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Walt Disney World launches Harambe Nights, a summer event at Animal Kingdom

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On May 2, Walt Disney World Resort announced an after-hours park event will take place at Disney’s Animal Kingdom this summer. Harambe Nights will provide an evening of theatrical entertainment, complemented by a reception and street party in the theme park, as a celebration of the 20th anniversary of Disney’s “The Lion King.”

The highlight of Harambe Nights is a theatrical show called “The Lion King Concert in the Wild.” Taking place in Disney Animal Kingdom’s (DAK’s) new Harambe Theatre, the 55-minute production that combines Disney storytelling, excerpts from the Disney animated film, and theatrics. The show features celebrity narrators, a live orchestra and choir dancers and special effects.

Harambe Nights will take place at DAK every Saturday from June 7 through Aug. 9. The events will take place between 7 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., after the park has closed to regular guests.

“The Lion King Concert in the Wild” will take guests through some signature moments I the film. The production will begin with Simba’s birth and move through the film’s climax as Simba grows into his role as the Lion King. The Harambe Nights’ narrators will help recreate an African story circle, adding their own emotional notes and nuances to the tale inspired by both African folklore and Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.”

The celebrity narrators who will speak at Haramabe Nights include some familiar faces from Hollywood and Broadway. Among those scheduled to appear are Viola Davis (“The Help”), David Alan Grier (“Porgy and Bess”), Harry Lennix (“The Blacklist”), Joe Morton (“Scandal”), Alfre Woodard (“Desperate Housewives”) and Brian Stokes Mitchell (“Ragtime”).

Harambe Nights offers a full evening, starting with a welcome reception at DAK’s Harambe Village. The buffet-style reception will provide savory appetizers and a selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. The post-show experience includes street party with Afro-pop music and dancing, as well as some sweet bites of desserts. The street party’s entertainment will include a DJ, dancers, stilt-performers, puppets, and characters from “The Lion King.”

Harambe Nights is the first special-ticket event for Disney’s Animal Kingdom, meaning the event requires its own ticket and is not included with regular admission to the theme park. General admission tickets are priced at $119 for adults (ages 10 and up) and $79 for children (ages 9 and under). Premium floor seating tickets run $134 for adults, $94 for children. Parking is complimentary.

In some ways, Haramabe Nights seems like a cross between the Epcot Candlelight Processional and hard-ticket events at Magic Kingdom like its after-hours Halloween and Christmas Party. The theatrical evening will offer an after-hours experience at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, with a focus on a stage show will likely be familiar to guests who attend the Processional. And the evenings, open to fewer guests and featuring a reception and street party, will add a festive atmosphere that might seem similar to the Magic Kingdom holiday events.

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