Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Take a Spin on Triceratops Spin!

Below is a short review of the Triceratops Spin by Discoverer Meghan, Jambo Everyone's soon-to-be-nine-years-old contributing writer.  Meg might be young, but she is already a seasoned veteran of Disney's Animal Kingdom.

If you have a 2 to 6 year old child you might want to bring your kid on Triceratops Spin!  You get a great view of Dinosaur Land.  If your kid is afraid of heights, they have a lever in the front seat so you can control the height you fly.  And here's the fun part, you can use the lever to fly however you want.  You don't have to wait that long on the line.  Triceratops Spin is a fun and great ride for children of young ages.

by Discoverer Meghan

The "State of Disney's Animal Kingdom" Address

Last week, Gavin of the great Disney Dose blog asked me if I would be willing to write a guest post regarding Disney's Animal Kingdom, in honor of the park's 15th anniversary.  He was hoping for a "State of DAK" type of article, and after spending a five hour flight to Las Vegas writing, that is what he got.  Click here to read it...

I would like to thank Gavin not only for allowing me the space on his website, but also for a great idea for a blog post.  It was a pleasure writing it and obsessing over it for days!  Have a look and post your comments either here or on the Disney Dose.

by Dave McBride (twitter: @RadioHarambe)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Disney's Animal Kingdom News Round-Up for April 24: The Perfect Earth Day Gift!

DAK15 Celebration Brings The Crowds:  It is certainly a slow news week, mostly because all of the big news has been reported already, that being the anniversary celebration earlier this week.  Check out our article yesterday regarding the incredible lines for DAK15 merchandise.  And we will have more photos from the celebration on the Bwana Blog later this week.

If you didn’t get to the park, or your just didn’t want to wait on that ludicrous line, you can buy a shirt online at the Disney Store website.  But I have an even better idea...

Get Some Jambo Everyone Merchandise and Help Our Conservation Partners: Since it is such a slow news week, I will take this opportunity for a shameless plug.  We ask that you head over to our store at zazzle.com/jamboeveryone and purchase one or more of our Jambo Everyone products.  50% of the profits will go directly to our Conservation Partners and the other to help keep this website going. It’s the perfect way to celebrate Earth Week!

Safari Mike on the Generation Mouse Podcast:  Being the only DAK website on the internet, we here at Jambo Everyone have had quite a fun week fielding questions on our favorite park. Safari Mike's appearance on the Generation Mouse Podcast is now available.  Also, check out this posting from earlier in the week on a few other podcasts we recorded for this week.

Park Hours for this week are...

Wednesday: April 24 9am - 7pm
Thursday: April 25 9am - 7pm
Friday: April 26 9am - 7pm
Saturday: April 27 8am - 8pm (Extra Magic Hour 7-8am)
Sunday: April 28 8am - 8pm
Monday: April 29 9am - 7pm (Extra Magic Hour 8-9am)
Tuesday: April 30 9am - 6pm

Check Out Kenny the Pirate for this week’s Entertainment Schedule!

Attraction Closures:
Anandapur Ice Cream Truck is closed until 5/24/2013

Have A Wild Time this week!!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Merchandise Takes the Spotlight at Disney's Animal Kingdom's Anniversary Celebration

Let’s look back at yesterday’s celebration of Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s 15th Anniversary with a few photos from the park.  It was a great event for all who attended, but the star of the show was apparently the merchandise sold at the Creature Comforts shop!

The photo below shows the table of special items offered exclusively at this location in the park.  (Thank you Steve for the photo!)

But purchasing these items seems to have come at a cost.  Take a look at the photo below.  This is the line to purchase these items.  At one point it was a three-hour line that stretched all the way back to the Dawa Bar!  (Photo by Destination in Florida, the official travel company of Jambo Everyone.  Please book your next trip through them and they help us in our Conservation Effort!)

I am not sure if Disney was expecting this, but I truly hope they weren’t.  In hindsight, they should have made these items available at more than one location to help ease the wait.  There is no bigger DAK nut than me, but there is no way I would wait on a three-hour line to buy souvenirs!

by Dave McBride (twitter: @RadioHarambe)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Top 10 Reasons We Love Disney's Animal Kingdom #1, The Animals!!

When we decided to create a “Top 10 Reasons We Love Disney’s Animal Kingdom” countdown in honor of the park’s 15th anniversary, a debate began among the staff here at Jambo Everyone over what we would include and in what order they would be palced.  However, there was never any debate on what would be our number one.  We all agreed unanimously the biggest stars of this show, the one element that makes DAK so great, are the animals.

The first animals to take up residency at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the George and Martha of DAK if you will, were a pair of giraffes named Miles and Zari.  But what following in the path of these two trailblazers were scores of amazing creatures, all with their own challenges and needs.

Keeping and caring for animals is simply not the same as audio animatronics. There is a reason that Walt Disney ultimately decided not to use real animals for his Jungle Cruise. As the story goes, Walt wanted to use real animals to tell that particular story in his park. Eventually, he came to realize it simply was not feasible.

And, of course, there is the famous story of the early concepts of the Kali River Rapids. Originally called Tiger River Rapids, imagineers wanted guests to encounter real tigers along the river bank. Of course, they were eventually told that tigers love the water and could eventually ended up going for a swim and eat the tourists in the boats.

And many blame animals for taking away the Beastly Kingdomme. It is said that escalating costs of backstage areas was what led to the decision of not building the land of mythical creatures or extinct animals. Anyone who has taken the Backstage Safari tour can tell you Disney spared no expense in its animal living quarters. Disney found out early in the process that animal rights groups are a tough lot, so Disney went out if its way to build the best, both in exhibits and in its off-stage structures.

And animals do have minds of their own. Case in point, the recent experiment of a herd of zebra at Kilimanjaro Safari. They simply would not adapt to their new surroundings. Unfortunately, that kind of thing happens all the time because, like I said, animals have minds of their own, while robots do not. So now we have addax there instead.

In the end, its all worth it. Sure, Animal Kingdom has its thrill rides. It has its great shows and great food. But it is the animals that form the backbone of the park, the real emotional connection to guests.  It is that concept, the relationship of man and beast, that is the ultimate theme of the park.

All of us here at Jambo Everyone hold our first trip to Disney’s Animal Kingdom as a special memory.  But the thing about DAK is that thanks to these amazing creatures every trip to the park truly is a unique experience.  No other Disney theme park in the world can claim that.  So from all of us, here is a heartfelt Happy Birthday wish to DAK.  And may we all do what we can to help save the creatures for future generations.  Asante Sana!

by Dave McBride (twitter: @RadioHarambe) and Safari Mike (@jamboeveryone)
photography by Dave McBride and Jungle Jim

Jambo Everyone Hits the Podcast Airwaves!

It is the 15th Anniversary of our beloved Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and those of us here at Jambo Everyone have had many opportunities to talk about our favorite park on some amazing Disney podcasts.

Yours truly had the distinct pleasure of appearing on the WEDway Now! podcast this week.  Nate and Matt create two fantastic podcasts, covering Disney news on the Now show and Disney history on the companion WEDway Radio show.  Click the image below and go to their site to download.

Safari Mike will appear on a few this week, and the first one to hit the airwaves is the Disney Hipsters.  These guys offer an irreverent and fun show, and they are HUGE fans of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  Click below to go that show’s webpage.

So celebrate today’s milestone by downloading and listening to some great DAK talk with Jambo Everyone and our friends at WEDway Now and the Disney Hipsters.  Follow these folks, and subscribe to their shows.  They do amazing work and are ALWAYS fun to listen to.

by Dave McBride (twitter: @RadioHarambe)

DAK15 Photo Memories; The First View of the Tree of Life

This is still a great way to draw people into a park. I remember marveling at the Tree of Life in October 1998, my first trip to Disney's Animal Kingdom. It doesn't look all that much different from today, except maybe for the late 90s clothing of the guests.

This picture captures the moment that Safari Mike broke through the Oasis for the first time ever and saw it. Few sights are prettier or make me smile as much.

Top 10 Reasons We Love Disney's Animal Kingdom #2; Details Details Details!

Walt Disney made clear his desire to create an imaginary world for his guests, a place of make-believe to escape from the real world.  The best way to do this was to not just place rides and shows in an empty concrete lot, but to fill it with details that bring it to life and give it a unique character.  All of the Disney parks maintain that cornerstone, to some degree, but none more so than Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

As you pull into the parking lot, your surroundings are noticeably different from every other park you’ve been to in Walt Disney World.  The vegetation around you is thicker and alive.  And though you can see the turnstiles, there is little more you can differentiate from the wall of living green that seems to guard the make-believe world within from the outside.  Make no mistake, the imagineers were hoping for just such an effect, the first of a seemingly infinite collection of details and themes which give DAK its unique character.

Not a stone has been left unturned.  There is the attention to things like restroom colors, sight-lines and audio fields guests have come to expect from Disney parks. But DAK goes far above all of that and into the realm of the nearly obsessive compulsive.  I am completely convinced there is not a soul alive, be it imagineer nor tour-guide, who can explain and find each one.

Some details are meant to create a sense of history, such as faded posters, footprints in the concrete, newspaper articles or photos hidden almost out of view.  Some are meant to fill the guests with eye candy, such as colorful murals, sculptural accents or architectural subtleties.  Others are meant to create a sense of place, like bridges, waterfalls and a variety of plant life so incredibly large you can actually ask a cast member to give you a form you can fill out to have the park’s horticulture division explain what plant it is you are looking at.  While the Liberty Tree in Liberty Square is a terrific detail, Disney’s Animal Kingdom has quite literally thousands and thousands of such purpose-placed plants.

You’ll find these detail elements not only in queues and zoo exhibits, but also along the ceilings inside the gift shops and the tables in the restaurants.  You could spend days searching them all out and never touch the surface of everything the imagineers placed in the park.

This is what I have always loved about Walt Disney World.  But when they built Disney’s Animal Kingdom, they clearly outdid themselves.  And so far they have never skimped on the details.  Expedition Everest, built years after the park’s opening, is so packed with details that one almost hopes for a bit of a wait to get on the ride so they can take some of them in.

So the next time you hear a “disney fanatic” opine about the “half-day” nature of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, ask them if they have ever really taken the time to appreciate all it has to offer.  My guess is they haven’t.  So my first bit of advice would be to sign-up for the Wild By Design Tour.  It’s a great primer for the subject, being only three hours long.  If they wanted to cover everything, you would probably be required to camp in the park for weeks...actually...that doesn’t sound like such a bad idea!

by Dave McBride (twitter: @RadioHarambe)

DAK Photo Memories; Giraffe's on Vacation

I will never forget my first two-week trip into the Kilimanjaro Safaris.  Turning the corner at the baobab tree and driving into the savannah, everyone on the truck, especially the little ones, chirped with excitement upon seeing this giraffe just sitting there relaxing in the Florida sun.  It was the quintessential magical moment!

I have since come to learn, thanks to a cast member at the Animal Kingdom lodge, that giraffes sitting down like this is a behavior only seen in captivity.  A giraffe in the wild would never do this, leading me to believe this girl might just love her new home!

And then just a short trip down the path leading through the savanna, we came across a couple of his friends...

If memory serves. giraffes were among the very first four-legged occupants of Disney's Animal Kingdom.  They are certainly one of the ark's biggest stars and have been for 15 years.

by Dave McBride (twitter: @RadioHarambe)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Top Ten Reasons We Love Disney's Animal Kingdom #3; Conservation

While it may be “not a zoo”, Disney’s Animal Kingdom has always had the goal of conservation and awareness at its very core.  And it is that goal that sets it apart from all other theme parks.

When Disney decided to create a park filled with the earth’s great wild creatures, the imagineers and executives knew the fascination and emotional connection we have for them is powerful.  They also knew very early on in the planning process that they must also dedicate their effort not just towards creating a fun and exciting theme park, but also to doing what they could to save these amazing species for future generations.  That meant not only making conservation part of the parks story, but also park of its financial plan as well.

And that is exactly what they did.  In 1995, a full three years before the opening of DAK, Disney founded the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund.  The DWCF provides funds for projects all over the world dedicated to conservation and education.  They have donated tens of millions of dollars to help save wildlife from extinction.

This is the spirit we at Jambo Everyone have always hoped to emulate.  When creating this website, my goal was always to find some way to use it to help conservation.  It's not enough to adore the animals and take their photos.  We need to do what we can to help keep them from extinction.  The Jambo Everyone Conservation Effort is our little way of helping as best we can.

So the next time you are in the Animal Kingdom and doing some shopping at one of its great merchandise locations, ask a cast member if you can make a donation to the DWCF.  In return for helping Disney to assist conservation projects on the front-lines throughout the world, you will get a great pin you can wear proudly in park.  Believe me, that pin is the best souvenir money can buy, and the animals will thank you for it!

by Dave McBride
(twitter: @RadioHarambe)

DAK@15 Photo Memories: Fondly Remembering the Dinosaur Jubilee

Dinosaur Jubilee is one of the great lost attractions of 1998 Animal Kingdom. It was located where Dino-Rama is today.

The T-Rex seen here was just one of many fossils found in this tented exhibit. The fossils were "discovered" by the students and scientists of the nearby Dino Institute. If you were lucky, you would be there for a tour by one of those students.

by Safari Mike
Twitter: @JamboEveryone

DAK15 Photo Memories; Journey to the Jungle Book

As you all probably know Finding Nemo the Musical was not the first show at that theater. Before that, there was dreadful production called Tarzan Rocks (if you don't believe me, go to you tube). Bu before that, there was Journey to the Jungle Book which lasted only about a year.

This was a fun and elaborate production. Shere Khan and the elephants in particular were well designed. It told the basic story in about 30 minutes. Maybe the best part was King Louie's monkeys who would often come out near entrance to Dinoland near the Boneyard to entice people to the show.

If we have but one regret about our beloved Animal Kingdom, it is that this show had such a short run. Tarzan Rocks and Finding Nemo - the Musical are fine shows, but none have come to the standard of Journey to the Jungle Book.  It is a Disney classic which deserves a greater presence in the park.

by Safari Mike (@JamboEveryone) and Dave McBride(@RadioHarambe)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

DAK15 Photo Memories; March of the ARTimals!

In the DAK15 Photo Memory, we look back at the original parade found at Disney's Animal Kingdom.  It was called the March of the ARTimals, the name being a quirky attempt to explain why the animal costumes are so stylized.  Actually, if memory serves I believe it was called the March of the Animals for a few months.

The March was a beautiful little parade, with a much more impromptu feel than the standard Disney parks parade.  It was one part Jammin Jungle, one part Tapestry of Nations and with a touch of the Festival of the Lion King thrown in.  With all of the gorgeous artistic interpretations of animals throughout the Oasis, it really fit the theme well.

But alas, attractions without mouse-ears tend to be short lived and that's exactly what happened here.  It closed in 1999.  Personally, I think simply adding some Disney animal characters to the March would have been a much better idea than scrapping this unique parade altogether.

by Dave McBride (twitter: @RadioHarambe)

DAK15 Photo Memories; Tommies!

"Attention, airborne warden! This is Simba One! Do you copy?"

 "Simba One! This is Warden Wilson Mutua. Over!"

"You should start to see a wide variety of grass eaters, such as Thompson's Gazelles"

"Miss Jobson, no one in Africa calls them Thompson's gazelles. They are tommies! Tommies!"

by Safari Mike (twitter @JamboEveryone)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Top 10 Reasons We Love Disney's Animal Kingdom #4; Kilimanjaro Safaris

When it came to theme parks, Walt Disney was certainly an ambitious man.  And it was that ambition that drove him to redefine the very idea of amusement parks.  But occasionally issues such as technology, finance, space or logistics kept him from realizing all of his dreams.

The famous story told is of how Walt and his imagineers always wanted real animals for what became the Jungle Cruise.  Disney loved wildlife and knew the emotional effect animals from all over the world had on people.  But it just wasn’t possible at Disneyland, for many reasons, a dream he never was able to fulfill.  Decades later, however, that dream was finally brought to reality at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, with the biggest and most ambitious attraction ever created by the imagineers, Kilimanjaro Safaris.

Coming in at around 110 total acres, Kilimanjaro Safaris is just about the same size as all of the Magic Kingdom park.  The scale of the attraction is unlike anything Disney ever tried before, and it presented them with challenges no imagineer before them had ever encountered.  Yet still, they managed to create the cornerstone attraction of Disney’s Animal Kingdom and, in my opinion, the greatest achievement in WDI history.

The scope of what imagineers had before them when designing and building Kilimanjaro Safaris is enough to make one’s head hurt just thinking about it.  Take, as just one small example, the vegetation throughout the attraction.  The plants you see along the route were purposely placed as part of the set design and each one was picked to create a sense of space, history and the illusion of being in Africa.  However, this process isn’t as simple as planting trees in your backyard.  They all needed to be brought in, itself huge undertaking because many are not found in Florida or even in this country, and then planted and arranged often a year or more before the park’s opening so they could be fully rooted and acclimated to their new surroundings.  And I haven’t even mentioned the possibility of these very same set design pieces turning into lunch for the attraction’s inhabitants.  Now with that in mind, try to imagine all of the additional time and effort needed to create habitats for the dozens of different animal species with the attraction, all of which have their unique challenges and demands.

While I also marvel at the ground-breaking elements of Disney’s attractions, such as audio-animatronics and their amazing storytelling, none of this compares to what was needed to create Kilimanjaro Safaris.  Besides the kinds of technology and creativity imagineers have become known for, they also needed the help of an army of experts from fields such as zoology and horticultural to guide them through the creation of what is not just a theme park ride, but a massive habitat for animals from half way across the world.  And within all of this is the signature story elements and details of Walt Disney Imagineering.

And after years of planning and construction, what they came out with at the end of it all is not only the biggest theme park attraction ever built, but also perhaps the world’s most amazing and immersive zoo exhibit on the planet.  So climb aboard for your two week trip through the Harambe Wildlife Reserve and remember that what you are experiencing is far more than just a theme park attraction.

by Dave McBride (twitter: @RadioHarambe)

DAK15 Photo Memories; More Nostalgic Views of Kilimanjaro Safaris

For today's DAK15 photo memory, let's take a look back at a couple more photos of Kilimanjaro Safari from way back when.  Here is a photo of the elephant area from 1998...

And then we have this one below of the savanna area, featuring some gorgeous relaxing Sable Antelope, as well as the tail end of what appears to be Patterson's Eland...

by Dave McBride (twitter: @RadioHarambe) and Safari Mike (@jamboeveryone)

DAK15 Photo Memories; Kilimanjaro Safari Circa 1998

Kilimanjaro Safaris sure looked different back in 1998. This is the main savanna just as you come down the big hill. The vegetation just looks a lot different than it does today.

The animals, however, are not all that different. Wildebeest are still, of course, found on the ride. Tommies were present until recently when a new herd of springbok replaced them. Tommies have since moved to the Animal Kingdom Lodge Kidani Village.

by Safari Mike (twitter: @JamboEveryone)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Top 10 Reasons We Love Disney's Animal Kingdom #5; The Amazing Animal Kingdom Lodge

One of my favorite things about Disney's Animal Kingdom is its close proximity to the Animal Kingdom Lodge.  Even if guests are not staying at the Lodge, it is only a quick bus ride away to experience all this hotel has to offer.

For starters, you can see zebras grazing on the savanna.  There are viewing spots where you can just sit in a wicker rocking chair and spend the day animal watching.  If visiting at night, there are night vision goggle viewing times with educated cast members eager to answer any of your questions.

The decor of Jambo house is breathtaking upon your first visit.  Kidani village is set up like a museum with various African art exhibits on display.

The dining is spectacular at both Jambo House and Kidani Village.  Jiko offers a signature dining experience that is romantic and exquisite.  Boma features an African buffet that will knock your socks off, especially when you go on a Wednesday or a Saturday night (ribs night!).  Sanaa features an African/Indian fusion that cannot be missed.  The bread service is delicious and served up until 11:00 p.m. which is a great late night snack.

Guests can easily make an entire vacation out of this hotel without having to set foot inside any WDW park.  The hotel offers various classes and tours that are both fun and educational for all ages.   They have awesome pools large enough to be considered water parks as well as relaxing spots for animal watching.

By Brooke (Twitter: @brookie1248)

DAK15 Photo Memories; Where's the Axis Deer?

Wait a minute...there are deer at the Tree of Life?  Where are they? Well, these are axis deer and they are no longer at the Animal Kingdom. But back in 1998, they shared an exhibit with red kangaroos and greater flamingos.

 By the way, this is not a calf. Full grown axis deer still have their spots. This allows them to blend nicely into the forests of India, Sri Lanka and Nepal, which they call home. In the wild, herds are compromised mostly of females with a few mature males.  Females are very protective of the young, hiding them in bushes while they feed.

by Safari Mike
Twitter: @JamboEveryone

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Shop the Jambo Everyone Store and Help Our Conservation Effort!

We here at Jambo Everyone began this website not only to celebrate our favorite theme park, but also to try and contribute in any small way we can to helping efforts to preserve wildlife for future generation and save endangered species from extinction.  With that in mind we began our Conservation Effort, and today we announce our latest edition to that effort; the Jambo Everyone Store.

With every item sold in our store, we will donate 50% of the profits to our Conservation Partners, all of whom are listed on our website.  (The rest will go towards keeping  JamboEveryone.com alive and well!  Any of our fellow Disney fansite owners will attest to the expenses incurred.)  So I thought as part of this announcement we would show you a couple of examples of what we have on offer.  There are shirts available for men, women and even kids shirts, as well as a variety of other fun items.

We have a few different logos and graphics which are offered on a variety of items.  The first one you see, the one above the pervious paragraph, is one of our two main Jambo Everyone logos, that one is offered on a ladies shirt.  It features the five animals represented by our Conservation Partners, cheetahs, macaws, gorillas, Grevy’s zebra, and rhinos.  The second main logo, featuring those five animals plus a few more in a something of a “dynamic march”, with the cheetah at the lead is pictured just above this paragraph.

Besides the obligatory t-shirts, we also have these images on a variety of other items, such as the above coffee mugs and tote bags.  And this being a Zazzle store, you can really customize these things quite a bit, so check out the different shirts and items offered, along with dozens of different styles and colors

Besides those two main logos, we also have some more animal specific images where we feature one of the five species we are working with, including the cheetah shirt above and the Grevy’s zebra one below.  In the coming days, we will also have more and more of these items, so keep checking back.

So please, visit the Jambo Everyone Store at Zazzle and help us raise funds for our conservation partners.  And I happen to think you will look pretty darn good while doing it!