Big things are coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom: expansions galore, a nighttime show (Rivers of Light) and safari, a Starbucks (the most beautiful one if I do say so myself), and of course the grand finale, Avatar! Although many of these improvements are still in the works, Guests will be able to experience one of them this spring: a new Harambe marketplace!
Harambe looks and feels like a city because it was inspired by real places in Africa. Joe Rohde, Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s lead Imagineer, explained Harambe’s creation during a “town hall” meeting I attended. The goal of this meeting was to teach DAK’s cast members about its exciting expansion. The feel of Harambe mimics the countries found in eastern Africa, like Kenya. Rohde and his team took thousands of pictures, more than UNESCO Rohde bragged, to get Harambe just right. Everything from the carvings to the doors to the plants are indicative to these real life cities.
Africa has been undergoing some reworking for the past two years. In May 2014, the Festival of the Lion King was reopened in a beautiful new area of Harambe, to the right after you cross the Africa bridge. Rohde described this expansion as the “art district” of the city. Here, it is a little nicer, cleaner, arts-driven; where you would find the music, shows, dancers, performers. The main path that Guests have been visiting and loving for years is Harambe’s “main street” if you will – this is where the merchants are found.
Now for the exciting part: the new addition to Harambe! If you’ve visited DAK recently, you may have noticed many construction walls by the Wildlife Express Train entrance. This area is going to open up Harambe big time! There, Guests can enjoy: 1) more room to walk around and explore, 2) added seating for dining and leisure, 3) quick service options to munch on, and 4) new shopping kiosks.
As for the theming, this is Harambe’s “rough and tough area”, as Rohde describes it. He said that the Imagineers are really “pushing the limits” on design, making it feel as authentic as possible. The idea is as if you stepped off the train, the travelers and merchants just threw all their goods down, and started selling in a fast-paced, somewhat gritty, but vibrant market place.
I am so excited for the Harambe Marketplace to open! Rodhe explains that when it does, in combination with the Festival of the Lion King’s expansion, Harambe will have grown more than double its original size. That is incredible and something I think all Guests will love. The tentative opening date is late spring/early summer. I know I will be there – and I hope you will too!
If you love Animal Kingdom as much as I do, here are a few articles you might enjoy:
- Five Facts About Animal Kingdom!
- Hidden Mickey Hot Spot | Rafiki’s Planet Watch At Animal Kingdom
- Quinoa Salad At Tamu Tamu Refreshments Inside Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park
- Pulled Beef Sandwich At Tamu Tamu Refreshments Inside Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park
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