Yesterland
Animal Kingdom
at Yesterland.com
Tusker House Restaurant
 
Colorful African-themed counter-service restaurant

Tusker House Restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2007

Hotel Burudika

Adventurous travelers flock to the Hotel Burudika in the East African village of Harambe. It’s a popular place to rest before or after a two-week safari into the forests, wetlands, and savanna of the Harambe Wildlife Reserve. And now you’re here too.


One reason for the Hotel Burudika’s popularity is its Tusker House Restaurant—the best place in the village for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.

There’s also the hotel’s Dawa Bar for African wine, specialty cocktails, and thirst-quenching beers. But that’s another story.

Tusker House Restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2005

A bull elephant—a tusker—on the Tusker House sign

Perhaps you would expect Tusker House Restaurant to offer a fancy buffet. Nope. This is an unpretentious place. You order at a counter in the hotel’s two-story lobby. Your food is served quickly. Then you look for an empty table.

You’ve probably already figured out that you’re not really in Eastern Africa. You’re at Yester Animal Kingdom, and the year is between 1998 and 2007. Hotel Burudika makes Harambe feel authentic, but it’s not a real hotel.

Tusker House Restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2007

Come on in

Tusker House Restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2007

A bold boast

Tusker House Restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2006

Counter service in the two-story lobby

As you study the menu, you’ll notice it’s more American than African. If you were expecting Irio, Maharagwe, Ugali, Sukuma Wiki, or Nyama Choma, you won’t find them here. What you will find is less exotic, but also quite delicious.

Tusker House Restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2007

Entrées

Tusker House Restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2007

Kids’ Picks and Dessert

Tusker House Restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2007

Beverages

You say you want the salmon? Good choice. The fish is seasoned well. The vegetables are hot, but not mushy. And the Tusker House version of jollof rice is even a nod to Africa.

Tusker House Restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2006

Grilled Salmon entrée on a plastic plate, accompanied by a plastic fork and paper napkin

Now you only have one more decision—where to eat your meal. There are plenty of tables inside and outside. As you wander around, take a look at the authentic art and artifacts. If you don’t mind eating while standing, head out to the street where there’s often entertainment.

Tusker House Restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2006

Main dining room

Tusker House Restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2006

Outdoor seating behind Tusker House Restaurant

When it’s time to eat at Yester Animal Kingdom, “satisfy your beastly hunger” at the Tusker House Restaurant.


Tusker House Restaurant was part of Disney’s Animal Kingdom when the fourth theme park at Walt Disney World officially opened on Earth Day—April 22, 1998.

Surprisingly, while the other parks offered numerous table-service and buffet options, the new animal park relied almost entirely on counter service. The two exceptions were a table-service chain restaurant, Rainforest Cafe, at the park entrance and Donald’s Breakfastosaurus character breakfast buffet at Restaurantosaurus in DinoLand U.S.A.

It seemed odd. And it would be corrected in 2007.

Tusker House Restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2007

Temporarily closed

Tusker House Restaurant closed August 20, 2007, for a three-month remodel. That was its end as a counter-service eatery. No more plasticware or paper cups.

Before Tusker House Restaurant would reopen, the company behind Rainforest Cafe opened a second table-service restaurant in the park. Yak & Yeti Restaurant, serving pan-Asian food in a Nepalese-themed restaurant, opened in the Asia section on November 14, 2007. Thankfully, it wasn’t a chain restaurant this time.

Three days later, on November 17, 2007, Tusker House Restaurant reopened as a full-service buffet. The name did not change. Guests were surprised to find a pricy, ambitious African-inspired buffet where they had previously enjoyed relatively inexpensive American food.

On the same day, Donald’s Breakfastosaurus character breakfast—with Donald, Daisy, Goofy and Mickey—moved from Restaurantosaurus (where it ended November 2, 2007) to Tusker House Restaurant, becoming Donald’s Safari Breakfast. There were no characters at lunch or dinner… at first.

Tusker House added characters to lunch on December 4, 2011, and to dinner on March 8, 2015.

Tusker House Restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Photo by Allen Huffman, 2019

Characters at breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Tusker House Restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2019

Lunch and dinner overview

Tusker House Restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2019

Check-in for the buffet

After Tusker House Restaurant stopped its counter service in 2007, guests not wanting the buffet feast had limited options in the Africa section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom—Tamu Tamu Eats & Refreshments, Kusafiri Coffee & Bakery, Harambe Fruit Market, and Dawa Bar (bar service only). There was a need for a place offering quick meals with plenty of seating.

It took until May 23, 2015. That’s when Harambe Market opened.

Harambe Market at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2016

Harambe Market in the Africa section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Harambe Market at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2016

Themed as a street market with food stalls operated by local entrepreneurs

Harambe Market at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2015

All Natural Grilled Chicken Skewer and All-Beef Gyro Flatbread, as served in 2015

Harambe Market makes it easy to pretend you’re in rural Africa. The food is quick (except when the lines get too long) and tasty. It’s a worthy successor to the original counter-service Tusker House Restaurant.

 

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Updated June 5, 2020.