When I first heard about the Taste of Africa Street Party, I had no interest in going. At the event in the Harambe Villiage at the Animal Kingdom, there are different stations featuring food with African flavors, a beer and wine tasting, some food demonstrations, and a DJ and band throwing a dance party in the middle of the village. However, the food all looked too “adventurous” for me, I couldn’t enjoy the beer and wine (due to being pregnant), and I don’t think dancing in the street when it’s 100 degrees outside is very much fun.
But then, Taste of Africa kept coming up. Lots of people in Lines chat were saying they wanted to go, a couple of my twitter friends had gone, and then Shane asked me if I wanted to go with him so I could write about it for the blog. I figured I HAD to go. I knew that even if it was horrible, at least Shane and I would have a good time together, and at least I would be happy being at Animal Kingdom.
Okay, now I know lots of people don’t care for Animal Kingdom, and many even openly hate it. I, however, LOVE Animal Kingdom! I love the shows, I love the animals, I love the music, I love everything! I’ve never even been on any of the rides (with the exception of the Kilimanjaro Safaris), and I still love it. My love may have something to do with Malcolm too. Animal Kingdom is so colorful and there are so many things to look at, plus, there is lively, percussion-heavy music everywhere, it really is a sensory playground for little ones. Every time we go to AK, Malcolm dances more, he waves more, he claps more, he sings more…he has so much fun!
So, I decided to go. The party starts at about 4:30pm (at the conclusion of Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle parade) and runs until park closing. Shane and I decided we would meet for the parade at 3:45 and watch that, and then figure things out from there. I was already really excited that we didn’t have to deal with ADR’s or exact times, so things would be more relaxed and there wouldn’t be any rushing. Probably because of this laid back attitude, I ended up running a bit late. It was no big deal, we just didn’t watch the parade with Shane, but met him after it ended.
A quick word about Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade…you guessed it…I love it. I think it’s so artsy and creative, the floats are fantastic. Also, the character interaction is really great. I don’t know if it’s because they have less choreography, or if it’s because most of them are walking instead of riding on floats, but the characters seem to have more time to play with the crowd. Plus, there are stilt walkers and fun music, and bubbles, and dancing…it’s just fun. Malcolm had a wonderful time waving to everyone and high-fiving all the characters and dancing to the music. It was a great start to our time at AK.
After that we met up with Shane, and we decided we would do a couple of things before we actually did the street party. There was only a 5 minute wait for the Kilimanjaro Safari, which I wanted to do really bad, so we headed there. On the ride we had a baby giraffe right next to our truck! We also saw a one month old baby elephant (seriously, cutest thing ever), and the lions, and the rhino’s, and all the other animals! I love the safari animals. It’s always so exciting to know that they may come right up to the truck! Plus, you get to help catch some bad poachers, and that always makes me feel good.
After that, we headed to the Festival of the Lion King Show. Seriously, Festival of the Lion King, is the best show on Disney World Property. They have acrobats, floats, fantastic singers, audience participation, a fire twirler, favorite characters, classic songs, dancing, EVERYTHING! Again, this is another one of Malcolm’s favorite things to do as well. He spent the whole show mesmerized! He danced and clapped and waved and had a great time. If you haven’t seen this show, you are missing out.
At this point, I was feeling pretty good. We had done my 3 favorite things at AK, Malcolm was in a good mood, it was breezy and not too hot…I was ready to tackle the street party, including the exotic food and dancing in the heat. But, we had one more stop to make…we had to buy Shane’s new hat.
So, Shane has a red hat that he wears, always. Whenever we meet somewhere, and I’m looking for him, I just look for the red hat. It’s like it’s a part of him. This red hat, however, is getting pretty gross. It’s old and faded and covered in stains, and it was definitely time for a new one. A couple of weeks ago, Shane found the hat he wanted. It was another red hat, it had a Disney World logo, it was simple…it was the one. But, Shane put off buying it. Man, I have so been there. I think we all have. We’ve all had that favorite purse or hat or pair of shoes, that desperately need to be replaced, but we just love the purse/hat/shoes so much, it’s hard to do. We know it’s going to be an adjustment to the new item, and that it will never be quite the same. It’s so hard to take that first step and make the initial switch. Well, yesterday, the time had come. We went into the store, and Shane bought the hat. We stood outside, with the Tree of Life in the background…Shane took off the old hat, and stood staring at the two hats for a bit. Then, he made a small speech, saying goodbye to the old hat, and welcoming the new one…and then put the new hat on.
Now, we were ready for Taste of Africa. We headed back to Harambe Village, and checked out the event maps they handed out. We were able to devise a plan easily enough, everything was pretty much laid out in a circle. We decided to begin at Tamu Tamu, and work our way clockwise, that way we would hit all the savory stops first, then the sweet stop, then the juice tasting, and then would be in the center of the village by the band, and could finish up with some dancing.
At our first stop, Tamu Tamu, we discovered that it is a good idea to have at least 2 people for an adventure like this. There was more than one thing on the menu that we each wanted to try, and we realized that it would be like that at each stop. So, we decided we would get 2 choices at each stop, and split them. That way we could try more, spend less money, and have less waste. Another interesting thing we learned, all of the choices count as snacks on the Disney Dining Plan, so you can use snack credits to enjoy the food.
Anyway, at Tamu Tamu we got a BBQ pork slider, flatbread with 3 different dips, and I got a Mango Shake. We started with the slider. Shane immediately pointed out that the bun wasn’t heated…it wasn’t toasted or warmed in any way. While I thought that was odd, as soon as I tasted the slider, I didn’t care. It was so yummy! It wasn’t anything too fancy, but I thought the “Kenyan coffee bbq sauce” was perfect. Then, we had the flatbread with tomato hummus, tabbouleh, and baba ghanoush. The flatbread was perfect. It was light and airy and delicious. The dips, however, were not as tasty. I should point out that there is a good chance I am just not an adventurous enough eater to enjoy these particular dips, they may have been fantastic, but just not my style, I don’t know. However, I did try everything, which would have totally made my Mommy proud. The mango shake was also really good. There wasn’t anything fancy, or surprising about it…it was a mango flavored shake. But, it was cool and refreshing, so it did it’s job.
The next stop was Tamu Kibanda, and I was a little nervous about this stop. The main thing they had there was a samosa with potatoes and peas served with mango chutney that I thought sounded really gross. But, Shane wanted to try it, and I knew I should at least taste it. I was SO glad that I did! It was delicious. It wasn’t just filled with potatoes and peas…it also had lots of spices and peppers that gave it quite a kick! Shane declared this his favorite dish of the event. At this stop we also got a shrimp and avocado salad with garbanzo beans that was also awesome. It was a little cilantro heavy…but the shrimp and avocado were fresh and really very good. This was for sure the best stop of the event.
Also, at Tamu Kibanda they were doing samosa making demonstrations, and we got to learn from a Tusker House how to make the samosa we had just eaten. The demonstration was a little long, and a they gave lots of very basic information (we got a very elementary description of kneading), but it was fun. Jeremy (who was our chef) was very good about answering our questions, and put up with us giggling and comparing him to Food Network chefs. While at the demonstration, we ran into a fellow Liner, Sandy (wdwflprincess). We had tentatively planned on meeting up with her, and she joined us for the rest of the party.
We then stopped at a sugar cane juicing demonstration. After the very in depth samosa demonstration, I found this one a little disappointing. It lasted about a minute, and it was just a CM hitting a sugar cane stalk with a hammer and then running it through a pressing device. Although, we definitely saw sugar cane juicing, a little more information would have been great.
Our next stop was the Kusafiri Bakery where we got curried chicken with jollof rice and banana bread pudding. Shane and I were both highly anticipating the curried chicken. Not only did it sound delicious, but Shane had spoken to a CM who declared it the best dish at the event. Sadly, we were both disappointed. We didn’t even eat the whole thing! The chicken was really dry, and the curry flavor was so overwhelming (and I really like curry!) that we didn’t even want to eat more than one bite each. However, the banana bread pudding more than made up for it! I normally don’t like bread pudding, but this was very tasty, and the vanilla sauce it was served with was delicious. It was so rich, I couldn’t even finish my half…although I really wish I had been able to.
The final food stop, the Harambe Fruit Market, had coconut macaroons, honey pastries, fresh coconut, and fresh fruit, but, after the bread pudding we were pretty sweeted-out and decided to skip it. Plus, it was now a quarter to eight and the party was going to end in 15 minutes and we still hadn’t even done any dancing! So, we headed straight over to the Beer & Wine walk at the Tamu Tamu Courtyard. Now, I’m pregnant, Shane is 20, and Sandy doesn’t drink, so we had no need for a beer and wine tasting. However, they had a tropical juice tasting for “young travelers,” so we did that instead. When we went into the tasting area, it was easy to find the juice tasting table…it was the one that was half the height of the rest of the tables, and was covered in colorful smiley face stickers. I guess there aren’t too many adults that do the juice tasting. This was one of the highlights of the event for me. The juices were not all good, but they were all interesting, and we got to learn a lot about each thing we tasted. Our demonstrator (who’s name I forgot, oops) was very entertaining and informative, and he gave us all smiley face stickers at the end!
We left the courtyard, and headed into the street for dancing! Unfortunately, it was now almost 8, and we had just missed the big party finale. The DJ (who was up on one of the rooftops) was playing some exit music, so we stood around and talked and watched the people for a bit while Malcolm danced. All-in-all, it was a very fun event. We had a great time, tried some new foods, learned about juice and cooking, and got to spend some good time with fellow Liners.
I asked at one of the booths if they were planning on extending the Taste of Africa beyond the 24th. The CM said there wasn’t any talk about extending, but there was talk about bringing it back at a later time. I’m thinking this means either they are going to make it a yearly event, similar to Food & Wine Festival, or they are going to make some modifications after this trial period, and bring it back even better at a later date. Either way, keep a look out for it, because you don’t want to miss it!
Right now, I’m not too sure what my next dining adventure will be. I have some fun stuff planned for late next week, but I’m sure I’ll be in the parks before then, possibly even tonight. Make sure you follow me on twitter @scarlettashley1, or subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss out when I do figure out my next Disney meal. Also, there were lots of pictures from the Taste of Africa that aren’t going to make it into this post, but I’m going to post them on Facebook, so you can see them there at facebook.com/scarlettashley1.