When it comes to buffets at Walt Disney World, there have long been two outliers: Tusker House and Boma – Flavors of Africa. For the last two decades, they have been the rare buffets that serve a wide selection of ambitious and adventurous cuisine. Don’t get me wrong–I love indulging at some other buffets, stuffing myself on so much comfort food that I’m still full the next morning. But there’s something special about Boma and Tusker House that nowhere else at Walt Disney World even comes close to replicating.
Accordingly, we had been eager for the return of Boma – Flavors of Africa at Animal Kingdom Lodge since our stay at Jambo House last fall. Months passed with no updates, and then finally, Tusker House Restaurant reopened. Sadly, dinner there was one of our most disappointing dining experiences ever at Walt Disney World. That restaurant, which was previously had a lot in common with Boma and was among our favorite character meals, was our worst meal of the year.
At that point, our perspective shifted from “eagerly awaiting” Boma to hoping it didn’t return until Walt Disney World was in a position to operate buffets as normal. After all, Boma was something of an anomaly even before and I feared that the closure and reopening would be a pretext for permanently and irreversibly altering its offerings and dumbing it down. Thankfully, we only had to wait a couple months after the return of Tusker House for the triumphant return of Boma–but the end result feels worlds apart…
In normal times, Boma – Flavors of Africa participates in the Disney Dining Plan as a 1-credit table service restaurant for dinner, which has historically made it among the Best Uses of Table Service Credits. Of course, that’s temporarily suspended right now, but presumably that info will be relevant again in the not-too-distant future.
Boma – Flavors of Africa also accepts the Tables in Wonderland card for a 20% discount (all of which are presumably expired by now) and Disney Vacation Club or Annual Passholder cards for 10% off. That comes off the $49 per adult or $27 per child (plus tax and gratuity) cost of Boma at dinner.
With the basics out of the way, let’s take a look inside the newly-reopened Boma – Flavors of Africa, and discuss what you can expect if dining here in the near future…
Reasonable minds may differ, but we’re comfortable doing indoor dining given that we’re fully vaccinated. Nevertheless, we have tried to book early or late ADRs whenever possible as a minor risk mitigation measure. Even during normal circumstances, we prefer the first or last seating–but that’s just us.
The point there is you shouldn’t expect to encounter a sea of empty tables at Boma.
Even when we left Boma, it was at most 25% full. This was likely a conscious decision by management, as the restaurant appeared well-staffed with experienced Cast Members–not just College Program participants learning the ropes.
Most of the tables in the center of the restaurant were left unfilled, with more guests seated in the other rooms. With other restaurants, we’ve seen operations scale up gradually with more tables filled over time.
As for safety measures at the buffet itself, guests are required to wear face masks whenever up from their tables, there are hand sanitizer kiosks at each entrance to the buffet, and serving utensils are changed regularly. The latter two should probably stick around as permanent changes.
All of the modifications are thoroughly explained by servers at the start of the meal. Due to the low number of guests at our seating, there was never anything resembling a line or crowd at the buffet. Again, this will likely change over time as Boma ramps back up.
Let’s turn to the cuisine at Boma – Flavors of Africa.
I’ll start by apologizing for the poor quality of the food photos. They’re all bad, with the plated images being a result of a hellacious mix of natural and artificial lighting. That’s not my fault. The buffet photos are my fault–I dunno, too much excitement about stuffing myself and not enough focus on quality? Either way, they’re sufficient to illustrate the commentary.
The buffet’s first station features Senagalase Yassa-style Salmon, Olive Oil Herbed-crushed Potatoes, and Sweet Corn Pudding.
Buffet fish is often playing with fire, but this salmon was spectacular–flaky, tender, and flavorful. The crushed potatoes were likewise great, like “elevated” mashed potatoes that went hard on the olive oil and rosemary. However, as much as I’m a sucker for mashed potatoes, the sweet corn pudding was even better. The only downside was making several trips for the individual containers.
Next up was Spiced Pork Ribs with Tamarind Honey BBQ sauce and Cast Member carving station with African Strip Loin (not pictured). Three sauces are also available: Boma Mustard, Horseradish, and Tamarind Barbecue Sauce.
Back to back homeruns here. The ribs have a fantastic rub and are slow-roasted to perfection–even Sarah got seconds on these. The African strip loin was likewise fantastic–a great cut of tender meat with a smokey flavor. Like so much of Boma, these meats have a familiar-but-different quality. The spices and preparation give them a unique quality, while they’re still totally approachable. The sauces are fantastic, as always, but we used them sparingly since the meats largely stood on their own.
I somehow forgot to get a photo of it on the buffet, but the next station features Lamb Bobotie (top left on my plate) and Durban Roasted Chicken.
The Lamb Bobotie is a Bomba fan favorite–a heavy baked casserole cooked from minced meat, egg, and mushroom. This is a bit like the Lamb Moussaka at Epcot’s Greece Booth. Absolutely fantastic. The Durban Roasted Chicken is miles better than the version being served at virtually every family style meal at Walt Disney World these days. We would’ve had more, but for the fact that we’ve had a ton of roasted chicken in the last couple months.
Boma is also known for its soup station, and this did not disappoint.
Despite it being 99Âº outside, we each opted for a couple bowls here. I chose the creamier options–sambal chicken corn chowder and butternut squash soup–which were fantastic as always.
Next up is the station with Basmati Rice, Spiced Green Beans with Golden Raisins, Black-Eyed Peas Greens and Chakalaka, and Peanut Rice.
The highlight here was the Peanut Rice, which was distinctly peanut-y. Sarah would also recommend the green beans and black-eyed peas, but I cannot corroborate that.
At the next station, which for some reason I opted to photograph at a low angle that doesn’t show much of anything, we have Berbere-Chickpea Salad, Tabbouleh, Tunisian Couscous and Shrimp Salad, North African Cauliflower Salad, Berbere Chicken Salad, Pasta Salad, and Coleslaw.
I loved pretty much everything else here except the coleslaw and chickpea salad. The Pasta Salad was an unexpected standout and Sarah raved about the North African Cauliflower Salad. She was impressed by the ambition and execution of this entire station.
The kid’s station serves up Macaroni & Cheese, Chicken Bites, Penne Pasta, Marinara and Meatballs.
Neither of us tried any of this. C’mon, we were at Boma!
Speaking of things we didn’t try, here’s the fruit station.
I actually did eat the cottage cheese, which was fine. Interesting seasoning, but not necessarily in a good way. Cottage cheese is one of my go-tos at home, and I have high standards for it. (“Cottage cheese snob” is probably one of the least cool humblebrags, but whatever.)
Next, we have the breads.
The only thing I can vouch for here is the hummus (it was only okay). The rest we didn’t try–but it appeared very pedestrian.
Also didn’t bother with anything from the salad station.
Some of you may see these omissions as “unprofessional” for a food critic or restaurant review. But I don’t recall ever claiming this blog was the pinnacle of professionalism. I’m here to put the buffet through its paces as an average guest–to punish my stomach with its indulgences–and no reasonable person is filling up on salad, fruit, and bread at Boma.
If you’re looking for hard-hitting journalism, our coverage of the desserts at Boma should be unparalleled.
In the interest of quality control, we tried multiples of each item.
In addition to all of those beauties, there’s Banana Bread Pudding with Vanilla Sauce. Wow, what a spread.
Most of these desserts have been around, and are the same excellent options as before. The Banana Bread Pudding is great, with a crisp top giving way to a moist and sweet center. The vanilla sauce soaks into the top layer beautifully.
The weakest option of the desserts is the Kenyan Coffee Tart.
This is very heavy and rich, with a pronounced dark coffee flavor. I could see this working for some, but it was simply too much for us (and we love dark roast coffee). This is a significant departure from the prior coffee-inspired dessert, which was much better.
Next, the Pineapple Financiers.
We both really liked this. In addition to the sweetness of the pineapple, the cake had a nice spice to it. In another dessert spread, this would’ve been a standout.
One noteworthy thing about the Passion Fruit Mousse is how difficult it is to pick up with tongs. I saw two different people drop them, and I almost did the same. So be careful out there!
Fruity, tart, and creamy–this Passion Fruit Mousse is a nice mix of flavors. It’s also lighter than the other desserts, making it a good addition to the lineup.
Our grand circle tour of the Boma buffet’s dessert spread arrives at the iconic Zebra Domes.
For those who have never done Boma, Zebra Domes feature Amarula Cream Liquor mousse surrounded by a layer of white chocolate, drizzled with chocolate atop a vanilla base.
I don’t know if the recipe has changed or if it’s just been a while since we’ve had Zebra Domes, but these lacked any alcohol pungency or flavor, and tasted sweeter. Perhaps this changed a while ago and we just missed it…or maybe we’re misremembering?
Regardless, my decision to plate up 4 Zebra Domes my first pass through of the dessert spread proved a bit, uh, overzealous. I ate them all…plus one more, later…but it wasn’t my finest moment. Or maybe it was–had to thoroughly investigate whether the 5th was as sweet as the first four.
Now, I don’t want to stir the pot or create any controversy since the conversation around this review should be “BOMA IS BACK AND BETTER THAN EVER, BABY”
But…we both preferred the Hazelnut Brownies by an ever-so-slim margin. Not trying to be contrarian here, but these had a superb mix of texture, rich flavors, and were flat-out fantastic. Our server, who has been at Boma since opening day, called these his favorite dessert at the restaurant–so we’re not alone.
Really, you can’t go wrong with anything from the main dessert lineup, though.
I could see guests preferring any of these items–even the coffee tart–depending upon their personal preferences and tastes. This is a stacked lineup.
Oh, there are also ordinary cookies and cupcakes. These are not included in that “stacked” assessment; we didn’t try them because this is almost certainly a ‘what you see is what you get’ situation.
At least the presentation includes a Hidden Mickey, though?
Ultimately, the only question diehard fans probably have is whether this is the same Boma as before? The answer is an unequivocal yes. There are some changes here and there, but nothing out of the ordinary–the same type of menu tweaks you might otherwise see a culinary team make over the course of a year. All of the tried and true favorites are here, some better than before. (Like the ribs!)
For those who are newer fans or first-timers, I want to be sure we don’t undersell Boma. This review breezed through the buffet out of necessity, giving a single sentence to some items that would receive top billing at a weaker restaurant. There are easily a dozen excellent items at Boma, from standout meats to supporting salads, all of which are ambitious and delicious. Far fewer things are phoned in than at a normal buffet, and there’s something for everyone at Boma. Even the soups are addictively delicious–and as someone who lives in Florida, I crave soup like once per year, tops.
To be sure, not everything is worthy of effusive praise, but that’s the nature of buffets. We’re still talking about how great the meal was and trying to come up with an excuse to go back sooner rather than later. We’ve done a lot of meals at Walt Disney World lately, and almost all of them come with an asterisk. Not Boma – Flavors of Africa. We had a better experience here than ‘Ohana, Yachtsman Steakhouse, Cape May Cafe, Via Napoli, Tusker House, Boathouse, and others I’m probably forgetting–and we had excellent meals at several of those. Suffice to say, the best buffet at Walt Disney World is back and as good as ever!
Have you done dinner at Boma — Flavors of Africa? What did you think of it? Favorite items on the spread? Does the dinner buffet at Boma – Flavors of Africa look like it’s worth the money to you? Will you be booking an ADR here or dining elsewhere? Do you agree or disagree with our review? Other thoughts or concerns? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!