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Circle of Flavors: Harambe at Night

There are two plates. One has two cupcakes, one with orange frosting one with brown and white swirled frosting. The other plate has two frozen ice cream bars. One is dark chocolate dipped, the other in yellow-tinted white chocolate with pink candy pearls. And a beige alcoholic drink with ice.

Circle of Flavors: Harambe at Night first ran for a limited time at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in 2015 but was re-branded for 2019 to celebrate the anniversary of Disney’s Lion King. At approximately $125 per adult and $99 for children, this add-on experience may seem a bit steep especially for larger families, but after my experience, I can vouch that the cost is very much worth the value of what you are provided during the event.

Writer holds one booklet that says Circle of Flavors and three entry tickets that read "All Aboard"

The event begins at 6:00pm so naturally, we arrived close to 5:45pm at the meeting spot outside of the Harambe Train Station where we were checked in and given our tickets. A small guidebook breaks down each stop you’ll be making on this trek which focuses on food and the “The Big Five” – aka elephants, rhinos, buffalo, leopards, and lions. In this booklet, you’ll also find most of the food and beverage options available at each location, though we noticed there were more options available than were listed.

A small booklet describing what's to come at the eventThere is a red table cloth, atop are four plates. One has two cubes of cheese and four grapes, one with a slice of ahi tuna and white sauce, one with two pieces of bread an orange hummus, and one with two meat pies.

Prior to entering the Harambe Train Station, guests are invited to grab a Harambellini – a fun take on your average Bellini combined with the famous POG (passion fruit, orange, guava) juice. Fortunately for younger guests and those who obtain from alcohol, regular POG juice and lemonade are also provided.

Four food options were presented at this stop and we tried each of them, of course. The charcutamatata is essentially a charcuterie cup and is great for picky eaters since it’s honestly nothing more than a couple of cheese cubes and some grapes. There may have been a bite of pepperoni or something in there but it was way too generic to be memorable. Fortunately, I thoroughly enjoyed every other item, especially the meat pies. These were actually so flavorful that we went up for additional servings three times. The main perk of this event is that food and drinks are essentially unlimited and you’re able to go back for extra servings if you’d like.

The Kitfo – an ahi tuna piece with a spiced ginger aioli was light and fresh but with just enough flavor. The final item listed chips as an addition to the hummus but we instead received a couple of pieces of some type of bread, which I had no complaints with. Both were enjoyable and well seasoned. This stop didn’t lack in the entertainment of course; a musician and guitarist walked around the cocktail-style reception, interacting with families as he played his take on Lion King songs including one of my favorites, He Lives in You.

Writer is shown from the side in a black romper and sandals. Her face is hidden as she hugs Disney's Rafiki, a grey baboon.There is a tall yellow sign with a black arrow facing right. It reads "Virtual Reality Experience" and has a cartoon sketch of a lion.

After our cocktail reception, we hopped on the train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch where activities were set-up for our enjoyment, including the Lion King virtual reality experience and my favorite, a meet-and-greet with Timon and Rafiki. You can clearly see in the photo above that Rafiki is one of my favorite Disney characters along with Mother Willow and every otherwise, spiritual character.

The background is a multicolored table cloth - atop is a yellow drink with ice, a sausage in a bun topped with pink slaw and red peppers, a small tomato and cucumber salad, a caramel dipped apple slice drizzled in chocolate, and a cone of cheeses and olives.There is a faded green bin. Atop is a sign that shows a picture of the Boerie Roll

Following our meet-and-greet and virtual experience, I grabbed a Wanjohi’s Dawa which was decidedly not my favorite despite my usual enjoyment of semi-spicy cocktails. Our food offerings at stop two seemed to vary a bit from the menu but also included a fun addition of a Boerie roll cart.

The small tomato salad wasn’t exceptional by any means, essentially just a medley of cherry tomatoes chopped and some fresh herbs. However, this sort-of a charcuterie cone was actually pretty good thanks to those little red items (maybe peppers?). The caramel covered apples were also delicious because how couldn’t they be? But the real winner, of course, was the Boerie rolls – which we got with everything, meaning a South African sausage with peppadews, stone ground mustard, and sweet potato and apple slaw. If there wasn’t still the third stop, I may have gone back for a second.

A brown paper bah sits on a wooden table with peeled green and yellow paint. In front of it is a transparent stemless wine glass that says "Circle of Flavors: Harambe at Night" on one side and "Celebration of the Lion King" on the other.There is a red standing sign on top off a bar. It lists three cocktails, beers, and wines.

After taking the train back to the Harambe Train Station, we headed to Harambe Market for our third and final stop. On our way in we grabbed our gift bags, which we later found out we weren’t supposed to grab until we were on our way out. But due to the lack of anyone monitoring the bags, it appeared the entire group had done the same. The good thing about doing the tour with family is that we now have a set of three stemless Circle of Flavors wine glasses.

I made sure to grab a Safari Sunset to wash down the delicacies we were about to ingest. Each of the five stations represented one of “the Big Five” and since each station had 3-4 offerings we decided it was best to go booth-by-booth or at most two at a time.

This is the display for the first station. There is a sign that lists each dish and a wooden table with napkins, silverware, and two display dishes under glass lids.There are four plates. The first has vegan chopped meat on a mini hamburger bun. The second has a mixture of chunks of butternut squash, cauliflower, and assorted vegetables. The third has to triangular shaped dumplings called samosas along with a white, red, and orange slaw. The final dish has chunks of assorted fruit and is tossed in a a creamy white sauce.

The first station was “The Rhinoceros” and similar to the herbivorous diet of the rhino, each of these dishes was vegetarian-friendly and meat-free. The four options at this station were a vegetable curry over basmati rice and seasonal vegetables, potato and pea samosas, African fruit fool, and vegan bunny chow. I thought the African fruit fool, which is essentially a chilled fruit salad drizzled in heavy cream and condensed milk mixture was absolutely delicious, light, and refreshing. While the samosas and the vegetable curry weren’t anything out of the ordinary they were both very well-executed dishes. Unfortunately, for me, the bunny chow left little to be desired but that’s more a personal preference as I’m not a huge fan of the texture of impossible meat. Overall, I loved how this station showcased how versatile vegetarian dishes could be.

This is the display for the Leopard booth. There are two dishes displayed under glass covers, silverware, and napkins. There is also a sign that lists each dish.There are three plates. One has a corndog. The other has a large dollop of creamy polenta topped with a small leg of lamb with grill marks. There is also a piece of purple cauliflower on the side. The final plate has a piece of white fish covered in a green sauce. There is a small mini potato on the plate and a green slaw.

The next booth focused on the leopard, one of the top predators in the animal kingdom. Not everyone knows, but leopards aren’t limited to hunting on land but are also pretty decent at swimming to capture fish – which clears up the reasoning behind one of the three dishes offered. As you’d imagine, the corn dog option was just that – it tasted like every other corn dog you’d get at Disney World, so obviously it was still delicious. While I’m not typically a lamb eater the grilled lamb was flavorful and paired deliciously with the goat cheese polenta. Finally, the sustainable fish was my favorite and was paired with a dhana chutney which had a similar flavor to chimichurri sauce.

This is the display for the Lion station. There are two dishes displayed under glass covers. There is a sign listing each dish. There is also napkins and silverware.There are two plates. The first has a white mealie topped with two strips of steak. Atop the steak is a red vegetable relish. The second is a bowl with a purple and green cabbage slaw. Next to the slaw are several chunks of a orange mango sauce covered chicken.

At the Lion station, we decided to skip the chicken tenders and focus solely on the two main dishes: char-grilled steak with mealie and chakalaka in a red wine sauce and Tandoori-marinated chicken with fingerling potatoes, slaw, and mango sambal. Both of these dishes were high-standing amongst all dishes for the night.

This is the display for the Cape buffalo station. There is a sign that lists each dish. Each dish is shown under a glass cover. There is also napkins and silverware.There are two dishes. One has a fried brown fritter with a few shredded carrots and surrounded by a purple pomegranate sauce and some pomegranate seeds. The second bowl has white rice with a thick bright green sauce, topped with two booked shrimp and a shred of radish.

The next booth was inspired by the Cape Buffalo and similar to how the buffalo grazes across various countries in Africa, these dishes are each inspired by different regions. By this point, we were filling up to capacity and decided to forgo the Kachiumbari, a tomato and onion salad since it was similar to the small tomato salad we had at stop number two. The Kofta fritter has a consistency very similar to falafel and on its own doesn’t have too much flavor, but it’s very enjoyable when dipped in the pomegranate sauce. The Cape Malay shrimp curry had more subdued flavor than I expected but it was light and enjoyable, nonetheless.

This is the set up front the elephant-themed station in front of the order window. It shows all three dishes under glass covers. There is a sign that lists each dish and some silverware and napkins.There are three plates. One has a barbecued rib drizzled in barbecue sauce. The next has cob of corn covered in farmer's cheese and chili seasoning. The last plate has a thick piece of pork belly with a parsley leaf on top. There are three dollops of a white sauce.

The final station of the “Big Five” stations was the African Elephant. Each dish of this pavilion used honey as one of its seasonings – this was to reflect Disney’s efforts to improve elephant-human relationships. To minimize the opportunity for elephants to inadvertently stumble into an area where there are crops, beehive fences are constructed around the perimeter of small farms to act as a natural deterrent. The BBQ ribs were exactly what you’d expect but I’ll never turn down a good rib. The other two dishes – grilled sweet corn with citrus aioli, chili-lime spice and farmer’s cheese; and honey-glazed pork belly white bean puree, caramelized apple-bacon chutney, and curry-apple gastrique – were two of the most flavorful and probably my favorite two dishes of the entire event.

And just when we thought we couldn’t possibly eat anymore, we remembered that there was still dessert. Luckily, we were able to take a short break to do this stop’s bead activity. Guests could pick four beads (the colors which hold different meanings) and one wooden animal representing one of the “big five”. I ended up choosing an elephant, two purple beads, which represent earth/healing/femininity and two green beads for harvest/growth/spiritual renewal. All choices are put onto a string and can be made into either a necklace, bracelet, keychain, etc.

There are two plates. One has two cupcakes, one with orange frosting one with brown and white swirled frosting. The other plate has two frozen ice cream bars. One is dark chocolate dipped, the other in yellow-tinted white chocolate with pink candy pearls. And a beige alcoholic drink with ice.

The dessert station had an array of options like chocolate-covered strawberries, smores pops, smores, cupcakes, frozen treats, African-spiced popcorn and more. My party decided to grab a couple of cupcakes and a blueberry frozen pop (coated in dark chocolate) – but I decided to go with just a passion fruit frozen pop (coated in yellow-tinted white chocolate). It was delicious and didn’t clash with my Talking Monkey drink, made up coffee liqueur, banana liqueur, and espresso-infused Snow Leopard Vodka.

A shot of the Up! attraction at Disney's Animal Kingdom. It is night and there are multi-colored string lights handing above. It is empty of crowds.Writer stands in front of a mock Asian ruin of a dragon at Disney's Animal Kingdom Park. It is night. She wears a black romper and sandals and smiles at the camera.

When it comes to activities, food, and beverage – especially considering everything is essentially unlimited – the price is more than worth the value of what you get for Harambe Nights: Circle of Flavors, which has just been extended through December!

And of course, once the event ends the park will most likely be clearing or mostly cleared out which makes for some amazing photo shots on your way out.

 

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Harambe Nights: Circle of Flavors | Disney Dining | Disney's Animal Kingdom | A Great Big Hunk of World | www.agreatbighunkofworld.comHarambe Nights: Circle of Flavors | Disney Dining | Disney's Animal Kingdom | A Great Big Hunk of World | www.agreatbighunkofworld.com

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