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Review: Animal Kingdom’s Newly Renovated Dawa Bar

Animal Kingdom’s Dawa Bar is considered by many to be something of a hidden gem. Tucked into a corner of the always-bustling Harambe Village in the Africa section of the park, the location is prime for anyone going to or from Kilimajaro Safari.

But it’s always blended so well into its surroundings that one could really walk right past it and not even know.

Tusker House Restaurant and Dawa Bar in Harambe Village

Tusker House Restaurant and Dawa Bar in Harambe Village

I stopped by recently to see what was new. As it turns out, it was a whole lot! The Dawa Bar has been relocated!

New location of the Dawa Bar

New location of the Dawa Bar

Atmosphere

Now, when I say “relocated,” it actually hasn’t moved all that far :) . You will still head to the same area of Harambe Village – just head to your left upon entering Africa from Discovery Island, and directly across from Tamu Tamu Refreshments and Mombasa Marketplace.

Dawa Bar in it's new location

Dawa Bar in its new location

However, the bar is now directly to the right when facing the Tusker House Check-In line, whereas it was previously on the left.

Tusker House check-in line on the left, Dawa Bar on the right

Tusker House check-in line on the left, Dawa Bar on the right

So, basically, when you see the sign that says this:

"Directions" to the Bar

“Directions” to the Bar

Instead, do this: ——–>. ;)

Aside from the location, what else is new? For starters, the bar itself has received a color refresh, with of base of blue to better compliment the wall behind the menus.

Blue Bar

Blue Bar

I think the wall is what lends the biggest change to the atmosphere. Now that the bar is directly against Tusker House, the natural light that used to flow in from behind no longer does.

Back of the bar, directly in front of Tusker House

Back of the bar, directly in front of Tusker House

Additionally, the posts surrounding the bar are dark wood, as opposed to the previous white-washed stone. These things together lend a very different feel to the whole area. Even though so many other aspects remain unchanged, it feels almost entirely new.

Another change is that the left side of the bar has been opened up for more seating (previously it held the cash register, which is now in the middle and lowered and helps it feel a lot more open). More immediate seating at the bar brings a little more festivity to the area.

Additional Counter Seating

Additional Counter Seating

Fortunately, a lot of the things we always loved about Dawa Bar have remained the same!

The signature bottles that lined the shelves are still here (though they don’t seem quite as noticeable with the new backdrop, and to my eye there appears to be fewer of them).

Bottles lining the shelves

Bottles lining the shelves

My favorite detail – the mismatched chairs – have all made the move, too. I love the conga chair!

Mismatched chairs

Mismatched chairs

Conga Chair!

Conga Chair!

Mismatched Chair

More mismatched chairs

The overhead lights and fans that gave it such a transformative feel remain as well. And, of course, the seating area outside the immediate bar area is very much the same.

Dawa Bar Seating Area with new location back left

Dawa Bar Seating Area with new location back left

Eats

Something else that has remained primarily the same is the menu. Imported and domestic beer, wine, and sangria — as well as a few specialty cocktails — are still the offerings.

Dawa Wine Menu

Dawa Wine Menu

Beer and Specialty Cocktails Menu

Beer and Specialty Cocktails Menu

There was, however, one small change to the cocktail menu the day of my visit. The Harambe Cooler was back on the menu (having been replaced in recent visits primarily by the Dawa Colada, though some rotation is not unusual here for the cocktail menu).

A blend of Starr African Rum and Myer’s Dark Rum mixed with a little something called “Pangani Punch,” the Harambe Cooler is tangy and just a little bit tart as opposed to sugary-sweet, and the rum is potent (and – to my palate – also the primary aftertaste).

Harambe Cooler

Harambe Cooler

We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating – the beverages here tend to pack a punch, and sometimes you don’t even realize it until it’s time to stand up! In other words, don’t let the playful words “Pangani Punch” in the description fool you. The drinks at Dawa don’t play…. which happens to be one of the best things that hasn’t changed at all :) .

From what I could see being poured, the Sugar Cane Mojito is still a hit, and one of the star players on the “Featured Drinks” sign (which, incidentally, has also been moved… by about 12 feet).

Featured Drinks

Featured Drinks

Overall

Who knew that a move of a few yards could make so much of a difference? We’ll be curious to hear thoughts from other Dawa Bar fans and frequenters. For anyone who hasn’t yet enjoyed this unique spot, it’s still very much worth checking out on your next trip to Animal Kingdom!

What are your thoughts on the “new” Dawa Bar? Please let us know with a comment below!

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18 Comments

  1. I’ve never been treated so rudely as I was treated by two male bartenders at the Dawa bar. I was in line with friends to get a drink. My friends were served and moved on. When it came to my turn, one of the bartenders asked the guy behind me what he wanted. And then the guy next to him. When I finally pointed out that I had been there before the other guys, and they had served my friends right ahead of me, they did not apologize but sneered at me that they didn’t think I wanted anything. Yep. In line. Waiting to order. Because I didn’t want anything? And then they had major attitude when serving me from then on. I’ve been nervous to return since.

  2. Janelliz says:

    I had never been to the Dawa Bar until my last trip. We tried the sugar cane mojito and ended up getting them for free. The female bartender was from the same town as my friend, and after talking it was found out that my friend and the bartender’s mother live on the same street! So she gave us our drinks for free for reminding her of home!

  3. Angela says:

    We love the Dawa Bar – my dad and step-mom told us about it. They loved it as well. I have a photo from our last trip of the bar’s photo album since it has a picture of my dad and his wife in it. :) We cannot wait to see the changes when we visit later this year.

  4. Tom says:

    Best attraction in Animal Kingdom – and you usually don’t even need a fast pass.

  5. Amanda says:

    My husband and I LOVE the Dawa Bar. It is on our “must-do” list when we visit the Animal Kingdom and need an afternoon refreshment. We’ve always had excellent service! The Sugar Cane Mojitos are our favorite and the mismatched barstools are so unique! I’m happy to see they made it a little larger while keeping the atmosphere the same. Can’t wait to go back!

  6. Dana says:

    We LOVE the Dawa Bar! It’s a must for us. We always get one of the Sugar Cane Mojitos and a bucket of popcorn to enjoy during the parade. I’m not a big mojito fan, but these are absolutely delicious!

  7. Anna says:

    I think I prefer the old look, from what I can see in the pictures. It seems as if it was more rustic before. The new dark backdrop behind the bar looks less authentic to me, less like a bar or shebeen you would find in a rural setting in Africa. Happy to hear it still serves up delicious beverages though.

  8. Warren says:

    As long as Bob from Boston is still there (and I did see him in these pictures), I’ll be at the Dawa Bar every time I visit. (we do visit several times a year from Chicago). Bob is the best bartender at all of Disney.
    Even though the Harambe Cooler was off the menu Bob would make them for us. Good to see that it is back.

  9. Kathy Jo Horan says:

    We have plans to spend ALOT of time in Dawa Bar in about 2 weeks so this was perfect timing for the article!!
    Can you still see the parade from Dawa Bar in the new location? I have never watched it from there and was looking forward to relaxing with a drink during the parade.
    Thanks for all the great reviews and suggestions!

  10. Shawn says:

    It’s worth noting that one of the tastiest rums on the planet (imho) is here. African Starr Rum. It’s a rare find elsewhere. With the trip alone

  11. Jenn says:

    May 2013, had the Dawa Colada. I’m a Colada fan so I was pretty happy with my choice. Seemed my straw hit bottom before I knew it! Hope it comes back!

  12. Ashley says:

    The new location was quite a surprise when we visited last Sunday, Jan. 5. I think I like the ‘feel’ of the previous location better- almost like a secret gem tucked back there behind Tusker House. My biggest problem with the new location is that it’s now too busy! (Which I know, it’s a good thing, but it sure made getting my drink and a seat that much more difficult :))
    As always though, delicious drinks- we had two mojitos each and yes, they are STRONG, but deceptively delicious!

  13. Lynn says:

    Dawa Bar is quite possibly our favorite Disney bar. A big part of that was the out of the way location, and uncrowded bar. We could always get a seat even though there were just a few. I think this move will change the whole dynamic, I’m not happy that other people are going to discover “our” bar! At least a move and update mean they won’t be closing it, and I’m happy they kept my favorite drink, Lost on Safari !

  14. Lala says:

    So where can you get the Dawa Colada now?

  15. Alan says:

    Change can be exciting and change can be scary. Since the Dawa Bar is one of my very, very favorite places in all of WDW, I will feel both of those emotions on my next trip to the park. My fondness for this oasis connected me, by chance, to discovering the DFB, so I will always be a thankful patron of the bar, even if they move it to the moon.

  16. AJ says:

    Lala — I think it’s seasonally swapped into the menu at some times.

  17. don says:

    My wife had the margarita in Feb 2014. The bartender said it had changed from last year. Boy, has it ever changed, and not for the good. Tasted like it was made out of cheap tequila and didn’t have that African flavor in it. So disappointed from last year. Now, I’m going to have to look for another place to find my favorite margarita….

  18. Vic says:

    Have to agree about the rude male bartenders – at least the one I dealt with. He was one of those people who act like they’re entitled to the job and to the tip regardless of a bad attitude and treating customers as if they are doing them a favor to even acknowledge their existance. Forget about friendly service here – instead expect to have your drink slammed down in front of you along with the bill without even being asked if you’d like anything else or being thanked for your business . I’d really like to know if this bar is owned by Disney or someone else because if this is the sort of disrespectful service Disney is now tolerating then it does not bode well for the future.

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