Friday, October 31, 2014

A Photo for Today: Happy Halloween

For the last few years, Disney's Animal Kingdom would celebrate "Bat Day" on Halloween, a great chance to try and correct some of the many myths about these incredibly important creatures. Even though the park has decided not to continue that tradition this year, we thought we would anyway.

Even if bats make you nervous, and you don't want to stop and see them at the Maharajah Jungle Trek, take a look at some of the details around their habitat. There is a great conservation message here, and hopefully one that changes a few minds.

Happy Halloween everyone!

by Dave McBride

Aruna's Real Africa: Happy Cat Day Africa-Style!


Arguably the big cats (Lion, Leopard, Cheetah) are one of the most popular sightings for people that go on safari, even the Kilimanjaro Safari, and I will admit because you don't see them as often it is nice when you do. But if I'm perfectly honest I do not get excited about lion sightings. For one thing they are usually very crowded, also quite often the lion is off in the distance and all you will see is a tail or an ear twitching, and finally as lions sleep most of the time that is how you will see them...

typical lion sighting!

Leopards on the other had are a different story. Yes, you will also often find them napping, but they sleep draped in a tree, much cooler! But even then that is a much rarer sighting as leopards are much more active. Often you will see no more than a fleeting glimpse, and by the time you have your camera ready they are already disappearing back into the bush.

on the prowl

For me the most elusive of the big cats up till now has been the cheetah, besides there being only just over 100 in the park they are also more specialised in the habitat that they like. I have seen them only twice up till now but both times the sightings were wonderful.

Besides the big cats there are also smaller cats and members of the cat family to be found in South Africa, but more on them in another post

by Aruna Mohan

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Disney's Animal Kingdom News Roundup for October 29, 2014: No bats, No spiders

No Bat Day?: The first bit of news is actually the lack of news. For the last few years, Disney's Animal Kingdom has celebrated Bat Day on Halloween. These misunderstood mammals are, of course, often the focus of Halloween decorations. I mean, who doesn't know what a vampire is? Well, oddly Disney has not announced a bat day this year, which is frankly too bad because Halloween is the perfect day to point out how bats aren't scary and are actually very important.

Pangani Research station to be refurbished: As part of the extensive work being done at Pangani, the research station will be having work done for a couple of weeks. The facility holds a lot of the smaller animals from the region like the naked mole rats, pancake tortoises and spiders.  For a time, some of these animals will be off exhibit so work can be done.

Park Hours for the week are as follows....
Wednesday: October 29  9am-5pm
Thursday: October 30  9am-5pm
Friday: October 31  9am-5pm (EMH in the morning)
Saturday: November 1  9am-6pm
Sunday: November 2  9am-8pm
Monday: November 3  9am-6pm (EMH in the morning)
Tuesday: November 4  9am-6pm

Attraction Closures:

Pangani Forest Exploration Trail: Hippos, Aviary and Meerkat area closed until Nov. 14
Kali River Rapids: Closed January 20 to February 4
Sunrise Safari to be discontinued as of December 28

Have a Wild Time this week!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Walking around with Nick: The October 28, 2014 edition

So once again we are lucky enough to have friend of the blog and podcast, Nick Cucerzan out and about at the Animal Kingdom today for a jaunt around the park- taking some pictures. He got some great shots updating us on the progress of construction and also checking out the new tamarin exhibit and the gorillas. So enjoy another edition of "Walking around the Animal Kingdom with Nick."

As you can see, the walls surrounding the Tree of Life are still there even if the nets are not.

It is still a rather obstructed view as you walk in. Below is a picture of the new tamarin exhibit.

The new tamarin group seems to be adjusting well to the exhibit, which is right across from Creature Comforts. On the other side of Discovery Island, work is ongoing over at Flame Tree BBQ. I believe this is where the new coffee kiosk will be going.

There are walls everywhere, here is one leading from Everest to Dinoland. But as you can see, its incredibly themed. Well, at least for a construction wall.

Construction is still going strong over at Pangani, too.
The zebras are still off exhibit, as is the hippo area.

Nick got some great looks at the bachelor group of gorillas, who were being somewhat territorial.

And, of course, a cute picture of one of the babies. This picture was taken a few days ago but still I included it just cause he's so damn cute.

The rest of Harambe is also under construction. This is where the new section of Harambe is going.

As you can see, major buildings are going up back there- food kiosks? gift shops? brand new restaurants? Hopefully, we will find out soon.

And then of course, there is the Rivers of Light. Here are some pics taken from the Flame Tree BBQ area:

Here's a close up on the side near Serka Zong;
And here is the Dinoland side:

And Nick was smart. He decided to take a bird's eye view via Expedition Everest.

Here is a closer view of the construction from Everest;

 Its a major project that is not ending soon. But hopefully, the park will be a better place when all is said and done. Oh, and one last thing - construction doesn't end at the park.

Work is being finished on the Yeti parking lot

Thanks again to Nick for being our intrepid reporter. You absolutely have to follow him on twitter @NCucerzan. Not only does he frequently travel to Disney's Animal Kingdom but also those secondary parks as well.

By Safari Mike

Monday, October 27, 2014

Doing Halloween at Animal Kingdom

For a couple of years now, Disney has been doing an event in late October called, DAK after Dark. The event is one night after the park closes and is for cast members only. No pictures are allowed so it's hard to know exactly what's going on but it sounds like a lot of fun from I gathered, and something maybe Disney should start doing for guests during the Halloween season.

During this night, there is a costume contest at the Theater in the Wild. The contest includes four categories: Funny, Scary, Group and, of course, Disney lookalike. There is a "scare zone" somewhat along the lines of the Horror Nights that are so popular over at Universal Studios, and of which there is nothing similar at the Magic Kingdom Event. Over in Dinoland, there were games, pumpkin carvings and prizes. At the beginning of the event there was educational elements about some of the most feared animals - like snakes and spiders.

All of this sounds like it could be a fantastic event for the public with some tweaks - first and foremost, rides would have to be running. Everest is amazing at night and all three rides in Dinoland could function which would disperse some crowds. Of course, It's Tough be a Bug is a must for the  event. Also, entertainment like the Burudika band and Viva Gaia would be needed. They could easily add food booths like those used at the Sundowner festival that ran a few years back to offer some unique items. And perhaps some holiday specific ones, as well.

The park, as we have talked about so often, is designed so well for night time touring. The lighting is low, and mysterious and sets the perfect mood for this kind of event. The paths - like the Cretacuous Trail in Dinoland or the Tree of Life Gardens are perfect spots for some spooky fun.

And what's scarier than Dinos. Maybe they could even amp up the effects (most notably the sound) that was toned down a few years back to make Dinosaur even scarier. And when walking through the area, wouldn't it be such fun to hear dinosaurs calls in the distant and maybe not so distant. And the Chester and Hester area could remain one more for kids, with games and contests.

The theme of Disney's Animal Kingdom is the relationship between man and nature. And certainly the relationship has long been in part one of fear. Man has feared animals like snakes, spiders, owls, bats, wolves and more. Walking along those dark paths with piped in sounds of a forest at night would be spooky as hell. You could even make use of things like werewolves and dragons - animals invented by man's mind thanks to the fear of the unknown.

Pumpkins could also play a big role. A pumpkin carving contest is, of course, a no brainer. But there some extremely elaborate displays around the country - that could be a lot of fun. Keep Rafiki's open, and put all of that there, but make the Wildlife Express to the area, a bit on the spooky side. Overall, I want this event a little scarier than Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party but not near the events of Universal. A happy medium if you will. And maybe there could even be some rare animal based character meet and greets there - like the Big Bad Wolf, of course.

And Animal Kingdom is perfect for this, at least now. As far as we can tell, Rivers of Light is not happening until March 2016 at the earliest. That means the park will still be closing relatively early next Autumn, With the huge success of Harambe Nights this past summer, this would seem like a good idea to try out.

By Safari Mike

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Episode 41 of Radio Harambe - The Prehistoric DAK Part Two

Thank you, as always, for listening to Radio Harambe! This week we have the second part of our interview with Matt from WEDWay Radio as we talk about the early days of Disneyland and it's influence upon the creation of Disney's Animal Kingdom. Before that, Dave and Safari Mike discuss the news from around DAK and Walt Disney World including some hyena news, bad FastPass+ decisions and another rumor of a fifth gate at WDW.

Please make sure to follow us on Twitter @RadioHarambe and rate the show on iTunes.  Also, if you are a real Disney fan you simply must listen to Matt's amazing show about Disney history which can be found at Asante Sana!

Friday, October 24, 2014

A Photo for Today: A Watchful Eye

You hear us going on quite a bit about how incredible the cast members are at Disney's Animal Kingdom. A cast member friend of mine, who worked in more than one park, once told me about how the folks at DAK were really a special group, a fraternity of Disney and animal lovers unique to the park. So for today's photo, here is one such cast member.

The stars of the great Kilimanjaro Safaris need more than just food and a place to roam. They also require a team of dedicated experts to care for them. So we send our collective "thank you" to each and every one of them.

by Dave McBride

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Lost DAK Files: Tiger River Run

Take a look at a satellite view of the Animal Kingdom. You will see a large swath of empty land behind the Maharajah Jungle Trek but before you get to Rafiki's Planet Watch. Now take a look at this early concept art of the park in that area.

You can clearly see Kilimanjaro Safari taking up a huge portion of the park, but what is the long river ride just next to it? That was the going to be the Asian equivalent to Kilimanjaro Safari - a water safari through that continent's landscapes. This attraction would have included a thrilling white water section at the end, as well. And it was to be called the Tiger River Run.

As you can see large boats would float by various exhibits of animals. The drawing above shows gibbons, elephants, blackbuck antelope, and monkeys occupying an ancient ruin setting. The original plan would have numerous other critters too, such as Indian rhinos, tapirs, and of course, the name sake tigers. Considering how detailed the Maharajah Jungle Trek is, you can bet this would be an amazing attraction in terms of detail. Also, there was going to be a lot of space, as it would have nearly matched the safari in scope and territory. So, it likely would have been a heck of a long boat ride.

The thrill at the end would have stayed the same as it is today. As would the theme of rain forest destruction. Over in Africa, Kilimanjaro Safaris (up until recently) told the story Little Red and Big Red and tried to convey the problem of poaching. Here, the idea was to tell the tale of deforestation and how that impacts the habitat of the area. This story, of course, became the focus of the Kali River Rapids. So essentially what we got was the last portion of the planned attraction.

Ultimately, it was decided that having animal exhibits on this boat journey was a bad idea. First of all, a continuous stream of boats would have been stressful for the animals, some of whom are highly endangered - so breeding was an important factor. Also, there would be no stopping, so guests would only get a brief look at the animals along the riverbank, which since you are not elevated (like say in a safari truck) would not be an ideal vantage point. And some animals, such as the tiger, like the water and well, you wouldn't want one of those in the river heading your way. So Disney decided to put the animals they wanted to showcase on a walking trail instead.

But even after it was decided that the attraction would not feature animals, it was still called Tiger River Run. That was the name up until shortly before the attraction opened, which was a few months after the Jungle Trek came on board in early 1999. It was determined that since there wouldn't be tigers on the trip, it might be disappointing to visitors if the animal was in the name but on the ride. So, instead, Disney changed the name to Kali River Rapids, paying homage to the Hindu deity of the destructive force of nature.

By Safari Mike (@jamboeveryone)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Disney's Animal Kingdom News Round-Up for October 22, 2014: Lots of Animal News!

Update on Spotted Hyenas Coming to DAK: As we reported awhile back, Disney's Animal Kingdom is in the process of obtaining 3 spotted hyenas. Two are now at the park and had recently undergone quarantine exams by the Animal Kingdom's veterinary staff. These exams are performed as the animals become part of the park's collection. They will then be put in quarantine for a period of time to ensure no viruses or illnesses are spread through the other animals living there.

photo by Aruna Mohan (Taken at Kruger National Park, South Africa)

We still do not know where the hyenas will be displayed. It is unclear if it will be at the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, which is currently undergoing refurbishment, or perhaps on the Kilimanjaro Safari. For all we know there may even have some kind of stand alone exhibit in Harambe somewhere. More details to come.

Cotton-top Tamarins Take the Stage: The new habitat is built, the new male is here, and the Cotton-top Tamarins are back “on stage” entertaining guests at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The Disney Parks Blog has some great info and photos on this morning’s Wildlife Wednesdays posting. Including this one of the new pair…

image copyright Disney

Park Hours for this week are...

Wednesday:  October 22 9am - 6pm
Thursday: October 23  9am - 7pm
Friday: October 24  9am - 8pm (Extra Magic Hour 8 - 9am)
Saturday: October 25 9am - 8pm
Sunday: October 26 9am - 8pm
Monday: October 27 9am - 5pm (Extra Magic Hour 8 - 9am)
Tuesday: October 28 9am - 5pm

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

Attraction Closures:
Pangani Forest Exploration Trail: Hippos, Aviary and Meerkat area closed until Nov. 14
Kali River Rapids: Closed January 20 to February 4
Sunrise Safari: discontinued as of December 28
Affection Section: closed until November 11

Have A Wild Time this week!!

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Look at the awesome Tam Tam Drummers

Mornings in Harambe are often filled with the sounds of whistles and drums. That would be the Tam Tam drummers, who play most morning near Mombasa Marketplace in Harambe. As you can see from these two videos, the group is dynamic and, frankly, a lot of fun.

If you can check a set out. They play in the mornings on the same stage that our beloved Burudika band uses for their afternoon performances. Just make sure you are ready to dance to the beat. 

So check out our You Tube channel for more

By Safari Mike 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Episode 40 of Radio Harambe - The Prehistoric Animal Kingdom (Part One)

In this episode, Dave and Safari Mike are joined by Matt of the WEDWay Radio Podcast for part one of our discussion on the “prehistoric” years of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Where did the idea for an animal park come from? How does it fit in the history of the Disney Company? We will start to answer those questions in our feature section. Dave and Mike also discuss the news from DAK and Walt Disney World including some animal news, construction updates and more FastPass+ controversy.

Thanks for downloading and don’t forget to follow us @RadioHarambe. And please don't forget to check out Matt's incredible Disney history podcast, WEDWay Radio!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Animal Kingdom Lodge Art Spotlight: Asante Cosmetic oil Container

The Asante are a large tribe located primarily in Ghana and the Ivory Coast. Prior to colonial times, they ruled over a powerful West African empire, the Ashanti Kingdom. The king himself was referred to as the Asantehene. The tribe occupies a huge area that consists of all sorts of environments from desert, to mountain to jungle. Today, there are over 10 million of Asante descent.

An Asante traces their heritage through the female line. It is through the mother's line that property rights and titles are passed. The bronze container shown here was used by women for the finer things in life: gold dust and cosmetics.

By Safari Mike

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Disney's Animal Kingdom News Round-Up for October 15, 2014: Tamarins and Rollers

New Male Cotton-Top Tamarin Comes to DAK: We have been telling you for a few weeks now about how a new habitat for the cotton-top tamarins has been completed on Discovery Island. But this morning, we learned from the Disney Parks Blog about how the new exhibit will also feature a new member of the Animal Kingdom family. His name is Draco and he comes from the Milwaukee County Zoo.

Draco’s arrival is part of the species Survival Plan put together by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums which seeks to find suitable breeding pairs for endangered animals. So this means that if all goes well we may just have a baby tamarin at DAK!

Avatar Construction to Effect Pizzafari: Since Camp Minnie-Mickey officially closed to make way for the new Avatar project, the wall blocking guests from that area was situated quite a ways off the main pathways, down closer to the old bridge. Now it seems Disney is in the process of expanding the construction which now requires that wall to be moved up closer to Pizzafari. As a result, it is expected that restaurant’s patio area will close for the foreseeable future.

Blue-bellied Roller Heads West: According to in Idaho, a blue-bellied roller from Disney’s Animal Kingdom will now take up residence in Zoo Boise. The blue-bellied roller is a gorgeous bird found in western and central Africa, in places like Senegal and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The birds gets its name from the rolling and tumbling action it uses while flying after insects. This particular bird will be part of a new African aviary exhibit being planned for the zoo.

Park Hours for this week are...

Wednesday:  October 15 9am - 7pm
Thursday: October 16  9am - 7pm
Friday: October 17  9am - 8pm (Extra Magic Hour 8 - 9am)
Saturday: October 18 9am - 8pm
Sunday: October 19 9am - 8pm
Monday: October 20 9am - 8pm (Extra Magic Hour 8 - 9am)
Tuesday: October 21 9am - 6pm

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

Attraction Closures:
Pangani Forest Exploration Trail: Hippos, Aviary and Meerkat area closed until Nov. 14
Kali River Rapids: Closed January 20 to February 4
Sunrise Safari: discontinued as of December 28
Affection Section: closed until November 11

Have A Wild Time this week!!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Animal Kingdom Lodge Art Spotlight: Zulu Pot

The Zulu are the largest ethnic group in modern day South Africa. They are part of the Bantu group and speak a language within that group, as well. Small numbers of Zulu leave in nations neighboring South Africa. They are, of course, famous for their king, Shaka who ruled in late 1870s. Shaka famously defeated a well armed British army at the Battle of Isandlwana.

At Kidani Village, there is this clay pot. They made by the women of the tribe using fire. They are used mostly as food containers.

By Safari Mike

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Animal Kingdom Receives Prestigious Award From AZA

According to the Disney Parks Blog, the Animal Kingdom has "received Top Honors (1st place) as the 2014 Edward H. Bean Award recipient for our Taveta golden weaver sustainability program" at a recent meeting of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). This must be an incredibly proud moment for the animal care team, to say the least, and we offer our congratulations as well.

The post explains that they award was given because "from 1998-2014, our Aviary team successfully bred over 900 Taveta golden weaver chicks, which was instrumental in safeguarding the North American population. These chicks now live in AZA accredited zoos across the country, helping ensure that we maintain a genetically diverse population."

Now, let me ask you this question: does your favorite theme park do that?  This is exactly why we love this place, and what separates the "cast members" here from other Disney parks. If you would like to learn more about the Taveta golden weaver, check out this post from Safari Mike.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Disney's Animal Kingdom News Round-Up for October 8, 2014: Africa Celebration and a Mysterious Water Tower

More Harambe Expansion Coming?: According to the twitter feed for the website Stitch Kingdom, it would appear some more construction is about to begin in Harambe. The tweet said simply “WDI has filed notice of commencement for DAK Harambe Expansion - Water Tower Show Set”. We are not sure exactly what this means, but we are working on getting more info as we speak.

Animal Kingdom Lodge to “Celebrate Africa: On Friday morning, people staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge will be invited to help “Celebrate Africa”. This is a cultural event which AKL has hosted once or twice in the past. The cultural representatives at the Lodge will be on hand with stories, music and other activities. The event runs from 10-11am in the Jambo House lobby.

Park Hours for this week are...

Wednesday:  October 8 17 9am - 6pm
Thursday: October 9  9am - 7pm
Friday: October 10  9am - 8pm (Extra Magic Hour 8 - 9am)
Saturday: October 11 9am - 8pm
Sunday: October 12 9am - 8pm (Extra Magic Hour 8 - 9am)
Monday: October 13 9am - 8pm
Tuesday: October 14 9am - 7pm

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

Attraction Closures:
Pangani Forest Exploration Trail: Hippos, Aviary and Meerkat area closed until Nov. 14
Kali River Rapids: Closed January 20 to February 4
Sunrise Safari: discontinued as of December 28

Have A Wild Time this week!!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Sable Antelope on the Sunrise Safari

We will miss the Sunrise Safari when it leaves in December. One of the best things about is the leisurely pace of the safari ride itself. You are the only ones in the attraction in the morning, so the driver can stop for a bit and you can get a great look at an animal.

Here we have the sable antelope, which is the icon of the Harambe Wildlife Reserve, This early morning look at herd in the tall grass, is a one of a kind experience and what was so special about the tour.

by Safari Mike

Animal Kingdom Lodge Art Spotlight: Boki Funeral Headcrest

We had previously shown you another head crest at Kidani Village from the Boki people of Nigeria. This tribe lives in the area around the Cross River which has dense rain forests. The area is mostly untouched by civilization with much of the jungle not accessible by car.

These masks are common in ceremonies. The one shown here was used during funerals in order to communicate with the spirit world. It has both a male and female face, which was also common in the Boki design. Another typical design is the protruding eyes and mouth. This mask also has facial scarification which the Boki used.

By Safari Mike (@JamboEveryone)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Episode 39 of Radio Harambe - Kali Rapids Expeditions

Thank you for tuning into Radio Harambe! On today’s show, Dave and Safari Mike discuss the news from Disney’s Animal Kingdom, including lots of refurbs and a chance to see a film starring Joe Rohde. In the “World News” section, Dave guesses the cost of another hard ticket event and then has what we promise is the last Off Kilter meltdown. In the feature section, Safari Mike takes us on a tour of the queue for Kali River Rapids.

If you have any questions about the show, comments, or suggestions email us at You can also find us on Twitter @RadioHarambe

Saturday, October 4, 2014

A Photo For Today: A Subtle Salute

This photo was taken somewhere in the vicinity of the Animal Kingdom and is one of a few such proverbs and quotes found in that area. Have you ever seen them? (Notice the clever use of the word "vicinity" in my description...)

by Dave McBride (@RadioHarambe)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Disney's Animal Kingdom News Round Up for October 1, 2014: More Donald and Less Nets

Tusker House Extends Character Meals: From October 4th until Christmas Eve, the Tusker House will have extended lunch hours, which means extended character meals. During that time, lunch will be served from 11am until 5pm. This will be until 5:30pm on nights where the park closes at 6pm. When the park is open later (that is 7pm or beyond), a non-character buffet will begin at 6:15pm until park closing. Breakfast continues to be from 8 in the morning until 10:55am.

It's Tough to be a Bug: After an extensive refurb, this attraction has reopened. Much of the netting that had been in place to protect passersby from falling limbs has been removed. There is still some netting, but the aesthetic has been improved.

Leopard in the Land Comes East: The documentary shot during Joe Rohde's travels to Mongolia to paint the landscape and raise money to help the critically endangered snow leopard is playing October 4th in California. Fans on the east coast will get a chance to see the film in late March where it will play at the Environmental Film Festival in Washington, D.C. More details on the theater and time will be forthcoming. Check back here for more details.

Park Hours for the week are as follows....

Wednesday: October 1  9am-5pm
Thursday: October 2  9am-6pm
Friday: October 3  9am-6pm (EMH in the morning)
Saturday: October 4  9am-7pm
Sunday: October 5  9am-7pm
Monday: October 6  9am-6pm (EMH in the morning)
Tuesday: October 7  9am-6pm

Attraction Closures:

Pangani Forest Exploration Trail: Hippos, Aviary and Meerkat area closed until Nov. 14
Kali River Rapids: Closed January 20 to February 4
Wild By Design is now discontinued
Sunrise Safari to be discontinued as of December 28

Have a Wild Time this week!!