

Anonymous said...

This was my favorite character buffet on property for breakfast until my last experience there two weeks ago. Characters were on point but, the food was less than enjoyable.

My second favorite(or new favorite now) for character dining for breakfast would have to be at Cape May Cafe at the Beach Club. It's definitely not as crowded as character breakfast buffets located in the parks or on the MK monorail line.

If you just want a breakfast buffet without characters, I would also suggest Captain's Grille within the Yacht Club!