The Walt Disney Company was better at marketing the fundamental changes it made to bring its Disney California Adventure theme park to respectability but when you start to look around at everything that is going on at Disney’s Animal Kingdom it’s not a far stretch to say the process is being repeated albeit on a slightly smaller scale. Discovery Island has a new paint scheme, enlarged walkways with a new vista of the Tree of Life, will be the new home of Starbucks and is getting a reworked Flame Tree Barbecue alongside an expanded Disney Outfitters store and more. Rivers of Light, the promised nighttime extravaganza continues to rise on the banks of Discovery River and on the shores of Expedition Everest. Nearby a new themed pathway was added to enhance guest flow through Asia. On the opposite side of the theme park, the AVATAR themed land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is now moving from concept to reality. In Animal Kingdom’s Africa a major expansion to the land has added the beautifully themed Harambe Theater. We know of the work going on at Kilimanjaro Safaris to soon introduce nighttime safaris and that brings us finally to this past weekend. On Saturday Disney unveiled Harambe Market, that effectively marked the doubling in size of Harambe from its original 1998 footprint. It provides a new highly-themed entry/exit pathway that stretches from near the exit of Kilimanjaro Safaris to the walkway from Africa to Asia, enhancing what had been an often overcrowded experience through the main street of Harambe. But of course the new market is so much more than a pathway.
Harambe Market is an outdoor quick service eatery, themed as an old train depot that has now been converted into a marketplace filled with food vendors, hand painted wooden benches and tables, painted tin roofs and so much more. It left quite the imprint on me, as has all of Harambe and most of Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park and you should definitely set aside some time to read that piece in conjunction with today’s photo essay. It will give you a grand sense of what this seemingly small addition to Disney’s Animal Kingdom means for the future of the theme park as everyday it grows ever closer to what the park should always have been. So join me as I venture to the East African port town of Harambe and spend opening day from dawn to dusk at Harambe Market.