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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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