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Animal Kingdom Lodge's Free Culinary Tour

Nothing is worse than spending money and being duped into a subpar meal.

At Animal Kingdom Lodge's Boma and Juko restaurants you can avoid this by attending their daily food tour.

Simply head over to Jambo House at 4pm.

The 30-minute tour meets at the Boma podium.

At 4pm on the dot a Boma Cultural Representative will welcome you and others taking the tour.

These representatives are Disney Cast Members who are originally from Africa and work at Disney as part of a cultural exchange program.

Many of them have recently finished university in programs such as hospitality.

A Truly African Experience

Groups vary in size, but they tend to be less than a dozen guests.

The tour not only serves as a food tour, but also a truly culturally enlightening experience; who would have known!

As the food staff is preparing dinner you will get to see, smell, hear and taste some of the foods offered at both establishments.

Yes, you heard that right; you get to try some of the foods that are being prepared for the evening meal.

Enter the Enclosure

Boma, the name of the first restaurant you will tour is the Swahili word for enclosure.

This is signified by the wooden walls and semi-open ceilings used to section off the seating area.

As you begin the tour you will hear about each dish that is being served and if you are lucky you can ask the chef a few questions about the preparations being made for the items you see.

As your tour guide takes you through each food station they will explain the African influence in a variety of dishes.

You would be surprised at how similar many of the dished are to things you eat at home or a nearby diner.

Fufu is a Central and West African dish that may conjure up a number of mystery meal thoughts in your head is actually very similar to mashed potatoes, just made with cassava flour.

Typically the first item you get to taste is a soup that will be offered at dinner.

Soups vary from the Zanzibar Crab, Butternut Squash, Broccolini with Spiced Tunisian Paprika Olive Oil Soup and many other options.

Be sure to mention any dietary restrictions so that you don't try anything that could cause an allergic reaction.

As you make your way to the end of the food stations you will come upon the desert section.

You will be offered a Zebra Dome, which may remind you of a mini Little Debbie Zebra Cake, but much better.

These tiny delights contain Amarula, an African liqueur, gives it a lightly alcoholic taste.

It is safe for children to eat, but you should keep them from eating a baker's dozen.

Welcome to The Cooking Place

As the Boma tour ends your Boma Cultural Representative will escort you to Jiko where you will be welcomed to the restaurant by another cultural representative.

You will immediately notice the difference in the two establishments.

The back wall has a bright orange/yellow hue on it.

This symbolizes the sunrises and sunsets in African and the color changes slightly throughout the day.

Look above you and notice the vibrant blue painted on the ceiling.

This represents the blue skies.

The birds that fly above you are said to provide anyone they fly over with good luck and prosperity for the rest of their lives.

The open style kitchen gives you the feel that you are in a large kitchen with an even larger seating area.

Unlike Boma, Jiko is an a la carte style restaurant.

While you will not get the chance to try any entrees you will sample an appetizer.

The Taste of Africa is a sharing item that has a trio of breads and four spreads.

Mix and match the Khobz, Poppy Seed Lavash and Flaxseed Naan with four very unique dips.

Bhuna Masala, Sagh Dahl, Moroccan Chermoula and Kalmata Hummus are the dips offered with this plate.

three million Indians live in Africa and you can taste the Indian influence in these dips.

This restaurant has a full bar and also has a wine room that is home to a very large African wine collection.

Now It's Your Turn

This is also a great way to have the picky eater in your family get a taste of what culinary delights are in store at these African themed eateries.

Even if you have been to these restaurants in the past you should take the tour to see what new items are being offered or simply to get a little lesson on African cuisine.

Guests of all ages are welcome to join the tour.

No reservations are needed and you do not need to be staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge to enjoy this tour.

By Marie Ospina
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