Friday, March 28, 2014

Some Food Changes at Animal Kingdom

As I reported earlier on twitter, Disney has switched back to much of the old (and great) menu at Tamu Tamu Refreshments. Gone are the curry items. Back are the quinoa salad and the beef in a pita with cucumber mint sauce. Although I have heard the beef is somewhat different, the menu is close to what it was a few months back. Most importantly, the amazing house made potato chips are back. YES, they are back. And thanks to our friend, Steve Reid (follow him on twitter @reidkid1, its very much worth it) for this picture today of the new menu.

Also, there are some minor changes to the Garden Kiosk. For those that don't know, this booth on Discovery Island helps guests with special diets find the right place to eat. They also sell various items for people with allergies to dairy and gluten. Well, you probably also have heard that BabyCakes NYC recently closed their location at Downtown Disney. For those that enjoy these items, the popular BabyCakes doughnuts are now on sale at the Garden Kiosk starting today.

By Safari Mike

Thursday, March 27, 2014

More Harambe Info Coming Along the Rumor Mill

We are starting to get some more information in the rumor mill regarding a few of the future changes to Harambe.  So let’s go through them all here...

New Market Coming to Harambe?:  For a few weeks, Safari Mike has been talking about changes coming to Harambe beyond just those in and around the new theater for the Festival of the Lion King.  Apparently, a new space behind the Mombasa Marketplace is being worked on for a new open-air marketplace, think of the Sunset Ranch at Disney’s Hollywood Studios for a good comparison of what may be in the works here.

We have known for some time now that a new path between Africa and Asia was being constructed in this area, but there have also been strong indications that more than just a path was being worked on.  This is the first, and strongest, rumor we have heard so far regarding the eventual plans for this space.

Festival of the Lion King to Open Earlier Than Previously Thought?:  The only timeframe we have heard about the opening of the new Festival of the Lion King theater has been “summer”, with the month of July being mentioned many times.  But now it seems the show may reopen closer to Memorial Day than to July 4th.  According to a few sources, the cast has been told to be prepared to begin production in late-May or early-June.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Disney's Animal Kingdom News Round-Up for March 26, 2014: Brunch, Hours and a Big Thank You!

Boma Extends Brunch Hours for Holidays: The Disney Food Blog is reporting some good news for folks staying at AKL during two spring holidays, Easter and Mothers Day.  It appears the buffet brunch at Boma will be available until 2pm on each of those days to accommodate those who want a great meal to celebrate.  Here is the link.

Animal Kingdom Operating Hours Extended for This Week: The crowds at Walt Disney World appear to swelling beyond expectations this week, and in response Disney has decided to add extra hours to the Animal Kingdom’s operating schedule.  So far, we know the park will now be open until 8pm this week on Thursday and Friday.  Enjoy!

Thank You for Your Patience:  I know it has been a while since we had a news update, and for that I apologize.  For family reasons I have not been able to devote much time at all to the project outside of recording and editing the Radio Harambe podcast.  I expect the limited posting schedule to continue at least for another couple of weeks, so in order to stay up to date I invite everyone to follow Safari Mike’s twitter feed.  He never misses a story! (Thanks, Dave)

Park Hours for this week are...

Wednesday: March 26 8am - 8pm (Extra Magic Hour 7-8am)
Thursday: March 27  9am -8pm
Friday: March 28  9am - 8pm
Saturday: March 29  9am - 8pm
Sunday: March 30  8am - 8pm
Monday: March 31  9am - 7pm (Extra Magic Hour 8-9am)
Tuesday: April 1  9am - 7pm

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

Attraction Closures:
Festival of the Lion King - closed until July 2014
Camp Minnie-Mickey - closed permanently
Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade - scheduled to close permanently June 2014

Have A Wild Time this week!!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Episode 25 of Radio Harambe - The Characters of Disney’s Animal Kingdom

That's right folks, the new episode of Radio Harambe is here and its a doozy!  

On this episode, Dave and Safari Mike are joined by our friends Andrew and Adam from the Disney Hipsters!  The guys discuss the news from Disney's Animal Kingdom and Walt Disney World.  And then in the feature segment, Andrew and Adam tell Dave and Mike all about meeting and greeting characters at Disney's Animal Kingdom.  Asante Sana!

Animal Kingdom Theme Spotlight: The King's Library at Kidani Village

For the first time, we are leaving the Animal Kingdom to discuss theming and heading over to one of my favorite spots in all of Walt Disney World; The King's Library at Kidani Village.

Before you even enter, you will notice the king's guards, one male and one female, at the door way leading into this quaint little room. You will often find that you are alone. Take a few minutes, enjoy the peacefulness and the decor. On the chairs themselves are likenesses of kings.

There are, like everywhere in the lodge, numerous artifacts. Almost all are from Cameroon, which is true for much of Kidani Village. In the main alcove, there are artifacts that are royal in nature, including a whisk and a royal dance staff. This is where the king holds court. Photographs adorn the wall showing locations from Cameroon to show off the local architecture.

There is also a fireplace in this room. More artifacts can be found along the wall. There are also two tapestries. If you examine them closely, you will see stitched into them are numerous names. These are the Founders' Tapestries. The names are those of the original people who bought into this DVC resort. Unfortunately, I am not one of them.

Now, I have been calling this a library, but you probably will quickly notice that there are no books. A big screen TV but no books- and that is keeping with the theme. In this part of Africa, there was no written word. Instead, information and lore were passed along by stories. So in this library, you tell the tale, you don't read it.

Before leaving, make sure you step outside. Its a great spot to overlook the savanna. If you don't have a room with a view, spend a lot of time here. The chairs are comfortable and its usually very quiet. A great place to read a book or tell a story.

By Safari Mike @jamboeveryone 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Helping to Save the Hartmann's Mountain Zebra

We have discussed on Radio Harambe a few times the amount of brand new baby zebra at Kidani Village. These little guys are a delight to watch. But in the wild, the Hartmann's Mountain Zebra are endangered. They are found only in far south western Angola and western Namibia. They flourish in the dry mountains of the region. The current data suggests there are only about 8,000 to 8,500 left in the wild. Poaching and habitat destruction due to farming have caused the most damage.

So, zoos like the Animal Kingdom are very important. And one of the ways they assist in saving endangered species is through the Species Survival Program, or SSP. These programs keep track of all the animals of a certain species (or subspecies) in AZA accredited zoos in North America. There are similar international programs, as well. Currently, there are only 120 or so these zebra in zoos throughout the world with less than half in North America. The SSP is designed to ensure genetic stability of the species. Zoos will exchange animals so there is no inbreeding within the small population of the animal in captivity. And with such a small population in captivity that becomes vitally important to the health of the species as a whole. Currently, there are about 500 such programs within the North American zoo community.

Typically, one person is SSP coordinator and manages the studbook keeping track of what animal is where and who they have sired colts with. They do this with the Breeding and Transfer program. Each major zoo often has a coordinator or two on staff. Victoria Shaw of Disney's Animal Kingdom is the SSP coordinator for the Hartmann's Mountain Zebra, basically in charge of the species in captivity in this country. So, its no wonder the lodge is as proud as they are on the birth of so many of the beautiful and endangered animals.

by Safari Mike

Monday, March 17, 2014

Where's Bambi?

For better or for worse, Disney's Animal Kingdom is chuck full of Disney characters. From the beginning, Disney highlighted the classic Jungle Book, the not yet released A Bug's Life, and, of course, at the time fairly recent mega-hit, the Lion King. There was a show based around the even more recent Pocohontas (although not nearly the hit Lion King was). And since then, the use of characters has not subsided. Anyone remember Tarzan Rocks? To those that do, I am truly sorry. Countdown to Extinction was renamed to incorporate characters from the just released and quickly forgotten Dinosaur film. And now Pixar classics Finding Nemo and Up have become integrated into the park. 

So where is Bambi? After all, it was one of the first Disney movies to have characters that really were anthropomorphic critters (Dumbo was released just ahead of it). It was Disney's 5th full length animated film and Walt spared no expense getting the animals right. He had deer from the Los Angeles Zoo brought in so the animators could study their movements for the film. And it worked. The film itself is beautiful. The backgrounds of the forest are lifelike, like the characters, which would become a hallmark of Disney's animal themed films in the future (like Jungle Book and the Lion King).

But even more important, is the message. We all know the heart wrenching scene of Bambi's mother being shot by a hunter and the visual effects surrounding the forest being set ablaze. It is one of the first animated films (if not the first) to incorporate a social message within it. I mean this is for kids right? A hunter killed Bambi's mom. That was hardcore back in the day. Now, conservation messages are much more common but this film came out in August 1942. 

So clearly, this film is important in the Disney library. And its certainly an important piece of environmentalism film making. So I ask, where is it in the Animal Kingdom? It seems a perfect fit. It feels like (at least to me) there should be a presence in the park. Why was there nothing in Camp Minnie Mickey? Why is there nothing at Rafiki's Planet Watch? Let's be honest: Bambi is way more important than Tarzan or Pocohontas or Dinosaur, and those Disney films have a or had a major presence in the park.

It doesn't have to be huge. Sure, I would be for a Bambi dark ride at Rafiki's but that ain't happening. Still, there are many things that could be done. There used to be axis deer in the Tree of Life Gardens. They are a small asian deer species that never lose their spots. They all look like young Bambi. Bring them back. Or better yet, at the Affection Section, bring in deer. Many zoos have deer feeding, why not here. And you could easily add rabbits to the area (skunks would be a bit more problematic). Bring back Thumper and Miss Bunny for character meet and greets, with Flower. But there absolutely should be something even if its just some form of homage at the Planet Watch itself. 

The films before it: Snow White, Pinocchio, Fantasia, and Dumbo are all well represented. Even the features that followed it, Cinderella, Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland are, as well. But there is virtually nothing about Bambi in any park, that should change.  

By Safari Mike 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Episode 24 of Radio Harambe; Touring DAK in the Rain!

That's right, the latest episode of Radio Harambe is now available to download!  Dave and Safari Mike discuss all the news from the Animal Kingdom and Walt Disney World.  Then in the final segment, Mike tells us about his best buddy Buzzkill Bob!

Thanks for listening and enjoy!

Friday, March 14, 2014

A kid's look at Kilimanjaro Safari

When I think of the safari ride, I think about animals and Africa. And my favorite is the giraffe. And you always get to see my favorites, the giraffe, on the ride. Some of my other favorite animals to see are the cheetahs, hippos, and the elephants.

Kids might think that the safari ride is scary and fast when they watch it on a commercial. But its way different in person. Even the lions aren't scary because they are far away. And always sleeping. Little kids should always sit in the middle of the row, and not on the ends. When you are old enough, make sure your parents let you sit on the ends for a good view.

The line can be kind of long. So either go first or make sure you get fastpasses. Little kids can stay in the stroller all the way until almost the end of the line. Its a long walk so make sure you use your stroller.

The drivers are a lot of fun. They teach you a lot of things about the animals so pay attention. They will even teach you some swahili.

The ride is long and you see lots of different animals. The first parts are in the forest and by water where you will see hippos and crocodiles. After you see the baobob tree, you go to the big savanna with Thompson's gazelles, wildebeest, and the giraffes. Later on, you will the elephants and rhinos. Not far after that is the lions. Its all a lot of fun to see.

By Discoverer Meghan

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Safari Mike's Kill Refurb Marry: Counter Service at the World Showcase

It's time for us to take a quick break from the Animal Kingdom so Safari Mike can pontificate a bit on the rest of the World...

This month, we again have the fun of playing Kill Refurb Marry with The Happy Place Blog and Mouse on the Mind. This time we are doing counter service spots at World Showcase which is THE place to eat. There are lots of great choices (and some not so great). One of my favorite things to do at the Mouse is eat around the World, hitting different counter service spots at different countries. Sort of doing the Food and Wine Festival without actually doing Food and Wine. As a side note, why the hell can't you get cheese soup and pretzel bread in a Canadian CS, or a counter joint in Italy with Via Napoli slices? Anyway, here are my choices:

Kill: I'm going to pick the Yorkshire County Fish Shop. I don't eat fish and this only serves fish, and only one kind of fish. So not only is there absolutely nothing for me here, there really is zilch in the way of variety. I don't mind a place that serves fish and chips, but diversify. I mean come on, gimme something. And I have heard from people that the quality here has gone downhill. I wouldn't know cause there is no way I would eat at this place. Blow it up and give me something else.

Refurb: My backup choice for destruction was the Liberty Inn at the American pavilion. Its really super lame. But instead of killing it, I say refurb it. There are a lot of different ways to showcase food here in the US of A. And what says American cuisine more than barbecue? There are many different types across the country. I would make a place here here you could sample and compare the different styles of BBQ across the country: Memphis, Carolina, Texas and Kansas City. Also, change the decor too. What a snoozefest.

Marry: There were a lot of good choices for me in this spot: The Cantina, Kringla, Sommerfest, the ice cream place in France. But my pick is the awesome Tangierine Cafe. It has all the elements to make a first class counter service eatery: great aesthetic, really good food with variety, and almost no line. Americans seem to be frightened of Moroccan cuisine. Good, easier for me. The shawarma, tabouleh, marinated olives are worth every penny. There are wraps and combo platters that give you a lot of food. All of which is so so good. If you have never tried it, please do. You will love it.

by Safari Mike

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Animal Kingdom Lodge Artifact Spotlight: Bamileke Elephant Mask

These masks are used by the Bamileke people of Cameroon. They are created from wool and cloth panels stitched heavily with beads. The form demonstrates the trunk along with the typically big ears of the african forest elephant. The form symbolizes the animal but the face is distinctly human with nose and lips and holes for the wearer's eyes.

This tribe is governed by a chief who is said to embody the spirit of a powerful animal such as an elephant or a leopard. They wear these masks during rituals where the chief dispenses justice. The elephant mask is a show of power by the wearer.

Within the tribe are societies. One such society is the Kwifo, which acts as the chief's police as he hears complaints and other issues from his people. As the chief's agents, they will also act as arbiters for the people.

By Safari Mike @jamboeveryone

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Creeping Up to a Full Day Park?

Anyone else been looking at the park hours recently? It appears the times they are a-changin'. For years, Animal Kingdom detractors have criticized the park as being a half-day park. And, yes, we here at Jambo Everyone vehemently dispute that notion. However, one thing we could never really dispute was the park hours. That was always a drawback.

During the slow time periods, the Animal Kingdom would be open only to 5 pm, or maybe 6. Epcot would be open to 9 o'clock and the Magic Kingdom even later than that. Even the Hollywood Studios would be open until 7 pm at the earliest. Yes, a lot of that had to do with the fact that Animal Kingdom didn't have a night time day ending event so it could close before it got real dark. That was not true even for the Studios. You need it dark to run Fantasmic. And of course, there is the problem of guests who during the day occupied 4 parks now just having three parks available, making those other three parks even more crowded.

As we all know, Disney is planning on changing that conception of the Animal Kingdom. We are still a ways off from Avatarland's debut, but we might be a lot closer to the night time show (according to some rumors that could start this year) and the night version of Kilimanjaro Safaris, and perhaps even more stuff. Harambe will be essentially doubled soon with perhaps some new eateries on the way. The Dawa Bar is bigger. The time for night touring of the Animal Kingdom might be a lot sooner than the Avatar project's opening.

Now, go take a look at the park hours. Today is Saturday March 1st. According to Touring Plans, its a 3 on the crowd calender. Its a pretty slow time of the year. Epcot is open until 9, of course. Hollywood Studios? It's open until 8. And the Animal Kingdom? 8 am until 8 pm. Huh? How about tomorrow? 8 pm yet again same as the Studios. What about Monday? Yes, folks: 8 pm! But the madness doesn't end there. On Tuesday, the Studios closes its doors at 7 pm, which is not unusual for a slow weekday. But the Animal Kingdom is open until 8 pm again. And that continues on.

It seems like Disney is beginning to actually test the waters for expanded evening hours. If you are down there, take advantage of it. Most guests still leave the park relatively empty after dinner hours. As some of the pictures here show, the park is both beautiful and mysterious at night. It's truly gorgeous. And pretty soon with the Rivers of Light, the crowds will be higher here later. As of now, it seems, Disney has begun the process of making this park a "full" day park.