Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Disney's Animal Kingdom News for October 19, 2016: Extra Magic Shuffle

Extra Magic shuffle: What is probably a function of cooling weather, the available attractions for Extra Magic Hours has been shuffled. Kali River Rapids will no longer be available in that time slot. Instead, you can visit Primeval Whirl and Triceratops Spin.

Dinosaur Refurb: When this lengthy refurbishment started, the expected opening date was September 30th. That was pushed back to October 17th a few weeks back. Now, the reopening date is set at November 20th, more than a month later. Still no word on what, if anything, will change. It seems extremely unlikely there will be anything new except maybe for some minor effects.

Ticket Booth: Over at Kilimanjaro Safaris, Disney is testing an in park ticket sales location between now and November 5. It will be open from 9 am until 7 pm. At this spot, you will be able upgrade your tickets to add days and options, purchase hard ticket events and even get annual passes. Plus, there will be guest relations available, as well, so you should be able to book ADRs at that location.

Park Hours for this week are....
Thursday October 20 9am- 8:30 pm
Friday October 21 9am-8:30 pm
Saturday October 22 9am- 8:30 pm Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Sunday  October 23 9am- 8:30 pm
Monday October 24 9am- 8:30 pm Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Tuesday October 25 9am- 8:30 pm
Wednesday October 26 9am-8:30 pm

Monday, October 17, 2016


What is the best restaurant in a Disney park? Some say might say Le Cellier, or Be Our Guest, or the Brown Derby. But there is a new contender to that title: Tiffins. 

Tiffins is an English Indian word meaning a portable midday meal. A fun name, but not really applicable as this place is fine dining. By Disney's definition its a signature eatery, meaning the prices are quite high and the food quality should be equally as high, and frankly, it is. The restaurant is on par with other similarly priced places like Artist Point and Jiko. 

So what's the theme? Well, according to a post near the front desk, it celebrates the art of travel and culture from the places that inspired the Animal Kingdom. It's sort of a hodgepodge of culture and cuisine which is reflected not just in the decor but also the eclectic menu.

The Safari gallery

Let's talk drinks. The adjoining Nomad lounge serves a bunch of interesting specialty drinks including the Kungaloosh spiced ale, seen at the bottom right as part of a beer flight I recommend. The kungaloosh is a spiced brown ale that is very good. Xingu is a black lager from Brazil, a great beer, and, of course, Safari Amber. 

There are three rooms, all with a different theme. There is the Grand gallery which is the largest room and the one most often pictured. Like its name, it is grand in design, with beautiful artwork on the wall, like below, totem poles and a wall of lanterns as a nod to the upcoming Rivers of Light show. 

The safari gallery harkens back to the days imagineers researched the design for Harambe. The artwork on this gallery's walls are directly from Eastern and Southern Africa. Make sure you check out the baobob trees and shadow boxes. Finally, there is the Trek gallery. This room takes it cue from the research that went into designing Anandapur. The art work comes from Bali and the Himalayas. 

Meals start off with this delicious bread. It is a pomegranate focaccia bread with a molasses olive oil to drizzle. Its simply amazing. As was the service. Our waitress, Kelly, was absolutely terrific and that appears to be the norm here, which in fairness, you would expect for a signature dining experience.

I mentioned before that the meals are quite pricey. Some entrees are priced over $50. But there is a better way to enjoy much of the menu here.

I have to recommend the Taste of Tiffins lunch. This allows you to try 2 of the entrees (not all of which are on the special menu) with a side of jasmine rice for less than $30. I recommend getting a late lunch, say 2:30 or 2:45, and taking advantage of this option.

I had the short rib above which, to be honest, was a bit on the tough side, but did have good flavor. The chimchurri was particularly good with this dish.

The market vegetable curry, however, was fantastic. The coconut red curry and lime chutney were spot on. I would order this all day, every day.

I would also recommend the pork tamale. The pork had a nice, subtle spice and nice flavoring. The side of succotash with red mole sauce was perfect. My son was also a big fan of the seasonal fish choice.

Wall of lanterns
Maybe the best part of the meal is your gift. A piece of artwork from Joe Rohde himself, who designed these specially for Tiffins. Joe designed 12 different pieces, though at some point there may be as many as 16 options. I plan on going enough to get them all.

In any event, a new table service eatery at the Animal Kingdom was really needed. We have been stuck with the Tusker House and Yak & Yeti as our only options for some time. (I don't count the Rainforest Cafe).  I am concerned that there will be a change to the menu. Its definitely different and the place was empty when we were there. I think this really stems from the fact that the path its on is currently a dead end, which will change when Pandora opens. 

By Safari Mike 

Friday, October 14, 2016

Rivers of Light Dining Package Part Deux

Yesterday there was a lot of buzz around the Rivers of Light. As you all know by now, there has been speculation that the show is nearing readiness. We have heard that testing is complete and the show should be turned over to Operations soon. Then, Disney released on its site an announcement about a dining package being available on May 1st.

Many people were concerned that the show won't begin until next spring, and frankly, that was directly contradictory to what I heard - which is still that it will be this holiday season.

Well, Disney has taken that information down. So what does that mean? I think our friends over at Ropedrop probably got it right. It was all an error and release that supposed to reflect last May 1st shortly after the show was supposed to begin (the original planned opening date was April 22, 2016 if you recall) and the information is essentially the same as it was in an old February 2016 release.

theater entrance

Thus, we can all breathe a sigh of relief. We are not necessarily 6 months away from the show launching. Someone somewhere pressed a wrong key on a computer and created some short lived hysteria. Hmmm, I wonder if this means someone is editing that page to actually go live soon with an actual announcement - stay tuned.

By Safari Mike

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Rivers of Light Dining Package

Well, we have good news and we have bad news. The good news is Disney defintitely thinks they will have Rivers of Light up and running. The bad news is we might not see it until next Spring.

Now before you get super upset. Here is what we do know: Disney will be offering Rivers of Light dining packages starting on May 1, 2017.  The package will be available through the Tusker House and Flame Tree Barbecue. Guests must dine 2 1/2 hours prior to show time at the Tusker and 1 hour and 15 minutes prior if you pick Flame Tree.

It seems a little strange to have a quick service place for a dining package. However, for $22 you select an entree, three sides and a dessert.

Rivers of Light testing in late August

Now, May 1st is way off. This does not mean that the show won't start until then. I suppose theoretically it could mean that, but that doesn't seem likely at all. It seems much more likely the show will open well in advance of that and this is merely a conservative date to start this dining package. Typically, Disney will not start doing dining packages as soon as the show starts. Instead, they want to see the public response to the show to gauge demand for packages like this.

We are still hearing that the show should be up and running before the big holiday crowds. And nothing about this May 1st announcement changes that in any shape manner or form. We will keep you posted as more information becomes available.

By Safari Mike

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Disney's Animal Kingdom News for October 12, 2016: Bat Appreciation Month and Pins

Bat Appreciation Month: Disney used to celebrate Bat Day on October 31st - ya know, Halloween. Unfortunately, they stopped doing that a couple of years ago. But October is Bat Appreciation month, and the exhibit at the Maharajah Jungle Trek has reopened after a refurbishment. Bats are incredibly important both in terms of insect control (some species consume as many as 1000 mosquitoes per hour) and as pollinators.

Avatar pins: We have seen a sneak peek at some of the pins that reportedly will be available once (or around the time) Pandora opens. WDWNT has posted images of some of these pins and they may give us clues about some of the stuff coming to the land. There are several references to Mo'ara Valley and it appears that will be name of the floating mountain range. There will be a pin for Na'vi cultural representative, again drawing attention to the idea that the cast members will be well versed in the fictional culture and it will permeate the land. The "Mountain Banshee Project: Protecting Pandoran Wildlife" pin certainly tries to bring the conservation theme of the rest of the park to this corner. The Drum Circle pin might give us an idea of one of the entertainment offerings available in the area. The Pandora Cavern Tours must reflect the boat ride concept.

Park Hours for this week are....
Thursday October 13, 9am- 8:30 pm
Friday October 14 9am-8:30 pm
Saturday October 15 9am- 8:30 pm Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Sunday  October 16 9am- 8:30 pm
Monday October 17 9am- 8:30 pm Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Tuesday October 18 9am- 8:30 pm
Wednesday October 19 9am-8:30 pm

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Rivers of Light Testing

This footage comes from a couple of weeks ago. It shows some of the movement of the actual floats that allegedly were the real problem in getting this show going.

We are hearing reports now that Disney is basically done with testing and the show is virtually ready to go. The attraction is apparently to be turned over to Operations soon.

We expect (and hope) that Disney will announce an opening date soon. In all likelihood, the plan, which is not official, will be to try to get the show up and running by mid-November when the holiday crowds will begin.

By Safari Mike

Working the farm

We absolutely love the artwork at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. This fun piece graces the lobby of Kidani Village. 

This farmer plowing his field blends in nicely with the farming tools found just behind the front desk. 

By Safari Mike 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Disney's Animal Kingdom News for October 5, 2016: Discounts and Casting Calls

Discounts Galore: Billed as part of the 45th anniversary of the park, Disney recently announced some discounts for both merchandise and food across the resort. The entire program of discounts can be found here. There is a 20% merchandise discount at select places. For food at Animal Kingdom, you can get 10% of anything but alcoholic beverages at the Rainforest, Tusker House and Yak & Yeti. You get a nice 20% discount at both Tiffins and the Flame Tree. The program runa a year until September 30, 2017.

Speaking Na'vi: Apparently, Disney is beginning the process of staffing Avatarland. And according to WDWNT, Disney is also asking potential "leaders" of the land to learn of to speak Na'vi. These staff members must be willing to learn to speak Na'vi and teach the culture of Pandora. The call indicates that this land will be the most immersive in any Disney park, and by having cast members speaking the language and being experts in the fictional culture will take that up a notch for sure. Plus, the fact that casting is starting is a good sign that maybe 2017 is not all that unrealistic.

Park Hours for this week are....
Thursday October 6, 9am- 8:30 pm
Friday October 7 9am-8:30 pm
Saturday October 8 9am- 8:30 pm Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Sunday  October 9 9am- 8:30 pm
Monday October 10 9am- 8:30 pm Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Tuesday October 11 9am- 8:30 pm
Wednesday October 12 9am-8:30 pm

Monday, October 3, 2016

Family skulls

Most people assume the okapi is some sort of weird zebra-horse combo. But as any visitor to the Animal Kingdom knows, the okapi is a relative of the giraffe. One way to tell is by looking at the skulls. 

Yes the giraffe is much larger but, as you can see, the skulls are very similar. About 11.5 million years ago, the okapi and giraffe's common ancestor roamed Africa. The okapi basically became the short necked forest giraffe. Both have similar eating habits, leaves from trees but in the jungle the leaves are lower to the ground. 

The coloring is perfect camouflage in the broken light of the Congo forest. 

By Safari Mike 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Episode 95 of Radio Harambe - Blue Sky Listener Questions

We finally get to answering what we call your "Blue Sky" questions, the kind of "what if" type questions you asked of Dave and Safari Mike. They cover a range of topics about the past, present and future of Disney's Animal Kingdom. 

If you have any questions or comments about Radio Harambe, feel free to email us at Thank you for listening and enjoy the show!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Disney's Animal Kingdom News for September 28, 2016: Increased Hours and Price Reductions....What?!

Y'All have to chill out: Remember back in mid August, there were several news reports about Disney's Animal Kingdom hours were being reduced to 9 pm in September and then, in October hours were being cut to 7 pm with an even further reduction for November and December. Do you remember what I said at that time? Just wait, Disney changes hours all the time and that I would be shocked if the park didn't stay open until sometime around 9 pm. Well guess what, kids? The park hours show throughout October and into early November that the Animal Kingdom is staying open until 8:30 pm, meaning you still will get night time park touring. As of now (emphasis on the term now), the park hours starting the second week of November show a closing time of 7 pm. My suspicion is that the park will stay open later than that (although by then the clocks move back an hour and its darker much earlier) and Disney is still trying to decide when Rivers of Light will actually open. Stay tuned and don't panic.

More Food, less Dollars: We recently did a post about the beautiful Nomad Lounge. Like a lot of Disney lounges, there is a small plates menu which recently received some big changes. For a review of it, you can check out wdwnt. They have added beef sliders with a tomato chutney type sauce and fish tacos. More interestingly, without changing the price, the vegetarian summer rolls got bigger and the pork ribs got more numerous. Plus, they added three more chicken wings to the portion plus reduced price. When was the last time Disney did that?

Park Hours for this week are....
Thursday September 29, 9am- 9pm
Friday September 30 9am-9pm
Saturday October 1 9am- 8:30 pm Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Sunday  October 2 9am- 8:30 pm
Monday October 3 9am- 8:30 pm Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Tuesday October 4 9am- 8:30 pm
Wednesday October 5 9am-8:30 pm

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Nomad lounge

There are many new additions to the Animal Kingdom in recent months and one that I was looking most forward to was the Nomad Lounge. 

To say the decor is beautiful is an understatement, You are the hub of the Animal Kingdom and adventure. This bar is a jumping off point. The banners handing from the ceiling add a lot of interesting flavor. They pose travel questions (after all we are nomads here) and the answers of Disney Imagineers. Not only on these banners but also just above the windows like in the picture below. You can also purchase mini banners that hang over the bar, the proceeds go to the Disney Conservation Fund. You get to write your own journal entry on the banner.

The curtains really look like mosquito nets. Again, perfect for the theme. 

Pictured above is the Mustang coffee, a great alcoholic beverage from the Nepal area. Essentially, it consists of coffee, brown sugar, melted butter and liqueur. There is a large drink menu that is not only unique but offers some great artwork, as well. And for the younger nomads as those not wishing to imbibe alcohol, many of the drinks have a virgin alternative. There are small plates, as well, for hungry travelers.  In fact, the small plates menu recently changed, including a decrease in the price of the wings while adding to the amount of food. Other items include beef sliders, pork ribs, fish tacos and bread service. 

The bar is large, but as you can see, often empty. This lounge, which is now a favorite of mine throughout the entire resort, suffers badly from location. At least, currently it does. 

The above two pictures are from the gorgeous wrap around porch. In the picture directly above, you can see the work being done to the bridge that will eventually lead to Pandora. Right how, this lounge sits at the end of essentially a dead end meaning there is virtually no pedestrian traffic. Hopefully, once Avatar opens, many guests will see this lounge.

This last picture gives you a good look at the lighting difference during the day compared to night. The dark wood gives the lounge an elegant look for certain. Its certainly relaxed at this point thanks to nonexistent crowds. So enjoy the peace while you can.

By Safari Mike