We have been long time Disney aficionados, but usually we just go to the main attraction – the theme parks. This year we decided to search out some new places and things to do, all while staying on Disney property. I was searching on the website for Disney World (Kissimmee, FL) for places to eat. I had come across a listing for Boma. I had read the description and thought it sounded cool. The restaurant is a buffet, family friendly, and prominently features African cuisine, sounds like a great way to try some new food without a having to go to a pretentious restaurant. For family members and children who are fussy eaters, you can still find basic American food, like mac & cheese, mashed potatoes, roasted meats including pork, beef, chicken, there was salmon, salad, and dessert. The price tag for a single adult is on the pricy side, compared to most dinners out, but it is a unique experience, I consider it on the same par with a nice Las Vegas buffet, also in the $30 per adult range.
Boma is located at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo House. It is on the bottom floor, the pool level. When entering the hotel, go right to the elevators, and go to the bottom floor. Or you can take the staircase that leads down two levels, you get a walk through the 2nd floor lounge, and see some of the water feature built into the area. The restaurant itself is beautiful, as is everything leading down to the arrival at the desk to check in for dinner. Dinner is served from 4:30 pm to 9:30 pm.
I probably should have made reservations…but I didn’t. I had checked online to see if space was available and there was an opening for 4:45pm. Instead of booking it, we figured we could just go as a walk in. Lucky for us, we did arrive at the hotel, parked, and got to Boma’s desk at 4:10 pm. They asked us to come back up to the desk at 4:15pm, something about not being able to check availability until then. There were already about 20-30 people waiting in the lobby, making us nervous about not having made a reservation. We asked again about dinner for two and were given a pager. We waited. The lobby for Boma seemed to swell with people. In a short period of time, it became crowded. Around 4:20 pm, two girls who worked there had started playing drums, the sound echoed up the building, I’m sure people upstairs in the main hotel lobby became curious about the drum beats from below. Around this time, a family was buzzed to the desk via pager, an employee greeted them and then announced that this was to be the “family of the day” and to give them a round of applause. That family was seated in the dining room. A few minutes later, we were paged and lead through the dining room, to a window side dining table for two (a half booth/chair combo looking out a bank of windows surrounded by tropical plants with a limited view of the pool in the background) , and greeted by our waitress, Allison. We ordered our drinks, standard drinks, like tea, coffee, soda are included in the set price of dinner. She gave a short detail of some of the special foods available, soups and meats, and said to help ourselves. Each food area is presented as a “pod” they have meats in one pod, salad is another, fruit, etc. There is usually a chef standing close by the pod that can answer any questions you have about the food there. Also there is a carving station at the meat pod, they will offer you roasted beef when you go past.
Well, this was it, the moment finally arrived. Plate in hand and checking out what was in store. I had ended up starting at the far right, we had been sitting closest to that point. I had taken a smidge of everything that looked good to me. I sampled the salmon, pork with spicy barbecue sauces, spiced rotisserrie chicken, lots of samples of African foods, like fufu, bobotie, lentil salad, couscous, hummus, mealy bread (cornbread). I sampled 3 of the soups, mixed greens salad with apple vinaigrette and a balsamic vinaigrette. Once I had finally had my plate and sat down, I had taken some bites and found that the food was not only decent, it was actually delicious. I was so relieved. Everything was excellent, I consider it to be gourmet, the flavors and spices reminded me of Indian food without the heaviness of creamy curries or heat. The creamy butternut squash soup was so decadent. They had three types of hummus; black olive hummus, sun-dried tomato hummus, and white bean hummos, with flatbread and pita. There was an American “pod” which had mashed potatoes, mac & cheese, baked chicken, pasta, meatballs, and tomato sauce.
The service was excellent, never had to ask for another drink or for them to take away plates. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. I had also made sure to save room for fresh fruit and dessert. Their desserts are heavenly, I had tried the Zebra Domes and Peanut butter squares (not sure what the name was). Their desserts were tiny flavor-filled morsels. There was also Caramel Cheesecake bites, Cinnamon Chocolate Mousse, Kenyan Coffee Torte, Assorted Cookies, Bread Pudding with Bananas, Warm Apple Cobbler, Passion Fruit Panna Cotta, I’m probably forgetting something.
I had read some reviews about Boma online, most of them spoke highly of it. There were a few criticisms, one review had said it was noisy, another had complained about the food compared to another time they had been there. But now after going I didn’t see any of those things as a problem, I didn’t think it was too noisy, it wasn’t even a concern to me, and the food quality was excellent. I could easily recommend this to friends and family. Take an after dinner stroll around the hotel and surroundings, you can see some giraffes, zebras, and more.
Just as a side note – we did join the Tables in Wonderland club (the fee to join is $100 for non-passholders, $75 for annual or seasonal passholders), it will give you 20% off at Disney’s sit down restaurants PLUS free Valet parking ($12) at the resort if you are dining at a restaurant located inside the resort, must present receipt and TIW card at Valet desk when you get your car. The gratuity is 18% and calculated on top of the original amount before the 20% discount. Ultimately you are still saving some money, it all comes down to how much you will use the card. If you don’t spend more than $400 a year eating at sit down restaurants at Disney, then you probably wouldn’t benefit from it.