Reviews of Harambe Nights at Animal Kingdom
Harambe Nights is a brand-new experience designed to celebrate the 20th anniversary of "The Lion King." Harambe Village and its people are the hosts for this limited-engagement experience, which allows the popular story to be told in a new and creative way. Offered Saturdays in June, July and August 2014.
Reviewed by mzznlink Review Date: 07/23/2014
Rating: (8) Recommended
We attended the night of 12th, which was our last night at WDW after a 2 week stay at OKW. Givven that we had to get up at 5:00 AM then next morning, this wasn't a rational decision. Our daughter-in-law has an old school friend who's a cast member and he said it was a must do, so we did.
It started raining the moment we got off the bus, got harder as we approached the park entrance. CMs had plain plastic ponchos to hand out as you got your wrist bands.
We were directed to Pizzafari where we found a table and enjoyed the appetizers (spicy but tasty) and drinks. They are quite liberal with the rum so don't be surprised with the punch. Donâ€™t spend the full time here because youâ€™ll be left with seats that nobody else wanted once you get to the show. (ask me how I know)
Next stop is the new building they recently finished for The Lion King Show. Itâ€™s somewhat smaller, but then the showâ€™s different. Itâ€™s now a combination of narration, dance, singing, and video from the movie giving you a condensed version of the movie. We preferred the energy of the old show. It was still a good show, but the seats we ended up with were on the left side of the stage and had top look over the orchestra. The drummer pacing back and forth checking things in between actually hitting something got a little irritating, but we did arrive later than the rest.
Afterwards we found that the rain had stopped and we would be dining outside. Given the number of tables and people, along with the numerous buffet line, bars, and entertainment, I canâ€™t imagine experiencing this part inside. This was the best part for me; 3 or 4 bars, numerous buffets (always stocked) and a band/DJ. They even had various characters and photographers.
We left at 10:00 because of having to get up early the next morning and were picked up almost immediately by the bus back to OKW.
Iâ€™d do something similar in the future, but not on the last night of our stay.
Pros:Selection/amount of food and drink, entertainment.
Reviewed by jnrtwb Review Date: 06/15/2014
Rating: (7) Recommended
When I first heard about Harambe Nights, I thought it sounded very interesting and might make a nice surprise for my wife. I was able to obtain premium seating for 6/14.
Although we had been at AK earlier in the day, we took a break before the big storm moved in. More on smartphone weather apps laterâ€¦
When we returned around 5:45, there were signs and CMs directing us to the turnstiles to get our wristbands. Different animal wristbands indicate different sections of the theater. Lion is premium. The CM supplying the wristbands instructed us that due to expected rain, we would meet at Pizzafari for the pre show reception at 6:45.
We saw the CM standing outside Pizzafari with a Harambi Nights sign, but we decided to wander around Discovery Island since we had some time to kill. Around 6:20 we noticed guests gathering at the bridge to Africa. We went to Pizzafari to inquire and were instructed that the event had been moved back outside and we should gather near the bridge until admitted.
Once all of the day guests were clear, we were welcomed to Harambe Nights by several CMs and lead across the bridge at 6:40.
Upon crossing the bridge, we were immediately directed to the left toward the theater courtyard. The rest of Africa was closed off. There were several food and beverage stations set up around the courtyard, so no need to stop at the first one you see.
The live band played background music and we were soon welcomed by the DJ. He advised up to eat carefully, as there would be a complete meal after the Lion King show.
The food was tasty, with the Safari cheeseburger roll with tomato curry aioli being the standout for me. I enjoyed everything but the Pickled fennel paneer cheese with tomato. I am one of the 25% of people who find cilantro tastes like soap and there was a strong cilantro flavor. Beverage options included beer (Corona, Bud Light, Tukser, St. P), various wines, â€œJungle Juiceâ€ fruit juice (with the option of rum added for the adults), and various soft drinks.
Eventually the DJ advised us we would soon be entering the theater. No food could be brought in but we would be able to bring our beverages. The doors we entered through were based on our wristbands. As soon as he made this announcement, the doors opened and people began to stream in. Being caught off guard by the sudden change from â€œsoonâ€ to â€œNOWâ€, we trashed the rest of our food and headed for the entrance for Lion.
Upon entering the theater, we were greeted and presented with our snack tube of â€œLion Chowâ€ (curry flavored â€œmuchie mixâ€ with dried fruit). CMs directed us to our seats on the floor. This was first come, first seated, so if you want to be in front, donâ€™t wait for the DJâ€™s announcementâ€¦eat, drink, and get to the doors to wait.
The show began and was quite enjoyable. My wife and I both grew up performing so we both appreciated the power and emotion of the orchestra and choir. Except for a few individuals who had clearly been brought under duress or were only there for the "open barâ€, most everyone seemed to enjoy the show.
Unfortunately, things took an unexpected turn at this point. When the show finished, the DJ took the stage and advised us that due to rain, we would be relocating, but not to worry, the party would go on. He advised us to sit tight and we would be directed shortly. As soon and he put his mic down, we were ushered out the theater door, handed ponchos, and instructed to head for Pizzafari.
When arriving at Pizzafari, we were offered bottled water or canned soft drinks. The main ordering area had been set up with tables on the three walls away from the order counter. Facing the counter, to the left was â€œsurf and turfâ€, to the right bread and samosas, and on the opposite wall was slow cooked options (pork and chicken). This quickly turned to chaos. Far too many people tried to queue in all directions for food. The food was fine, but the chaos was frustrating. Side note: if you donâ€™t like cilantro, stay away from the Vegetarian Eggplant Tikka Masala Curry and the Coriander Chutney Roasted Potatoes. At one point a CM walked through the dining area yelling something. It turned out he was saying that beer and wine were now available at the order counter. My wife overheard someone talking about dessert, so she wandered around until she found the dessert table in the back room. The desserts were unique and tasty, but I have to wonder how many people missed them.
After some time Pizzafari started to empty out. Most people were heading for the park exit, but my wife wondered â€œwhat about the street party?â€ We headed back to Harambe to find the area full of mostly empty tables with food stations set up serving no one. We saw people heading back to the theater, so we followed. Inside we found more tables and food stations. "Why were we sent all the way to Pizzafari?â€ I wonderedâ€¦
We decided to sit in the bleachers to see what else might take place. Soon the band took the stage and played while a few people danced. Timon and Rafikki wandered through the small crowd of guests posing for pictures. Around 10:30, the food and beverage stations disappeared and we took this as our cue to leave.
The lack of direction and communication from Disney management made an otherwise enjoyable evening, rather frustrating. I donâ€™t blame the CMs because most of them didnâ€™t seem to know what was happening either. As we were leaving, one CM told us that the change to the indoor food area was sudden and last minute. He said everything was already set up outside. Again I say to Disney management: my smartphone has a weather app that shows live radar as well as predicted precipitation for the next few hours. Couldnâ€™t you have had ONE person watching that?
If you attend Harambe Nights, I hope the weather is nice and you donâ€™t experience the frustration we did. Overall, it was fun, but I feel like it could have been much better with stronger direction and communication. Is it worth the money? Only if it doesnâ€™t rain...