To support the new iteration of Tale of the Lion King at Disneyland’s Fantasyland Theatre, Troubadour Tavern has an array of new items that support the storytelling of the show.
At a preview, we had the chance to try some of the items and they were delicious.
The first item we had was the Chicken-coconut Curry Sweet Potato. I am told that this item features Malawian chicken-coconut curry, but while my palette is not adventurous, I thought it was delicious and made a statement that Troubadour Tavern is elevanting its standards from its “YUMZ” legacy.
I washed it down with the Pride Rock Punch, which features iced tea, pineapple, mango, tamarind, and orange juice. It was the perfect thirst quencher on a warm summer day. It was refreshing and flavorful without being overbearing. Also available is the Cardamom Cold Brew, which is made up of cold brew coffee, brown sugar, and cardamom
I also got to try some of the snack items. The salted plantain chips were enjoyable and much less salty than most theme park snacks. While the berbere-spice popcorn was too spicy for me, Alex enjoyed it. However, he recommended having a beverage with you to wash it down. My favorite desserts were the trio of animal print cookies including the coconut macaroon, pineapple orange thumbprint, and butter chocolate chunk cookie topped with cacao nibs. All three were delicious, but the thumbprint was my personal favorite. Also, as the location continues to be presented by Dreyer’s, orange push-up pops are available that pay tribute to the citrus of Africa while also being a take on a theme park classic.
Also a theme park staple are popcorn buckets. While the Simba bucket is currently still out in the veldt with Timon and Pumbaa, he is sure to be a hit when he makes his way to Disneyland Park later this summer (the bucket may also look familiar to those who have visited Disney’s Animal Kingdom in the past).
We had the chance to speak with Chef Natalie Willingham about her creations for the revived experience. Regarding how she started developing her concept she went back to basics. “The first part of the vision was The Lion King itself, so I went back and re-watched the movie. From there, once I knew what direction they wanted to go with for the cuisine, I did a lot of research, just looking at African cookbooks, looking at African menus, and doing a bunch of Google searches to figure out what was true of the region.”
On how she balanced the paletes of a diverse theme park audience with the rich african inspired flavors, Chef Natalie said she definitely kept that in mind and wanted to make sure there was something for everyone so they could enjoy the food while still feeling the taste are taking them to Africa. “So we did tame down a little bit of the spices. Like for the berbere, normally it is much spicier than what we're doing, but to tame it for the average palate, we did decrease the cayenne inside of it. But we just tried to keep everything that was very approachable. And a lot of the ingredients, they are crops and items that you will find in Africa, but they are also very, very common to the United States.”
Another thing she kept in mind is that the food needed to be able to be enjoyed while watching the show in the venue's bleachers. So everything had to be easy to eat. From the hand snacks of the chips and popcorn, to the sweet potato as well. Natalie made sure that the guest experience, both from a storytelling point of view as well as convenience was front of mind at all times.
You can enjoy these new items when Troubadour Tavern reopens with Tale of the Lion King on May 28th.