Disney’s Harambe Market: A Taste of Africa

Eating and Drinking
Disney’s Harambe Market: A Taste of Africa
By ATD’s Florida Experts, Susan and Simon Veness
Harambe in Animal Kingdom had its wildlife safaris and local theater, but, until May 2015 ,it was missing something. Enter Harambe Market, a gathering place for the locals and an oasis for weary travellers. It’s a bustling ‘community’ centre where all manner of goods are on offer, but the highlight here is sharing a meal with friends and family.

The backstory at Harmabe Market (there is always a backstory at Disney!) is that you have entered a marketplace built up around a Colonial-era train depot, the ‘centre of commerce’ for Harambe, on the way to your wildlife adventure with Kilimanjaro Safaris. You’ve travelled long and far, and you’re probably ready for a bite to eat. Happily, local entrepreneurs have got you covered, with Kitamu Grill, Boerewors Sausages, Chef Mwanga’s, Wanjohi Refereshments, and Zuri’s Sweets Shop.

Chef Lenny DeGeorge, head of the Food and Beverage team tasked with creating the Market’s culinary concept, took his inspiration from street foods of Africa. They’ve been given a slight twist to suit Western palates, but the basic idea is the same. With that in mind, here are the five outlets in Harambe Market:

Boerewors Sausages takes that all-American summertime favourite, the corn dog—a hot dog on a stick, dipped in batter and then deep fried—and adds flavourful curry spices to the batter for that traditional African touch. It comes with a small roasted broccoli and tomato salad and is the only item on the menu, although beer, wine and soft drinks are available. At $8.99 it’s a bit pricy compared to most amusement park corn dogs, but hey, the setting is better than any other, and if you pair it up with a Safari Amber Lager (Harambe’s ‘official’ beer) or an Orlando Brewing I-4 IPA from our local Florida brewery, Orlando Brewing Partners, you’ve got yourself a very respectable lunch.

Wanjohi Refereshments offers beer, wine, soft drinks (including a Sparberry raspberry cream soda drink from Zimbabwe and fruit-flavored juice drink, Bibo, from South Africa) and a specially-crafted cocktail, the popular Starr of Harambe, a blend of Starr African Rum and mango puree. It’s a whopping $17.25, but it does come with a souvenir tumbler. Fun fact? Wanjohi is a surname, but its meaning is ‘brewer’. It comes from the Kikuyu (also called Gĩkũyũ) dialect in Kenya.

Kitamu Grill doubles the number of items on offer with two—count ‘em, two!—selections: All Natural Grilled Chicken Skewer ($8.99) and Ground Beef Kabob Flatbread ($9.49), both exactly what they sound like and both served with grilled broccoli and tomato salad. And you know how we said you can’t get the African Milk Tart anywhere else? We lied; you can get it at Kitamu Grill, too.

Chef Mwanga’s is the go-to counter for spice-rubbed Karubi ribs with green papaya-carrot slaw and chickpea, cucumber and tomato salad ($13.39). Again, it’s the single item on the menu, so if you’re after ribs, this is the place to be. If not, you’ll want to look elsewhere. Chef Mwanga’s does offer an interesting African Milk Tart ($4.49) of coconut custard in a chocolate-lined pastry shell, which is worth trying not only because it’s tasty, but also because…well…where else are you going to get one? Draft beers and South African wine are available here, too, as are fizzy drinks, watermelon lemonade, iced tea and water.

Finally, a somewhat late addition to the area is the retail outlet of Zuri’s Sweets Shop, the location of the infamous Match the Species* (better known as “edible poop” of the Giraffe, Hippo, Cotton Top Tamarin and Elephant varieties), that has been withdrawn from the menu with no plans for a repeat performance. Here you’ll find flavoured popcorns, a wide selection of nuts by the pound, chocolates, hard candies and a cooler-cabinet filled with cookies, character-shaped candy apples, Mickey-shaped Rice Krispy Treats on a stick, cake-pops and an appealing assortment of other sweets. A few non-sweet items are on sale here, too, including African spice rubs, barbecue sauce, coffee beans and kitchenware. If you love the Flame Tree Barbecue’s rib sauce and want to take some home, this is where you’ll find it.

Each of the menus (other than at Zuri’s Sweets Shop) thoughtfully offers suggestions for a drinks pairing with your meal, and Kids Meals (a choice of child-friendly sizes of the adult entrée at $5.99-$7.49) are on offer, along with Disney’s Kid’s Snack Pack ($5.49) of Dannon Danimals Yogurt, apple wedges, carrot sticks, Goldfish crackers, an apple-cinnamon snack bar and choice of low-fat milk or water.

Unlike most quick-service locations at Walt Disney World, guests place their order at one window, then move down the queue and pick up their meal at a second window, which, along with limited menu items, helps keep the traffic flowing. There is no indoor seating, but most of the tables are under cover, helping ease the heat of a Florida summer, or avoid our famous afternoon downpours.

And, in keeping with the rest of the park, there are lovely little ‘regional’ touches, such as Swahili proverbs, sayings, advertisements and homespun uses of the English language that act as wonderful place-making markers. It can be difficult to get a seat at peak times, as the area is quite popular, so plan to dine at off-peak times if possible (before or after 12pm-2pm and 5pm-7pm).

Harambe Market has added a wonderful new dimension to Animal Kingdom’s Africa section, with the immense detailing, sympathetic colour palette and outright whimsy Disney’s Imagineers do so well. And while you’re there, be sure to look for the not-so-hidden Mickey (quite honestly, it would be nearly impossible to miss it)!

*Sorry to hear the Match the Species treats are gone? You can make them in your own kitchen with a few simple ingredients. The Cotton Top Tamarin was made from pretzel pearls (small, round pretzels), chocolate peanut butter fudge, and sweet rolled oats; Elephant was chocolate peanut butter fudge, sweet rolled oats, and yellow-tinged coconut flakes; Giraffe was chocolate fudge brownie and caramel rolled into a ball; and Hippo was chocolate fudge caramel brownie with peanut butter and rolled oats. Enjoy! 

 

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