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Animal Kingdom Lodge Dining

A fusion of cultures and history, the cuisine of Africa tells an important part of the story at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge.

"African cuisine has something for everyone," says Dieter Hannig, vice president of Walt Disney World Food & Beverage. "There is freshness, elegance and simplicity -- borrowing flavors from many of the 53 countries on the world's second largest continent. This is our interpretation of Africa."

Because Africa borders both the Indian and Atlantic oceans, seafood is abundant, and the multi-cultural influences -- grilled meats from the British, vineyards from the French, curries from India and Asia, stews from the native Africans -- create a tremendously versatile cuisine.

The two main restaurants at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, Jiko-The Cooking Place and Boma-Flavors of Africa, are an integral part of the resort's design, so that the sights and scents enhance the guests' sensory experience, says Jean-Marie Clement, food and beverage manager for Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge. The lobby overlooks Boma, where wood-burning grills create sensational aromas from morning until night.


Boma in Africa is "an open, natural space that provides safety and shelter in the bush." The 270-seat "marketplace" restaurant is open for breakfast and dinner, featuring an exhibit kitchen and bakery that allows guests to walk up to a half-dozen side-by-side cooking stations and have their entrées freshly prepared. Curries, chutneys and other Indian and Asian influences add fabulous flavors to grilled fish, meats and vegetables. Diners find authentic soups, stews, tossed-to-order salads and other market-fresh fare on the daily menu. "Choices can be as simple as rotisserie grilled chicken, but the fun begins when adventurous eaters add a flavorful cucumber sambal or a sweet chutney," says Chef Frank Brough, who oversees the team of chefs in Boma's kitchen.

Soups, from hearty seafood gumbo to curry-infused mulligatawny, are a highlight, along with salads such as avocado, grapefruit and papaya or roasted chicken with chili-cilantro vinaigrette. Entrees include grilled seafood, slow-roasted ribs and whole-spiced chicken accompanied by couscous, saffron rice or fried sweet potato. Add chutneys, a peppery sambal or a sweet-and-sour chile papaya sauce for a delightful international treat. Breads, too, are African-inspired, including golden-brown naan, light and flaky chapatis or a blue cornbread.

Cultural representatives from Africa serve as hosts and hostesses, greeting guests as they enter the thatched-roof eatery. "This personal interaction helps our guests understand African culture," says Clement. "Diners will find food they're used to, but also new and unusual versions of African cuisine." For children, there's a separate cooking station with its own chef.

Boma is open daily for breakfast and dinner. Priority seating is recommended; call 407/WDW-DINE.

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Jiko-The Cooking Place

The resort's signature restaurant is Jiko-The Cooking Place, featuring cuisines from around the globe: Berbere-braised lamb shank with couscous and baby spinach; pan-roasted halibut and vegetables, and roasted chicken with preserved lemons, olives and garlic. Appetizers are equally imaginative, like kalamata olive flatbread, or a crispy cinnamon-spiced beef roll.

The restaurant’s children’s menu features everything from grilled salmon to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Jiko offers exclusive South African wines that are rarely available in the United States with most of the 65 vintages available by the glass. South African climate mirrors the northern coast of California, so the grape varietals and flavors are familiar.

Jiko's artful interior, the work of noted restaurant designer Jeffrey Beers, is inspired by Disney's "The Lion King," with muted earth tones and stylistic white birds gracefully suspended from the ceiling. Twin wood-burning ovens are the centerpiece of the open kitchen in the 235-seat dining room. For private dining, the glass-walled Cape Town Wine Room seats up to 40.

Jiko is open daily for dinner. For priority seating, call 407/WDW-DINE.

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The Mara

The poolside express restaurant, The Mara, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner with everything from fresh soups and burgers to egg rolls on the menu. "Even in our quick-service restaurant, we want to give guests the opportunity to try something creative," says Brough. For instance, the spices and sugar trade in the South African town of Durban inspired the Durban-spiced chicken skewered on sugar cane. Menu boards explain new and unusual creations to diners.

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Victoria Falls

The mezzanine lounge overlooking Boma, serves gourmet coffee, teas, South African vintage wines and international beers and cocktails.

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