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

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