Guest Review: Harambe Nights at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Today, we welcome @MealTrip back to Disney Food Blog with an in-depth look — and some incredible photos! — of the opening night performance of Harambe Nights!

We enjoyed our first experience with this new hard ticket event at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom when we brought you a sneak peek from a media event recently. Now that the performance — which includes the new show The Lion King –A Concert in the Wild, a Welcome Reception, and a Street Party afterwards — is open to the public, we wanted to bring you another look at the event.

Let’s see what works — and what still needs a little work.

Harambe Nights at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

I made my way to the event location in plenty of time to check out the area for Harambe Nights before many of the guests arrived, and the set up is quite well done.

Festively-capped Cast Members greet guests of the event at the front gate of Animal Kingdom.

Cast Members Welcoming Guests to Harambe Nights

Cast Members Welcoming Guests to Harambe Nights

Here’s a close up of the Harambe Nights sign.

Welcome Sign

Welcome Sign

Let’s head in and take a look around.

Welcome Reception

As you enter the area, don’t forget to grab a program right after you check in and receive your wristband. The program contains information about merchandise, food, and the show.

Distributing Programs

Distributing Programs

It also gives you a handy schedule so you know just how the evening will unfold.

Event Program -- Click to Enlarge

Event Program — Click to Enlarge

Here’s the view as I arrived. The streets of the new Harambe Theater District are set up and ready to go before the party.

Streets of the New Harambe Street District as Guests Arrive

Streets of the New Harambe Street District as Guests Arrive

And here’s the area after 1,000 people are let in!

Streets of the New Harambe Theater District as it Fills with People

Streets of the New Harambe Theater District as it Fills with People

There are numerous beverage and food stations set up throughout the area. Here’s an example of one of the beverage stations. And yes — that’s Jungle Juice!

Beverage Station

Beverage Station

The Welcoming Party menu is somewhat light, and everything food and drink-wise is repeated at all stations, so if you’ve found one, you’ve found them all.

Welcome Reception Menu -- Click to Enlarge

Welcome Reception Menu — Click to Enlarge

The self-serve hot “appetizer” stations are well-looked after by Cast Members, and if you feel the line is too long when you walk up to one, just hang back and wait a few minutes. The crowds tend to ebb and flow, and there’s plenty of time to visit the food tables multiple times without standing in a long line.

Self Serve Appetizers at the Welcome Party

Self Serve Appetizers at the Welcome Party

Spicy Durban Chicken will be familiar to guests who have dined at Boma or Tusker House.

Spicy Durban Chicken

Spicy Durban Chicken

Also throughout the area, there are numerous [Read more…]

Review: Yak & Yeti Restaurant in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

At the request of my family, I decided to venture away from my familiar dining locations and try Yak and Yeti in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Earlier in the day, we chose to move up our Advance Dining Reservation from 4:45PM until later in the evening. A quick phone call to 407-WDW-DINE and we were able to re-schedule for 7:30PM.

Atmosphere

After utilizing the single rider line at Expedition Everest, we trekked to Asia’s Yak & Yeti and were one of the last parties seated for the evening. (Isn’t Animal Kingdom awesome in the dark?!)

Expedition Everest at night

Expedition Everest at night

Upon arrival, the upper level was closed off, but the lower dining rooms were still bustling.

Yak sign

At first, we were led to a table right outside the kitchen and nearby the elevator. It was so loud that we couldn’t enjoy our conversation and quickly asked to be seated in a quieter spot.

Decor in Yak & Yeti

Decor in Yak & Yeti

In the next interior room, we settled at a table that was conducive to dinner conversation and also enabled us to enjoy the restaurant’s decor. (Big kudos to the hostess that assured us that she wasn’t a fan of tables near the kitchen and completely understood our request.)

Dining Room

Dining Room

Statue

Statue

Our waiter was very informative and fun. We asked questions about how the new My Magic+ payment system was working for the staff. He shared his frustration with weak wi-fi connections; sometimes he has to move around the restaurant to find a better signal!

Reception Area

Reception Area

He also indicated that it’s more difficult taking Disney Dining Plan credits with the new system; although he felt it was much easier to deal with customers paying with their room accounts. The Cast Members at this restaurant were extremely friendly!

Dining rooms at closing time

Dining rooms at closing time

Bar at Yak & Yeti

Bar at Yak & Yeti

Since I love themed restaurants, I was anxious to take in the detail within the walls of this Asian hideaway. The exotic menu foreshadowed the unique dishes we’d find inside the booklet.

Look inside for exotic dishes

Look inside for exotic dishes

While chopsticks were added to our tabletop, we stuck with our silverware skills!

Chopsticks

Chopsticks

Eats

Already fans of the Crispy Honey Chicken served at Anandapur Local Food Cafe (Yak & Yeti counter-service), hubby and son confidently put in their wok-based order. Made with tempura chicken, broccoli, carrots, and honey sauce, this dish did not disappoint.

Mr. 13 ate heartily (including the brown rice) although he pushed his broccoli to the side. Both agreed that the rice was cooked well, chicken was very tender, and the honey sauce had just the right amount of sweetness.

Crispy Honey Chicken

Crispy Honey Chicken

All three of us chose [Read more…]

What’s New Around Walt Disney World: June 4, 2014

For this round of “What’s New,” we’ve got food news (and menu changes galore) from every single Disney World park… and beyond! So settle, in, make yourselves comfy, and join us to see What’s New!

Animal Kingdom

We’ll start with the fact that Dole Whip (with or without rum, y’all) can now be found at Tamu Tamu Refreshments in Animal Kingdom’s Africa! (Yep; we’ve had confirmation from Dole that it IS indeed authentic Dole Whip Pineapple Soft Serve.)

Tamu Tamu Refreshments

Tamu Tamu Refreshments

Pineapple Soft-serve (Dole Whip!) menu

Pineapple Soft-serve (Dole Whip!) menu

But we don’t want to miss the chance to mention that Tamu Tamu has also brought back some old favorites with a recent menu refresh: The Slow-cooked Pulled Beef Sandwich is back (hooray!), along with the return of the Quinoa Salad. The Roasted Chicken Salad and gorgeous Fresh Fruit Salad made the cut from the previous menu.

Tamu Tamu Menu

Tamu Tamu Menu

Inside the pulled beef sandwich

Inside the pulled beef sandwich

Quinoa Salad

Quinoa Salad

And I’m very happy to say that the Fresh Fruit Bowl is back in time for summer!

Fruit Bowl at Bradley Falls Kiosk

Fruit Bowl Salad

The Fruit Salad has returned to Bradley Falls, too.

Bradley Falls menu

Bradley Falls menu

Remember, Bradley Falls operates seasonally, so if it’s closed during your visit, it’s good to know you can head over to Tamu Tamu for a Fresh Fruit Bowl.

Have you seen (or heard?!) this awesome Musical Tumbler found at various food locations throughout Animal Kingdom? Get the full scoop here!

Musical Tumbler

Musical Tumbler

Musical Tumbler

Musical Tumbler

The Royal Anandapur Tea Company is a perfect spot to grab a cup of hot tea (assorted varieties available) or coffee. However, they’re currently offering some flavored Iced Teas in light of the warmer temps.

Royal Anandapur Tea Company Menu

Royal Anandapur Tea Company Menu

Though not food-related, I’d like to offer this next picture as a small tribute. Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade wrapped up its nearly 13-year run as Animal Kingdom makes way for all sorts of new adventures. I don’t think I’m speaking solely for myself when I say this unique, beautiful and fun parade will be missed.

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade

Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade

Magic Kingdom

The Lunching Pad has added one more option to its gourmet hot dog selection: the BLT Hot Dog joins the Coney Island Dog and the Philly Cheese Steak Dog.

Lunching Pad Menu

Lunching Pad Menu

Now, here’s something you don’t see everyday… this next bit is not a new item, but rather a new [Read more…]

Review: Restaurantosaurus at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

When I’m in the mood for a “wild” lunch, I love to head to Restaurantosaurus at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Seriously — it’s one of my favorite counter service spots in all of Disney World!

This enormous restaurant, located in DinoLand USA, is super-themed…but you really have to look hard to see some of the great sight gags and imagineering details.

I recently met a friend for lunch here. It’s always fun to stroll around — I find something new every time I visit. But Restaurantosaurus usually boasts some interesting choices on its menu. I love their Chicken Nuggets, but who knows?…I may surprise you today!

Time to check in and see what’s new!

Atmosphere

While visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you may be tempted to write off Restaurantosaurus as just another fast food joint. That would be a mistake. There’s more to this place than just food. The quirky themeing transforms the eatery into an attraction.

Outside

Outside

And the fabricated history of DinoLand USA and Restaurantosaurus is fascinating. For the complete story, check out this history of the area. (You can read part two here.)

But for now, here’s the short version: Restaurantosaurus began life as the cafeteria for college students participating in a dig nearby. To subsidize their grant income, the students opened the Restaurant (isn’t that a great name?) to the public.

And where did the additional “osaurus” in the name come from? It seems that this is a running gag perpetrated by those zany college kids. Look around, and see if you can find just how many instances in which “osaurus” has been added to words. But the granddaddy of them all is, of course, adding it to the name of the restaurant.

The dormitory and restaurant grew over time, with residents adding whatever sound structures they could to expand the space. And just when you thought there was no use for that old Airstream…

Outside View of the Airstream

Outside View of the Airstream

Step inside, and you find the main hall, which houses the kitchen and ordering area. You can see it gets pretty busy during peak times. This picture was taken when the restaurant first opened for the day!

Ordering Area

Ordering Area

But before we settle down to consider our selections, let’s take a look around. Be sure to check out the lights. They’re one of the few design elements that feel like they’re here on purpose, rather than being scavenged. With the little dinosaur cut outs, they’re intricate and interesting.

Lighting

Lighting

Carve out some time just to meander while you’re here. There’s just so much to take in.

Decor

Decor

Homey kitchen items are stored close by, ready to be put to good use.

Kitchen Stuff

Kitchen Stuff

Check out the pictures and other mementos that the students have displayed.

Decor

Pictures, Postcards, and Knickknacks

As with other Disney restaurants, Restaurantosaurus is most likely much larger than you realize at first. There are several seating areas, all themed as different rooms. The feel is that the building was expanded over time.

Seating

Seating

My favorite spot remains the area affectionately known as “The Hip Joint”. Ha ha!!

The Hip Joint Sign

The Hip Joint!

This student hangout houses a half-court gym and lots of recreational equipment. And to expand seating, here’s where you’ll find that [Read more…]

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 [Read more…]

Spotted! Musical Tumbler in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

There’s a new souvenir cup at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and it’s something you just gotta see…

Musical Tumbler

Musical Tumbler

Actually, scratch that – this is something you just gotta hear, because this drink tumbler is MUSICAL!!

Musical Tumbler

Musical Tumbler

Found at various locations in Animal Kingdom, the Musical Tumbler is, first of all, eye-catching. These pictures show the mug at various angles so you can see every “side” of it.

The animals found all over the tumbler bring to mind the park’s icon, the Tree of Life.

Musical Tumbler

Musical Tumbler

Musical Tumbler

Musical Tumbler

Musical Tumbler

Musical Tumbler

But what makes this tumbler truly awesome is the handle. As the sign notes (pun alert!), the handle is an “Ocarina” (a wind flute).

You can see the holes in the handle, as well as the smaller hole in the mouthpiece that you blow into to create the sounds.

Ocarina handle

Ocarina handle

But wait — there’s more! The tumbler comes with instructions on how to play two Disney songs: “It’s a Small World,” and the Lion King’s “I Just Can’t Wait to be King”!

Musical tumbler info

Musical tumbler info

Here’s the thing… I immediately thought, “Wow, that’s cool.” And I definitely thought it looked great. But I assumed it would sound like one of those plastic flutes for kids. You know, like those toddler toys that come all in primary colors and when the kid starts to play it – bless their heart – it sounds like the world is coming to an end.

Then the guy next to me bought one. Now, I have no idea whether he was some sort of musical genius with an extensive history with woodwind instruments, but I was pretty impressed with what I heard. This thing actually sounds good.

What you get in your tumbler depends on [Read more…]

Memorial Day Sale! DFB Disney World Dining Guidebook Discounts — Limited Time!

Amid events this Memorial Day Weekend, we’re celebrating the unofficial start of Summer with a great deal for you!

For a limited time, you can enjoy $5 off of our DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining 2014 by using code Memorial2014!

And you can scroll down to the end of the post for details on even more savings!

2014 dfb guide 3d cover

The DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining 2014

Our fully guaranteed, comprehensive e-Book offers more than 450 full-color pages to help you plan your very best Disney World trip ever!

With reviews, tips, expert advice, and hundreds of color photographs, you’ll get the biggest bang for your planning buck! And our handy e-Book format has been completely updated for your 2014-15 Disney World vacation.

Inside the DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining 2014, you’ll find:

  • Four free, downloadable worksheets for planning your trip. These worksheets are designed to help you execute all the steps of planning the perfect Disney dining experience. And they’re reusable for all of your future trips!
  • Seven sample one-day dining itineraries to help you start the planning process. There are hundreds of dining options in Disney World. These examples, which highlight particular theme parks, touring styles, and dietary needs, will help you get an idea of what a perfect dining day might look like for you and your family.
  • A comprehensive index of bars and lounges. Disney Food Blog readers asked for this feature, and we were happy to make it happen! An often under-appreciated option for both dining and entertainment, we devote a whole index to the topic. Every single bar and lounge in Disney World is covered — and includes a review!
  • Details about how the My Magic+ Planning System and FastPass+ affect your vacation planning.
Sample Page from the 2014 DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining

Sample Page from the DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining 2014

  • Scavenger Hunts, Trivia, and Top 5 List updates to pass the time while you’re waiting in line.
  • Disney Food Bingo Cards — a whole new way to play with your Disney food!
  • Plus SO much more!

The best part? [Read more…]

News! Dole Whip Arriving at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Um…GET THIS!!!!!

Tamu Tamu Refreshments in Animal Kingdom’s Africa offers two things: Cold Drinks!

Tamu Tamu Refreshments

Tamu Tamu Refreshments

And Good Eats!

Tamu Tamu Refreshments

Tamu Tamu Refreshments

Well, things  are about to get a little colder and good…er (?!?). Because starting THIS WEEKEND, Tamu Tamu Refreshments is serving up DOLE WHIPS!!

Dole Whip!!

Dole Whip!!

DOLE WHIPS AT ANIMAL KINGDOM?! WHAAAAAAAAAT?!?

That’s right, friends… you read correctly. Just as Dole Whips have departed the Pineapple Promenade at Epcot with the ending of this year’s Flower & Garden Festival, they’re making their arrival at Tamu Tamu Refreshments!

Tamu Tamu Refreshments

Tamu Tamu Refreshments

Here’s the scoop! No floats here, a la Aloha Isle – the ultimate Dole Whip location. BUT you will have the option to spike your Dole Whip with alcohol (if you’re 21-or-over, of course)!

Choices are the same as at the 2014 Flower & Garden Festival’s Pineapple Promenade booth: dark rum or coconut rum.

Dole Whips with rum at Epcot's Flower & Garden Festival

Dole Whips with rum at Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival

Based on the prices, we’re thinking sizes will be similar to the [Read more…]

Review: “The Glacier” in Animal Kingdom’s Asia

While visiting Animal Kingdom several weeks ago, I noticed something unusual on the path from Expedition Everest in Asia back to Africa’s Harambe Village. This random mini bar had popped straight-up out of nowhere!

Bar on Asia pathway

Bar on Asia pathway

I had to check it out because, even though it’s just a small, portable stand, the cloth decoration covering it is detailed and eye-catching, much like just about everything else in Animal Kingdom.

Cloth decorations

Cloth decorations

Vibrant cloth

Vibrant cloth

The menu is small, simple, and custom made for those 21-and-over, with two mixed drinks (The Glacier and Kali River Tea) and two beers (Kingfisher Premium Lager and Singha) to choose from.

Menu

Menu

On my most recent trip I decided to give this new spot a quick stop. With the FL heat really kicking in, how could I go wrong with something called The Glacier?

The Glacier

The Glacier

The Glacier is a pretty simple beverage, really: lemonade mixed with raspberry vodka. The sign mentioned the drink being blended — which to me always means frozen, like a blended margarita. But there is no blender in sight at this tiny kiosk, so in this case “blended” just means mixed and served on the rocks at the moment. (This may change at any time.)

Glacier on the rocks

Glacier on the rocks

And, of course, it comes with [Read more…]

Review: Breakfast Wrap at Kusafiri Coffee Shop and Bakery in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

A couple weeks back, I told you all about my up close encounter with the Warm Colossal Cinnamon Roll at Kusafiri Coffee Shop and Bakery.

It’s a cinnamon roll that’s as big as my HEAD!

But during that same visit, another item piqued my interest — a fancy schmancy breakfast wrap! Because who doesn’t love a great on-the-go breakfast option in the parks? I had to get it.

The Hot Breakfast Wrap

Whether I’m looking for a quick breakfast or an afternoon snack, Kusafiri is a great stop. There’s always something new to try here! And aren’t the food visual aides the tops? Making a decision is so much easier when you can see an example of what you’re getting.

Menu and Breakfast Options

Menu and Breakfast Options

But upon checking out the menu, the Hot Breakfast Wrap immediately caught my eye. After all, for all of my talk about sweet treats to start the day, I know a protein-rich, less sugar option will keep me going for long hours of fun in the parks.

And this really sounded interesting to me — way more so than the run of the mill breakfast sandwiches you usually see. Goat Cheese? Spinach? It’s practically a health food!

Menu -- Click to Enlarge

Menu — Click to Enlarge

This is how the wrap came to me. Look at all the earth-friendly goodness happening here!

Hot Breakfast Wrap -- Wrapped!

Hot Breakfast Wrap — Wrapped!

Upon opening the brown parchment paper that enveloped the wrap, I was greeted by a [Read more…]