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Sneak Peek at First-Ever Nighttime Party at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Harambe Nights kicks off in just about a week on June 7, and we got a taste of the amazing celebration that stretches Disney entertainment and dining to new heights.

Early in the evening, the new Harambe Theatre and “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild” is the center of attention, with emotional music performed by a live choir and 25-piece orchestra, the back-up for such talented performers – we were mesmerized as we watched scenes from the blockbuster film come to life in a whole new way.


The Walt Disney World Resort chefs are hard at work too – after the performance, Harambe Village lights up with a lively street party where the food takes center stage. The menu took weeks of planning by Chefs Robert Gilbert and Leonard Thompson, working in symphony with Chef David Njoroge at Sanaa restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, a native of Kenya who embraces true African-style cooking.

Before the show gets started, you get a little taste of the African and Indian cuisine with small bites such as Moroccan beef kefta with tamarind glaze and a mini-cheeseburger with tomato curry aioli. And just for fun, as you watch the show, there’s a cute little container of “Lion Chow,” a mix of pretzel chips benne (sesame) crumbles, cardamom candied pecans, raisins, cherries and ginger.

The evening is a culinary journey with aromatic spices – you’ll smell the lamb cooking, and get a taste of warm naan bread hot off the griddle. The aromatic spice of Africa create a mélange of amazing tastes – so be adventurous if you haven’t tried something like eggplant tikka masala or crispy pappadum crackers. But you’ll find plenty of familiar flavors too, as the cuisine of America’s South borrows plenty of tastes from Africa, such as barbecued pork (served with a delicious polenta) or simple roast chicken.

With all those diverse bites, naan, an Indian flatbread, is the perfect accompaniment. We can almost guarantee you’ll wish for another taste once you are home, so we’re sharing the recipe without the traditional tandoor oven – just use a pizza stone in the oven or your grill. Harambe Nights takes place every Saturday from June 7 through August 9. The welcome reception begins at 7 p.m., showtime is 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $119 for adults, $79 for ages 3-9, plus tax. Capacity is limited. For tickets, call 407-939-1319 or visit

Naan Bread
Makes 5 (8-inch) breads

3 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1/2 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 cup milk
2/3 cup warm water
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 tablespoons butter, melted

  1. Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; stir to combine.
  2. Combine milk, water, and oil in a medium bowl; whisk to combine.
  3. With the mixer running, pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients. As soon as the mixture comes together, switch attachment to a dough hook, and mix until dough is smooth and no longer sticky. Do not over-mix.
  4. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature for 1 hour.
  5. Place a pizza stone on a top rack of the oven, positioned approximately 6 inches below the broiler. Preheat oven to 500° for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Divide dough evenly into 5 pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece into an 8-inch circle.
  7. Turn oven to broil. Carefully slide one circle of dough onto the preheated pizza stone, and broil until bread is bubbled and golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Watch carefully, as the bread can burn very quickly. Repeat with remaining dough rounds. Brush the warm bread with melted butter, and serve immediately.


  • Actually sorry to see the ingredients in this recipe. Info has said that a fair number of menu items will be vegan-friendly. Not a good sign when the naan is made with milk and butter. And no luck yet getting info on exactly which items will be vegan. Hard to pay so much for a ticket without knowing.

  • Signed up for the 14th. Can’t wait.

    As another post states, this is not DAK’s first hard ticket event. There have been several Pin Trading events that were Animal Kingdom specific. They had dinners, entertainment, Animal Kingdom themed pins and other items, ect. Each in a sectioned off area of the park. A different area each time.

  • Cannot wait! We are surprising my Lion King FANATIC daughter with tickets to Saturday. Can’t wait to see the look on her face when she finds out!

  • Probably not the only one thinking that we hope this is successful enough that it is extended into the fall, as we would never go to WDW in the summer, but would probably attend when if its still going in October.

  • Sounds like a blast, I wish this would be going on in November.

  • omg please extend this into the fall

  • Sorry to say, this isn’t the first ever night-time event at AK. About 15 years ago, my grandson and I spent an absolutely stupendous evening for Adventures in Pin Trading. Best event ever held, and it was a great party!

  • Can’t wait to go – we have tickets for Saturday night!

  • Are you sure this recipe calls for baking soda and not baking powder? Normally you’d only use baking soda for rise in a recipe that has something acidic like buttermilk or yogurt. This has no acid, so I wouldn’t expect the soda to work. Moreover, naan is usually a yeast bread, so the fact that this doesn’t have any yeast is strange.

  • I am curious – how long does the event last? 7pm – when? I live over six hours away and want to come, but I hope it’s longer than a three hour event.

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