Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Disney’s Animal Kingdom News for January 16, 2019: new giraffe 

Giraffe Born: a new baby giraffe was born on scene at the Kilimanjaro Safari attraction. Guests were able to watch the process. That includes Christina from @raisinglasvegas who saw the baby just minutes after birth. She also took the picture below. 


Nomad Kids Menu: more of an informational post, you should know if you go to Nomad Lounge, and why wouldn’t you, you are able to order off the Tiffins kid’s menu for your little ones. Here’s the menu also brought to you by @raisinglasvegas. 


Thursday, January 10, 2019

Not A Nondescript Coaster, But Certainly Time For A Change

It’s not like “I’m going to ride some nondescript coaster somewhere, that maybe is [themed like] India or whatever.” -Bob Iger
Many have asked if this line Bob Iger said in an interview last week to Barron's is really such a big deal. Well, I hate to say it certainly is. It is one thing to support a CEO who is making many creative decisions in the parks we often disagree with. But it is another thing entirely to have a leader who clearly holds the very ideals these parks were founded on in disdain.

How can anyone, especially someone who is supposed to be a creative leader of the Disney Company, call Expedition Everest “nondescript”?? Joe Rohde and his team created an attraction that transports thousands of guests everyday to an incredible corner of the planet most will never go. They spent months and months getting this right, down to every last detail. It is nothing short of an Imagineering triumph in the great tradition of WED Enterprises and Walt Disney Imagineering, and this guy calls it “nondescript”?? It’s just a bridge too far for fans of the kind of detail and backstory that are the very foundation of Disney theme parks. (And he also clearly doesn’t seem to know where Mount Everest actually is, but that’s another issue for another day…)


Non-IP attractions, attractions not based on existing properties like films or television shows, were as important, if not WAY more important, to Walt Disney and the team of geniuses who created the Disney Parks. I don’t need to list all of the “non film” based attraction Disney worked on, many of which were the things he was most proud of. From Main Street USA, to the Amazon River to the shores of the Caribbean, Walt wanted his guest to be transported across the globe, back in time or rocketed into the future. Not ALWAYS placed in the world of a film he was promoting. In fact he hardly ever wanted that. Disneyland was a place for creativity, not just a marketing tool.

Now we have a leader who thinks we can only enjoy an attraction if it ties into whatever film he is trying to promote now, and finds any other attraction unworthy of his attention. But what’s more, he disagrees with the very mission the founder of this company set forth. This is just not acceptable. And this is coming from someone who applauded and supported many of his early decisions. The move to purchase PIXAR and to bring back Oswald the Lucky Rabbit made us think we had a CEO who respected the Disney Company's past and creative future. But when it comes to the parks, he clearly does not.

This should trouble Animal Kingdom lovers deeply, and that's why I am writing this today. Michael Eisner, a CEO many disliked for many good reasons, went back into Walt Disney's love of wild animals and exotic places and put a creative genius in Joe Rohde in charge of building a new theme park almost completely devoid of intellectual property cross-marketing. And what we got was an incredible success, perhaps the most "themed" of all the theme parks in the world. Disney's Animal Kingdom is an incredible modern example of what makes Disney parks the best and most culturalaly relevant in the world. Anyone can build a good coaster or a great zoo. Heck, for that matter anyone can build a good park based on movies. But it takes true creativity, patience, bravery and foresight to do what Walt Disney and Joe Rohde have done. And we are going to flush that all away because some former television executive who can't locate Nepal on a map thinks we only like rides about movies?

On the last episode of our Radio Harambe podcast, Safari Mike asked a great question; why did Iger even say such a thing? Why would he even think to criticize his own parks and therefore the people who designed them? That is a great question, and my fear is this might be a sign that there actually are people in the Disney Company, maybe Imagineers who go back to before Iger's tenure, who do not think the parks are on the right track. Maybe we are not the only ones who believe Pandora doesn't belong in the Animal Kingdom. Perhaps there are others in these meetings who know Guardians of the Galaxy has nothing to do with Future World or Epcot, it isn't even set in the future for crying out loud! Maybe this was just Iger's way to publicly push back on those voices making sense. Of course, we shouldn't expect a man who is clueless about the Himalayas to also know that Arendelle is not, in fact, in Norway.

I hate to say it but it is time for Iger to go, or at least to hand off creative control of the parks. It is time for someone who fosters creativity and new ideas within the Disney Company to take over before we end up with theme parks devoid of identity and completely without a theme.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Merry Christmas

Here are some DAK decor for the holidays
















And from our friend Ian MacGregor



Following


Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Disney Animal Kingdom News for December 19, 2018: Tasting samplers

Kali River Rapids Refurb: Kali River Rapids is going down for its annual refurbishment. It will closed from January 7 until March 22. The ride typically closes this time of the year for work.


Tasting Sampler: DAK is starting a tasting sampler. You'll get a pre-loaded gift card for $35, but you only need to pay $30. This includes about 40 different kiosks around the park.  You’ll be able to get a few new offerings like Shrimp Curry and Chicken Curry Bowls at Kusafiri Bakery, House-smoked Pastrami Sliders at Smiling Crocodile, Buffalo Chicken Chips at Trilo-Bites, Pulled Pork or Shrimp Mac and Cheese plates at Eight Spoon Cafe, Korean Fiery Beef Sliders and Tuna Bao at Caravan Road. 


Thursday December 20 8 am - 8:00 pm

Friday December 21 8 am - 8:00 pm

Saturday December 22 8 am- 8:00 am  Extra Magic Hour in the morning

Sunday December 23 8 am- 10:00 pm

Monday December 24  8 am- 10:00 pm Extra Magic Hour in the morning

Tuesday Christmas Day 8 am- 10:00 pm

Wednesday December 28 8 am- 10:00 pm

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Disney Animal Kingdom News for November 14, 2018: After Hours

After Hours: Tickets are on sale now for an after hour event in DAK. For a $125 per person, you get three hours in the park. At night. DVC and Annual Pass holders pay only $95. Ice cream. popcorn and non-alcoholic drinks are included. The dates for same are Dec. 4, 12 and 18, 2018; and Jan. 8, 16, 22 and 31, 2019; and Feb. 5, 6, 12, 13, 19 and 26, 2019; and March 5, 20 and 27, 2019; and April 3, 2019. Tree of Life Awakenings and Pandora are open as well as other older attractions. 




Thursday November 15 8 am - 8:00 pm
Friday November 16 8 am - 8:00 pm
Saturday November 17 8 am- 8:00 am  Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Sunday November 18 8 am- 9:00 pm
Monday November 19  8 am- 9:00 pm
Tuesday November 20 8 am- 9:00 pm Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Wednesday November 21 8 am- 9:00 pm

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Disney Animal Kingdom News for October 24, 2018

New Okapi: Another baby is present at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Mom, Zelda and Dad, Mandazi, were chosen to breed through the SSP. The calf will be offstage for a few months, but keep an eye out at Kidani Village.


New DVC resort: Ordinarily, I wouldn't comment on such a thing, but this nature inspired. Disney said the resort will be "nature inspired." There will be 900 rooms or so. The resort will be located between  the Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness. There will also be varied room types.



Thursday October 25 9 am - 8:00 pm
Friday October 26 9 am - 8:00 pm
Saturday October 27 9 am- 8:00 am  Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Sunday October 28 9 am- 8:00 pm
Monday October 29  9 am- 8:00 pm 
Tuesday October 30 9 am- 8:00 pm Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Wednesday October 31 9 am- 8:00 pm

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Disney's Animal Kingdom News for October 4, 2018: Rafiki is back

Save Rafiki: Apparently the story that Rafiki's Planet Watch was closing was fake news. Its going down for an "extensive" refurbishment and will reopen in the Spring (probably Earth Day) of next year. The train will obviously be back then. We shall see what the refurbishment entails. No word from Disney yet.


Drinkwallah: Additional seating is being added to this establishment. It appears an additional structure is going near the water. Its a great place to sit, but in the past there have been only a few tables and seats. Its tremendously themed, so this is a good thing.




Thursday October 4 9 am - 8:00 pm
Friday October 5 9 am - 8:00 pm
Saturday October 6 9 am- 8:00 am  Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Sunday October 7 9 am- 8:00 pm
Monday October 8  9 am- 8:00 pm   Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Tuesday October 9 9 am- 8:00 pm
Wednesday October 10 9 am- 8:00 pm

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Animal Kingdom News for September 27, 2018:

Lion King Dance Party: The new Hakuna Matata Time Dance party will be happening on Discovery Island starting in January. It is a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the movie. Timon and Rafiki will be dancing too. It will end in September of 2019.

So Long Planet Watch: According to Cast members, they have been told the attraction, petting zoo and show will be closed permanently on October 21st. This is obviously a stupid cost cutting measure. It is unclear if the space will become empty space or they are planning a replacement. Tune into Radio Harambe soon for an homage to the attraction. Please note Disney has said diddly squat so far on the issue.


Rivers of Light: Disney has really put a hammer down on cast members involved in entertainment. The latest is that the shamans who make the show better, are being cut completely as of September 29th. Really Disney?



Hours: Take a look below at the hours. They are kind of all over the place. So if you're down there, plan accordingly.


Thursday September 27 9 am - 9:00 pm
Friday September 28 9 am - 6:00 pm
Saturday September 29 9 am- 12:00 am  Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Sunday September 30 9 am- 6:00 pm
Monday October 1  9 am- 10:00 pm   Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Tuesday October 2 9 am- 6:00 pm
Wednesday October 3 9 am- 10:00 pm

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Animal Kingdom News for September 19, 2018: New Rhino Experience

New Rhino Tour: A new tour similar to the elephant tour. Its a 60 minute guided tour. You go backstage and may even touch a rhino. Booking the tour starts on September 22, World Rhino Day. It will be $40 with discounts for AP and DVC members. Guests must be 4 years old.



New Food items: I know, food changes are common, but here are some. At breakfast, you can find french toast sticks at Pongu Pongu. I guess the Na'vi are french? Halloween popcorn buckets are available in Harambe. So naturally, the candy store has Halloween cupcakes. The Starbucks now has yogurt parfaits, not a bad breakfast option.




Thursday September 20 9 am - 8:00 pm
Friday September 21 9 am - 8:00 pm
Saturday September 22 9 am- 9:30  pm  Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Sunday September 23 9 am- 8:00 pm
Monday September 24  9 am- 8:00 pm   Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Tuesday September 25 9 am- 8:00 pm
Wednesday September 26 9 am- 8:00 p

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Animal Kingdom Theme Spotlight: Pandora to Harambe

The park does serene well. We all know it. Even when you first walk into the park, the mood is one of quietness (which can be hard to pull off at rope drop). For certain, Pandora is not serene. At least not yet. The place, especially first thing in the morning, is a mad house.



In creating Pandora, the imagineers have given us another example of that peacefulness they are so good at creating with this path that leads from the theater district of Harambe - where the lion king show plays - to Pandora near the gift shop and Sa'tuli Canteen.




In the middle of the day, there is often no one using this area, and it is very pretty walk along the Discovery River.




At certain times, there is even entertainment there. We walked the path around lunch time and found a duo performing creating even more ambiance.



It is places like this that really put the Animal Kingdom ahead of all other parks in my mind. Yes, the attractions are great. The zoological exhibits are top notch. But it is places like this where the park shines.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Animal Kingdom News for August 29, 2018: More babies

New Giraffe: Aella a baby Masai giraffe, was first introduced to the safari. So next time you go, you will be able to see the little one. A video was released by Disney here. Aella was born June 29th.




New Madrill: speaking of babies on the safari, you can see a baby mandrill. Rebecca Phillips is coordinating matches for Mandrill under the Species Survival plan for the largest of baboons. Ms. Phillips is Disney Animal Operations manager. In that role, she also runs the SSP for mandrills.

Thursday August 30 9 am - 8:30 pm
Friday August 31 9 am - 8:30 pm
Saturday September 1 9 am- 8:30  pm  Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Sunday September 2 9 am- 10 pm
Monday September 3  9 am- 9 pm   Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Tuesday September 4 9 am- 8:30 pm
Wednesday September 5 9 am- 8:30 p

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Disney's Animal Kingdom News for August 8, 2018: new dining package


New Dining Package: A new dining package is here for Festival of the Lion King. The package includes a meal at Tiffins and special VIP viewing of the show. The meal includes an appetizer, entree, dessert and drink, which includes beer and wine. Tier 1 package also includes a special safari tour with a personal tour guide. That costs $99 for an adult and only $49 for kids under 12. Tier 2 excludes the safari and is $74 and $29. Between this and Rivers of Light dining package I am left wondering if Tiffins isn't doing all that well. The packages start August 13th.


No more straws: Disney is developing plans to eliminate some plastics that are not biodegradable. By summer 2019, Disney plans to remove all single use plastic straws and plastic stirrers. Disney uses 175 million straws and 13 million stirrers annually. The hotels and cruise ships are also hoping to eliminate 80% of in room plastics, as well.

Thursday August 9 9 am - 9:30 pm
Friday August 10 9 am - 9:30 pm
Saturday August 11 9 am- 9:30  pm  Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Sunday  August 12 9 am- 9:30 pm
Monday August 13  9 am- 8:30 pm   Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Tuesday August 14 9 am- 9:30 pm
Wednesday August 15 9 am- 9:30 pm