This weekend saw the end of the Harambe Nights event at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, at least for now. From all signs, it was a huge success, with many if not all of the dates selling out. At this point, two things seem inevitable: one, it will certainly return at some point. And two, you can bet it will be even more expensive than it was this year. But the success of this event has me wondering, can we use Harambe Nights as an inspiration for future and more guest inclusive events?
Disney is looking for ways to better keep crowds into the night time hours at DAK, a time of day when the park is exceptionally beautiful and full of atmosphere. With many of the animals needing to go “off stage” during this time, what is another way to keep folks there? Yes, a night time river show is a fantastic place to start, but there needs to be a bit more. If the Rivers of Light takes place at 9pm what can keep folks there for those extra hours during the not-so-busy season? How about food? Better yet, how about “food and wine”? See where I am going with this??
If you have been to Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival over the last few years you will know how successful it is and how horribly overcrowded as well. But the Mouse is always looking to cash-in on a good idea. (See anything Frozen related.) However, if Disney wants to expand on the idea of the festival, I really can not see how much more they could possibly jam into the World Showcase. So how about we call it the “Walt Disney World Food and Wine Festival” and expand it by also bringing it into Disney’s Animal Kingdom?
We can start by moving all of the current African and Asian booths over to DAK, at least the ones not directly related to a pavilion in that park. That means for this year Singapore and South Korea, and why don’t we move Australia and New Zealand over too, while we are at it, in a sort of “wishful thinking” type of suggestion? That leaves Epcot with four new booths to explore, and for Disney to expand it’s horizons into the cuisines that are not from Europe or the Americas at the Animal Kingdom. Just think of the possibilities: Mongolian Barbecue, Ethiopian, Thai, Indian, South African, Vietnamese, Lebanese, Filipino, Tunisian, and Malaysian…and that’s just scratching the surface.
The Animal Kingdom represents two continents absolutely filled with delicious food, and largely unknown to americans. Just phrase the menus for the internationally challenged and you have an incredible event, one that can handle far more people than the current festival can since now it has a whole new park to work with. (And yes, I haven’t even mentioned the incredible adult beverage possibilities.) If you are thinking these foods may be a bit beyond the frame of reference of the average Disney guest to be a real attractive draw, than the Mouse is free to put whatever they want in Discovery Island or Dinoland USA.
We have often said here that Disney’s Animal Kingdom is home to the two greatest World Showcase pavilions ever built, Africa and Asia. The “Food and Wine Festival” concept is one that fits just as well in the Animal Kingdom as it does in Epcot. It takes little investment, makes boatloads of cash, and keeps people in the park deep into the night without ever even thinking about rides or shows. What could be better?