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Review: A Sneak Peek at Harambe Nights in Disney World’s Animal Kingdom!

Karibuni!! Welcome to Harambe Nights!

Harambe Nights

Harambe Nights

We were so excited to attend a “sneak peek” of this all-new hard-ticket event, debuting at Disney’s Animal Kingdom on Saturday, June 7, and running every Saturday evening through August 9th.

While the centerpiece of the evening will be the brand new show, The Lion King –A Concert in the Wild, Harambe Nights will also feature a Welcome Reception, a street party, and an all-inclusive and wide-ranging selection of food.

Concept art for Harambe Nights

Concept art for Harambe Nights

Guests at Harambe Nights will be welcomed into Harambe Village, and into its traditions as reflected in music, story-telling, and cuisine. The primary story will be that of Simba, the Lion King, as it is told by the people of Harambe Village, allowing this well-loved story to be told in a whole new way in honor of the film’s 20th anniversary.

This event promises to be a full sensory experience, engaging sight, sound, smell, and taste. Since we here at the DFB are all about taste ;) , allow me to share a few of the culinary highlights in the order that they will be experienced in the event.

Welcome Reception

Harambe Nights will begin with a Welcome Reception where guests will have their first chance to sample the cuisine with an assortment of appetizers.

I was able to sample two of the four appetizers, including the Safari Cheeseburger Rolls with Tomato Curry Aioli. The playful presentation helped set a celebratory tone.

Safari Cheeseburger with tomato curry aioli

Safari Cheeseburger with tomato curry aioli

I also enjoyed the Moroccan Beef Kefta Meatball with Tamarind Glaze.

Moroccan Kefta with Tamarind Glaze

Moroccan Kefta with Tamarind Glaze

Of-age guests can pair with African-inspired wine and beer. I particularly liked “Goats do Roam” white from the popular South African Vineyard.

Selection of wine

Selection of wine

Selection of beer

Selection of beer

Jungle Juice — that refreshing mix of passion fruit, guava, and orange juice — was available as well.

Jungle Juice

Jungle Juice

Unfortunately, I missed the Pickled Fennel Paneer Cheese with Tomato and the Durban-spiced Chicken Tenders… but there is much more to come!

The Lion King — A Concert in the Wild

After the Welcome Reception, guests will proceed into the brand new Harambe Theater to enjoy The Lion King – A Concert in the Wild. Prior to the show, attendees will be given a special treat.

This snack is seriously one of my new favorite things on earth… LION CHOW!

Lion Chow pouch

Lion Chow bamboo pouch

Lion Chow

Lion Chow

This mix is much more complex than it appears. The sesame bits, candied pecans, raisins, dried fruit, and spiced toasted chips offer a full and surprising range of flavors. It’s sweet, salty, and mildly spicy all at once (I think it’s the candied ginger that delivers that bit of kick).

I’ve got half a mind to start a petition for a Lion Chow kiosk in Animal Kingdom – it’s seriously addicting!

Close-up of Lion Chow

Close-up of Lion Chow

Guests will be able to enjoy their Lion Chow during the performance. We were given the unique opportunity to see three numbers that will be performed in the show. Understandably, we were not able to take photographs or record this portion of the evening.

Honestly, I wouldn’t have been able to capture the power and beauty of the performance even if cameras had been allowed. I can only say that it was a truly special experience watching these performers bring the story of “The Lion King” to new life with such talent and passion. Marsha Jackson-Randolph — the production’s director — called the production an “endeavor of love,” and it shows.

Concept Art for The Lion King - A Concert in the Wild

Concept Art for The Lion King – A Concert in the Wild

Having seen the numbers in rehearsal clothing, I can only imagine what amazing things are in store when the entire concert is presented in full costume with a 25-piece orchestra, 16-voice choir, celebrity narrator and co-narrator, 8 dancers, and pivotal moments of the film presented on screens during select moments throughout. I am sincerely excited for those who get to enjoy it.

Street Party

Once the show ends, the night continues on! Harambe Village will invite guests to join in the Harambe Nights Street Party, which will feature (among other things) live music as well as sound by DJ Khalifa, dance, street performers, glow-in-the-dark face painting (yes!), and a few of your best Disney friends.

Timon and Rafiki

Timon and Rafiki

Stilt walkers

Stilt walkers

DJ Khalifa!

DJ Khalifa

Musicians at the Sneak Peek

Musicians at the Sneak Peek

It will also feature African-inspired food, presented at stations throughout the Village.

We’ll start with the Breads and Salads Station. Fans of Sanaa’s bread service will appreciate the assortment of Naan, Onion Kulcha, and Pappadum breads.

Naan, Onion Kulcha and Pappadum breads

Naan, Onion Kulcha and Pappadum breads

Naan being prepared

Naan being prepared

Accompaniments include Roasted Pepper Hummus, Garlic-Ginger Pickle, and Cucumber Raita. At Boma, I always love the Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, but I really enjoyed that Raita as well.

Cucumber Raita

Cucumber Raita

The salads were simply gorgeous. Even better, they were fresh, flavorful, colorful, and original.

Choices include a Watercress, Melon, Feta, and Berry Balsamic Salad and Roasted Beetroot Salad with Sunflower Seeds. My favorite was the Kachumbari Salad with Tomato, Paneer, Carrot, and Cilantro.

Watercress, Melon, Feta, and Berry Balsamic Onion Salad

Watercress, Melon, Feta, and Berry Balsamic Onion Salad

Roasted Beetroot Salad with Sunflower Seeds

Roasted Beetroot Salad with Sunflower Seeds

Kachumbari Salad with Tomato, Paneer, Carrot, and Cilantro

Kachumbari Salad with Tomato, Paneer, Carrot, and Cilantro

Rarely do I feel that salads are among the highlights of a meal, but here I did.

I was really impressed with the vegetarian options available – not only at the Bread and Salad station, but throughout the selections. One example is the Spicy Vegetable Samosa (a Mango Chutney was available for dipping).

Spicy Vegetable Samosa

Spicy Vegetable Samosa

I neglected to snap a picture of the Creamy Macaroni and Cheese, but I can’t resist sharing some Disney mac and cheese deliciousness with you today!

Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese

Moving on to the Surf and Turf Station, there are two other salads to enjoy. Mango, Radish, and Lime with Mustard Seed, and Watermelon, Cucumber, and Fennel Salad.

Mango, Radish, Lime and Mustard Seed Salad

Mango, Radish, Lime and Mustard Seed Salad

Watermelon, Cucumber and Fennel salad

Watermelon, Cucumber and Fennel salad

“Surf” is represented with a Line-caught Corvina Filet with Goan Curry Sauce. It’s not often that I fill up on fish, but I kept going back for bites of this thanks to the lightness of the fish and the tasty curry sauce.

Seared Line-caught Corvina Filet with Goan Curry Sauce

Seared Line-caught Corvina Filet with Goan Curry Sauce

The “turf” option is On-stage-seared Lamb Chops with Tamarind Pomegranate Sauce. I regret that this picture didn’t turn out (my apologies!), because these were fantastic.

As the name implies, the chops are prepared in front of you, and mine turned out beautifully rare in the middle. (I prefer rare, so that was great with me – since these are prepared “onstage,” perhaps you can voice a preference if you prefer your meat more done.)

On-stage-seared Lamb Chops with Tamarind Pomegranate Sauce

On-stage-seared Lamb Chops with Tamarind Pomegranate Sauce

Both of these dishes can be paired with Coriander Chutney Roasted Potatoes.

The Slow-cook Action Station featured my absolute favorite vegetarian option: the Vegetarian Eggplant Tikki Masala Curry served over Creamy Goat Cheese Pap. In fact, it was one of my favorite options overall.

Vegetarian Eggplant Tikki Masala Curry served over Creamy Goat Cheese Pap

Vegetarian Eggplant Tikki Masala Curry served over Creamy Goat Cheese Pap

The eggplant carried a lovely, spicy kick which was mellowed perfectly by the Goat Cheese Pap. I loved the combination, but I could eat a bowl of that Goat Cheese Pap alone. It wasn’t something I was expecting to even enjoy, but oh, my, I did!

The other veggie option available at this station is Vegetarian Legume Wat served over Basmati Rice. Aaah, Basmati…

Vegetarian Legume Wat served over Basmati Rice

Vegetarian Legume Wat served over Basmati Rice

Butter Chicken is always a favorite of ours here at the DFB, and once again it didn’t disappoint. (AJ’s Note: BUTTER CHICKEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken

Don’t you just love the sight of all that gravy?

The Fork-tender peri Barbecued Pork earned its “fork tender” designation. I would say that was true of all the meats, though – I was pleased with how tender everything was.

Fork-tender Peri Barbecued Pork

Fork-tender peri Barbecued Pork

Of course, we still have dessert! Overall, the dessert selections were on the lighter side. Primarily I’m speaking from a texture perspective, but there was also plenty of fresh fruit available in regards to a lighter calorie perspective.

The Ripe Melon with Minted Lime Yogurt Dip was one of three fruit options — the others being Golden Pineapple with Toasted Coconut and Apple Slices with Amarula (!) Caramel Sauce.

Ripe Melon with Minted Lime Yogurt Dip

Ripe Melon with Minted Lime Yogurt Dip

I was thrilled to see the Chai Cream with Zebra Stripes, in all its autumnal-spicy goodness.

Chai Cream with Zebra Stripes and Rice Pudding, Dried Fruit Compote, and Pistachio Gremolata

Chai Cream with Zebra Stripes and Rice Pudding, Dried Fruit Compote, and Pistachio Gremolata

The Rice Pudding with Dried Fruit Compote and Pistachio Gremolata took a bit of getting used to for me, being less sweet than I anticipated. The desserts seemed to have that somewhat in common, though – nothing was super-sugary, which seemed in line with the more “grown-up” array of choices throughout the event.

I finished with a Caramel-salted Tanzania Chocolate Kenya Coffee Bite. These brownie-textured treats were unique in that it took several bites to taste and experience each flavor present.

Caramel Salted Tanzania chocolate kenya coffee bites harambe nights

While they were not available at the Sneak Peek, I understand that ice cream bars will also be available for the event evenings.

From a cuisine perspective, I thought the food was beautifully prepared and presented. I felt that the flavors were bold, but still approachable for the less-adventurous eater. The choices will be especially appealing to those who enjoy Boma, Sanaa, and Tusker House and appreciate the more unique options available at those restaurants.

Overall

For those who have reserved spots at this event, I am happy for you (I am also, frankly, jealous of you… but hopefully that won’t keep us from being friends ;) ). From just this small glimpse I believe that those attending are in for a unique and truly special experience. Because that’s what Harambe Nights promises to be – more than a show, more than an evening of great food, more than a party. It will be an experience, and one that I’m betting will be unforgettable.

Harambe Nights will run each Saturday evening from June 7th – August 9th. Tickets are $119 for adults, $79 for ages 3-9 (plus tax); however, the evening of June 7th is already sold out. For more information, or to book tickets, visit Disneyworld.com/HarambeNights or call 407-939-1319.

Would Harambe Nights be on your must-do list? Let us know in the comments below!

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39 Comments

  1. Kaz says:

    those vegetarian options look awesome!

  2. A Newton says:

    Looks fun but I’m still choking on the price.

  3. Lucy says:

    I really hope they extend this until November, I really wanna go to one of these parties.

  4. Katie says:

    Price is way to high, but I would absolutely LOVE to be able to go to that event! I am soo jealous of you right now Wendy!! :P I can’t wait to see that show when it opens to the general public!!!!

  5. Ashley says:

    The food looks fabulous (my aunt & I both really enjoyed Tusker House on our last WDW trip) but I agree that the price is too high for my family.

  6. Tamara says:

    I would LOVE to attend Harambe Nights! I do hope they extend it. Animal Kingdom is my favorite park and it is exceptionally beautiful at night.

  7. Sandy says:

    Is it only on Saturdays?

  8. Margo says:

    We booked our tickets when they first came out realizing it was a gamble. I’m very excited from all the buzz that the preview has generated so far. Looking forward to June 14th.

  9. Alison says:

    We are there in two weeks and an so excited. We always book a special event when we visit Disney and as Animal Kingdom is my favourite park I truly cannot wait for this one x

  10. Essie says:

    It looks like a wonderful experience, although I’d have to save up for it a little while. I’d be pretty darn happy to enjoy some Lion Chow; that looks delicious!

  11. Kelly Rogers says:

    We are going on June 21st. It is pricey but I am sure will be well worth it! The more I read about… The more excited we get!

  12. Chris says:

    Looks awesome! Can’t wait to enjoy it in July!

  13. Trudi Wilson says:

    While I realize it is pricey, it is WAY cheaper than tickets to a Broadway show-and with food and drinks!! No tolls or Manhattan parking! Headed there in August! Can’t wait!!

  14. kimberly says:

    not to sound like a lush or anything, but are the beers and wine all-you-can-drink? (in moderation of course)

  15. Keith says:

    Thanks for the description. It appears to be really well done, with some unique dining experiences…especially love some of the lamb, pork, and chicken preparations. Overall, it seems like a pretty good price for the food and show provided.

  16. Cindy says:

    I’m wondering how many tickets they are selling for each night. We are going the second weekend and I am hoping they keep the numbers down so that we can enjoy it without standing in lines waiting for food or drinks. Really looking forward to it though.

  17. JennM says:

    Wow, it looks like a wonderful event!

    The price is steep, but not out of line with the cost of an evening at the theater and a nice dinner. I’d say it’s quite reasonable…for locals who are looking for a lovely evening out. But for many of us who are already spending a small fortune on hotel, park tickets and restaurant meals during vacation, it is just too much to justify. Le sigh… Still, I’m looking forward to lunch at Tusker House and a viewing of the re-opened Festival of the Lion King in just a few days! :)

  18. Joanne says:

    Joining family and friends for this ever June 28th. This will be our first event of this type offered during a vacation and reading the reviews everyone in our group is extremely excited. Sounds unique and amazing! A once in a lifetime opportunity to make special memories to carry us through the future.

  19. Sara says:

    Wow, everything looks amazing! I’m bummed I’m arriving in Disney World just a few days after this ends in August! What are the chances they extend the dates?

  20. Jerry F says:

    I would love to go to this event, however to pay over $100.00 to be admitted to the park and another $120.00 ( mind you this does NOT include taxes and fees) just to go to this event is utterly unthinkable for the 97% of America that works for a living.

  21. Wendy says:

    Thanks, everyone, for your comments!

    Hi, Katie :)! As of right now, the show being presented in the evening is a different experience from The Festival of the Lion King, which will be showing in the regular park hours, but – like you – I’m excited to catch that one again, too. It will be fun to see the new theater!

    Sandy – yes, at this time this event is only on Saturdays, and only through August 9. Thanks for your question!

    Lucy — I would love to see it extended, too. Since it’s the first evening event at Animal Kingdom (outside of the runDisney race in May), one of the event leaders said they’re going to see how it goes before considering what’s next :).

    Margo, Alison, and Kelly – I hope you have a wonderful time! I think it’s going to be beautiful. If you have a chance to let us know what you thought of it once you’ve been, please do :)!

    Kimberly – No worries, I was wondering the same thing :). Beverages (including the wine and beer) are all-inclusive. I forgot to mention that soda will be available as well.

  22. Jillian says:

    Is everything an all you can eat and all you can drink or is it like Food and Wine where you have app sizes for a price?

  23. AJ says:

    Jerry F — This is a hard ticket event, so you won’t be paying to get into the park. The $119 ticket covers entry and everything at the event.

  24. kirsty says:

    I think its very reasonable price. Any shows I have seen like book of Mormon or Mary Poppins was over a hundred dollars per ticket and that was just the show, not food and alcohol. I would love if they extended this and would go in a heartbeat!

  25. Sandra says:

    This would be great if it were just my husband and myself, but our adult son would turn up his nose at most of these foods (he is disabled so he would have to come with us) – except, of course, the mac and cheese. And I would find it hard to swallow paying almost $360 for a single evening event. It may be in line with what theater tickets and dinners cost, but I don’t do those either anymore for the same reason. But it’s nice that there are options for vegetarians, which are often quite limited in other venues.

  26. Alex says:

    My husband and I would LOVE this event but we always visit in November – I really hope they extend it!!

  27. Jean says:

    I hope that they extend this. My family and I are coming to WDW in Oct. I don’t think the price is unreasonable for what is included. The food looks wonderful. Thank you for your great review.

  28. Pam C. says:

    It’s great to hear that you do not need to pay for a separate park admission, although since I am an annual passholder that would not be a problem for me. And I would love to see the show. But the menu might be a problem for me. Curry seems to play a heavy role, and I can’t stand the taste or smell of curry. Maybe there are enough other things I could eat to make up for it, but I don’t know.

  29. Carter says:

    Wow, this looks pretty amazing. I want to eat my screen right now. The price is a little steep, but it is what it is. Considering how much Disney charges for a buffet and their drinks…add in the show and and party, not far fetched. I’m sure there are plenty of people here who have dropped $100 just eating and drinking around Epcot for a day. I was on the fence about this, but after reading this review I think I have to go.

  30. Jessica says:

    Does anyone know if there are any ‘childrens’ offerings for food (like on Boma’s buffet)?

  31. Stephanie says:

    I have made reservations for June 21. The park is not open except for the party so you do not have to pay for a park ticket and the event ticket. I feel It is a show and dinner which is reasonable for broadway or disney. I can’t wait. Birthday present to self.

  32. Carter says:

    Jessica-I think this event is aimed more towards adults…hence the alcoholic beverages and price. Maybe not the place for children? That being said, there are a lot of vegetables, fruits, rice, multiple salads, potatoes, various meat dishes, various bread offerings, mac and cheese , and a ton of dessert options. What exactly do kids eat these days?

  33. Agnes says:

    Pictures of creamy macaroni and cheese are always welcome. And thanks for showing us all the veggie options! Looks great.

  34. Jennifer says:

    Looks like fun but pricing should be revisited. With two kids that are considered adults, I won’t pay for unlimited alcohol and food when they can’t and won’t drink or eat the same as an adult. I’d definitely be more interested if there was another pricing tier. Of course we also have food allergies. I called last night and couldn’t get information about how to accommodate limitations. The Disney staff only had as much info as is listed on the website advertising the event. This blog provided MUCH more info. Thank you

  35. Arlene says:

    Looks like a great event!!!!!! We are going in September to Disney so will miss it :(. I do not think it is expensive for what is included. It is very reasonable for a dinner show and lots more Disney magic. Will have to fit this in for our plans next year!!

  36. Teddy says:

    Attended harambe nights last night…awesome show and good food! I have a gluten allergy so if anyone with gluten allergies is wondering, there is a lot you can eat there! All appetizers except cheeseburger samosa, and no lion chow (didn’t ask if there was any gluten free alternative for that).
    At the buffet, all salads were gluten free, all meats except the lamb (sauce not g-free). No breads gluten free but the chef can get gluten free bread of you’re interested. Also said they could make lamb gluten free if interested.
    For dessert, there were a few fruit options that were gluten free but everything else was not. But the chef said they might also have something gluten free available (probably prepackaged brownie or cookie)

    But for anyone with food allergies, just ask and they have a list of all the common allergies and what is and is not safe to eat – hope this info helps anyone that was thinking about going!

  37. Shelley says:

    My teen daughter is a dancer, and Lion King is her favorite Disney movie. And we’ll be on our first Disney trip during the summer solstice Harambe Nights, so how could we not attend this event? BUT she’s also vegan, and it seems now that the vegan offerings will be minimal if any. I’ve e-mailed and called and chatted, but no luck getting info. I’ve purchased the tickets, and now I’m just not feeling the magic.

  38. Amelia E. Kowalczyk says:

    As a grandmother of 4 girls, I cannot afford this spectacular event. My four girls are ages 11 through 17 so it is very pricey for me. I live in Florida and we visit at least 2 or more times a year. My daughter is a Vacation Club member. But I still could not afford these prices for the 6 of us. However I was wondering if the old show in the Animal Kingdom is still being presented. I would love to have my girls get just a glimpse of the wonder of the live performances. Having just left there on August 6th. I was not aware of this show at all until receiving the Disney Rewards Fall Festivities Brochure upon my return home. Thank you for your courtesy.

  39. AJ says:

    Amelia — The Festival of the Lion King show is presented multiple times daily just as it always has been, however the show has been updated. It’s free with ANimal Kingdom admission.

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