Friday, August 30, 2013

A Photo For Today: Grow Eyes for Poachers!

It's been a long time since we posted a "Photo For Today", so we thought it would be a good idea to present an image most fans of Disney's Animal Kingdom will remember fondly...

Who doesn't get excited about Kilimanjaro Safaris?  As you see these photos, do you also here Warden Wilson's voice in your head telling us to "grow eyes for poachers"?

by Dave McBride (twitter: @RadioHarambe)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Jungle Jim's Animal Portraits: Chillin' with a Bontebok

It must be a Bontebok kind of day for our correspondents in the field.  Safari Mike has a new article today about them and even Jungle Jim has sent us in the gorgeous portrait of a bontebok relaxing in the Florida sun like so many Disney guests.

Bonteboks are a great example of what zoos, parks and conservation organizations can do, but also of what humans can do.  Thanks to humans, these incredible animals are still walking the earth.  But also thanks to humans, they are extinct in the wild as overhunting decimated the population.  Now they exist only in parks and zoos.  Click here to read Safari Mike's article and learn about the bontebok.

by Dave McBride (@RadioHarambe)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

An Old Friend We Would Love to See Again

When I clicked over to the Disney Parks Blog this morning, I was briefly thrilled only to be brought back to earth upon reading a bit further.  You see, I saw a picture of Lucky the Dinosaur, who I miss very much.  And for a second I thought it might mean he was returning to Dinoland USA.  But no, this amazing creation will apparently remain sheltered in Disney obscurity.

Lucky is an animatronic Segnosaurus, and the first of the “Living Character Initiative” of remote-controlled free-moving animatronics.  Lucky pulled a cart and walked with his handler to the awe of guests.  He smiled, blinked and acknowledged guests with a bow of the head or wink of an eye.  He appeared at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, as well as Disney’s California Adventure, Hong Kong Disneyland and even some guest appearances at non-Disney locations.

image copyright Disney
Although he only briefly strolled the streets of the Animal Kingdom, he created a huge buzz at the park and I for one have been waiting patiently for his return.  And let’s face it, Dinoland USA is exactly where he belongs.  Is there any place else in all of Disney’s parks where Lucky would feel more at home?

The article commemorated 10 years since Lucky made his first appearance at The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles.  Since then this most impressive of Imagineering achievements has been something of an enigma.  Perhaps it is time for Disney to rethink Lucky’s role and bring him back to where he belongs, back among the land of the dinosaurs.  Next year Pixar will bring dinosaurs front and center to the Disney fan community.  That might be just the right time to have a certain walking dino back in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

by Dave McBride (twitter: @RadioHarambe)

Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund Reaches Milestone!

There many reasons why we love Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and one of the biggest reasons is the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF).  It is the organization Disney founded in 1995, prior to the opening of DAK but certainly connected to the park since its inception, to further the ideas of conservation offered in the park.  Today in the Disney Parks Blog it was announced that the DWCF has reached a milestone of 1,000 grants awarded to conservation projects around the world.

Basically what the DWCF does is send money to projects and organizations who are on the front lines of the battle to conserve wildlife.  The money is raised mostly by guests to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  Have you ever seen those buttons on sale around the park?  Well the money you pay for those goes entirely toward to DWCF.  There are also some other items, such as merchandise and tours, from which proceeds are sent to the fund.  Disney than matches those funds and covers all of the operating costs for the DWCF.  Each year they grant portions of these funds to conservation organizations, including our conservations partners.

And this gets to why the DWCF is something that makes DAK so great.  Many feel this organization came about as a result of criticism Disney was facing ,and felt they would continue to face, from animal rights groups for opening up an animal park.  Was DAK only about making loads more money for shareholders?  Perhaps, but in the meantime Disney also created the DWCF as a consequence which can only be considered a huge positive for the conservation world.  Many of the organizations they have helped operate on tiny budgets, and these funds keep them going.

So the next time you are walking around the park looking for a souvenir, remember the DWCF.  How about collecting all the different buttons?  Now that’s something you can be happy about and proud of.

by Dave McBride (twitter: @RadioHarambe)

Disney's Animal Kingdom News Round-Up for August 28, 2013; Buoys and Buildings

Buoys in the Water: We have been talking for weeks about the rumor first brought to us by the Disney Hipsters about a “World of Color” style nighttime water parade, called Rivers of Light, coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  Besides rumors, we haven’t seen much to back it up yet, however may just have the first piece of evidence for us in a photo of buoys in the water around the area we think this parade might be staged.  Click here to take a look.

The World of Color at Disney's California Adventure
image copyright Disney
I have heard conflicting reports on the purpose behind these buoys, but their very existence is certainly interesting.  Buoys like this mark hazards under the waterline, and the need for these can indicate that Disney expects people unfamiliar with these rivers to be navigating them soon.  Make of that what you will.

Festival of the Lion King Construction Moves On:  So why exactly did Disney choose to make the announcement about a new theater for Festival of the Lion King a couple of weeks back after delaying it for so long?  Well, thanks to the Disney Blog we now know why they absolutely needed to let the cat out of the back.  The answer is, construction was about to get to the point where everyone in the park could see exactly what was happening.  Click here to see the photos

Park Hours for this week are...

Wednesday: August 28 9am - 7pm (Extra Magic Hour 8-9am)
Thursday: August 29  9am -5pm
Friday: August 30  9am - 5pm
Saturday: August 31  9am - 7pm
Sunday: September 1  9am - 7pm
Monday: September 2  9am - 6pm (Extra Magic Hour 8-9am)
Tuesday: September 3  9am - 5pm

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

Attraction Closures:
Bradley Fall snack cart is closed - no reopening date announced

Have A Wild Time this week!!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Chester and Hester's Dino-Rama: The Backstory

A few weeks ago I told you the story behind my favorite couple's gift shop, Chester and Hester's Dinosaur Treasures. Now, I am finishing this tale with the back story of the neighboring Dino-Rama. Yes, this is an area of the park that just gets lambasted by the Disney fans. The complaints? It looks cheap. Carnival games? Not in my Disney park. And plain old concrete, what the hell. All are true and that's the point. Chester and Hester wouldn't have it any other way. The one complaint I vehemently disagree with is there is a lack of theming here. Hey, you might not like the theming but it sure is heck is there.

Chester and Hester's grew from a gas station to a gift shop to take advantage of tourists who wanted to check out the dino bones. Then something incredible happened. The nearby Dino Institute discovered time traveling and started sending people back in time to check out dinosaurs in the flesh. The old holdouts Chet and Het were cashing in. And with more and more tourists flooding the area, they decided to expand out. Hence, Chester and Hester's Dino-Rama.

So, do you think an old couple with a kitschy gift shop would have the hard cash to build a state-of-the-art theme park? Of course not. Instead, you have some carnival games and two off the shelf rides. That is exactly what you would expect of a roadside attraction.

But, even the attractions are themed and many don't even know it. First of all, there is triceratops spin, the spinner ride wherein you ride flying triceratops. Now many people wonder why on God's green earth did Disney pick triceratops. I mean, after all, why not pterodactyls. They fly. Well, that's cause Joe Rohde is a genius. Triceratops are iconic and that's what Chester and Hester would pick logic bedamned. Kids know triceratops they would rather ride in a triceratops. And look at Primeval Whirl. Not the ride, but the signs. You will see that you are on a much cheesier version of the Dinosaur attraction. The scientists in the queue are sending you back in time (check out the spinning clock as you ascend) to see dinosaurs. And just like the Dinosaur ride, a meteor comes at you right before you are sent back.

There are also carnival games that seem more at home on the Boardwalk then here in this theme park. But again, that's the point. These would be sure fire ways for Chester and Hester do increase profits and that is why they are there. Cash cows, if you will. There is the Dino Whamma, Fossil Fueler, Mammoth Marathon, Comet Crashers, Bronto-Score, and my favorite, the whack a mole inspired, Whack-a-Packycephalosaur. Yes, these are dumb side show games. And yes, they actually cost money to play which is why almost no one ever does them. But they fit in perfectly. And there are other silly carnival things like a mirror that changes your shape, a photo booth and a cardboard stick your head in it and take a silly picture thingie- I have no idea what those are called but you know what I mean.

Maybe the most thematic part of this area is the concrete. Yes, the concrete. This is a roadside attraction so of course, there should be a highway. Look at the signs leading up and into Dino-Rama. They are typical of roadway signs you would see out west trying to get your attention to stop in and have a look, i.e. spend money. My favorite is the "Dusty old bones getting you down? Try Chester and Hester's Dino-Rama for fossil free fun." So, Disney fans take solace in the fact that is area IS well themed and have fun.

by Safari Mike (twitter: @JamboEveryone)

Friday, August 23, 2013

Episode 6 of Radio Harambe: The Hiddens Gems of Disney's Animal Kingdom

Episode 6 of Radio Harambe is now available.  On this episode your hosts take a look at the news from DAK and the rest of Walt Disney World, including some talk about Joe Rohde, Bamboo, and refillable mugs.  In our feature segment, we name our top 5 Hidden Gems of the Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Please subscribe to us on iTunes, and even leave us a review there.  We are also available on Stitcher.  Thank you again and enjoy the show!

The Battle to Save the Snow Leopard

I spent many years as a docent at the Bronx zoo. 18 of them, in fact. In that capacity, I would spend time at exhibits and engage guests in discussions about animals and conservation. One of my favorite places to hang out was the Himalayan Highlands, an exhibit for the zoo's population of snow leopards and red pandas. It is a great exhibit and has withstood the test of time, being well over twenty years old. It incorporates local culture, including prayer flags, prayer stones and designs from Nepalese artist, an idea fully realized by the Animal Kingdom.

And there has been much success. Over 80 snow leopard cubs have been born at the zoo, more than any other institution in the world. And every cub counts. Snow Leopards are highly endangered as they have paid the price for their beautiful coats. Those same grey-white coats are perfect camouflage for their habitat which is the mountainous regions of Central Asia from the Himalayan mountains to the Mongolian steppes. It is estimated that less than 5,000 exist in the wild. It is extremely rare to see these cats. But to see it hunt a wild goat leaping from ledge to ledge, teetering so close to plummeting to its death, is a sight to behold.

One of the first things people notice is the tails. They are huge, essentially equal in the length to the rest of the cat. It helps them balance on crags and rocks that are its home which is also why the animal has such large paws. In fact, a better name for the animal would be Crag Leopard. That tail can also wrap around the cat for warmth. It has large lungs to help it breath in the thin oxygen at high altitudes. And, of course, there is that thick coat that allows it to survive in a such a tough environment where winter temperatures can get below 40 degrees Celsius.

Unfortunately, these graceful cats have been hunted to near extinction. As I said, their coats have long been treasured by the fashion industry. And while that issue has lowered in recent years, pelts, teeth and other parts are still in demand locally for tribal costumes and the Asian medicine markets. In some areas, local prey like wild sheep have been hunted and snow leopards have turned their attention to domestic animals, which, of course, in turn has led to their removal as "pests."

There are things that we can do, however. I very much recommend the Snow Leopard Conservancy (link This group is led by Dr. Rodney Jackson, a leader in snow leopard biology. His and Darla Hibbard's Vanishing Tracks is an incredible book about life in Northwestern Nepal, groundbreaking work on radio-tracking the snow leopards, and the habitat itself. Also, be sure to look at the Snow Leopard Conservancy website. There is incredible photographs of both the snow leopard and its environment, as well as anything you need to know about the cat including its role in local myth, something I enjoy. And also check out Joe Rohde's new website, where he has taken up the cause of the snow leopards.

We here at Jambo Everyone applaud these types of efforts. We tend to focus on the animals displayed at the Animal Kingdom, but there are many that need our support, like the snow leopard. Its part of what makes the Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund an important piece of the Animal Kingdom experience. Getting help to species in crisis. And these amazing cats are one such animals.

by Safari Mike (@JamboEveryone)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Disney's Animal Kingdom News Round-Up for August 21, 2013: Tarzan, Jane and Hipsters

Tarzan and Jane at DAK for the Week: Tarzan and Jane are coming back for Meet and Greets, this time at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  If you are in the parks this week, take a look for them at the Oasis, right inside the park entrance.  These appearances are scheduled to end on August 24th, so you need to act fast.  It’s rare to see Tarzan and Jane in the parks, and even a bit strange when considering this has not been announced at part of the Limited Time Magic promo.

Jambo Everyone and Radio Harambe Invades the Disney Hipsters:  Attention Disney podcast fans!  Yours truly and Safari Mike had the honor of guest appearances on both of the fantastic podcasts offered by the Disney Hipsters.  They are perhaps the podcast world’s biggest lovers of DAK, and we love them for it!  Check out their blog for all the info.

On the Disney Hipsters show, the four of us discuss all of the news items from a busy week at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  On the new Disney Hipsters Too show, part of the Touring Plans Podcast network found on iTunes, we reviewed Dinosaur.  Click the link above and enjoy the shows.  (Oh yea, and let me just offer something of a parental warning for the first one!)

Park Hours for this week are...

Wednesday: August 21 9am - 8pm (Extra Magic Hour 8-9am)
Thursday: August 22  9am -6pm
Friday: August 23  9am - 5pm
Saturday: August 24  9am - 6pm
Sunday: August 25  9am - 6pm
Monday: August 26  9am - 7pm (Extra Magic Hour 8-9am)
Tuesday: August 27  9am - 5pm

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

Attraction Closures:
Bradley Fall snack cart is closed - no reopening date announced

Have A Wild Time this week!!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Pleasures of Touring Disney's Animal Kingdom in the Rain

The antagonist of this story is a cast member we call "Buzzkill Bob." Who is he? Well, we were staying at the Boardwalk the day the torrential downpours from the outskirts of Hurricane Isaac hit. That day we had ADRs for Yak & Yeti. So we were waiting for our bus in rain when good ol' Buzzkill came down clipboard in hand. He proceeded to tell us that the Animal Kingdom was a bad idea in that weather. Go to Epcot or Magic Kingdom, he said, everything was inside and would be open, no problems. The Animal Kingdom is all outside. Well, we really wanted to go to the Yak & Yeti. So we decided to head to Animal Kingdom anyway. Even if Everest and the safari were closed, we could still hit Dinoland and the animals trails and then enjoy an early lunch.

Buzzkill was right about one thing: most of the Animal Kingdom is outdoors and that does effect how you should handle the rains. But after that, he had it all wrong. I am here to help you truly enjoy a day in the rain. Because, as long as you don't mind getting wet, you will be alone (Buzzkill and his brethren must have persuaded quite a few patrons). That means you can do what you want, when you want. I am also here to tell you everything stays open. Unless there is bad lightning, Everest, Kali and Kilimanjaro Safari will be open.

I have said this on the podcast: Kilimanjaro Safari is great in the rain. The animals are almost certainly going to be more active. This is especially true of the usually sleepy lions and cheetah. Remember, you are generally covered but in the heavy rain, you will get wet, but by this point I am sure you already are anyway. This same thing holds true for the walking paths. In the rain, animals like the tigers will likely be out and about. Another great thing about these walking trails are the cast members that man the paths to engage guests about the animals in front of them. You will be the only ones they have to talk to so use that to your advantage and talk to them. You will learn things not only about the animals themselves but the exhibits too.

But what about thrill rides? Kali is great in the rain. I mean you are already wet, so what's a little, or a lot, more water. Expedition Everest and to a lesser extent Primeval Whirl do offer a different problem though. Your face going at high speeds and hitting rain drops can sting. It may be hard to time your coaster ride to a lull in the rain, but if you can ride it then do it.

Dining presents a different problem. If you are wet, the restaurants can be downright cold. The worst is the Rainforest Cafe. The best for this is the Tusker House. So if you want to sit down for a spell, I recommend getting in there. For counter service places, a few are mostly outdoors. Flame Tree BBQ, the Yak & Yeti CS and Tamu Tamu have no indoor seating. Although the seating areas are covered, you will need to walk through uncovered areas to get to it. Pizzafari and Restaurantosaurus are all indoors plus they are fun places to sit for awhile and enjoy. And Restaurantosaurus has free refills. For kiosks, it might be hard to find a dry covered area to sit and eat.

There are other good places to get out of the rain for awhile. Of course, there are the two big shows Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo the Musical are indoors, and the movie It's Tough to be a Bug. But there are also the shops. For good, time consuming browsing, I like Chester and Hester's Dinosaur Treasures and Island Mercantile. Another good place to hang out is Rafiki's Planet Watch but unfortunately its not that easy to get to. The train ride is followed by a long walk outdoors. And well, unless you want to smell like wet goat, you might want to skip the Affection Section.

Character meet and greets can present its own unique challenges, as well. The gazebos that have Baloo, Louie, Pocohontas and others at the soon-to-extinct Camp Minnie Mickey are covered, but the queues are not. You can meet Rafiki at the Conservation Station and now Mickey and Minnie are at the Adventurers' Outpost, all indoors. Another good one is meeting Dug & Russell from Up near the entrance to It's Tough to be a Bug. Its covered and, well, I love those characters.

by Brooke (twitter: @Brookie1248) and Safari Mike (twitter: @JamboEveryone)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Animal Kingdom Merchandise GIVEAWAY!! Enter to win.

Okay my fellow fanatics of Disney's Animal Kingdom, are you ready to win an incredible DAK prize package?  Jennifer Greene of Destinations in Florida is offering up everything in the photograph below to listeners of Radio Harambe!  The package includes a DAK coffee mug, with the special 15th Anniversary Guide Map inside, a Lion King mini-tote bag and a new DAK Mystery Pin set!

So how do you win this collection of Animal Kingdom goodness?  You have to listen to Episode 5 of Radio Harambe and answer the following question: 

While describing the Animal Kingdom Lodge, your host Dave compared AKL to two East African national park lodges in what two countries?

Send your answers to and the winner will be chosen at random from the correct answers.  Good luck!

You can subscribe to Radio Harambe on iTunes and Stitcher as well.  You can also follow the show on twitter @RadioHarambe.

New Video on the Jambo Everyone YouTube Channel; The Sentinel

Meerkats are fun to watch in zoos. And one thing everyone almost immediately notices is there one of the group sitting on top of a mound looking out for potential danger. The biggest threat to these guys are raptors. The hawks and eagles that live on the African plains are a constant threat. So, the look out sits high to keep an eye out for the flying predators.

Even here in the Pangani Forest, the meerkat keeps its natural instinct alive and well, on top of its game, so to speak for danger. So while others are enjoying the day, one keeps a weary eye to the sky.

by Safari Mike (twitter; @JamboEveryone)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Episode 5 of Radio Harambe is Now Available!

The feature section of the show takes a close look at the accommodations and recreation options on offer at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge. Your hosts are joined by Jennifer Greene of Destination In Florida as they explore this amazing resort. They also discuss the latest news, including D23, Avatar, and even a little Star Wars.

For those who don't know, Jennifer Greene is the official travel partner of Radio Harambe and Jambo You can contact Jen directly by emailing her at, or by calling her at 443-424-0181. You can also head over to and click the Destinations in Florida icon to get your vacation started. Every vacation you book while mentioning Radio Harambe, or even every quote you request, means Jen and Destinations in Florida will make a donation to the Jambo Everyone Conservation Effort.

The show is also available on Stitcher and iTunes.  Thanks for listening!

by Dave McBride (twitter: @RadioHarambe)

Disney's Animal Kingdom News Round-Up for August 14, 2013; Bamboo and Required Reading

Bamboo Makes A Debut:  A new living statue character debuted today at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  It’s called Bamboo and it is very similar to the infamous DeVine character who has been in the park for years.  DeVine will move to the Oasis and Bamboo will now appear in Africa.  You can see Bamboo Wednesday through Saturday at 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m.

I understand DeVine, and even this new living statue, get a lot of criticism and general snarkyness from lots of folks.  But I like this kind of thing.  Disney's Animal Kingdom is an eclectic place and I like when imagineers make it even more so.  Check out for a video and photos

New Acrobatic Dancers Debut in Asia: We have even more new entertainment to tell you about.  Disney's Animal Kingdom also welcomes a new team of acrobatic dancers over in Asia, just outside the Yak and Yeti counter service.  Again, WDWMagic has a great video

Have You Seen Joe Rohde’s “Personal” Website?:  That’s correct my fellow Animal Kingdom fanatics, the creative leader of our beloved park has his own personal website, one you may not have known about.  Rohde describes it as “my personal space, in which I hope to explore aspects of my life which lie apart from my position as a design leader in a major entertainment company.”

Now that’s not news, because this site has existed for some time.  The news is that after only adding one or two posts over the first couple of years it seems Mr. Rohde has rediscovered the site, with a few postings in the last week or so.  He talks about his travels and even posted some terrific artwork.  Check it out at

Park Hours for this week are...

Wednesday: August 14 9am - 8pm (Extra Magic Hour 8-9am)
Thursday: August 15  9am -7pm
Friday: August 16  9am - 7pm
Saturday: August 17  9am - 7pm
Sunday: August 18  9am - 7pm
Monday: August 19  9am - 7pm (Extra Magic Hour 8-9am)
Tuesday: August 20  9am - 6pm

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

Attraction Closures:
Bradley Fall snack cart is closed - no reopening date announced

Have A Wild Time this week!!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Rohde Vows to Fix the Yeti "Someday"

For us fans of Disney’s Animal Kingdom there was a little piece of news from this past weekend’s D23 Expo that warmed the heart a bit.  We can all at least take comfort in the fact that Joe Rohde is as disappointed with the “Disco Yeti” as we are.

For those who don’t know, the giant yeti who appears at the end of Expedition Everest is, in fact, a broken audio-animatronic.  When working, the yeti was the largest and most powerful audio-animatronic in Disney history, and a breathtaking character to say the least.  But it appears structural issues within the attraction has rendered the yeti too dangerous to operate, which is why we now have a frozen statue replete with silly strobe-lights.  It will take a painfully long time to fix, and Disney just simply can’t afford to keep an e-ticket offline for that long regardless of how much Disco Yeti takes away from the intended effect.

But according to, this weekend at D23 Joe Rohde was asked about the frozen yeti in a panel discussion.  His response was, “It’s very complicated to work on, we are working on it… I will fix the Yeti someday, I swear.”  The rest of the article goes on to say Mr. Rohde than backpedalled on this claim a bit, though no details are offered as to exactly how he did this.  But the point was made, Rohde wants his master creation to come back to life as much as we do.

This type of comment from him would usually launch me into a diatribe on how Rohde is the only truly great Imagineer left at Disney, the only one working in the spirit of WED Enterprises, and how the company suits don’t support this creative genius the way they should, the way Roy Disney did all of those years ago.  But let’s save that for another day...

by Dave McBride (twitter: @RadioHarambe)

Imagineering Offer Little on Avatar at D23

The just ended D23 Expo in Anaheim was something of a dud in terms of theme park announcements.  Disney announced before the show the Imagineering’s exhibit would be offering a “teaser” into the upcoming Avatar project.  And that’s pretty much what we got, a teaser in the weakest sense of the word.

I would like to point you to the website where they have a video interview with Imagineer Brandon Kleyla, who obviously pulled the short straw and was asked to man the Avatar booth.  (Can you imagine how many snarky and negative comments this poor fellow had to deal with all weekend??)

The long and short is we have no further evidence of what these attractions will be and what this new area may look like.  I am encouraged by the glowing things on display, because I am hoping that means they are looking to feature the area with more of a nighttime theme.  Pandora at night is the film’s strong-suit, so hopefully that is the direction they are going in.

Perhaps I am becoming the internet’s only Disney/Avatar apologist. (A man needs a goal in life, I suppose.)   But for some reason I am encouraged by this if not overwhelmed.  What Mr. Kleyla is describing, in an awkwardly fictitious manner, feels like the kind of research Joe Rohde demanded on Expedition Everest and the other e-tickets and lands at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  As I have said many, many, many, many time before, In Joe Rohde We Trust!

by Dave McBride (twitter: @RadioHarambe)

Friday, August 9, 2013

Rope-Drop Dropped in Favor Early Access to Disney's Animal Kingdom

As of yesterday, Disney’s Animal Kingdom will no longer have any rope-drop ceremony inside the park, instead allowing guests into the park 15 minutes early.  According to, guests will be allowed early access to Kilimanjaro Safaris, Expedition Everest, and TriceraTop Spin as well as some snack carts.

I received a heads-up on this a couple of days ago, but I was not certain about what if anything would change with regards to the actual opening operations.  Was this just a cost cutting measure to remove the rope-drop stuff?  Maybe, but I am not at all disappointed with this move.  In fact, I like it a lot.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is supposed to be different from the rest of the Disney theme parks, and here is yet another way it is.  What I truly dislike about the rope-drop stuff is how it encourages folks to push, shove and run their way to an attraction.  DAK is NOT a commando-style park.  Slow down, relax, and use FastPasses to your advantage if it’s crowded.  Put away your battle-plan mindset and save it for the other parks.  There is always plenty to see and enjoy at the Animal Kingdom.

On top of that, this adds to the overall park hours and it increases the number of available morning Safari rides, the most impressive and coveted of safaris.  Any increase in that availability is a big positive for DAK fans.

by Dave McBride (twitter: @RadioHarambe)

A Little Food Shake-Up at Disney's Animal Kingdom

I love food and I love the food at the Animal Kingdom. Granted, it does need a little more variety in its sit down options. But what it lacks in options there it makes up for it with quality in both its counter service places and the fun little kiosks that dot the park. I view the food at the Animal Kingdom to be just below Epcot in quality and variety.

Every once in awhile Disney shakes up its menus around the parks and Animal Kingdom is no exception. This past week we got one of those shake ups. Basically, every land got a bit of a change in menus at either a kiosk or a counter service. Some seem interesting, some disappointing.

Lets start in Harambe where there was some big changes to the Kusafiri bakery, an under appreciated little spot. It still has the cupcakes but it added some new items. Perhaps most notably, there is a colossal cinnamon bun that can, from the pictures I have seen, feed an army. It is designed for sharing. There are some other new items, as well. An elephant ear pastry with chocolate dipping sauce, something called African spice cake (I want to try that) and a chocolate danish twist. And over at the nearby Harambe popcorn stand, you can get a jungle juice slushie. Tamu Tamu once served breakfast but that has been switched to the bakery. The breakfast flatbread sandwich has been moved over to Kusafiri and the french toast sticks are now at Pizzafari for breakfast. Tamu is opening at 10:30 with the same awesome lunch menu it had before (with a new snack pack for kids).

Along the path from Harambe to Anandapur were two of my favorite kiosks. Mr.Kamal's and Bradley Falls. Kamal's featured awesome boneless chicken wings and Bradley Falls had several vegetarian choices. Well, Bradley Falls is temporarily closed. Now, Mr. Kamal's sells vegetarian options. The asian noodle salad and edamame have remained, but gone are the fruit salad and spring rolls. Instead, the new items here include vegetarian samosas that come with raisin/carrot slaw and a mango chutney, as well as a falafel sandwich in pita. There is also a hummus with fresh veggies and pita. Sadly, the chicken wings are no more, at least for now.

But the changes don't stop there. Dinoland USA has a kiosk called Trilo-Bites. Until this week, it was the home of the jumbo turkey legs. Frankly, you couldn't pay me to eat one of them, but they are popular and are now served at the Flame Tree BBQ. Trilo-Bites now serves two unique (which i applaud) dessert items. There is a warm waffle with strawberries and cream, and an apple blossom baked and served with ice cream. Also here, is a frozen blueberry mango rum lemonade. While over at Restaurantosaurus, the veggie subosaurus has been replaced with a black bean burger. Why there can't be two vegetarian options is beyond me, but there you have it.

by Safari Mike (twitter: @JamboEveryone)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Disney's Animal Kingdom News Round-Up for August 7, 2013: Tamarins and Turkey Legs

Disney's Animal Kingdom Celebrates Cotton-Top Tamarins:  August 15 is a national holiday in Colombia, the day they celebrate their wonderful native Cotton-Top Tamarins.  And during the month Disney's Animal Kingdom is joining in on the celebration.  Here is what they have in store...

"If you visit Rafiki’s Planet Watch, you can find out about cotton-top tamarins’ favorite foods, how scientists locate them in the forest, and even how to do the cotton-top tamarin dance. Other highlights include face painters and caricature artists with designs featuring cotton-top tamarins created just for the celebration. And, take my word for it, the cotton-top tamarin cupcakes are too delicious to pass up."

Today's Wildlife Wednesdays post on the Disney Parks Blog is an exceptional one, offering some really nice info on these little guys.  But if you really want to learn about them, watch for a new Safari Mike article tomorrow.

Don’t Panic Disney Fans, the Turkey Legs Haven’t Disappeared:  This week we are seeing some changes to the snack cart and counter service options at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  Included in those changes is the movement of the famed Turkey Legs from the Trilo-Bites cart in Dinoland to the Flame Tree Barbecue.  (I won’t bother pointing out that the Legs are, in fact, not barbecued.)  Trilo-Bites now offers some insanely good looking desserts, including a Baked Apple Blossom with Ice Cream...YES PLEASE!

Garden Kiosk Debuts:  As we reported earlier in the week, the new food allergy information and healthy snack kiosk, called the Garden Kiosk, opened at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  It may be a only a snack cart, but it’s been a long time since I have seen such small addition to a theme park receive such universal praise.  Let’s hope the execution is as good as the concept.

Park Hours for this week are...

Wednesday: August 7 8am - 8pm (Extra Magic Hour 7-8am)
Thursday: August 8  9am -7pm
Friday: August 9  9am - 7pm
Saturday: August 10  9am - 7pm
Sunday: August 11  9am - 6pm
Monday: August 12  9am - 7pm (Extra Magic Hour 8-9am)
Tuesday: August 13  9am - 7pm

Attraction Closures:
No closures at this time

Have A Wild Time this week!!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

What Keeps Me Up at Nights These Days

On the last episode of Radio Harambe, we discussed the new Festival of the Lion King theater announced last week.  The new theater is being built in Harambe, specifically in the currently unused area behind the Tusker House.  From what we can gather, guests will cross the bridge into Harambe and make an immediate left going behind the Dawa Bar.  And since that conversation, I have been experiencing sleepless nights as I am now full of dread that my beloved Dawa Bar will be axed to make room for the herding hordes of theater-goers.

Now let me start by saying that I have no reason to believe this horrible idea might come to pass.  No reason, except for the fact that it makes some reasonable sense.  If the idea is for people to walk behind the Tusker House, the walkway recently used for those attending the Wild Africa Trek, then it stands to reason that the folks in operations will question whether the current walkway is wide enough.  Because truth be told, the current path is not very wide at all.  And then there is that annoyingly vague announcement from Disney which refuses to offer anything but the obvious, leaving us wondering if these plans have actually been fully finalized.

But don’t let me put you in a panic.  This could just be a touch of paranoia on my part.  While the Dawa Bar is probably considered expendable by the bean-counters, I doubt Imagineering shares that same interpretation.  The Dawa Bar sports an amazingly beautiful thatched roof and lends itself perfectly to the idea of taking your time and relaxing a bit a DAK.  The African beer, wine and cocktail options on offer add to the cultural representation of Harambe.  Also, from the look of the current construction walls, it appears as though the Dawa Bar will remain untouched.  But it’s such a wonderful place, I’m sure you can understand why my palms sweat every time I think about it.

On the whole, Imagineering doesn’t exactly have a great record in the “plussing” department at Walt Disney World.  But I just keep managing to fall asleep by reciting to myself “Joe Rohde is in charge, Joe Rohde is in charge, Joe Rohde is in charge...”

by Dave McBride  (twitter: @RadioHarambe)

Garden Kiosk Opens at Disney's Animal Kingdom

The new Garden Kiosk opened this week at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, located near the new Adventurer’s Outpost in Discovery Island.  Here is the official Disney description of what this new location will offer...

Here guests can stop and chat about food allergies or intolerances such as gluten or wheat, lactose or dairy, peanuts and tree nuts, shellfish, soy, fish, eggs and corn. And while you’ll be directed to the best restaurants to accommodate your needs, it’s important to still speak with a manager or chef at the restaurant – but you’ll already know exactly what the restaurant can accommodate before you begin your meal.

There is also a menu of healthy snacks available at the Kiosk, including hummus, rice chips and a variety of gluten-free options such as cookies, cupcakes, granola bars and even beer!  The only semi-bad news is Disney says the kiosk will be open from 9am-3pm, which seems the be a bit early for those looking for dinner.

With the opening of the Garden Kiosk, Disney’s Animal Kingdom becomes the most friendly Disney Park for those with food allergies and dietary needs.  While they still suggest you speak with a chef or manager, the info offered here limit that often uncomfortable conversation.  With any luck, this will be considered a success and other suck kiosks will be installed within the other three parks.

by Dave McBride (twitter: @RadioHarambe)

Monday, August 5, 2013

Lost DAK files: Dino Entrance

Previously, we had discussed some ideas for the entrance to the Animal Kingdom. One of the most interesting was a take on the age of dinosaurs. There was no question when this park was in its early concept stages, Dinos were big. Jurassic Park (released in 1993) was all kinds of huge. And Disney was working on its own dino-project, the relatively poorly received Dinosaur animated feature. But in the mid 1990s, Disney wanted to capitalize on the Dinosaur mania.

So its no wonder that a dinosaur themed entrance would be among the ideas in the running as the park was being put together. There is only one piece of concept art floating around out there. But what it depicts is certainly interesting. Essentially, it looks like the desert. But instead of being a roadside attraction like Chester and Hester's Dino-Rama, this appears more to take place in the ancient past. A pterosaur sits up high looking down on guests as they pass by. It wouldn't surprise me if that beast would have been an audio-animatronic (by the way, pterosaurs were not dinosaurs). He sits on top of a rock that overlooks some sort of colorful water. The gates themselves look like rock work.

Its not hard to imagine why they chose not to focus on dinosaurs at the entrance. Dinoland USA is not, as I said, set in the Triassic period or some other long ago time so why have the entrance set there. But perhaps more importantly, it is likely imagineers would not want extinct critters as they first thing seen by the guest. Disney was building a park about man and nature. A theme from 60 million years ago does not really establish that. So, imagineers moved away from this concept. But its fun to look at.

by Safari Mike (twitter: @JamboEveryone)

Friday, August 2, 2013

Radio Harambe Episode 4 is Now Available!

For this episode of Radio Harambe, we wanted to hand it over to our listeners, and you guys responded with great questions and comments.  We also talk, in the news segments, about the Festival of the Lion King theater, D23, Magical Express and more.

Thank you again to everyone who sent in there questions and comments.  It was great to hear what you guys think.  We hope to make this a regular feature segment in the future.  Enjoy!

by Dave McBride (twitter: @RadioHarambe