Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Disney's Animal Kingdom News for March 29, 2017: Fast Past pass tiers

Limited Evening Extra Magic: It seems Disney is expecting Pandora the World of Avatar to be a HUGE deal. To that end, the park will be open from 8 am to 11 pm every day from May 27th to July 4. Plus, Pandora will be open to resorts guests for an extra 2 hours after that. The Tree of Life Awakenings show will also be running in the evening.

The Dreaded Tiers: I didn't think it would happen but it did. At least during the initial phase of Pandora's opening, fast passes at Disney's Animal Kingdom will be on a tier system. You may only pick one of the two attractions at Pandora as tier 1.

Park Hours for this week are....
Thursday March 30 9 am- 9:30 pm
Friday March 31 9 am-9 pm
Saturday April 1 9 am- 9:30 pm Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Sunday  April 2 9 am- 9:30 pm
Monday April 3 9 am- 9:30 pm Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Tuesday April 4 9 am- 9:30 pm
Wednesday April 5 9 am- 9:30 pm

Thursday, March 23, 2017

A Meaningful L incense Plate

You know Disney loves to through obscure references around. Anyone know the meaning behind the license plate?

Yes, it references that Disney's Animal Kingdom (DAK) opened in 1998. There is a similar reference in the attraction, Dinosaur. 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Episode 108 of Radio Harambe - Listener Questions Part One

It's our favorite time on the podcast again! It's time for Listener Questions, our chance to hear what you guys want to talk about. And we have alot of questions to answer so this is the first of multiple podcasts dedicated to you! Dave and Safari Mike cover lots of topics from Disney's Animal Kingdom and Walt Disney World.

If you have any questions or comments about the show, please email us at Asante Sana and enjoy the show!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Disney's Animal Kingdom News for March 8, 2017: More Avatar Announcements

Avatar Food options: Disney has released food and drink options for the upcoming Avatarland. The Satu'li Canteen is the restaurant which was once an RDA mess hall now taken over by the natives. Expect a clash of decor with old army stuff giving way to weaved items and art. Disney released pictures of some items such as the blueberry cheesecake pictured below. Disney promises the place will offer dishes heavy on wholesome grains, fresh vegetables and lots of protein. Disney has not announced whether the place will be a sit down option or counter service, though the food options appear more in line with a full blown sit down restaurant.

photo courtesy of Disney 

Disney has also shown some of the drinks for Pongu Pongu, which means "party party" in the Na'vi language. The bar will be operated by the Nomad lounge. And like Nomad will offer mixed drinks. There will also be indigenous beers (whatever that means) and a specialty frozen cocktail. There will also be a unique treat called Lumpia, which is a crispy pineapple cream cheese filled spring roll.

photo courtesy of Disney 

Height Requirements: We now know the height requirements for the upcoming Avatar attractions. As could have been guessed, the boat ride has no such limitations. However, Flight of Passage has a height requirement of 44 inches. For frame of reference, Expedition Everest and Space mountain are set at 44 inches. The attraction is supposed to similar to Soarin', which has a height requirement of only 40 inches - as does the thrill rides Big Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain. Its unclear if this is a function of the thrills or the restraints. Also, both attractions will be Fast Pass Plus options.

More Light: Beginning on March 11, Disney has added a second performance of Rivers of Light to every night the show is set to happen. At this point, the schedule has only been updated to April 22nd, but in light of the popularity of the show, I suspect 2 performances a night will be the norm.

Park Hours for this week are....
Thursday March 9 9 am- 8 pm
Friday March 10 9 am-8 pm
Saturday March 11 9 am- 8 pm Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Sunday  March 12 9 am- 9:30 pm
Monday March 13 9 am- 9 pm Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Tuesday March 14 9 am- 9:30 pm
Wednesday March 15 9 am- 9 pm

Monday, March 6, 2017

A review of Rivers of Light

Finally, the show we have been talking about for months and months has debuted. Technical problems, show changes and overall concerns about its lack of entertainment value have delayed the shows start from April 22, 2016 all the way to February 17, 2017. But here we are and it happened.

I wanted to give you my 2 cents on the show as I saw it twice over opening weekend. The early show and then the next night, the later show. First, some of the bad. Crowd control needs some adjustments. The line for standby can wrap all the way from the Nemo stage to Flame Tree BBQ, and cause all sorts of bottle necking. To make matters worse, if there are two shows and you are seeing the first, they send you all the way around the lagoon into the heart of this huge standby line creating a minor disaster. When I attended the second show, the first one had technical problems which meant it was still going when you were suppose to be entering the theater for the late production, again creating crowd problems.

I don't like the fact that they don't sell anything to eat or drink in the theater itself. You have to leave and come back, not exactly convenient. But if you have a fast pass, you won't need to be in the theater long, the show is less than 15 minutes.

Which is a good thing as the earlier version of the show dragged out a bit too much. Now the show is crisp and clean preventing any lag. And there are many good things about the show: The music is downright terrific and will soon be on sale. The lotus flowers turned fountains are beautiful and impressive. The visuals on the water screens are infinitely better than the water screen images from the Jungle Book show from last year. The floats are also pretty. On the negative side, the narration is relatively pointless as are the shamans although the boats they are in are quite nice as aesthetic.

So is the show worth the wait? Yes you definitely should see it but don't expect to floored.  Rumor has it that despite attempts to increase the "wow" factor, Disney decided to launch the show now, as they needed it to be fully operational well in advance of the Avatar opening in May. There is no doubt that the show is beautiful and entertaining, but it does lack that "wow" factor, usually brought about by fireworks which, of course, cannot be used with the live animals nearby.

It will not leave you stunned like seeing Illuminations (which for my money is still the best night time show). But there is little doubt you will enjoy it. While Illuminations or Wishes are more like the roller coasters of night capping events with thrills and chills, Rivers of Light is like a beautiful, soothing boat ride. And who the heck doesn't love a good boat ride.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Episode 106 of Radio Harambe - A Review of Rivers of Light

Finally the Rivers of Light night time show has opened at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. As luck would have it, Dave and Safari Mike were both at the park for opening weekend! On this episode, your hosts offer up their thoughts and opinions about the new show and also talk a bit about a couple of other new entertainment options recently added to the Animal Kingdom.

If you have any questions or comments about the show, please email us at Asante Sana and enjoy the show!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Review of the New Dinoland Bird show

Disney has recently started two new bird shows at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Both are run by the folks who bring you Flights of Wonder and Winged Encounters. The one at Dinoland has set times of 3:30 and 4:30, at least as of now. It is essentially an abbreviated version of Flights of Wonder.

The show takes place on a temporary stage out front of Restaurantosaurus. There are no seats although a few benches are located nearby.  The idea behind the show is to emphasize the relationship between birds and dinosaurs, as many scientists now believe birds evolved from branch of the dinosaur family tree.

The show I saw used 4 birds. There was a toucan who walked across the arms of 2 volunteers, including yours truly. So if you want to participate, there are chances for that.

The show also included the beautiful seriema which is often used at Flights of Wonder as he beats up a plastic toy lizard.

We also saw a kea parrot from New Zealand and a stork that fished against a young volunteer. But this can all change with each show.

I did enjoy this brief bird encounter, but all it is is really a lite version of Flights of Wonder. Even Guano Joe makes an appearance although his purpose really escapes me. Still up close looks at these beautiful animals is well worth your time and it does not require you to be early. Just show up at a minuted before the show and enjoy.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

New Tour for Elephant fans

Disney announced a few weeks ago a new tour called Caring for Giants. During this tour, you will get in a depth look at the issues surrounding the plight of the elephant in the wild as well as the difficulties staff can have in caring for these animals. As you can imagine, with the animal being so large, there are unique challenges that a keeper must face.

Most people don't know (and I doubt they will share this on the tour) that more animal handlers are killed by elephants than any other captive species. Why you ask? Well for starters, unlike many other dangerous animals, like bears and lions, there is a lot of face to face interaction with no barriers. Keepers get in the exhibit with the elephant. And an elephant being so large can cause significant harm with just a little flick of their trunk.

Without a doubt, the elephant is one of the most popular zoo animals in the world. Their huge size, high intelligence and unique appearance all contribute to this popularity. And clearly, the herd at Disney's Animal Kingdom is one of the highlights of Kilimanjaro Safari.

This brief one hour tour promises to get you up close to the herd. You will be as close as 80 feet. You will also get a chance to interact with one of the handlers who will talk to you about the challenges and rewards in caring for these animals. Also, as part of the tour, you will be greeted by African cultural representatives who will discuss stories from their homeland about living with elephants as well as discussing some of the issues there are in preserving the species.

The tour is only available for guests over the age of 4. The cost is $30 per guest with some discounts available for AP and DVC members. The tour starts March 12th and will be offered periodically throughout the day from 10 am to 4:30 pm. You will meet at the Animal Experiences booth located just across from the Kilimanjaro Safari entrance.

By Safari Mike

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Disney's Animal Kingdom News for February 22, 2017: New menu changes

New Smiling Crocodile Menu: The Smiling Crocodile kiosk is located across from the It's Tough to Be a Bug entrance near Flame Tree. The menu here changes often and recently they have overhauled it again to start serving three different BLTs.

Essentially, the BLTs are open faced, one slice of bread with "stuff" on top. I had the pimento cheese one seen below. It was decent and relatively filling. They are one snack credit, and you can easily use it for lunch. Be warned however, its not easy to eat, so try to find a place to sit.

Nomad taking over Avatarland: We all love the Nomad lounge, right? Well then I have good news for you, the bar opening in Avatarland will be run by the Nomad Lounge. So hopefully, that means the same high quality will be found there.

Park Hours for this week are....
Thursday February 23 9 am- 8 pm
Friday February 24 9 am-8 pm
Saturday Febraury 25 9 am- 8 pm Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Sunday  February 26 9 am- 8 pm
Monday February 27 9 am- 8 pm Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Tuesday February 28 9 am- 8 pm
Wednesday March 1 9 am- 8 pm

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Disney Animal Kingdom News for February 15, 2017: New birds and meet and greets

More information on the bird demonstrations:  We have gotten more information of the new bird shows testing throughout the park. There will be 2, one is in Dinoland and one in Harambe. In each show, three to four species will be used with the one in Dinoland emphasizing the relationship between bird and dinosaur. The Dinoland show will occur at 3:30 and 4:30 pm and will use a temporary stage. The African show will not be listed on the times guides and will use the stage already in the middle of Harambe. It should be noted that these shows will change the schedule at Flights of Wonder, with less performances there. Please check your times guide for same.

macaw during an early bird show at Harambe circa 1998

Doc McStuffins: A meet and greet of the Disney Junior character will be coming to Rafiki's Planet Watch. She will greet guests near the Veterinarian area of the Planet Watch. The character is a doctor for toys so I suppose it is somewhat theme appropriate.  She will be replacing Chip and Dale as the meet and greet character in the area. Rafiki will continue greeting guests, as well.

Park Hours for this week are....
Thursday February 9 9 am- 8 pm
Friday February 10 9 am-8 pm
Saturday Febraury 11 9 am- 8 pm Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Sunday  February 12 9 am- 8 pm
Monday February 13 9 am- 8 pm Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Tuesday February 14 9 am- 8 pm
Wednesday February 15 9 am- 8 pm

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Episode 105 of Radio Harambe - Safari Mike's First Ever Solo Trip to DAK!

It's another trip report from Safar Mike as he discusses the good, the bad, the ugly and the new from his recent first-ever solo trip to Walt Disney World. Dave and Mike also discuss the release of a new photo that looks to be part of the e-ticket attraction coming to Pandora at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

If you have any questions or comments about the show, please email us at

Visit Pandora

Disney has released a brand new website. We welcome you to Visit Pandora. The hype leading up to opening of Pandora, World of Avatar begins now.

The conceit of the site is that Alpha Centauri Expeditions, ACE, the fictional travel company taking you to the planet, has released a website to give you information for your upcoming "tours." The site has a page dedicated to the experts hired by ACE for these expeditions, giving you bios for the river guide, the banshee expert and other guides and scientists involved in the project.

The other part of the site, for now anyway, gives a brief description of the 2 attractions plus the area all of this is set in, Mo'ara Valley. We do find out some more details about the area. For example, the river you are on for the boat ride is called the Kaspavan River. On that journey, you will travel under a canopy of glowing plants and animals on the move. The banshees will take you under the floating mountains and through stone arches.