5 Things You Will Love About Jiko

Jiko is one of my favorite restaurants in all of Disney. It is so special and fun and exciting. I absolutely love it and I think you will, too:

5. The Setting: I love anything and everything in the Animal Kingdom Lodge, so it’s only fitting that Jiko is a part of it. Jiko can be found off the main entrance and down two flights of stairs, past the bar and next to Boma. It’s tucked away, which makes it feel like its very own place. My family and I like to get to our reservation a little early and explore the savanna before dinner. Right before the Jiko check-in desk there are two doors that lead you past the pool and right onto the gorgeous savanna. It’s remarkable to go on your own private safari before even eating dinner.

4. The Décor: You can’t really find anything like this anywhere else on property. The décor of this restaurant is simply stunning. Jiko has a very open layout and you can see the entire restaurant just by walking in the door. From the massive wine bottled wall to the open kitchen area in the center with the gourd overs, Jiko is a feast for the eyes. Its dim lighting makes the sunset wall the focal point of the room. The back wall is lined with flying birds that seem to be soaring in the dawn. But as your evening progresses, you’ll notice that the wall enters the night, as well. The lighting changes from soft yellow, to vibrant orange, to dusky pink. Every inch of this restaurant is detailed and gorgeous.

3. The Unique Food: Of course a restaurant so heavily influenced by African culture is going to have unique food. Everything you are served has an African flair and is unique to Jiko. My family loves the apple-coffee barbeque flatbread for an appetizer, after we’ve downed a whole basket of bread, of course (try the tandoori butter, it’s out of this world). My dad loved the quail when they had it-yes, you read that right: quail. Another special thing about Jiko is that their menu constantly changes. Something that you love one time you go could be completely gone the next: so try the weird, but special items!

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2. The Service: The service at Jiko is impeccable. These servers go completely above and beyond the norm, even for Disney. There is someone to assist you in anything you need. Your server is knowledgeable in basically anything you could possibly need, but if you need a wine suggestion, the brilliant sommelier can help. We have even become friends with a server that we had had several times. She was so wonderful to us and would make sure that our experience was extra special. Once at dinner, we were about to start our next course when she came running through the restaurant shouting (quietly shouting, of course) “Wait, wait, wait they haven’t had the sorbet yet!!” Well, we were all laughing too hard to actually eat the sorbet, but she wanted to make sure that our dinner was exactly as it should be. These are the types of cast member server interactions that make us love Jiko.

1. The Authenticity: This restaurant is nothing but authentic. The cast members at the check in desk are all from Africa, as are most of the Animal Kingdom Lodge employees. The wood carvings and masks that don the bathrooms and side walls are all handmade and exquisite. There are massive columns throughout the restaurant that are covered in cold rings to represent what tribal women wear around their necks in Africa. The food was researched and perfected to be an accurate representation of the flavors of Africa. Did someone say wine? All of the wine in Jiko’s extensive wine room is specific to different regions in Africa and your servers or the sommelier can tell you all about them.

About Molly Elias

Molly Elias has been a dedicated Disney fan since she was 18-months old. She has grown up with and learned from Disney her whole life. As her family's main vacation spot, Disney World is a place of love and laughter and magic for her. Her family also prides themselves on their Disney Cruise Line knowledge and would rather be on the high seas with Mickey than anywhere else in the world. Molly plans to keep Disney in her life forever, while also pursuing a writing career. She recently completed a master's program in creative writing in the hopes that someday she will be able to be a writer for the Happiest Company on Earth. Molly keeps Walt's famous quote at the forefront of her life: "Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we're curious...and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths."