Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Joe Rohde Offers His Most Impassioned Endorsement of Avatar

This video just came across my Twitter feed via Joe Rohde.  It is only a couple of days old, and is obviously from a recent event where cast members of Disney's Animal Kingdom were shown a screening of Avatar.  Before the film, Josh D'Amaro, Joe Rohde and Avatar producer John Landau discuss the new expansion coming to Disney's Animal Kingdom.

We will comment a bit more on this in the coming days, but I wanted to make sure all of our readers had a chance to see it as soon as possible.  But I will say this, Joe Rohde in this video offers us the most impassioned and excited endorsement of the World of Pandora project we have yet heard from anyone at Disney. And I believe him when he says he feels the park and the film will fit seamlessly.  But like I said, more to come...

by Dave McBride

A Big Year Coming for Jambo Everyone

We have lots and lots of plans for Jambo Everyone during 2014.  Some of them may be pie-in-the-sky but today we have a few things we can reveal.

We are beginning to migrate all of our content into blog formats.  As you can see here on this page, we now have tabs above to take you to all of our web-guides, including dining, attractions, tours, entertainment and shops.  The “legacy” is still available (I couldn’t help myself) and will be for the time being.  But soon, all of that content will be coming here.  Well, not all...but that’s another announcement for another day.

Also, we have decided that Safari Mike and our animal photographs deserve their very own blogs.  For the next few weeks, this will mean simply migrating the “legacy” stuff (Okay, that was just me being ridiculous) over from their current locations to these new blogs.  This will give our readers who have maybe recently discovered us to be able to see some of these great images and read some of Mike’s dispatches for the first time.

Like I said, this is only step one for us.  To be totally honest, it’s just plain cheaper to do it this way.  And my goal is to cut our costs down as far as absolutely possible so we can dedicate any of the funds we raise strictly to conservation.

by Dave McBride

Disney's Animal Kingdom News Round-Up for January 29, 2014: Summer Rumors and Animal Days

Animal Kingdom Nighttime Additions to Open This Summer?: This past weekend, our friends over at the It’s A Disney World After All blog had this little quote in their latest rumor report...
“Some of the nighttime events for Disney's Animal Kingdom could be starting as early as this summer...including, perhaps the new nighttime spectacular.”

This is the first we are hearing of this, but it makes plenty of sense.  We know the new Festival of the Lion King Theater will be open this summer, and with it a vastly expanded Harambe.  Also, we have been hearing for months how the “Rivers of Light” nighttime water parade has already begun testing.  So it certainly stands to reason that some new night events would accompany the new theater for a summer opening.

Special Animal Days Announced for 2014: Here is something, I will admit, I completely forgot to mention in the last News Round-Up.  Disney announced this year’s special animal events a couple of weeks ago on their Park Blog.  Here is the list...

  • March 4: Amphibians Day
  • April 22: Party for the Planet in celebration of Earth Day 
  • May 6: International Migratory Bird Day 
  • May 20: World Turtle Day
  • June 10: Pollinator Day
  • July 29: Big Cat Day 
  • August 5: Primate Day
  • September 23: Elephant and Rhino Day
Oddly enough, there is nothing scheduled for the fall or winter, which leads me to believe this list may be incomplete.  For one, DAK usually celebrates Bat Day on Halloween, so we will keep you posted if we hear of any more events added to the schedule.

Park Hours for this week are...

Wednesday: January 29 9am - 5pm (Extra Magic Hour 8-9am)
Thursday: January 30  9am -5pm
Friday: January 31  9am - 5pm
Saturday: February 1  9am - 8pm
Sunday: February 2  9am - 8pm
Monday: February 3  9am - 6pm (Extra Magic Hour 8-9am)
Tuesday: February 4  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
Festival of the Lion King - close until July 2014
Camp Minnie-Mickey - closed permanently

Have A Wild Time this week!!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Animal Kingdom Lodge Artifact Spotlight: Baule Goli Antelope Mask

This is a Baule Goli Antelope mask which is located in Kidani Village. The Baule tribe is a farming based culture from the eastern half of the Ivory Coast. They are part of the Akan culture which is one of the largest ethnic groups in West Africa. The Akans dominate both the Ivory Coast and Ghana.

The Goli is a day long ritual attended by the entire village. It involves dancing and the consumption of lots of palm wine. The goli is used both for celebration, such as with harvest time, impressing visiting dignitaries, or during the funeral of important people. The masks have very round features, symbolizing the power of the sun. They often have the horns of animals such as buffalo or antelope which is symbolic of power. Square mouths are also common in these types of masks. This particular mask was used during harvest rituals to help ensure fertility of the crops.

by Safari Mike (@JamboEveryone)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Episode 21 of Radio Harambe - Backstage Safari

On this episode of Radio Harambe, Dave and Safari Mike bring you a full, and slightly longwinded, review of the Backstage Safari tour.  They also discuss the news from Disney's Animal Kingdom, including new aerial photos of the Festival of the Lion King construction which may offer a little peek behind the walls, so to speak. Then Safari Mike brings us the local news, where the guys talk about a new dining location at Downtown Disney.

Thanks to our listener Coni, who bought a Radio Harambe t-shirt and gave us the idea for the Backstage Safari review.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Lost DAK files: Quest for the Unicorn

Its been awhile since we looked at a lost concept for Disney's Animal Kingdom. And we have never tackled a Beastlie Kingdomme concept so lets fix that by looking at the Quest for the Unicorn. This would have been a very different type of attraction then the typical guest is used to. You see it wasn't a ride or a movie but a walk through, and a huge maze nonetheless. This would have created a problem with guest flow, as people could take as long as they want with the paths of the maze. Of course, that same issue is encountered at places the Jungle Trek or even One Man's Dream, but this was much greater in scope and more of a E-ticket concept.

This hedge maze was to have been built on the "good" side of the Beastlie Kingdomme concept and it would have been huge. The concept was that you were looking for the unicorn, although the name of the attraction probably gave that away. The maze itself was to have many fantastic creatures playing out stories for the guest. Like everything else at the Animal Kingdom, the beauty of the back story was important in the concept itself. These creatures, mostly stone gargoyles, would also give you clues to find your way to the title creature. These gargoyles would also try to trick you with false leads to dead ends, and even occasionally play a prank, like spritz you with water. And they would have different looks, not just the typical gargoyles. Concept art shows some that looked like rhinos, others looked like frogs and another looked like a silly little dragon.

The maze was to be divided into 4 sections, each with a main character. The first was the lair of the sphinx, a half-lion, half-woman which you would encounter before entering the second section. Here the plants and gargoyles would all fit the theme of the sphinx - serious.  When you met the sphinx, you, of course, heard a riddle. The second section would have been filled with orange and yellow colors, the colors of fire for this was the lair of the phoenix. In her clearing, the phoenix would spring to life and help guide you to the unicorn. She ruled from a flowered throne.

The third section belonged to the griffin. Before entering, however, you would have encountered a wall of interactive gargoyles. Different tiles on the ground keyed different gargoyles to do different things like shoot of burst of air or tell a joke. Beyond that, the maze turned white and red. The griffin, much like the sphinx, is serious. It would twitch its nasty looking talon at you and declare that your journey is nearly complete. There is excellent concept art from Maggie Parr, a lead designer on the project, of the griffin. It was a large golden AA on a stone base surrounded by regal colored flowers, purples and blues, the colors of royalty. It certainly would have been an impressive character.

The last section was actually inside a castle. A neat trick here would have been that guests entered through a balcony that overlooked the maze. You could watch others making their way through the attraction. And if you looked closely you would have noticed that a portion of the maze, made completely of flowers, made the shape of a unicorn's head. This leads us to another issue with this attraction. It was for the most part alive. The walls themselves were made of living plants that grow. In fact, imagineers figured it would take at least several years to permit the attraction to grow to suitable size before guests could even be allowed to see it. And each section was to have different species to fit the theme of that area. To say this was going to be a complicated attraction for maintenance is an understatement.

The lair of the unicorn would be at the bottom of steps in a cave full of stalactites and, of course, flowers. Waterfalls from the walls would fill a green glowing pool, and at the center of that would be the star of the attraction, the fabled unicorn. He would talk to guests "telepathically" about the nature of life. Imagineers didn't want this AA to move its mouth, because, as Joe Rohde said, they didn't want "a talking Mr. Ed with a horn."

Of course, in the end, this attraction got cut just like the rest of the Beastlie Kingdomme. It would be have been a very different kind of attraction for certain, and one that needed a high degree of tender loving care. Its likely I think one that would suffer badly if not cared for and in today's age of tight budgets, that could have presented a problem. Also, as a walk through, I am not sure how the general Disney guest would receive this. But it would have presented some of the more iconic mythological creatures, like the unicorn and the phoenix, in a fun way.

by Safari Mike (@JamboEveryone)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Disney's Animal Kingdom News Round-Up for January 22, 20134; Chilly Kali and Secrets

Cold Weather Closes Kali River Rapids: Contrary to popular belief, it is always sunny and 75 in Orlando, although it certainly is more often then it is here in the frozen tundra of the northeast.  So with temperatures dropping into the 40’s today, Kali River Rapids is closed.  Keep this in mind when visiting Walt Disney World in the winter.  These type of closing of water rides is fairly commonplace.

Come to think of it, I am surprised that a “polar bear” club of sorts comprised of intrepid, and bordering on the crazy, guests who enjoy riding Disney water rides in the cold hasn’t sprung up yet.  Not that this would be something I would do...

Aerial Photos of the New Festival of the Lion King Theater Area:  The always insightful posted a new aerial before-and-after photo of the FotLK theater construction project.  Click here to have a look.

The video really brings home the scope of this project, which will essentially double the area of Africa.  The theater is huge, and so is the backstage area which you can see towards the top left of the photo.  The most intriguing secret remains that building you can see along the banks of the river towards the bottom of the screen, to the right of the theater if you were facing it.  It is difficult to gauge the scope of this building, but when compared to other existing building it is clear this is not something small.  Perhaps a yet-to-be-announced restaurant?

Park Hours for this week are...

Wednesday: January 22 9am - 6pm (Extra Magic Hour 8-9am)
Thursday: January 23  9am -5pm
Friday: January 24  9am - 5pm
Saturday: January 25  9am - 8pm
Sunday: January 26  9am - 7pm
Monday: January 27  9am - 5pm (Extra Magic Hour 8-9am)
Tuesday: January 28  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
Festival of the Lion King - close until July 2014
Camp Minnie-Mickey - closed permanently

Have A Wild Time this week!!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Creature Comforts to Become Starbucks?

This morning, is reporting that cast members working at the Creature Comforts store at Disney's Animal Kingdom have been informed the location will be closing this time next year.  No indication as to what will go in that location has been given.

The posting opines how this may be the future home of the Animal Kingdom's Starbucks store, and considering the location that seems to make some sense.  I suppose I was holding out hope the Starbucks contract would run out before the suits got around to ruining a location at DAK, but that's probably a pipe dream.  We'll keep you posted when we learn more...

by Dave McBride (@RadioHarambe)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

A Ride on Primeval Whirl

This is from last August. A fun trip through a very underrated and unappreciated attraction, Primeval Whirl. You might want to take some motion sickness meds before riding, or even watching this video. But here it is, in all of it's campy glory.

We won't have a bad thing said about Primeval Whirl.  It is a fun and hilariously themed attraction we never pass up!

by Safari Mike (@JamboEveryone)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The New Not-So-Secret Dinoland Dance Party

Did you know there is a new dance party happening in Dinoland USA featuring some rather rare Disney characters?  Well, chances are you don’t because it seems to be something Disney has no intention of promoting right now.  Few if any of the popular Disney news websites have mentioned it, but our friend Kenny the Pirate has!  Click here to read his review of it.  And he posted this video on his YouTube page.

We don’t really know why Disney is not talking about this.  According to Kenny, and others who have been to park over the past week, it isn’t even on the daily entertainment schedule.  So if you are planning on attending the Animal Kingdom this week, it appears the party takes place around noon.  And if you do get a chance to see it let us know what you think.

by Dave McBride (@RadioHarambe)

Blackfish and the Animal Kingdom

Sea World is having a problem, and thy name is Blackfish.  For those that don't know, Blackfish is the documentary about the death of Sea World trainer, Dawn Brancheau by the orca, Tilikum.  It also delves into the related topics of the OSHA investigation thereafter and the corresponding restrictions imposed on the theme park as a result.  But it doesn't stop there.  The documentary shows how Tilikum was captured in the 1980's, and it isn't pretty.  Boats are shown cutting the orca calf off from its pod and mother to capture.  It also discussed possible harassment and terrible living conditions at other sealife parks.

And, of course, the orcas in captivity have flopped over fins, for some unknown reason - proof positive for some that killer whales should not be in captivity and, to be blunt, I agree. They are used to covering large territories of water, not be cooped up in small pool. The movie makes it clear, to me at least, that the animals suffer psychologically from that. Smart land animals, like gorillas for example, do much better in my opinion. A gorilla will stay close to a food source so even if you took down the walls so to speak, it probably wouldn't go far. Plus, they are able to live in social groups much like they would in the wild. Its a close approximation. Not so with the orca who will travel miles in a day in the open ocean. Life in the pool also seems to effect the way they socialize. Its simply not a close approximation.

Blackfish premiered about a year ago at the Sundance film festival.  But it really took off this summer when it was picked up by CNN films in their new programming plan.  Since then the backlash has been bad for the park.  When was the last time a theme park cut its prices?  Several musical acts like the Barenaked Ladies and Willie Nelson have backed out of playing at festivals in the park due to the film.  It has even already affected Disney.  John Lasseter and Andrew Stanton have apparently altered the ending of the upcoming film, Finding Dory, after speaking with the director, Gabriela Cowperthwaite.

Perhaps what's worse is that Sea World is taking a "let's stick our head in the sand and wait for this to blow over approach."  They don't even really comment on the bands pulling out of shows and their attack on the film is basically to say it's not completely true.  To be fair, it's not fair.  Some of the criticisms levied at Sea World are ancient history.  Sure, the way they captured whales in the 70's and 80's was atrocious but they haven't done that in a long time.  And we can't lose sight of what the park does.  The world needs the oceans, for food, for the climate, heck even for oxygen.  And the park is an important aspect of teaching just that.  It does a lot for rehabilitation, too.  Manatees who suffer greatly from injuries with collisions with boats are routinely rescued by Sea World staff.  And that goes for sea turtles, as well.

But what does this mean for Disney and the Animal Kingdom?  Potentially quite a bit.  Animal rights groups like PETA see Disney as an ideal target.  It's huge and it's in the news, so attacks on them will get press, more so then even Sea World.  Disney has gone the extra mile in making sure its facilities for animals are top of the line.  No one, and I mean no one, can compare in that department.  Even world class zoological institutions like the San Diego Zoo and the Bronx Zoo have exhibits and buildings that are a bit outdated and in need of some work.  But those places just don't have the resources of Disney. Disney from the beginning tried to appease animal rights groups. It just didn't want to deal with that if at all possible. They made it well known just how much they cared about the animals well being and how much they were willing to spend to make sure the animals were cared for in the best possible manner. They also gathered a group of zoo experts to help design every aspect of animal care and exhibitry.

Maybe those concerns that were so prevalent in the early days of the park have subsided, but you can bet Disney doesn't want its own Blackfish.  Not that long ago, we discussed on Radio Harambe, the possibility of adding giant pandas to the park, and to be fair this has been rumored for some time.  But my wife, when she listened, said she doesn't think Disney would do it because they don't want their own Blackfish.  And she very well may be right here.  Giant pandas are a big draw for certain.  But they are also big news and a big pain.

Media coverage of pandas at Disney would be significant.  There are no more beloved zoo animals in the world. They are giant fluffy teddy bears that you really can't find except in a few places. But the animals are hard to care for.  The National Zoo has had so much trouble with theirs.  Several cubs were born only to die within a few days. Zoos hate it when animals die. A, its just sucky and b, its bad press. Its why some zoos won't publicly name animals. The public might not notice the giraffe looks a little different than the one that was there before, but if Zippy the Giraffe dies well, that's bad news. There is no way to hide the death of a giant panda.  Could you imagine the problems that would cause for Disney?  Unfortunately, it happens, animals die.  And when it's a super high profile one, that makes the news. And that's news Disney doesn't want anything to do with.

by Safari Mike (@JamboEveryone)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Mouse Breaks Ground on Pandora

FINALLY!  After years, literally years, of waiting for construction to begin on the new Avatar-inspired land at Disney's Animal Kingdom, yesterday they finally had the groundbreaking ceremony.  The attendees of the event included Avatar film producer Jim Landau, Disney Parks chairman Tom Staggs, as well as Joe Rohde and other imagineers.  Here is a short video released by Disney...

While this is certainly big news, there really is not much new to report here.  We all knew this was coming eventually, and ceremonies like this rarely offer anything out of the ordinary.  But that shouldn't stop us from trying to glean a little something to talk about!

Leaving the nearly nauseating giant blue shovels aside, the fact that Tom Staggs decided in the 78 second video to focus more on transforming Disney's Animal Kingdom into a night destination, rather than on Pandora itself, is interesting and should speak volumes as to what Disney's focus really is here.  And, am I the only one who finds it more than a bit strange that such a ceremony would take place with little to no fanfare on a Friday morning during one of the least crowded weeks of the year?

by Dave McBride (@RadioHarambe)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Kill Marry Refurb: Aerial Spinner Style

Once again our friends over at the Happy Place Blog and Mouse on the Mind are doing a Kill/Marry/Refurb game. This time around we are doing aerial spinners. And well, I am loathe to miss a chance to play, so here it goes. As a friendly reminder, the rules are thus: One thing you kill off entirely, one thing you rework a bit and one thing you hold onto til your dying day.

Kill: This one was hard because frankly, I kind of like spinny rides. Yes, I am a child at heart. But if I had to kill off one I suppose it would have to be The Magic Carpets of Alladin. I really don't have much of an issue with it except that it doesn't really fit in. First of all, it clogs up the Adventureland path like no body's business. I mean if this thing was even an inch bigger it wouldn't have fit at all. But more importantly, it really doesn't fit the theme. Adventureland is the land of tikis, jungles and tropical pirates. It's not the desert. So, blow it up. I wants a clear path to citrus swirls.

Marry: Triceratops Spin, of course. Before I get accused of home field advantage here, let me make my case because I know I very well may be the only blogger to put this one in the "Marry" column. First of all, I know many of you have no use for Dino-Rama, but yes I love the entire land. Its kitschy and fun and incredibly well themed. You are supposed to be in a cheap little side of the road attraction. You are riding triceratops. I mean, it would have been easy to use pterodactyls or other flying prehistoric critters. But nope, you are riding the elephants of the cretaceous (homage to Dumbo?). AND its narrated by Chester and Hester, with each of the old business gurus taking a turn. And let me tell you, at night, the whole place is magical. So take that detractors, I am marrying the dinosaurs.

Refurb: I am going to refurb the old Astro Orbiters, because it needs it. The ride is getting a little long in the tooth but its one of the best parts of a pretty sad Tomorrowland. Its perfectly themed, but it desperately needs a paint job and new cars. Those bad boys are hard to get in and out of. Anyone over the age of 12 can testify to that. Throw in some good music and maybe some new effects and we're in business. And maybe while you at it, figure out a better queue.

By Safari Mike (@jamboeveryone)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A Look at the new Dawa Bar

So the Dawa bar has moved. And grown too. As we discussed this on a recent episode of Radio Harambe, We love the new bar. So we wanted to show you why were are excited. It is much bigger and a bit more modern looking. Where once you could fit only a few people at the bar, its now about as big a Disney resort pool bar.

I love the look of it. It really fits into the space nicely. Plus, the African margaritas are still there. The African beers are still there. The sugar cane mojitos are still there.

But that's not the only changes happening in the apparently every evolving Harambe. The old seating area which we told you was going to be closed has been well, closed off.

All those seats are gone for now. In fact, there is no covered area to eat in Africa. So if it's raining and you want some chicken and curry from Tamu Tamu, well, you have yourself a little bit of a problem. This hopefully will change soon. Keep a lookout here for more information.

by Safari Mike (@jamboeveryone)

Animal Kingdom Lodge Art Spotlight: Baule Ancestral Staff

The Baule people are a large tribe located in present day Ivory Coast. Currently, there are approximately a million ethnic Baules in that nation. The tribe name actually means the "child has died" and is a reference to a legendary queen, Abla Poku, who sacrificed her own son in an effort to save her people. The society is admirable for its tolerance and individualism. Each village is run by a counsel of elders but decisions are made after long discussions where every one who lives there can be participate. Even slaves took part in the decision making process.

Like much of the area, ancestors are worshiped. As an agricultural tribe, the yam was a staple crop and was often a thing of sacrifice to the ancestors. The tribe is also well known for its wooden sculptures including masks, figurines and staves, like this one. The wood worker was a profession of choice and one of great esteem. It is believed that the wood itself allowed for a closer connection to the spirit world. This staff was used by a king during rituals dedicated to ancestors. These ancestors were worshiped but never depicted in art.

by Safari Mike

Monday, January 6, 2014

A Quick Look at Anadapur at Night

Here's a quick look at Anandapur after the sun goes down. As you can see, its becomes magical at night, much like Serka Zong or Dino-Rama. 

As we worked our way through the mythical village, I took this video so you can appreciate just how great it is. 

by Safari Mike (@Radio Harambe)

Friday, January 3, 2014

A Ride on TriceraTop Spin!

This video was taken during the first ever Jambo Everyone Meet-Up. A lot of fun for certain, and a good look at what this ride is like, though be careful not to get too dizzy!

This clip offers a nice bird's eye view of the entire Dino-Rama area.  So, enjoy this ride-thru and feel like you too were there for our meet up.

by Safari Mike (@JamboEveryone)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Episode 19 of Radio Harambe - Our 2014 Wish List for Disney's Animal Kingdom

In the final episode of Radio Harambe for 2013, Dave and Safari Mike offer up their wish lists for 2014, the things they would most like to see happen at Disney's Animal Kingdom in the coming year.   Tell us what you think and what you would add to our list!

Thank you to everyone for downloading and, of course, for listening and supporting Radio Harambe throughout 2013!  We have big plans for the show in 2014 so keep tuning in.  Asante Sana!

Participating in the Festival of the Lion King

A look at the kids participation part of the Festival of the Lion king.  Here our very own Explorer Mick and Discoverer Meg enjoy getting the chance to get "on stage" with the performers.

We certainly hope this part of the show survives the move, or at least something like it.  With all the changes coming, moments like this will be great memories of the past.

by Safari Mike (@JamboEveryone)