If you’ve been to the Animal Kingdom this year, you couldn’t have helped but notice that there is A LOT going on, which is especially exciting, because ever since the park has opened, there really haven’t been enough attractions for it to be considered a full-day park (especially since they only used to be open during the day). With the floating islands of Avatar land towering over you as you arrive, and the new amphitheater around the lake in Asia, the Animal Kingdom is brimming with exciting possibilities.
The first of these exciting new developments was the Harambe Market. While at first, it might not seem like a shining example of the things to come, we found that just the quality of the food and theming at the Harambe Market to be a window to what the Animal Kingdom has the potential to become.
The Harambe Market opened in May of 2015 in the Africa pavilion of the Animal Kingdom. Tucked behind the main “square” of the pavilion, this eatery might be a little unassuming at first glance. There’s a good chance that you might not even walk by it when you visit, since it’s off the main path. If you venture through its blessed archway, you will find four separate walk-up restaurants, each with a separate theme. There’s Kitamu Grill, Famous Sausages, Chef Mwanga’s, and Wanjohi Refreshments with a variety of African-inspired cuisine.
Right as we walked in, we were hooked, and it was all due to the theming. The whole area is intricately designed in classic Disney fashion, and makes you really feel like you’re in a different time and place. From all the faded paint and peeling plaster, you would never guess that it is barely a year old. This level of attention to detail really sells this area and sets it apart. It really feels old, and all you Disney nerds like us know exactly what we’re talking about. As we walked around and perused the different menus, we got a strong feeling reminiscent of the Food and Wine Festival at Epcot, which for us means it’s an instant success.
Even though there were only three hours till our 11:30 reservation for Boma (in all its gluttonous goodness), we just had to try the food at the Harambe Market. We decided on the Spice-rubbed Karubi Ribs from Chef Mwanga’s, because, come on, you can’t NOT get the ribs. And sorry, not sorry, but here they are in all their tender goodness. If you start drooling, just know that they were delicious and they fell apart like all ribs should. It was served with a Green Papaya Slaw and a Black-eyed Pea, Corn, and Tomato Salad, which were good, but nothing to write sonnets about.
The Harambe Market met our unrealistic expectations and quickly became one of our favorite spots in the Animal Kingdom. If Disney does what I know they will do, creating intricately themed, immersive experiences like the Harambe Market, the Animal Kingdom might just give Epcot a run for its money.