Africa's Mombasa Marketplace

by Gregg Jacobs, contributing writer
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One thing shops at Disney theme parks generally do quite well is fit the environment around them. The decor and merchandise often reflect the land or ride of which they are a part (and how many Disney attractions don't let out into some kind of shop?). Think the Plaza del Sol Caribe Bazaar shop at the end of Pirates of the Caribbean, with decor that fits right in with the ride and oodles of Pirates booty, or all the shops in Epcot's World Showcase that blend in seamlessly with the pavilions around them and carry goods from the nations they represent (read here for my German pavilion example).

It's this kind of placemaking that goes right down to the shops that sets Disney apart from its competitors. One of Walt Disney World's best examples of this is the Mombasa Marketplace in the Africa section of Disney's Animal Kingdom. Located right near the entrance to Kilimanjaro Safaris, the shop fits right in with Harambe, the African town that comprises this section of the park, in terms of both decor and the merchandise it offers.


The exterior of Mombasa Marketplace fits right in with surrounding Harambe. Photo by Gregg Jacobs.

The merchandise mix at the shop encompasses everything from your typical Walt Disney World gear (shirts, hats, keychains) to items that would fit in with an authentic African safari.

Beginning with the former, the shop has some great plush and Animal Kingdom T-shirts. The plush features classic Disney characters, such as Mickey and Minnie Mouse, in safari gear.


Mickey Mouse is ready to go on safari. Photo by Gregg Jacobs.

The park clothing mainly centers around the Animal Kingdom or the nearby Kilimanjaro Safaris, and happily rather than just featuring the park logo, there are a lot of really cool patterns, generally featuring woodsy or jungle themes. As expected, the hats for sale are of the safari expedition variety, and come both with and without mouse ears.


The Animal Kingdom logo clothing features some really cool patterns. Photo by Gregg Jacobs.

A look at the available clothing items provides a good segue to some of the more interesting items in the store. There are some great clothing choices just centered on the animals. Some of them are more cartoonish, such as my favorite T-shirt, which features four giraffes caught up in a "giraffic jam." Others are more elegant for lack of a better word. There are some great shirts and women's blouses with beautiful images of elephants, lions and tigers, as well as dresses.


My favorite T-shirt in the entire store features a tower of giraffes in an interesting situation. Photo by Gregg Jacobs.

Next up are some wonderful animal figures and figurines (what's the difference between those anyway?). The first we'll discuss are made of a stone material. These come in the form of many different types of animals (elephants, lions, giraffes) and in several different sizes. Many of these are hand-painted and very elaborate. Some of the larger figures can be a little pricey, but the smaller ones can be had for only $11.95.


The shop has a small stone decorative elephant figurine for sale for only $11.95. Photo by Gregg Jacobs.

There are also many beautiful wood carvings in animal shapes. These are hand carved and again come in many different shapes and sizes. I, myself, purchased a medium-sized, hand-carved giraffe that I got for $19.95.

The wood-carved items available aren't limited to figurines. There are also some attractive African masks. These comes in the shapes of several different animals and are probably designed to hang on the wall than the wear for Halloween. These are also hand-carved and very unique, and sell for $32.95.


Mombasa Marketplace has African wood-carved masks reminiscent of several different animals. Photo by Gregg Jacobs.

Another highlight is the wood carved instruments. These are mainly drums and again come in a variety of shapes and sizes.


There are some great wooden instruments, including drums. Photo by Gregg Jacobs.

Keeping up with the Africa and safari theme, the shop also carries some great artwork. These include limited editions and some great originals. One item I saw on a recent visit was a limited-edition giclee from Thomas Kinkade, the famed "painter of light." The image combined Disney and the Africa theme brilliantly by depicting the open scene from The Lion King, where Simba is presented to all the animals of the pride lands. It was part of a limited edition of 300 and cost $1,100.


Thomas Kinkade depicted a scene from "The Lion King" in this limited edition giclee. Photo by Gregg Jacobs.

That one's kind of pricey, but there's a wide selection of prints available that are far less expensive.

A few other items of note at Mombasa were some straw fans (that would come in handy at Animal Kingdom, which we all know can get very hot) and some beautiful coffee table books with images of the various animals and African landscapes.

Oddly, there is also a section with various kinds of sweets and candy, including a bulk candy section, where you can mix and match a variety of candies for $12.99/pound.


Oddly, there is bulk candy available in Africa. Photo by Gregg Jacobs.

As I mentioned earlier, the white-washed exterior fits in perfectly with the shop's surroundings. The inside has some great elements as well. From the terra cotta floors to the exposed wood beams in the ceiling, the decor screams theming, and showcases the Imagineer's work at its best.


The Mombasa Marketplace interior has some great decorative elements. Photo by Gregg Jacobs.

Mombasa Marketplace has some great merchandise, both authentic to Africa and authentic to Disney. Between that and the great theming, it's definitely worth your time to take a browse during your next Animal Kingdom visit.

 

Comments

  1. By stan4d_steph

    There's candy in there because it's actually a candy store. If you go outside on that side of the building and look at the sign, it's designed to be a separate shop even though the whole area is connected inside. It's called Zuri's Sweets Shop.

  2. By Dave1313

    Zuri's Sweets is pretty neat. Used to occasionally be a good place to find the chocolate covered coconut treats shaped like a Mickey Mouse head. (not recently though, it seems those are on hiatus for the moment)

    Zuri's also (unless maybe it's technically another part of the building) often has bottled Flame Tree BBQ sauce, which I love to bring home occasionally.

    I'm not sure if I'm happy or sad I missed this, but I think it was also the location for the VERY short lived "zoo poo" snacks around 3 years ago. (yup - found an old link here)

    Nice review! I was noticing some of those wood carved type items at the outside part of the shop last trip, but I was worried they might not survive the trip home, so I passed for now. I may try to bring an appropriate sized empty box with some packing material next trip so I'll feel better about trying to bring one home on the plane.

  3. By Mickey021

    Quote Originally Posted by stan4d_steph View Post
    There's candy in there because it's actually a candy store. If you go outside on that side of the building and look at the sign, it's designed to be a separate shop even though the whole area is connected inside. It's called Zuri's Sweets Shop.

    Thanks for the clarification Steph! Still just seems like an odd thing to have in that setting.

  4. By Mickey021

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave1313 View Post
    Zuri's Sweets is pretty neat. Used to occasionally be a good place to find the chocolate covered coconut treats shaped like a Mickey Mouse head. (not recently though, it seems those are on hiatus for the moment)

    Zuri's also (unless maybe it's technically another part of the building) often has bottled Flame Tree BBQ sauce, which I love to bring home occasionally.

    I'm not sure if I'm happy or sad I missed this, but I think it was also the location for the VERY short lived "zoo poo" snacks around 3 years ago. (yup - found an old link here)

    Nice review! I was noticing some of those wood carved type items at the outside part of the shop last trip, but I was worried they might not survive the trip home, so I passed for now. I may try to bring an appropriate sized empty box with some packing material next trip so I'll feel better about trying to bring one home on the plane.

    Thanks Dave! I love the wood carvings. So far, I've only bought that giraffe, but I'm always tempted every time I go. Bringing a box that can be used as a carry on is great idea.

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