The first change you’ll notice about the new Tusker House Restaurant is that Disney has positioned the check-in over near the Dawa Bar and the entrance is now located behind the restaurant.
This has its pluses and minuses. The plus, it can get crowded over near the Kusafiri Coffee Shop & Bakery (the old entrance). If Disney had added a check-in booth in this area, it would be a nightmare logistically.
The negative thing about where they did position the check-in is that it’s located adjacent to the stage area where drummers and acrobats perform several times a day. In fact, when I checked-in, I had to yell to be heard. After checking-in, I was asked to stand over near the Dawa Bar. The crowd of people milling about is sure to detract from the bar’s atmosphere. When the host called my name, he too had to yell to be heard over the beating drums.
A hostess took me to my table and as she did, she did her best to describe the hotel upstairs (wink, wink), and the African artifacts found throughout.
The restaurant’s seating area has not changed at all.
The only difference you will find is that the tables are now set with silverware and wine glasses. I noticed that the tables for four only had two wine glasses – assuming that most parties of this size would have children in tow. There are no soft objects in the seating area so there is nothing to absorb the sound. It can get noisy in here.
My server Dorothy greeted me promptly and explained that many “venders” had created tempting dishes for sale in the marketplace. This storyline was a nice touch.
The old counter-service area has been beautifully redesigned into a lovely buffet. You’d never know that it had been converted. Happily, Disney did keep the wonderful rotisserie and it can still be seen roasting chickens.
Also, the quaint shops that line the second floor of the buffet/marketplace are still there. Take the time to look up sometime, the detailing is wonderful.
Everything I tasted was good. If I had to sum up what I thought of the buffet, I’d say it was a mini-version of the Boma buffet at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. The only complaint I had was the plates available at the carving station were cold – thus, when I got back to my table, so was my meat. On subsequent trips to the buffet, I found the plates to be warm.
A quick rundown of the food available: A bread station with non-typical offerings. A cold-cuts table with sliced ham, turkey, and cheese. These offerings were very pedestrian – there to please picky eaters. A number of salads – both leafy and not. A carving station with pork and sirloin. Curried chicken, a seafood casserole, salmon, rotisserie chicken, and an assortment of potatoes and vegetables round out the meal. A children’s table is also available.
Lunch costs $19.99 and I thought it was worth the price. Dinner costs $26.99 – the only difference being that prime rib is added to the menu. I’m not so sure prime rib is worth a $7 increase.
Bottom line – I would definitely return for lunch. I enjoyed myself and the food.