As we continue to procrastinate on the Epcot World Showcase updates, hoping that 20 or more reviews will somehow write themselves, we return to Animal Kingdom to catch up on some recent happenings.
A couple of weeks ago, we embarked on a major string of Animal Kingdom updates. If you missed them, you can pull up the most recent here, which includes links to the previous two updates at the top. There’s quite a bit of theme park touring advice to be found.
For now, we return to the good stuff, starting with Tamu Tamu Refreshment’s Malva Cake Sundae.
History time: The Malva Cake, which had a somewhat unfortunate appearance when appearing alone, replaced the Milk Tart at Harambe Market in the Africa section of the Park about a year and a half ago.
About two weeks ago, that Malva Cake was transported to Tamu Tamu, where it’s now served as a “Warm Spice Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream and Caramel” for $5.99.
And this works well, whether you can remember the name of it or not.
The cake is light, moist, and sweet with a pleasant, almost-carrot-cake-like spice to it that’s enhanced by the cinnamon on top of the refreshing vanilla soft serve.
The caramel adds even more sugar, making for a unique, nicely-balanced dessert. I like it a lot and it’s worth checking out if you’re looking for something a little different than your standard waffle cone. This is obviously also the home of the Park’s Dole Whip outlet.
Speaking of Harambe Market, there are quite a few changes there.
Looking at the menu, the changes are not all that obvious, but the asterisks indicate new items.
Here’s the menu that was available last month:
The Tikka Masala Chicken and Grilled Vegetable Stack are no longer available. The Beef Pork Sausage is no longer fried, which means it no longer resembles a corn dog; and we’ll find that the Beef and Lamb Gyro is now served on Naan instead of Flatbread.
Here’s what was the $11 Tikka Masala Chicken, which I thought was a lot of food served in an incredibly bland sauce.
Despite not being particularly vegetarian, I still find myself ordering a lot of vegetarian items. I didn’t care for what was the Grilled Vegetable Stack.
Everything “felt” gummy with slimy textures and little flavor.
Above is the current vegetarian offering.
The $11 “Roasted Vegetables – Roasted Cauliflower, Sweet Potato and Chick Peas served over Steamed Rice with Yogurt Raita.” I liked this a lot more – the vegetables were served piping hot with a nice toasted quality to them and there was plenty of rice underneath to add some heft to each bite. I’d like to see another big piece of cauliflower or two, but the sweet potato adds a nice sugary quality and the yogurt sauce cools everything down appropriately, leaving a refreshing, lingering flavor of cucumber, cilantro, and cumin. It’s one of the more filling vegetarian entrees available for the money.
There’s a little piece of fluffy naan back there too.
That’s the $10 “Pork Sausage with Curried Onion Relish on Naan Bread and served with Black-Eyed Pea Salad.”
Here’s the previous, corn-dog-esque offering. I’m a little surprised it was switched out, though it’s possible that the spicy sausage was not to the tastes of those guests that ended up ordering it.
On the other hand, the sausage here “appears” to be a little out there from the look of it, but tastes surprisingly like a Ball Park Hot Dog. The naan only sort of works as a bun – my sausage went slip slidin’ around town as I tried to angle it up towards my mouth, but you may find yourself with more control over the situation.
The curried onion relish didn’t carry as much flavor as I would have liked either and the slices were a little slimier and more slippery than I would have liked, which complicated things even further. When folded, the naan also has a tendency to tear a little bit. Overall, I’m not sure to whom this is supposed to appeal. The Casey’s Corner crowd probably isn’t going to be into the thought of curried onion relish and those looking for some intriguing flavors aren’t going to find them with such a common hot dog flavor. But ten bucks is on the inexpensive side of things, at least, and it is filling.
A side of the Black-Eyed Pea Salad arrives with each of the entrees that aren’t the Roasted Vegetables.
I like this a lot – the cold salad is fresh and vibrant with a nice crunch and a refreshing flavor. It’s a nice accompaniment to the hot entrees, particularly in warmer temperatures.
The back of menu, where we see the $5 Safari Cake featured.
This is a “Coconut Cake with Pineapple-coconut Mousse [that’s] coated in Chocolate.”
I found the spongy texture of the mousse a little off-putting at first, but quickly got past it given the pleasant tropical flavors of the pineapple against the surprisingly-decadent, thin layer of chocolate. The coconut adds a toasty quality and a little bit of a crispy texture to each bite and the chocolate strands sticking out of the top are fun to munch down in between bites of cake. It’s really pretty good, though somewhat similar to what you’ll find at Satu’li Canteen with the Blueberry Cream Cheese Mousse.
Overall, I think the changes at Harambe Market are positive for the most part, though I question the execution of what is basically a hot dog wrapped up in naan bread. But the Roasted Vegetables seem like an improvement and the Safari Cake is a fun addition, particularly given the fact that the Malva Cake is available in an upgraded form elsewhere.
I’ve been less inclined to recommend Dawa Bar in recent memory with some changes there over the last couple of years.
Principally, the drinks are largely pre-made, though you’re not paying $15+ each a la La Cava at least. Recently, the “Ngumu Jungle Juice” replaced the Sugar Cane Mojito.
That was a refreshing, minty drink with the fun, chewable sugar cane.
The $10.75 Ngumu Jungle Punch is a mixture of “Meyers’s Dark Rum with Tusker’s famous Jungle Juice.” Your bartender will first fill most of the glass with the popular “POG” juice, which is a mixture of pineapple, orange, and guava juices, and then pour a good amount of dark rum on top. The result is a surprisingly strong drink with the tropical flavors of the juice doing a nice job of masking the alcohol in the Myer’s. It’s really quite refreshing and comes recommended if you’re looking for an easy-drinking, walkable cocktail in the area. I’d be happy to revisit it.
A flower interlude before we arrive at Flame Tree Barbecue:
I’ll have a review of the “Path Less Traveled” tour in the next couple of days. But considering it includes Caring for Giants, which I review here, in addition to about 1.5 hours of backstage tour elements and a reserved seat for Rivers of Light, the $59 experience is recommended as a good overall value.
Over at Flame Tree, the $5 Banana Maple Cake takes over for the Key Lime Pie Mousse.
We didn’t care much for this one.
The texture is a little strange, particularly with the goopy layer of fruity gel on top mixing in with very dense, very gritty layers of banana and cake with the lingering flavors of maple and mush lasting much longer than any of us would probably like. The meringue on top was good though.
But even if you somehow love this thing, it’s on the small side of the spectrum. I can sort of see where they’re going with this thing – the flavors of brown sugar, vanilla, and banana should contrast nicely with the tangier flavors of the barbecue dishes, but this was not working at all. Maybe if it was fresher, but it probably won’t be.
Flame Tree remains a good choice, though. I think the quality has come back a lot.
In related macaroni news, prices have gone up at the Eight Spoon Cafe kiosk to the right of the entrance to It’s Tough To Be A Bug. I’d probably stick to the Flame Tree version, which is a much larger, much fresher helping.
Across the way at The Smiling Crocodile kiosk, the Salmon BLT is no longer available.
That’s probably okay. The Pimento-Cheese version is the only one I’d recommend. You can pull up my review here.
In unrelated news, we’re under two weeks away from the new Up show debuting in place of Flights of Wonder.
A look at the tower coming to Coronado Springs from Expedition Everest.
Luckily, spring break is now behind us, which means these 75+ minute waits at Expedition Everest shouldn’t be seen again for at least six weeks.
Of course, Disney could decide to run one train until the hordes arrive again over Memorial Day.
But even with heavy crowds, FastPass+ should continue to work as it would at any other time of year. Flight of Passage sees a 130-minute wait on Easter Sunday at 2:43pm, which is actually below average.
With FastPass+, we were past the merge point with standby in three minutes.
And back out front 30 minutes later, which is right around the average total experience time.
With Flight of Passage FastPass+, the website still recommends budgeting 40 minutes to account for theater downtime.
But it will probably take 30-35 minutes.
Over at Na’vi River Journey, it’s probably safer to budget closer to 15 minutes with FP+.
Downtime is rare and the FP+ line is rarely backed up.
Epcot. Say it with me.