Friday, August 29, 2014

There Once Was a Discovery Island Here

In yesterday's post, Safari Mike talked about future construction projects at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  But as well know, there are quite a few projects already happening, and they have pretty much turned Discovery Island into a giant hallway.  Here is a photo of what you now see when exiting the Oasis and look down onto the island…

Since these walls have pretty much overrun everything, Disney is forced to paint direction arrows onto the wall itself or else no one would be able to tell where they are.

I know Disney is working towards a better Animal Kingdom, and to see this much TLC going on is heartening for us fans. But this is an awful lot of intrusion, and after they add the additional walls talked about yesterday I will feel terrible for those experiencing the park for the first time while looking like this.

by Dave McBride (@RadioHarambe)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Even more walls coming to the Animal Kingdom

According to wdwmagic, there is more construction coming to the Animal Kingdom. For those have been following our blog and podcast know there is a lot construction going on right now at the Animal Kingdom. On September 2, additional walls will apparently be going up in parts of Asia and Dinoland USA to begin work on seating for the upcoming Rivers of Light night-capping event. It is unclear where exactly this work will be but you can bet it will be on the water. To be sure, there is plenty of space for water side seating. The most logical areas seem to be around the Theater in the Wild where the Nemo musical is currently being seen. The space between that theater and both Asia and Dinoland are essentially empty with large tracts of waterside land not being used. 

According to Orlando Parks News, walls will effect the Wilderness Explorers badge for using a telescope. Instead of looking at the Forbidden Mountain, guests will use a diagram on the wall. A wall will also block off the smoking area across from Everest. Certainly this area has great water views.

Also, on September 3rd, the Pangani Forest trail will undergo an extensive refurbishment. As you may know, work was just finished on the 2 gorilla exhibits, but this pending work is far more extensive. The aviary, hippo area and research station will all be unavailable. The remaining exhibits including the gorillas, colobus monkeys, meerkats and Grevy's zebra will be on view. At this point, it is anticipated that these areas will be closed for about 2 and a half months until mid-November. 

By Safari Mike (@jamboeveryone)

Aruna's Real Africa: Photogenic Zebras

It’s hard to take a bad photo of a zebra!

Honestly, they are so unbelievably photogenic, just look at this…

We do not have the Grevy Zebra that you see on the Pangani Forest Exploration, those are mainly found in East Africa. Here in South Africa we have the other two species of Zebra; the Plains Zebra and the Cape Mountain Zebra.

Plains Zebra are the most common in South Africa and most game reserves have them, in fact these photographs were taken in our local municipal reserve in Pretoria where the Zebra are not shy at all and will graze right next to the road… sound familiar?

by Aruna Mohan

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Disney's Animal Kingdom News Round-Up for August 27, 2014: Tigers and Meerkats

Sumatran Tiger Now At Maharajah Jungle Trek:  A new tiger named Sohni can now be found roaming the Maharajah Jungle Trek in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  She is a Sumatran Tiger and she sure is gorgeous.

There are literally only hundreds of these tigers left in the wild, so the survival and growth of the species in captivity is critical.  Having such a rare species of tiger at the Animal Kingdom is a great honor and a treat for those of us who care about conservation.  From what we understand, Sohni may be given the opportunity to breed in the future.  Baby tigers at DAK??  What a great idea!

Baby Meerkats at Pangani Forest Exploration Trail:  You want to see something ridiculously cute?  I’m not sure there is anything much cuter than meerkat pups!

Now, if you want to see these littles ones on Pangani you need to be patient.  Meerkats are always on guard for predators, and they are even more alert when pups are involved.  But they will eventually pop their little heads out and even follow an adult to another hole.  And when they do, you can hear the chorus of “awwww” from every guest within the area.

Park Hours for this week are...

Wednesday: August 27 9am - 8pm (Extra Magic Hour 8 - 9am)
Thursday: August 28  9am - 6pm
Friday: August 29  9am - 6pm
Saturday: August 30 9am - 8pm
Sunday: August 31 9am - 7pm
Monday: September 1 9am - 6pm (Extra Magic Hour 8 - 9am)
Tuesday: September 2 9am - 5pm

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

Attraction Closures:
Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade - closed permanently
It’s Tough To Be A Bug - Closed until September 28
Wild By Design - discontinued as of September 26
Sunrise Safari - discontinued as of December 28

Have A Wild Time this week!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Mom Shows Off Baby Gorilla at Pangani Forest Exploration Trail

Disney announced the birth of a brand new baby gorilla earlier this month. So I thought this week, upon my return from a quick trip to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, I would share with you a couple of the photos I took of this new yet-to-be-named baby boy and his mother.

During my visit, the weather was…not to exaggerate…boiling! As a result the mother , whose name is Azizi, was doing her best to keep her new baby in the shade. Often that meant in corners of the habitat very difficult to see. But on occasion she made her way into a shady cool spot right next to the window part of the enclosure. And that’s where I managed to get those photos on two separate occasions.

Mom seems to be doing a great job and is very cautious with her new pride and joy. There is also a 4-year old in the family group who can be a bit playful at times. Whenever the that juvenile comes near mom and baby she moves away and keeps the infant from any disturbance.

All over the park, cast members are beaming with pride over the birth of this very endangered Western Lowland Gorilla. The baby’s survival and health is never sure thing, even in captivity, so fingers remain crossed.  But every one of the animal care specialists I spoke to are optimistic and very happy with the way mom is behaving and nurturing. Right now, this beautiful baby boy is practically an e-ticket attraction for guests visiting the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail.  If you are at the park, head over and see him while he is still so adorably tiny!

by Dave McBride

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Disney's Animal Kingdom News Round-Up for August 20, 2014: Springboks and Sunrises

Sunrise Safari to be Discounted:  According to a report in, the Sunrise Safari tour will be discontinued as of late December of this year.  Thankfully I will be getting my first, and apparently last, chance to experience this tour on the weekend, so check back in the coming weeks for a full review.

Honestly, this is hardly a surprise.  The Sunrise Safari has always been very well received by all who try it, but for some reason or another the attendance has apparently been low.  After years serving as a “perk” just for Animal Kingdom Lodge concierge level guests, a change was made.  Disney opened it to any DVC guests staying at the lodge, and also raised the price from $65 to $75.  Now it is closing, and one has to wonder if any Disney exec ever thought perhaps it was too expensive.  Or maybe changing the information on the website to accurately reflect its availability to DVC members might have been a good idea too…just sayin'.

New Drink Springbok Coming to the Sanaa Menu?:  Earlier this week, our friends Keith and Jamie of the Disney Hipsters podcast experienced a new drink apparently coming to the menu at Sanaa.  It looks suspiciously like some sort of overpriced hot chocolate, but I am told that is not the case. What is in it?  How does it taste?  Beats me, you are going to have to ask them.  We invite you to flood Keith’s twitter feed with questions.

Park Hours for this week are...

Wednesday: August 20 9am - 8pm (Extra Magic Hour 8 - 9am)
Thursday: August 21  9am - 7pm
Friday: August 22  9am - 6pm
Saturday: August 23 9am - 7pm
Sunday: August 24 9am - 7pm (Extra Magic Hour 8 - 9am)
Monday: August 25 9am - 6pm
Tuesday: August 26 9am - 6pm

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

Attraction Closures:
Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade - closed permanently
It’s Tough To Be A Bug - Closed until September 28
Wild By Design - discontinued as of September 26

Have A Wild Time this week!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Photo For Today: A View of Amazing!

Today we have another of Scott Campbell's wonderfully colorful images from our favorite theme park.  This one is a gorgeous shot of one of the more popular viewing areas of Expedition Everest.  It's hard to do it just, but Scott does here.

photo by Scott Campbell (@scottacampbell)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Welcome to Aruna's Real Africa!

Hallo!  Sanibonani!  Molo!  Thobela!  Dumela! Lumela!  Abusheni!  Sanibona!  Avuawani! Salibonani! Hello!

I am Aruna and I live in the urban jungle of Johannesburg which, despite being the worlds largest man-made forest (over 10 million trees!), does not have lions roaming the streets or monkeys in the trees.  However, there are plenty of birds, snakes can be regularly found in gardens,  leopards are sometimes glimpsed in the suburbs and last year a brown hyena was captured a couple of blocks from my house!

Before I moved to South Africa I lived in the Netherlands where I was a docent at my local zoo (Dierenpark Amersfoort) for 9 years where (among other things) I learned to love hyena's and lost my fear of spiders.

Besides animals I have always loved Disney and have fond memories of watching Walt on TV, especially when animals were also involved. Remember when he had the tigers on his desk?
My first trip to Walt Disney World was in 1974, I fell in love with the place and have been lucky enough to be able to have had many visits since. When Animal Kingdom opened I was blown away by the details, the theming and of course the animals, add the conservation message into the mix and it was instantly my favorite park.

Living in South Africa now I will not be able to visit Walt Disney World as often, but there is no shortage of places to go and things to see. I may not have Kilimanjaro Safari's but I have the real thing in my backyard, public and private game reserves are everywhere and the largest of these is the Kruger Park. I have now been there 15 times and hope for many more trips to come, in this series I hope to take you along with me and bring you a sense of what it is like to be on safari in Africa.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Another Success for Disney, Cigars All Around!!

This past week, we fans of Disney’s Animal Kingdom got another piece of the kind of news we love the most, as Disney has announced the birth of a baby western lowland gorilla.  This gorgeous little man, who hasn’t been given a name yet, can already be found with his momma along the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail.  (As always, we vote for the name Rohde!  One day it will happen...)

image copyright Disney
For some of the species found at the Animal Kingdom, Disney participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan.  This is a worldwide cooperative plan among zoos to ensure the genetic viability of threatened and endangered species in captivity.  It is the most significant way in which zoos are working towards maintaining a healthy and viable population of animals who may not survive in the wild on their own.  The western lowland gorilla is one of those species for which DAK participates in the plan.  So far, since Disney began caring for gorillas in 1997 before the opening of the park, this is the fourth gorilla born at the park.

Now, I know we mention this kind of thing a lot, but it bares repeating how this is really what we love so much about the Animal Kingdom.  Yes, the park is amazing.  Yes, the detail and the attractions are second to none.  But this is what truly separates it from the other parks.  This is what makes it so special.  It’s one thing to have pirate robots, possessed elevators or talking trolls.  Those things are great, and we love them all.  But it is something entirely more important and impressive to actually contribute to the survival of a species as magnificent as gorillas.

So let’s applaud Disney and their animal care staff for what is truly a momentous occasion.  And while we are at, it is certainly worth mentioning that you don’t need to be a zoo to help gorillas.  The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund is working everyday to conserve gorillas in the wild and our donation can help sustain and continue that work.  Click here to donate.

by Dave McBride (@RadioHarambe)

Episode 35 of Radio Harambe - Two Years of Jambo Everyone!

On this episode, Dave and Safari Mike discuss the news from Disney's Animal Kingdom including It's Tough to be A Bug, a potential Yeti fix and some breaking news regarding hyenas coming to the park.  They also discuss the past week at the rest of Walt Disney World, including the now compulsory Frozen rant.  And then in the feature segment, they look back at two years of

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Post-Harambe Nights Thoughts; Expanding 'Food and Wine' to Disney's Animal Kingdom

This weekend saw the end of the Harambe Nights event at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, at least for now.  From all signs, it was a huge success, with many if not all of the dates selling out.  At this point, two things seem inevitable: one, it will certainly return at some point.  And two, you can bet it will be even more expensive than it was this year.  But the success of this event has me wondering, can we use Harambe Nights as an inspiration for future and more guest inclusive events?

Disney is looking for ways to better keep crowds into the night time hours at DAK, a time of day when the park is exceptionally beautiful and full of atmosphere.  With many of the animals needing to go “off stage” during this time, what is another way to keep folks there?  Yes, a night time river show is a fantastic place to start, but there needs to be a bit more.  If the Rivers of Light takes place at 9pm what can keep folks there for those extra hours during the not-so-busy season?  How about food?  Better yet, how about “food and wine”?  See where I am going with this??

If you have been to Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival over the last few years you will know how successful it is and how horribly overcrowded as well.  But the Mouse is always looking to cash-in on a good idea. (See anything Frozen related.)  However, if Disney wants to expand on the idea of the festival, I really can not see how much more they could possibly jam into the World Showcase.  So how about we call it the “Walt Disney World Food and Wine Festival” and expand it by also bringing it into Disney’s Animal Kingdom?

We can start by moving all of the current African and Asian booths over to DAK, at least the ones not directly related to a pavilion in that park.  That means for this year Singapore and South Korea, and why don’t we move Australia and New Zealand over too, while we are at it, in a sort of “wishful thinking” type of suggestion?  That leaves Epcot with four new booths to explore, and for Disney to expand it’s horizons into the cuisines that are not from Europe or the Americas at the Animal Kingdom.  Just think of the possibilities: Mongolian Barbecue, Ethiopian, Thai, Indian, South African, Vietnamese, Lebanese, Filipino, Tunisian, and Malaysian…and that’s just scratching the surface.

The Animal Kingdom represents two continents absolutely filled with delicious food, and largely unknown to americans.  Just phrase the menus for the internationally challenged and you have an incredible event, one that can handle far more people than the current festival can since now it has a whole new park to work with.  (And yes, I haven’t even mentioned the incredible adult beverage possibilities.)  If you are thinking these foods may be a bit beyond the frame of reference of the average Disney guest to be a real attractive draw, than the Mouse is free to put whatever they want in Discovery Island or Dinoland USA.

We have often said here that Disney’s Animal Kingdom is home to the two greatest World Showcase pavilions ever built, Africa and Asia.  The “Food and Wine Festival” concept is one that fits just as well in the Animal Kingdom as it does in Epcot.  It takes little investment, makes boatloads of cash, and keeps people in the park deep into the night without ever even thinking about rides or shows.  What could be better?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Disney's Animal Kingdom News Round-Up for August 13, 2014: Refurb, Night Safari and a New VP

It’s Tough to be a Bug Refurb Extended Six Weeks:  Earlier this week, the 3-D film “It’s Tough to be a Bug” was supposed to reopen after a short refurb.  However, the closure has now been extended until September 28, practically doubling the amount of time the attraction is being worked on.

In typical Disney fashion, we have been unable to find out exactly why this is happening.  But from all we can figure out, there is nothing more major being done then just a refurb.  Perhaps they need more time to fix the audio-animatronic figure of Hopper, or maybe it is just the work on the Tree of Life exterior getting in the way.  If we hear anymore we will let you know.

New Vice President of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Named:  It seems Disney’s Animal Kingdom has a new leader, as Djuan Rivers has been named the new Vice President for DAK.  The former VP, Josh D’Amaro, moves on in the company after barely over 18 months at the helm of the Animal Kingdom.

Mr. Rivers comes to DAK after serving as Vice President of Hotels and Business Solutions at Disneyland Paris, perhaps the strangest title I have ever seen at Disney.  Before that, he was General Manager of Disney’s Aulani Resort & Spa in Oahu, Hawaii.  We certainly hope that in this role he developed an appreciation for the brilliance of Joe Rohde’s work and will make it his priority to continue the spirit of the park..

Work On Night Safari About to Begin?:  According to the Twitter feed for Stitch Kingdom, “Walt Disney World has filed notice of commencement for Animal Kingdom Kilimanjaro Safari Night Experience Electric Upgrades”.  There isn’t much more to say here as nothing more specific is available, but it does confirm that this very exciting project is moving forward.

Park Hours for this week are...

Wednesday: August 13 9am - 8pm (Extra Magic Hour 8 - 9am)
Thursday: August 14  9am - 7pm
Friday: August 15  9am - 7pm
Saturday: August 16 9am - 7pm
Sunday: August 17 9am - 7pm (Extra Magic Hour 8 - 9am)
Monday: August 18 9am - 6pm
Tuesday: August 19 9am - 7pm

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

Attraction Closures:
Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade - closed permanently
It’s Tough To Be A Bug - Closed until September 28
Wild By Design - discontinued as of September 26

Have A Wild Time this week!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Aruna's Real Africa: photo Happy World Elephant Day!

Today, conservation and wildlife community around the world celebrate World Elephant Day.  And just like we did a couple of days ago for lions, we turn our attention again to our friend Aruna and some of her amazing photographs from South Africa.

photo by Aruna Mohan
It is clear Aruna loves the elephants of South Africa, and her camera lens does as well.  Take a look into the eye of this amazing animal!

photo by Aruna Mohan
Elephants are in danger from habitat loss and poaching.  But we can do something about that if we decide to and perhaps ensure a life for young elephants like this one...

photo by Aruna Mohan
Share these photos with your friends, and encourage them to learn more about the challenges facing elephants.  Maybe together we can start to turn the tide on this and ensure a future filled with elephants thriving in the wild.

photo by Aruna Mohan
story by Dave McBride (@RadioHarambe)

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Aruna's Real Africa: Happy World Lion Day!

Today, we debut a brand new series of blog postings and photographs from our friend Aruna.  She lives in South Africa and has been on actual safari more than once, and not just the two-week kind that only really lasts 22 minutes.

We are going to learn a lot more about Aruna, her experiences with wildlife and her time in Africa in the not-too-distnt future, so check back with us soon.  Until then, we thought a great way to kick this new series off is by also celebrating World Lion Day with a couple of great photos of the the lions from Kruger National Park in South Africa.

Aruna shares our respect for wildlife, dedication to conservation and our love for Disney's Animal Kingdom.  Join us in welcoming her to Jambo Everyone.  We are thrilled to have her!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

A Photo For Today: Art, Transportation and Ice Cream

Our photographer Scott Campbell has a great new photo today from Disney's Animal Kingdom, and this image is of one of those incredible details found in the Asia section of the park.  All of this amazing artwork and color, and it is all for an ice cream stand.  That's what makes DAK so great!

Photo by Scott Campbell  (@scottacampbell)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Disney to Right a Twenty Year Wrong: Hyenas Coming to the Animal Kingdom

For over 30 years, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have kept the world’s only captive research colony of Spotted Hyenas.  But now funding for the colony is running out, and the people who have grown attached to these wonderful and grossly misunderstood animals are looking for good homes for them.  And from what we now understand, three of these hyenas will be making there way to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  And hopefully these three can begin to repair some of the damage done by a more famous fictional trio of hyenas.

There are many reasons to study hyenas, including their odd anatomy, intense socialization and an apparent natural immunity to anthrax.  But for the last three decades, this colony has been funded by mental health researchers looking to study the hyena’s unique hormonal makeup and how these different hormone levels can effect mood and behavior, information that could be useful in studying human behavioral differences.

image courtesy of UC Berkeley
In all honesty, this is something Disney not only should do, but should also feel some serious level of obligation to do so as well.  Frankly, Disney owes it to the species to do whatever they can.  The spotted hyena is an amazing and horribly misunderstood animal, and Disney has played quite a large part in keeping those misconceptions alive and growing with children and future generations of Disney animation fans.

When Disney animators wanted to study hyenas for the purpose of creating and developing the characters in the animated film “The Lion King” they actually went to UC Berkeley to study this very same colony.  But instead of creating a realistic depiction of hyenas, Disney chose instead to hang their hats on the same old tired and ridiculous stereotypes.  Apparently the easiest way to develop a story, even at the expense of a species, is more important than doing what is right.

photo by Aruna Mohan
For many reasons, none of them good, people have an incredibly erroneous and negative view of hyenas.  We see them as scavengers, even though they scavenge less of their food then even lions do.  Much of this stereotype is based solely on timing. Hyenas kill at night, and lions come in and take over. At dawn, researchers only see lions feeding and hyenas watching from afar, misreading the actual situation.  Thus, for years, we have seen them as vicious thieves and cowards, even though they have a complex social structure and live in family groups who all work to raise pups.  Regardless of the facts, people see them negatively and Disney has only contributed to those errors.

And believe me when I tell you that Disney’s contribution to ignorance with “The Lion King” means much more than just additional uninformed people.  What it really means is that funding is harder to get for research and conservation, since those holding the cash are more reluctant to donate their money towards what they think are “evil thieving scavengers” who their children probably are afraid of.  And hyenas aren’t the only ones who suffer from such ignorance.  Hyenas are just one animal in a giant ecosystem, learning about hyenas can mean learning about other species, at the same time.  So don't think for one second that Disney’s thoughtless, erroneous and damaging depiction of hyenas hasn’t hurt other research as well.

Now with this funding gone and the folks at UC Berkeley desperate to find homes for their friends, as well as hopefully continue the research, it is time for Disney to do the right thing and make it up to the hyenas by beginning to correct a 20 year old mistake.  Hopefully bringing these animals to the park is just the start of repairing the damage done by the Mouse all those years ago.  When these hyenas make it "on stage" at the Animal Kingdom, there certainly ought to be plenty of reference and education going on about what hyenas are really like.  Even though it would be fitting, I somehow don't think the phrase "The Lion King was wrong" will make it in there.  But we will settle for "Hyena Day" at Rafiki's Planet Watch.

In their own way, this family of hyenas holds a special place in Disney history as inspirations for one of the company’s most successful and most beloved films of all time.  They probably won’t get a window on Main Street USA, though I would argue they may just deserve one.  But they can at least get a home and place where people can start to understand the truth behind these gorgeous animals.

Disney's Animal Kingdom News Round-Up for August 6, 2014: New Yetis and Bears

Is the Yeti Scheduled to Finally be Restored to its Former Glory?:  We have an interesting and somewhat exciting rumor this week from the website  They are reporting that a possible fix to the famous yeti audio-animatronic may possibly be on the cards right after the opening of Pandora in 2017.  Actually, it seems more like we would get a replacement rather than a fix, at least if this rumor is to be believed.

There isn’t much in the way of concrete evidence within this story, and most of it seems more along the lines of logical assumption as opposed to fresh information. However, the idea of a replacement is new, and certainly interesting.  The amount of time and money put into the construction of the current yeti certainly would lead us to assume Disney would not want to scrap it, but after years of strobe lights and criticism, perhaps that is the easiest and best way to go.

DisneyNature’s Bears DVD to Help National Parks Foundation:  On this Tuesday, August 12, the DisneyNature film “Bears” will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray.  With each purchase, Disneynature will donate to National Parks Foundation via the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund.

Park Hours for this week are...

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

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

Attraction Closures:
Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade - closed permanently
It’s Tough To Be A Bug - Closed until August 11
Wild By Design - discontinued as of September 26

Have A Wild Time this week!!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

World News Editorial Page: A Fear of Frozen

As a companion to the World News section of the Radio Harambe podcast, today we debut a new op-ed column where our contributors will sound off on Disney subjects from outside the confines of the Animal Kingdom.  Anything mouse related is fair game, but expect too much from outside the Disney Parks.  

Anyone who has been listening to the podcast over the past few episodes will know how I feel about Frozen and the current infestation of Frozen related changes either already in the Florida parks or rumored to be added.  For those who don’t listen, I have never seen the film, but that really has no influence on how I am feeling right now.  I hate it, and if the rumors of what may happen to the Norway pavilion actually does happen, my hatred will only grow.

When I first heard the rumor about a possible closure of the Maelstrom attraction to make way for a Frozen themed something-or-other, I actually laughed it off.  Safari Mike, who has seen the film, told me the movie doesn’t even take place in Norway, so you can see why one would think such a rumor ridiculous.  But like a weed, the idea only seemed to grow and become more invasive and annoying.  Strange Norwegian television segments and continued tweets and blog postings have lead up to yesterday’s suspicious news that FastPass Plus bookings are not available for Maelstrom after September 28.  With all of this in mind, the release of a gorgeous limited edition t-shirt, which we would have welcomed and applauded, almost seems to be Disney merchandise executives having a bit of a laugh at our expense.  (The shirt really is nice!)

Now before I get too far, I want to clarify something else.  Maelstrom is by no means my favorite attraction.  It’s a perfectly fine ride and I have always enjoyed it.  Sure, it has it’s drawbacks.  The film at the end, for instance, is in desperate need of updating.  But on the whole I like it.  The trolls are great, so are the boats.  The opening scene is one of my favorites and the harbor town at the end is very well done.  And what’s more, it belongs there.  It tells a simple and entertaining story about the legend and lure of Norway.  However, if it left in favor of something much better, I would applaud such a change.

The problem is, I have absolutely no confidence that a quickly cobbled together attraction based on a film not related to the pavilion it will inhabit, and created simply for cross-marketing purposes, will be any better than what we have now.  In fact, if history is any guide, we can expect a whole lot of mediocrity.  Ask yourself this, since the opening of Epcot how many attractions have been changed for the better?   If you are like me, old enough to remember Epcot Center, seriously ask yourself that question.  Keep a score of good and bad, and you will soon start to see why I am not exactly thrilled for another “plussing” at this particular park.

Maybe it is entirely irrational of me to blame this potential destruction of an Epcot favorite solely on Annie and Whats-her-face . And perhaps in the near future I will either get over it or be proven completely wrong.  But right now I am going to continue my one man crusade against, in what my opinion, is a stupid idea.

by Dave McBride (@RadioHarambe)

Monday, August 4, 2014

Animal Kingdom Theme Spotlight: The Statues on Discovery Life

You ever wonder about the curious little statues that pop up around the paths of Discovery Island. They don't really seem to fit into the place. The architecture itself is so bright and vibrant and yet here are these prehistoric looking stone statues of animals. So what are they? Well, like everything else at the Animal Kingdom, there is a back story to those curious little stone critters.

Discovery Island was not always populated by people (or even tourists). The Tree of Life stood on this empty piece of land. Until an ancient tribe of nomads wandered on to the little island. This tribe immediately became awe struck by the great tree with its animal visages. So, they never left. They knew they should not leave as the Tree was magical and provided shelter for them. So, they abandoned their nomadic life style and took root on the island. In tribute to their home, they created works of art, idolizing the life forms found on the Tree of Life. They also built a community, which they never had before, that was harmonious with nature. And that never changed.

Now today, the relatives of that ancient tribe still occupy the island and are still inspired by it. Their art is much more advanced now, much more whimsical, and much much more colorful. But they have not abandoned the old statues. Their predecessors were enthralled by the majestic tree and created stone sculptures of the animals they saw there. Little did they know some of those animals could be found far far away or even in the deep ocean.

by Safari Mike (@JamboEveryone)

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Episode 34 of Radio Harambe - Dinosaur!

As Doctor Seeker would say, "Hello There" and welcome to another episode of Radio Harambe.  Our feature this week is an in-depth look at Dinosaur, as Dave and Safari Mike look at the history, design and backstory of this original attraction to Disney's Animal Kingdom.  (Just a little warning, Dave whines quite a bit over "Countdown to Extinction")

We also discuss the news including a new parking lot, the end of Wild By Design and the now weekly, and apparently never ending, update on all things Frozen.  And somehow Mike spins the World News into an elongated belly-ache over the Canada pavilion.  Asante Sana and Enjoy!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

A Photo For Today: Looking Out Onto the Savanna

It is time for a new Photo For Today, and this one will be familiar to Animal Kingdom Lodge lovers.  Is there anything better than walking into the lobby of either the Jambo House or Kidani Village and getting that first glimpse of the savanna?

Photo by Dave McBride (@RadioHarambe)