We attended Donald’s Safari Character Buffet at the Tusker House in the heart of Animal Kingdom. Our reservations were for but the Animal Kingdom didn’t open until that morning. We caught the bus from our hotel like normal and went to the Animal Kingdom. Once there, we were ushered to the first and second gates. Our name was checked off on a list of reservations. We were led into the park and told where to go. We got to amble through Animal Kingdom to the Tusker House when the crowds were non existent. The views all the way to the restaurant are phenomenal. The Tusker House is conveniently located right next to Kilimanjaro Safaris. As we arrived, we checked in at the outside desk area. We were taken back within 3 minutes. On the way back we were stopped to take a photo in front of elaborate African masks. We were then taken to our seats.
The Tusker House is decorated rather plainly. There were backpacks and water canisters and other miscellaneous hiking/safari equipment on shelves located around the restaurant. There were also tapestries hanging here and there. The tables and chairs were made of dark wood. The buffet is located in the center of the restaurant in its own room. The food is plentiful. All the usual breakfast fixings are there including Mickey waffles, pancakes, all kinds of eggs and omelets, breakfast meats, tons of fruit, muffins, and donuts. I’m not sure what kinds of drinks the Tusker House has available as we only drank the offered Safari Juice (papaya and mango I think) which was delicious. The food was wonderful, as we expected.
After we came back to the table with our food a cast member came around offering to sell us the pictures we took outside. The picture came in a paper frame along with a signed picture of Donald, Mickey, Goofy and Daisy. The pictures were 5x7 along with two more 3 ½ x 5 family photos. The price for this package was a steep $35. Unfortunately this picture can not be added to your photo pass account. I didn’t realize until we got back home that I can’t just set the frame up on the table. The character photo is horizontal and our family photo is vertical.
After approximately 20 minutes at the table an announcement was made that Donald’s Safari was about to begin. We were told to remain at our tables and the characters would come to each table to sign autographs and take pictures. I must say, I was disappointed with the character portion of our breakfast. We were greeted by Donald, Daisy, Mickey and Goofy. Each character came around alone. They were all dressed for Safari with khaki and green outfits and big safari type hats. We had LITTLE time with each character. After hearing others talk about their wonderful character experiences elsewhere I had high expectations. Donald came around first. He posed for two pictures and was right on to the next table. Next was Daisy. She spent as little time as Donald. When Mickey came around he spent even less time! I took my two pictures with the kids and handed the camera off to my husband. It all took a few seconds. I turned around and Mickey was off to the next table. I said to him, Mickey, you missed a picture with Mom! But he just turned to me and shrugged. Goofy spent the most time at the tables. He posed for nice pictures as well as silly ones. This time we got a picture of the kids and one with me. Overall the characters only stayed at each table for a maximum of 1 minute! Even less for those of us who didn’t have autograph books! My 4 year old didn’t mind as he was a little apprehensive of the characters, but he still stood and hugged each one for a picture. I was just expecting more than that! They just didn’t interact with us at all. They stopped at the table, took our kids’ hands and looked at the camera. No waving hello, no friendly gestures.
The Tusker House has a great breakfast spread if buffet breakfasts are your thing. The restaurant is nice even though it is lacking décor. The Tusker House just reopened after a refurbishment so maybe they are still decorating? If a character breakfast is what you are after, SKIP IT and go someplace else.
Tip: Make sure you get your autograph books before heading to a character meal! We didn’t even think about it as it was our first full day at the World. We didn’t get any autographs (which was ok since we purchased the photo package with a signed picture).
This review was contributed by Mynde, aka Esmerelda on the DisneyMouseLinks.com forums. Thanks Mynde!