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Restaurant Review Boma, Animal Kingdom Lodge
Friday, December 27, 2002
Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort in Orlando is home to a couple of excellent and highly popular restaurants. Jiko is the full-service option, where diners select from an established menu and the food is brought to their table. Boma is the buffet restaurant, yet many consider it to be several steps above the buffets found in the other Disney restaurants.
Open for breakfast and dinner, Boma is not a home to character meals. Instead, the focus is on high-quality food in an attractive setting. The kitchen is open to the restaurant, allowing diners to see some of the backstage action. Not being much of a breakfast eater, Boma in the morning has no appeal for me, so my visits have been during the dinner hours. Dinner for adults ages 12 and up is $23.99, while children ages 3 to 11 are $9.99. Tax and gratuity are additional.
Dinner begins at 5:00 nightly, and priority seatings are highly recommended. People who have not called ahead may find themselves turned away, or at the very least, facing a potentially long wait. The restaurant itself is fairly large, but not so large that it is impossible to get to the food without waiting in long lines.
Unlike most other buffets where there is a single line of food with a starting and ending point, the food at Boma is arranged on a series of pods. Each pod has a chef available to explain the items available, and a stack of clean plates. Diners can start at the beginning, or meander from one pod to another in any order.
Although each food item is labeled, since some of them are pretty unusual it may be necessary to ask the chef for the primary ingredients. We had a person with a food allergy in our party over 30 adults, and one of the chefs personally took her through the entire food line to point out which items were safe and which she should avoid, based on her specific allergy! Once that was done, she was free to enjoy many items without risking her health.
Boma provides an excellent opportunity to try a variety of African-inspired foods that may be new to most people. The exact items seem to vary night by night, which keeps the restaurant a fresh experience for repeat visitors. The Durban chicken is almost always present, although it is not boneless as it is at Mara, the quick-service restaurant at the Lodge, or at the Epcot Food and Wine Festival.
Prime rib is another staple, and there is always a fish dish; on my most recent visit, the selection was nut-crusted salmon. There are a variety of salads, including the unusual watermelon rind salad, which most people seem to either love or hate, an African slaw, chicken salad, pasta salad, and a seafood salad with couscous. There were several vegetable and starch offerings, many of which are unusual but definitely worth tasting.
Soups are something Animal Kingdom Lodge does exceptionally well, and during my visit I was at last able to experience the coconut curry chicken soup, which was every bit as delicious as it had been reported to be.
People who prefer the stereotypically "children's" foods will find a pod (lower to the ground, for shorter diners) with chicken fingers, macaroni and cheese, and other similar food. Some of our adult diners who are less adventurous eaters supplemented the unfamiliar items with some of these familiar foods.
Service at Boma was excellent on both times I dined there. The server took drink orders and kept the non-alcoholic drinks filled. Dirty dishes were promptly removed.
We did experience one disappointment on the last visit. Our party of over 30 adults was grouped together at several tables near the back of the restaurant. The trouble was, they took four small tables designed for two people sitting across from each other, and pushed them together. While that provided seating for four people along the length of the table, they put six place settings and tried to tell us we had to have six people sharing that space (the seat was a long booth seat). There was no way six adults fit comfortably into space for four adults, so we insisted they provide additional seats at another table nearby. Boma management did resolve this, and other than that minor trouble, the meal was flawless.
There is a full bar, along with a decent wine list and a nice assortment of specialty drinks unique to Boma. The dessert section of the buffet is especially impressive, and contains far more than pictured in my photo.
The most talked-about Boma dessert on the Internet seems to be the Zebra Domes. These are a thin layer of yellow cake topped with a milk chocolate mousse, and the top is swirled to loosely resemble the stripes of a zebra. I think I am one of the few who was not impressed - not the first time and not this time, either. The Chocolate Mousse Crunch is my favorite by far. These have a chocolate and nut base, with dark chocolate mousse on top. There was a hint of some liqueur in the mousse, but not enough to create an alcohol taste. They are very rich and worth every calorie. In addition, there is usually some type of cheesecake, tarts, cookies, brownies, and other items. The individual pieces are small, making it easy to sample several different items.
Overall Boma is an excellent dinner choice for diners both adventurous and timid. There is enough American food that I doubt anybody will leave hungry. For someone like me who eats very little at one time, Boma has such a terrific variety of food it can be worth the price even when I wouldn't consider the other buffet meals. If you haven't tried Boma yet, you're missing one of the best meals available on Disney property.
Contact Sue at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sue has been hooked on Walt Disney World since her first visit in 1972 with her parents and younger brother. She kept returning more frequently until she moved to Florida in 1986.
After joining the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) in 1997, she now visits almost monthly. She also spends time at the DVC's non-WDW locations, and is experienced with the Disney cruise ships.
She takes many of these trips on her own, but she's also toured WDW with large groups of people, including families, the elderly, and people with disabilities.
She works as the Administrative Services Division Head for a large residential facility administered by the Florida Department of Children and Families. She currently resides in Southwest Florida with her teenage son.
Sue is one of our most prolific trip report writers. Read her trip report archive here.
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