Day 19: Wilderness Explorers / WDW-40, 2016

Day 19 of WDW-40, the latest of my Disney Trip Reports, is here! Today we were back at Animal Kingdom! The day started with breakfast at Tusker House, going on safari, watching The Festival of The Lion King, and ending with dinner, off-site at Olive Garden.

If you haven’t read my pre-trip planning report yet, why not have a quick read now to bring you up to speed about who we are, and why this trip report is called WDW-40! You might also want to start reading from the beginning of the report!

Day 19: Wilderness Explorers / WDW-40, 2016. A Walt Disney World Trip Report covering a day at Animal Kingdom, with the Character Breakfast at Tusker House, Kimilmanjaro Safaris, Expedition Everest and lots more!

Day 19: Animal Kingdom

Character Breakfast at Tusker House, Dinner at Olive Garden
September 22nd, 2016
My trip reports are generally photo heavy, images in tiled galleries can be clicked on to enlarge. All the photos from this day can be found here | Florida 2016 photo collection on Flickr here.
WDW-40, 2016: Trip Report Index | Pre-Trip Planning Report
Some days are split into several parts; please use the page numbers at the bottom of the post to continue reading.


Animal Kingdom Entrance

It had been a few days since we last met up with my brother Chris, and his fiancé (now wife!), Meg, as they had gone off doing their own thing while I was poorly. We had breakfast booked at Tusker House and arranged to meet them outside the restaurant.

On the walk down from the entrance of Animal Kingdom to Tusker House, I naturally stopped to take a few photos – not as many as usual as was mindful of the time. Of course, my beloved Tree of Life which is just stunning; as well as some other notable sights – like Expedition Everest in the distance.

We also saw Flik walking to start his Meet & Greet, so we stopped to take a photo with him since there were zero people waiting!

Animal Kingdom - Tree of Life

Animal Kingdom - Expedition Everest

We had also brought our Wilderness Explorer’s books with us (that we started in, I think, 2014!) so that we could collect more badges (stickers) in them. There are over 30 to collect from around the park, and you don’t have to do them all the same day (or even the same year in our case!)

Follow in the footsteps of Russell, and his faithful dog, Dug from the Disney•Pixar movie, Up! and traverse the jungle, forest and woodlands as you set out on fact-finding challenges. It is suitable for kids of all ages, and a great way to explore Animal Kingdom as a family. It’s also free to do!

To get started, grab a Wilderness Explorer’s field guide from headquarters – located on the bridge between the Oasis and Discovery Island – or drop by Wilderness Explorer stops in Africa, Rafiki’s Planet Watch, Asia and Dinoland U.S.A. to pick one up there. Then it is a self-guided mission around Animal Kingdom.

You’ll know when you’ve found the correct place as you’ll see a sign similar to the one below. This happened to be at the flamingo enclosure, where we learned all about these pink birds. Missions ranging from animal observation to learning all-too-important nature skills.

Animal Kingdom - Wilderness Explorer's Stop

Tusker House - Animal Kingdom

We met up with Chris and Meg and checked-in. Tusker House is one of our favourite restaurants at Walt Disney World, and I think we’ve eaten here at least once on all of our trips over the years. It is a character dining restaurant, and you can meet Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, Daisy Duck, and Goofy here for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They’re all dressed up in their safari gear and it’s a great way to meet the characters.

Be warned though, this particular character dining is really noisy compared with others we’ve been to. I’m not sure why! As with all character dining, each character will visit your table as you dine. The Cast Member will explain things to you, but generally, when a character comes to your section of the restaurant you’ll soon be visited. Have your camera ready, and your autograph book opened on a blank page, for them to sign! Characters are also used to having selfies taken, so you can always do that too!

In our experience, we’ve always met all the characters during our meal, and if you haven’t met them yet, and you’ve been given your check (bill), don’t feel you have to rush off!

» Read my Disney Character Dining Tips here

Tusker House Characters

Because we’ve dined here so many times, I didn’t actually bother to take photos of the food, but I can share some from the past as the food has remained largely unchanged since our first dining experience here in 2011. Some dishes may change seasonally, especially at lunch or dinner. Oh, and a quick tip, if you book an ADR for a time that is between different meal times, you may find that the buffet will crossover giving you a chance to try from the other menu as it were.

Tusker House is an all-you-care-to-enjoy buffet. The buffet is laid out really well and is very spacious. As you’ll see in the photo below. You’ll find that there will be some doubling-up of different food stations, so if there is a bit of a line, you can always go to the other one instead.

Lunch at Tusker House - Animal Kingdom

Tusker House »

Breakfast at Tusker house features traditional [American] breakfast fare, including eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits and gravy, breakfast potatoes, and of course Mickey Waffles with warm syrup. There is often a carved meat station, and a tray of beef bobotie, which is one of my favourites at Tusker House.

You’ll also find an assortment of pastries, breads, cereal, and fruit. As usual, all Coca-Cola fountain products are included in the price of the buffet, as is Jungle Juice and coffee.

Mickey Waffles at Olivia's Cafe Breakfast at Old Key West

Tusker House, Animal Kingdom

Bill: $120 + Tax: $6.24 + Tip: $21.60 = $147.84
TiW Discount: $24


Total Paid: $123.84

After breakfast, we went over to Kilimanjaro Safaris where we had a FastPass+ time slot. This is one of my personal favourites as I love seeing the animals, and taking photographs of them. I would love to go on an actual, real life safari in Africa, but until I do, I’ve got Kilimanjaro Safaris.

There are 34 different species of African wildlife on the safari – no guarantees that you will see all of them – no two safaris are the same! The journey lasts 18 minutes, and I think it is enhanced depending on your tour guide driver. It can be hit and miss with them. Some are really knowledgeable and tell you a lot about the animals, some not so much.

It is a bumpy ride, so hold onto your hats and your camera! Use a fast shutter speed, or switch to a sports mode on your camera as the truck can’t always stop. Here are some of the photos I took of the animals we saw on this safari.

Kilimanjaro Safaris - Animal Kingdom

Kilimanjaro Safaris - Animal Kingdom

Kilimanjaro Safaris - Animal Kingdom - Elephants

Kilimanjaro Safaris - Animal Kingdom

Kilimanjaro Safaris - Animal Kingdom - Lion

Kilimanjaro Safaris - Animal Kingdom - Cheetah

Our FastPass+ slot for Festival of The Lion King was coming up not that long after our safari ended. So we made our way over to the theatre to see the show.