Flavors of Africa
In addition to Private Safaris and VIP Magic Kingdom Tours, did you know that Boma and Jiko restaurants at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom Lodge offer free culinary tours? One afternoon I had just had it. I needed peace. I needed quiet. I needed solace. And I made up some lame excuse to make a quick visit to the sundries shop in the lobby. Instead, I headed to the ground floor, put my phone on airplane mode, and decided to take one of these complimentary behind-the-scenes tastings while visiting Walt Disney World for the Disney Social Media Moms Conference.
The tours are held daily each afternoon prior to the “First Family’s” dinner seating, and reservations are not required for this activity, just show up! In my opinion, it truly is one of AKL’s best-kept secrets. The JetSet Family has called Animal Kingdom Lodge “home” for over a decade since purchasing our Disney Vacation Club back in 2007, and Jiko and Boma remain two of our favorite Walt Disney World restaurants no matter which property we end up staying at.
So how do you claim your spot on the tour so you can taste your way through Boma and Jiko? Simply show up! One of the on-staff cultural guides will promptly begin the tour in the Jiko lobby area at 4:15 pm, but it’s best to arrive a wee bit early and check with the Animal Kingdom Lodge Activity Guide which is published daily. For this post, we’re going to concentrate on Boma’s food tour, and stay tuned because we will feature Jiko’s soon!
From the moment you arrive inside Animal Kingdom Lodge, it’s hard not to be impressed by the Savannah view complete with patio overlooking the animals, to the IgboIjele Mask which measures over 15 feet tall, surrounded by many other African artworks and artifacts. My personal favorites are the colorful bowls hanging on the walls handmade with telephone wires from different villages throughout Africa.
Boma: “Place of Safety”
It’s no secret that Disney Imagineers carefully curate every inch of the parks, properties, and restaurants, with distinct details tied into the theme. And there is no exception when dining at Boma. Meaning a “Place of Saftey” in Swahili, the pillars seen throughout the family-style buffet restaurant replicate the pots used for pounding nuts. Each one is carefully painted to match the color of the African sunset, and the walls are decorated with stamped African coins.
One of my favorite features of Boma is “The Family Table.” At first glance, it may seem like a typical dining area, but when you look closely you can tell it is carved into the shape of the continent of Africa. This is where the “First Family” of the evening will be randomly selected and participate in a festive welcoming to mark the official opening of the evening.
It is also important to notice that many, if not all, of the hosts and staff of Boma and Jiko are native to Africa, so this is your opportunity to soak up as much information as possible. As we toured the kitchen, the buffet stockpots were overflowing with African inspired recipes and lots of kid-friendly meal options available to make family dining pleasant for everyone.
One sampling that blew my mind was the Butternut Squash Soup. I loved it so much that I asked the chef to email it to me so I can share it with you on the blog. This flavorful soup is so savory and delicious, I’m sure you’ll go back for seconds…perhaps even thirds.