Harambe Nights At Disney’s Animal Kingdom Celebrates The Lion King With Food & Live Theatrical Performance

Harambe Nights at Disney’s Animal Kingdom celebrates the 20th anniversary of The Lion King film with tastes of African inspired food and a full length theatrical performance. This is the first night time event at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and the event is hosted by the Harambe Village in a story telling atmosphere. The Lion King: Concert in the Wild tells the story of Simba in a new way with music performed live by orchestra, Harambe choir, a company of dancers, a narrator, and a celebrity narrator. Harambe Nights is only on Saturday evenings, from June 7 to August 9, 2014, and takes place inside Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park.

 

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The evening has three parts: Guests first experience a welcoming reception with savory bites and drinks, then leads into the live theatrical performance, and is followed by a street party in Harambe Village with food, contemporary African music performed by a live band and a DJ spinning music for guests to dance. It’s an all-inclusive experience at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park, with general seating tickets available at $119 for adults and $79 for children (tax not included).

I had a chance to preview Harambe Nights recently and I’m sharing some photos of the food and menu. I did get to experience a few scenes from the show and I was very impressed by the music and dance company performing. More of that below.

 

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At 7 p.m., the welcome reception starts the evening by giving guests a sampling of savory bites, with beverage options of a specialty cocktail, wine and beer, soft drinks and water.

Reception Tastes

 

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• Moroccan beef kefta with tamarind glaze

• Safari cheeseburger roll with tomato curry aioli

• Pickled fennel paneer cheese with tomato
• Durban spiced chicken tenders
(not pictured)

Beer:
 Tusker Lager
, St. George Ethopian
, Bud Light
, Corona

Wine
: Spice Route Chenin Blanc, 
Fairview Goats do Roam Viognier Blend, 
The WolfTrap Syrah blend, 
Fairview Pinotage

 

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Specialty Drink: 
Jungle Juice (Passion fruit, orange and guava juices mixed with rum)
,
Simba juice mix (non-alcoholic)

The Lion King: Concert in the Wild

 

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The show begins at 7:30 p.m. and guests are given “Lion Chow” to snack on (see below). The show itself is a full length theatrical production and it is the first time Walt Disney Parks has been able to work with Disney Studios and Disney Theatrical to be able to present a show of this magnitude. The Lion King: Concert in the Wild gives glimpses of Simba’s evolving story with live music performed by a 25 piece orchestra, a singing Harambe choir, a company of dancers performing live movement, and 2 narrators with one being a celebrity guest narrator. Some new music was created for this show, with the majority of music from the score of the film, and some new arrangements of songs which already existed.

During each weekly performance, a celebrity guest narrator joins a company of the live singers and dancers, backed by a live orchestra to recreate the drama of an African story circle. Here’s the lineup of narrators:

Viola Davis — June 7, 2014
Avery Brooks — June 14, 2014
Montego Glover — June 21, 2014
David Alan Grier — June 28, 2014
Michael Beach — July 5, 2014
Harry Lennix — July 12, 2014
Joe Morton — July 19, 2014
Alfre Woodard — July 26, 2014
Brian Stokes Mitchell — August 2, 2014
Patina Miller — August 9, 2014

The celebrity guest narrators can probably bring a crowd on their own. Since tickets are limited each week, they will most likely sell quickly.

More about Harambe Nights show & tickets: HERE

My experience:

As a part of the media preview, we got to see a few scenes with the dance company and choir in their rehearsal room, without costumes or a stage. They performed to loudly played (pre-recorded) practice music and gave us a good show of what’s to come. What I experienced was amazing, the live movement combined with music was exciting and left the hair standing on the back of my neck. It was a combination of multiple senses being entertained by familiar scenes that are told in a new way. If this preview could create a feeling like this, then the show should be amazing to watch in its entirety. It was an impressive taste of what the show will actually be like.

During the Show

 

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“Lion Chow”– Sea salted pretzel chips, benne crumbles, cardamom candied pecans, golden raisins, dried cherries and candied ginger

Before the show, guests are given a container of “Lion Chow”. It’s basically a combination of seasoned sweet & spiced mix of pecans, dried fruits, bread chips, and candied ginger. Its all been seasoned to give you flavors of Africa in a snack. A nice treat to snack on as you enjoy the show and gives an additional dynamic to the total experience.

Harambe Nights Street Party

 

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After the show, the celebration continues outside in the Harambe village with music and food. The Harambe Nights Band, an Afro-Pop group, performs danceable contemporary African music and a live D.J. is spinning current hits in Africa, all for guests to dance.

 

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Rafiki and Timon greet guests, along with more Disney characters including Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy available for meet and greets, dancing with kids, and more.

Fresh Cooked Breads, Salads and More

The food showcases African flavors with its spices and takes on traditional and non-traditional dishes. There is food for everyone, with several vegetarian options in salads and warm dishes and flat breads. Some of my favorites were the Spicy vegetable samosa with mango chutney, traditional naan, Lamb chops with tamarind pomegranate sauce, Butter chicken thighs and vegetarian legume wat served over basmati rice, and ALL of the salads were great. The menu hits a variety of African flavors and there are some spicy dishes to enjoy too. The same wine, beer, cocktail, and drinks are available during this time as well.

 

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• Watercress, melon, feta and berry balsamic onion salad

• Kachumbari salad with tomato, paneer, carrot and cilantro

• Roasted beetroot salad with sunflower seeds

 

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• Slow-roasted chicken legs
• Creamy mac ‘n cheese
• Spicy vegetable samosa with mango chutney

• Traditional naan, onion kucha and pappadum breads

• Roasted pepper hummus, raita and garlic-ginger pickle

Surf and Turf Station

 

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• On-stage-seared lamb chops with tamarind pomegranate sauce

• Watermelon, cucumber and fennel salad
• Coriander chutney roasted potatoes
• Line-caught corvina filet with goan curry sauce
• Mango, radish, lime and mustard seed salad

 

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Slow-cook Action Stations

 

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• Fork-tender peri barbecued pork

• Vegetarian eggplant tikka masala curry served over creamy goat cheese pap

 

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• Butter chicken thighs and vegetarian legume wat served over basmati rice

Sweets

I got just a little taste of the sweets at the end of our preview. If you have room left for dessert, then they are all worth a try. Of course, you can always start with desserts and have the savory plates later. I enjoyed the Golden pineapple with toasted coconut
 and Chai cream with zebra stripes the most.

 

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• Golden pineapple with toasted coconut

• Ripe melon with minted lime yogurt dip
• Chai cream with zebra stripes
• Caramel salted Tanzania chocolate Kenya coffee bite

• Rice pudding, dried fruit compote and pistachio gremolata



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• Apple slices with Amarula caramel sauce

• Novelty ice cream bars

 
Harambe Nights looks like a really entertaining live theater experience and a very filling evening. It’s all actually a good amount of food from the beginning until end, so you won’t have to worry about eating prior to attending. The show tickets are limited each weekend and are available for Saturday evenings, from June 7 to August 9, 2014.

 
For tickets and more information about Harambe Nights, visit disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/animal-kingdom/harambe-nights

 
Words and photos by Julius Mayo Jr.
Content and photos © Droolius.com 2014

 
Disclaimer: I was invited to a media preview for “Harambe Nights”. I was not compensated to write this post and all opinions are always my own.

 

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