The Boma Experience

On a recent trip, my family decided we wanted to have a special dinner together. We were, however, without a car and not really looking for a long walk. As we had no Advance Dining Reservations (going to a table-service restaurant was a spur of the moment choice), our selections were limited in the parks. We were able to snag a reservation at Boma, which is located in Animal Kingdom Lodge. Since we just happened to be staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge, this worked out just fine.

Now I can safely say that I have not ever ventured to an African-inspired restaurant at home. Not that there is anything wrong with that. It just isn’t a cuisine that is readily available in my hometown. In fact, it may be a type of food that many aren’t familiar with before making a reservation.

As a parent of a couple of picky eaters, I can assure you that an unknown menu like this can give me pause. While my children aren’t likely to complain to vocally, they will probably be asking for more food in about an hour if they aren’t happy with the selections at a given restaurant.

The sheer number of the selections helped ease our fears right away. Boma is a buffet, and one thing that those picky eaters have taught me is that buffets are our friends. Salads, fruits, and a pasta dish can go a long way. And Boma does not disappoint in this regard.

When entering the restaurant, guests are greeted by a friendly Cast Member, who just happens to be a native to Africa. The warm welcome leads into an explanation of the foods offered on the massive buffet line. While soft drinks and the like are included in the price of the meal, there are several specialty drinks (both with and without alcohol) available for an additional charge. If you enjoy wine with your meal, check out the selection of South African wines available.

Be warned though, the buffet isn’t set up like a traditional buffet. There are smaller sections to the buffet. Guests don’t have to queue up at one end and proceed down the line (although many do). The soups and salads are actually in the center section of the buffet line.

To start your meal, there is an array of salads, fruits, and soups. Most are flavors that you may not have had before, but since it’s a buffet, it’s fun to take a small portion or one (or more) and give it a try. Who knew that Boma’s butternut squash soup would be my picky daughter’s favorite dish?

After your appetizer, there is a selection of entrees. The buffet changes slightly daily, so what we experienced may not be exactly what your experience is. But the general types of dishes are the same. There is a carving station with some kind of carved meat available. The day we were there, prime rib was offered, and if a guest wanted it done a little more, it was put on the grill right there and cooked to order. There is usually a salmon selection, chicken dishes, and delicious vegetables. Each person at our table had a different favorite, so I can’t tell you what the best is. But again, it’s a buffet, and the portions can be as small as you want, so it’s perfect for sampling them all. Then of course you can go back for seconds of your favorites.

As for the less adventurous palates, there is a section of the buffet with “kids” selections. There is a mac and cheese or pasta, chicken (cooked in a more Americanized way), and a vegetable.

I’m telling you now, though, to be careful! This food is delicious, but you will be doing yourself a huge disservice to fill up on appetizers and entrees, and skip dessert. Boma has some of the most delicious desserts on property. The famous zebra domes are here, but there is so much more. Most are served in a small tart-like size, so it’s perfect for sampling and sharing. Or everyone can get their own, because these desserts are seriously delicious.

Boma is not a place you go for a small bite to eat. Since the buffet price is the same no matter what, try to go hungry. We’ve decided that this is a perfect place to go after a long day of touring parks. It is a buffet, which doesn’t allow for resting during the entire meal, but it’s definitely worth getting up for the wonderful food.

Even if you aren’t staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge, it’s still worth the trip over. There aren’t busses direct from one resort to another, but there are ways to still get there.  If you are at a theme park, you can take the Animal Kingdom Lodge bus over to the lodge and have your dinner. Then after, take a bus back to a theme park or Downtown Disney.  From there, take your bus to your resort or hang around and walk off your big meal for a bit. Of course, if you have a car, driving over to Animal Kingdom Lodge is easy, and there is a large self park lot there. You can also always choose the cab route if you didn’t drive and aren’t interested in hanging out on the bus system.

Finally, as you’ve finished your amazing meal, you may wish to take a few minutes to check out the Lodge.  There is an animal viewing area which is just magical at night. There are night vision glasses to use at select times, a fire pit to add to the ambiance, and knowledgeable native African guides to answer your questions. It’s a perfect way to top off a wonderful meal. Although my daughter may argue that checking out the unique items in the shop on your way out is the perfect way to end an evening.

Whatever you choose, a visit to Boma is worth the trip. While I still haven’t hunted down a similar restaurant closer to home, I’m ready to make another Advance Dining Reservation for my next trip and experience Boma once again.

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