When a theme park land is named after an entire continent, Wandering in Disney has to take time to break it down. Today the Land Exit Survey brings us to the animals with Animal Kingdom’s Africa. Theme parks are made up of sub-sections, generally called lands. Many of these lands are spectacular, some are far from it. In this series, we cover individual lands one post at a time and answer some questions about them.
While we won’t be diving incredibly deep into these lands, we’ll provide the basic information about the area and we’ll add in some of our opinions. We’ll also use these posts to talk about theme both throughout the land and within the park. All of the posts will use the same questions. Let us know in the comments if there are questions that we should add!
So far in this series we’ve covered:
- Disney California Adventure: Grizzly Peak and Buena Vista Street
- Disneyland: Mickey’s (old) Toontown, New Orleans Square, and Critter Country
- Magic Kingdom: Fantasyland and Tomorrowland
- Epcot: Future World West
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Sunset Boulevard and Toy Story Land
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom: Asia and Pandora – World of Avatar
- Tokyo DisneySea: Mysterious Island, Mediterranean Harbor and Arabian Coast
- Tokyo Disneyland: World Bazaar and Westernland
Animal Kingdom’s Africa is vast, with one major attraction taking up a lot of room! Let’s get to it.
What is your short(ish) review of Africa?
Without giving away my answer to the last question in this post, Africa is the most important land in Animal Kingdom. Between Kilimanjaro Safaris, Festival of the Lion King, Gorilla Falls and a wealth of dining and entertainment options, Africa is the heartbeat of the park.
What’s in the land?
More than most Animal Kingdom lands!
- Kilimanjaro Safaris – The thesis behind Animal Kingdom, taking guests on a whirlwind tour of up close experiences with animals!
- Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail – An animal walking trail. This doesn’t hit the heights of Maharajah Jungle Trek in Asia but the gorilla habitat is beautiful!
- Wild Africa Trek – This is an upcharge tour but one of the best in Disney World, letting guests wander through the Kilimanjaro Safaris area and get an up close view of those animals.
- Festival of the Lion King – One of my favorite shows in all of WDW, there’s a lot of variety here and some great musical performances that are all loosely connected to the Lion King.
- Dawa Bar – An outdoor bar right in the middle of Harambe with some good drinks and even better vibes.
- Tusker House – A character dining buffet with African inspired fare.
- Harambe Market – This is a counter-service spot that serves rice bowls and Mediterranean salads.
- Manhindi – It’s a popcorn stand that I didn’t realize had a name until I was writing this post.
- Tamu Tamu Refreshments – The Animal Kingdom home of Dole Whip along with a few other delicious snacks.
- Kusafiri Coffee Shop & Bakery – The title spells this one out but they don’t mention the gigantic and delicious cinnamon rolls sold here.
- Harambe Fruit Market – There is fruit sold here! But there’s also delicious grilled corn on the cob.
- Zuri’s Sweet Shop – A bakery and candy shop that has some unique treats and is connected to a few other shops.
- Mombasa Marketplace – This shop has authentic African imports, including wine, art, clothing, crafts, instruments and animal toys.
- Ziwani Traders – More souvenirs with some African and Animal Kingdom inspired apparel.
- Mariya’s Souvenirs – A shop near the Festival of the Lion King theater, with a variety of souvenirs.
What is Africa’s backstory and theme?
A large portion of Animal Kingdom’s Africa is the village of Harambe. This fictional village (I guess it’s real in the Disney canon?) is a gateway to Harambe Wildlife Preserve where Kilimanjaro Safaris takes place. Alongside that preserve is Gorilla Falls, once known as Pangani Forest. That’s a lot of names and story! Harambe is the most built out of those, with lore stating that this was a Dutch Colony settled in 1420 before coming to a peaceful settlement with locals in 1961.
With all of that in mind, entering the land and being in Harambe is a jumping off point. There’s a lot of entertainment, food and shopping for those that travel there to see the animals. Once the animal part of the journey starts, there’s a trail to explore and a safari to go on! These stories come out naturally while exploring the land and it is beautifully done, making Animal Kingdom unique.
What is your favorite part of the land? What’s the most memorable aspect of it?
My favorite and the most memorable part of the land is Kilimanjaro Safaris. It is the attraction that makes Animal Kingdom work as a theme park and is unlike any other attraction Disney has ever done. Driving past the hippos and crocodiles before coming down the hill into the savanna is a very memorable moment.
I’ll throw out an honorable mention since my favorite and memorable matched. When entertainment is really at full steam, Harambe is the best spot in Animal Kingdom to just hang out. Grab a drink from Dawa Bar and watch whatever entertainment is going on in the center of the village. That’s before we even add in Festival of the Lion King into the equation. Bring back more entertainment, Disney! That leads me to the next question…
Are there parts of Africa that you don’t like?
What I don’t like about the land is actually in absence of two things. The first is practical and once existed – Burudika. This band played in the middle of Harambe on the stage and added a presence to the park that has been missing ever since they left. I wish Disney would bring them back as they were one of my favorite entertainment acts in all of Walt Disney World. The other thing I don’t like is that Africa could really use one more attraction, preferably a dark ride. Again, these aren’t issues with the actual land itself, more just that it could maximize potential a little more.
How does the land coincide and transition with the rest of the park? Does Africa make the park better or worse?
While a lack of rides is a problem in Animal Kingdom, transitioning between lands is one of the park’s strong suits. Coming from Pandora to Africa should be stark but because of the longer walk and vegetation in both spots, it’s really beautiful. Africa to Asia flows coherently and is very natural, as is the transition to Discovery Island. Africa definitely makes the park better!
Where would you rank the land in relation to the others in the park?
I won’t beat around the bush, this is my favorite land in Animal Kingdom!
What do you think of Animal Kingdom’s Africa? Do you like our Land Exit Surveys? Would you add anything? Let us know, along with any questions you might have, in the comments below. Interested in a trip to Walt Disney World? Check out our Planning Guide to help you along the way! If you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney please share this post with your friends, as well as like our social media pages. You can also subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email. All of those links are on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!
Categories: Land Exit Survey
Reblogged this on AprilCoxtravel&Freelance and commented:
A great breakdown of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.