While you may know that “Tale of the Lion King” recently made its debut at Fantasyland Theatre, you may not know that the adjacent Troubadour Tavern is offering a completely revamped menu in honor of the show! Disneyland park Chef Natalie Willingham led the charge in bringing this African cuisine-inspired menu to life.
“I wasn’t very familiar with African cuisine, but I did a lot of research online, looking at various African menus, and bought a few African books to do comparisons between everything,” Chef Natalie said.
For feedback and learnings upon the start of the project earlier this year, she began working with her culinary leadership team, the entertainment team producing and directing “Tale of the Lion King” and the leadership team of PULSE (People United to Lead, Serve and Excel), one of our Disneyland Resort Business Employee Resource Groups advocating for the development and well-being of black cast members.
“I looked at food around the continent [of Africa],” shared Natalie. “I was very interested in what kind of crops and staples they had readily available. From there, I just tried to make sure that the items that I utilized were concepts that could be easily understood in the U.S. while still telling the proper story.”
Along with African culture, Chef Natalie and her team were heavily influenced by the story and imagery of “The Lion King;” from elements such as the texture of the Chicken-coconut Curry Sweet Potato to the print and colors of the Hakuna Matata Sweets and the orange and yellow signature sunrise depicted in the Pride Rock Punch. Though it was a challenge to start all dishes from scratch, she enjoyed incorporating these elements with an authentic lens and purpose for guests.
“I want to make sure that regardless of who you are and wherever you’re coming from, you’re enjoying the food and drinks and listening to the story or watching the show,” Natalie stated. “I want you to feel as though they both coincide, and I hope you feel like you are actually in the story or even that you are momentarily transported to Africa.”
Chef Natalie’s personal favorite item on the menu? The Cardamom Cold Brew! As a coffee lover at heart, introducing a cold brew –– inspired by African coffee traditions –– that was easy to consume and flavorful in taste was a true treat for Chef Natalie.
Troubadour Tavern operating hours and Tale of the Lion King showtimes are subject to change. Check the Tale of the Lion King entertainment schedule for dates and showtimes.