To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the release of the Lion King animated classic, Disney introduced a special summer celebration at Disney’s Animal Kingdom called “Harambe Nights”, which ran each Saturday night from June 7 to August 9, 2014.
This was a separately ticketed all-inclusive event and was the first time Animal Kingdom had hosted a ticketed evening event. At the time it was not known if this would become an annual event but it has not been repeated.
Harambe Nights was an exclusive live evening performance of the new “The Lion King - Concert in the Wild” theatrical show in the new Harambe Theatre (opened in June 2014), featuring a celebrity guest narrator, live orchestra and choir, dancers, dramatic lighting and clips from the movie. It ran for just under an hour.
The performance told the story of Simba, the young lion cub, recreating iconic moments from the film.
The event started at 7:00 pm with a welcome reception in the Harambe Village and ended with the Harambe Nights Street Party and a special finale to bid “kwaherini” (goodbye in Swahili).
A special menu was created taking its inspiration from the foods of Africa and India so you could expect a fair bit of spices. At the welcome reception you were served savoury appetisers and African themed drinks. During the Lion King performance there were snacks including sea-salted pretzel chips, sesame crumbles, nuts and dried fruits.
After the show, there was a buffet with a huge array of breads, salads, samosas, fish and meat dishes and gourmet desserts.
At the Harambe Nights Street Party you could dance along with costumed stilt-performers and a live band and DJ playing Afro-pop music. There was also the opportunity to meet Disney characters, Disney Design Group artists or purchase special merchandise and collectibles celebrating the 20th anniversary including phone covers, clothing, pins, watches and jigsaw puzzles.
Tickets cost $119.00 for adults and $79.00 for children (aged 3 to 9) plus tax. Premium seating tickets were available for $134.00 for adults and $94.00 for children plus tax but they sold out very quickly. There were no discounts for annual passholders.
Capacity was limited and advanced reservations were recommended.
The celebrity guest line-up was:
- June 7 – Viola Davis
- June 14 – Avery Brooks
- June 21 – Montego Glover
- June 28 – David Alan Grier
- July 5 – Michael Beach
- July 12 – Harry Lennix
- July 19 – Joe Morton
- July 26 – Alfre Woodard
- August 2 – Patina Miller
- August 9 – Brian Stokes Mitchell
Alcoholic beverages were available for anyone aged 21 or over.
Harambe Nights took place after the park closed and the normal Animal Kingdom rides and attractions were not running.
Parking for those attending the event was complimentary after 4:00 pm and guests were advised to arrive at least 45 minutes before the welcome reception which starteds at 7:00 pm. The main theatre performance began at 7:30 pm.