Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Animal Kingdom Construction Update

With so much construction going on at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, it looks like it is time for another “construction update”. I have a feeling this may very well be a reoccurring column here for the foreseeable future.

We told you last week about work soon to take place on the Flame Tree Barbecue. The counter-service location is scheduled to close from early January until April of 2015. At first, we assumed this was simply going to be the addition of more covered areas, as much of the existing tables and walkways are exposed to the elements. Well, this week it seems we may need to revise that assumption somewhat. Yesterday, Disney filed paperwork with Orange County to begin work on a project called “Safari Cantina”, which will be part of the Flame Tree.

So what is the “Safari Cantina”? If I were to wager a guess I would say it was some kind of bar, probably something with an open-air layout much like the Dawa Bar in Harambe. We know for certain the area just in front of the Tree of Life will eventually be home to some sort of nighttime entertainment, so what would be better than someplace close by to grab a drink? (For whatever it’s worth, the name “Safari Cantina” is also used as a cast member eatery at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.)

We also have a little update on the Water Tower which is part of the new Harambe Market. has some great photos over the construction walls giving us our first look at the beautiful detailing being applied to the tower. It looks as though we are getting something very different from what we saw on the concept art, but in a good way. Also, we can see just how close the market is to the Wildlife Express train. As I have said before, I really do hope the train becomes part of the aesthetic of the market. Such a beautiful train can really add to the theme of Harambe and is currently largely missed by guests.

by Dave McBride (@RadioHarambe)

Disney's Animal kingdom News Round-Up for November 26, 2014: Elbow Room, Openings, and Animals

Discovery Island Construction Walls Move Back:  Finally we have a little elbow room  in Discovery Island, as Disney has moved back the construction walls in front of the Tree of Life. This is the old location for the cotton-top tamarin exhibit and now is essentially nothing more than open space.

If we go back a bit to this above piece of concept art released by Disney a few months ago along with other depiction of the new nighttime ideas coming to the park, we can see exactly what this space if for. You can plan on having some sort of live musical entertainment in this area in the future.

Pangani Sections Reopen Just for Thanksgiving: According to, sections of the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail have been temporarily reopened to guests during the busy Thanksgiving holiday weekend. But as soon as the crowds subside, the Aviary, Research Center and Hippos area will close again to continue the work being done. Get there before December 1 if you want to see them because a timeline for reopening has not been announced.

Disney’s Animals Get a Website: Have you seen the new section of the Disney website called “Disney Animals”? It is basically Disney’s attempt to put some basic animal information out to guests. There are ten different categories of animals including species from throughout the Disney company, and not just those featured at the Animal Kingdom. There is some info about each animal, the work Disney is doing for those animals and a little something about what we can do to help.

Honestly, Disney is just waving at this idea and not going in as far as they can. They could really do much more, including adding more species to this page and even including some great animal info to the in-park app experience. But the good thing is we've got you covered. Have you seen Safari Mike’s animal page? There are dozens and dozens of species covered there and some great photos too.

Park Hours for this week are...

Wednesday: November 26  8am - 8pm (Extra Magic Hour 7 - 8am)
Thursday: November 27  8am - 8pm
Friday: November 28  8am - 8pm
Saturday: November 29  8am - 8pm
Sunday: November 30  9am - 7pm
Monday: December 1  9am - 5pm (Extra Magic Hour 8 - 9am)
Tuesday: December 2  9am - 6pm

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

Attraction Closures:
Pangani Forest Exploration Trail: Hippos, Aviary and Research Center closes Dec. 1
Kali River Rapids: Closed January 20 to February 4
Sunrise Safari: discontinued as of December 28

Have A Wild Time this week!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

One Part of the Sunrise Safari we will miss

There's a lot we will miss about the Sunrise Safari as it gets ready to be retired in a few weeks. There is the elongated version of the safari and the backstage looks at the park and even a glimpse into the construction at Avatarland. But perhaps, most surprisingly we will also miss the food at Pizzafari.

That's right, the breakfast served at Pizzafari was quite good. Now before you think I've had a few too many Tusker ales while writing this, Pizzafari is just the place the meal is served. The food, like the tour itself, is a product of the Animal Kingdom Lodge. And when the tour is over and you have finished with your last look at the addax, you are marched over to Pizzafari, which is known (at least to us) more for its fun look than its gourmet food.

You are introduced to your chef who in turn introduces your meal, which is not your typical eggs and bacon. Think more Boma breakfast than Chef Mickey's breakfast. There was, of course, beverages like coffee and tea as well as fun juices like guava juice. The food was actually stellar with things like cheesy hash browns, roasted potatoes with african spices, and a spicy sausage and potato casserole not to mention the most amazing banana French toast. Throw in an omelette station, a yogurt and oatmeal station and you have the makings of a quality breakfast.

Unfortunately, it appears the breakfast will soon disappear. As we said on a recent Radio Harambe episode covering the tour, its likely there will be a new incarnation of the sunrise safari, and hopefully this solid meal will be brought along too.

By Safari Mike

Monday, November 24, 2014

Episode 43 of Radio Harambe - The Excavator

It was a big week for news at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Dave and Safari Mike discuss it all, including new concept art for the Harambe Market, a new restaurant coming to Discovery Island and a major refurbishment for the Flame Tree Barbecue.

They also discuss the world news and in the feature segment Mike opens the Lost DAK Files and tells us about the Excavator. Thank you for downloading and please follow us @RadioHarambe. Asante Sana!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Thoughts on the Harambe Market

It has been nearly 8 months since Safari Mike first reported that Disney were building an open air market in Harambe behind the Mombasa Marketplace along a new path leading towards Asia. And the construction project has practically been in full view of guests for nearly as long. Well, we finally have something official in the form of concept art. At the risk of sounding smug, it looks like Mike got it spot on all those months ago!

Okay, let’s put the gloating to the side and talk about the picture. The long and short of it is the Animal Kingdom is getting a new outdoor counter service dining location called Harambe Market. It will feature a variety of ethnic cuisine available at a few different walk-up windows. There will also be produce carts, much like you see now outside of Kilimanjaro Safaris. Harambe Market will offer different covered seating throughout the area making this a very interesting place to eat.

I think it is also not insignificant that this rendering pictures the Market at dusk, with atmospheric lighting throughout the area. The Animal Kingdom is transitioning into a nighttime park and this new dining location certainly is part of that concept. The idea of a variety of counter-service African-inspired entrees available for dinner in such a fun and open location is terrific, and if done right, could be a great destination before Rivers of Light.

Some of the other things worth noting is the apparent involvement of the Winged Encounters show in this rendering. Could this mean it is moving to Africa, perhaps to a permanent and purpose built location? Such a decision would make plenty of sense considering the quality of the show and its current temporary looking location. We also see the “Water Tower” we reported on a few weeks back. This tower can possibly signal the addition of the Wildlife Express Train’s involvement in the backstory of the market. Finally, we have a new building which we still can not identify. In this picture we see just the side of it with no indication of what it might be. However, we do know there will be new merchandise locations in this area and it seems that is probably the best assumption to make.

I am certain some people will be disappointed there is no plan for any additional attractions here, but I do not share that disappointment. Harambe is the greatest “Epcot Pavilion” imagineers have ever created and what I think Harambe Market does is add to the incredible theme and atmosphere and give people a reason and a place to sit and enjoy it. Harambe is soon going to be huge, to say the least, and I can not wait to spend much of my day here. Plus, Africa already has plenty of big ticket attractions. While I would certainly welcome a new animal exhibit somewhere here, just the fact Disney is bringing more authentic cuisine to Harambe, and not turkey legs and hot dogs, is reason enough for us to celebrate.

by Dave McBride (@RadioHarambe)

New Sit-Down Restaurant Coming to Disney's Animal Kingdom!

The website has a lot of news regarding Disney’s Animal Kingdom this week, and here is a bit a news we weren’t expecting. They are reporting that a new table service restaurant will be coming to Discovery Island sometime in 2015.

When Disney workers moved the construction wall blocking off the entrance to the bridge to the former Camp Minnie-Mickey up to Pizzafari, we all assumed this was just an expansion of the work being done on the Avatar project. But it appears now this is actually work being done on the Pizzafari building which will house both the current counter-service location and this future table service as well. We have no word yet on what kind of cuisine will be served or what the name of this new eatery will be.

We are assuming since the theme of Pandora does not lend itself well to a restaurant that this location is being built specifically to take advantage of crowds heading towards the new section of the park, especially for dinner. The Animal Kingdom has only two sit-down restaurants, so another one has always been a possibility and even a necessity. This location makes a lot of sense, especially since we assume the focus of evening guests will be Pandora and the Rivers of Light. Hopefully we will know more about this soon, and you can be sure we will offer Imagineers our suggestions in the not-too-distant future.

by Dave McBride (@RadioHarambe)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Walking around with Nick: November 19, 2014

Here is another edition of walking around the Animal Kingdom with our friend Nick on November 19, 2014. We get some great looks at the Rivers of Light construction as well as the Christmas decorations that premiered on November 19th.

First up, though is the new parking lot that seems nearly complete, including cool Yeti signs.

But apparently the new parking lot also includes not just the Yeti but a giraffe section too.

 Christmas is here, and the cool tree out front is back.

 The tree is great due to some of the more unique decorations on and around it.

Christmas d├ęcor has popped up elsewhere in the park too, 'Tis the season

Heading in the park, what do our wandering eyes see - but more damned Frozen stuff. It appears even the Animal Kingdom cannot escape the hoopla.

 Also, there appears to be work going on after all in the upcoming Avatar section as work crews are being spotted over the walls.

Despite reports elsewhere, there is still some netting around he Tree of Life

Still, the new cotton top tamarin exhibit looks fantastic doesn't it?

 Over in Asia, Rivers of Light stuff is happening fast and furious.

 From these pics, you can work being done on the river banks both near the Nemo show as well as near Everest. This will likely turn into seating. But now, a bird's eye view of the area;

Also, as we know, construction will begin soon on the Flame Tree BBQ. The joining kiosk, which we believe is a  Joffrey's coffee place. Here's  look at that;

Its unclear when that will open, but it likely won't be until after the work is completed on the rest of the facility. And finally, a great look at the tiger over at the Maharajah. Nick got some great looks at her.

Thanks again to Nick. Please follow him over at @NCucerzan on twitter.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

EXCLUSIVE Harambe Market over the wall shots

We are lucky enough to provide you with some over the wall photographs of the new Harambe section from a secret spy.

As you can see, there is a ton of work going on back there.

The old style wall is great looking. And we are starting to see the scope of the buildings back there. I am also very interested in the work straight back. That area when looking at the overhead shot is cleared space that could be perhaps an animal exhibit.

That building is particularly large. Store? New counter service? Also, here to the right is an elevated platform. What is that? A stage? Another small building? Only time will tell.

In this last photo, you can see how close the buildings are. You can also see how much open space there is. Plenty of room for a outdoor seating.

By Safari Mike

Disney's Animal Kingdom News Round-Up for November 19, 2014; Roofs, Operating Hours and Science

Major Refurb Coming to Flame Tree Barbecue:  The Flame Tree Barbecue counter service restaurant is scheduled to undergo a major refurbishment early next year. It looks like it will close on Januray 5, 2015, right after the holiday crowds leave Walt Disney World.

This is mostly about adding more covered areas to the mostly outdoor seating sections, thus making it more useful to guests during inclement weather. The good thing is this doesn’t seem to be much of a change besides a few extra roofs. The Flame Tree has a simply terrific outdoor location, perhaps the best in all of WDW. And we would hate to se that ambience adversely effected by any changes.

Holiday Hours Galore!:  Thanksgiving is coming next week, and that means the operating hours at Disney’s Animal Kingdom magically increase, despite the often repeated need for the animals to “sleep”, apparently at about 5pm. This means guests will have a great opportunity to visit the park after the sun goes down. And as we always say, DAK after dark is a fantastic place!

Science Center Opens at Rafiki’s Planet Watch: Some changes to Rafiki’s Planet Watch have been completed. The old Wildlife Tracking Center has reopened as the Science Center. Here is how it is described on the Disney Parks Blog:
The new name reflects this as a location that is fun, interactive and inspiring, highlighting science using applied means, which is precisely what the Science Operations team is all about. Guests have the opportunity to view behavioral husbandry cast members coordinating animal training and enrichment programs, animal behavior scientists analyzing behavioral data, endocrinologists monitoring pregnancies and hormone cycles of animals within the park, and/or the population biologist working on animal management plans that help us determine which animals should be put together for breeding.
More changes are on the way for Rafiki’s Planet Watch, specifically a refurbishment to the Affection Section. More on that in the coming days…

Park Hours for this week are...

Wednesday: November 19  9am - 5pm (Extra Magic Hour 8 - 9am)
Thursday: November 20  8am - 5pm
Friday: November 21  8am - 5pm
Saturday: November 22  8am - 7pm
Sunday: November 23  8am - 8pm (Extra Magic Hour 7 - 8am)
Monday: November 24  8am - 8pm
Tuesday: November 25  8am - 8pm

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

Attraction Closures:
Kali River Rapids: Closed January 20 to February 4
Flame Tree Barbecue: Closing January 5
Sunrise Safari: discontinued as of December 28

Have A Wild Time this week!!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Aruna's Real Africa: McDonalds!

In Kruger you are almost guaranteed to see McDonalds....

No, not the restaurant....
No, not discarded Big Mac boxes and McFlurry containers...

But the McDonalds of the bush; the Impala

Trying not to become a snack!
One reason they are called this is because there are about 120.000 impala in the park, which makes them the go-to snack for many predators. Lions, leopard, cheetah, wild dog, hyena, crocodile will all easily be able to catch impala. Even baboons have been known to eat them.

Because they are so common many people pass them by, but if you take the time for a good look you will see that they are beautiful animals.

The other reason they are called the McD of the bush ... take a good look ..
Yep, they all have the 'golden arches' ... a nice M for McDonalds on their butt ;-)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Kill Refurb Marry: Coffee Places

Our friends over at Happy Place Blog and Mouse on the Mind put together a blog roll called Kill Refurb Marry. Naturally, the idea is you love something so much you wanna marry it. There's another thing you kind of like but it needs some work. And, of course, there is something you just want to wipe off the face of the earth. This time we are talking coffee joints.

Kill: This one is easy. That coffee place right out in front of the Animal Kingdom. It seems so drab and dull and yes, I know that's kind of the point but still in a place full of theming, this has none. Blow it up. If you can't make something with a little pizzazz then don't bother.

Refurb: I am going to say Kusafiri here. Don't get me wrong, I really like Kusafiri. Still, its not quite perfect. One thing is it needs some seating. Harambe is a great place to park your butt and enjoy a cup of coffee and people watch. So add some space to do that. But even more important is to add some different coffees. Joffreys has several Disney related blends that would fit right in. There is a Jiko blend, a Taste of Africa blend and even a Tusker House blend. They need to sell these here.

Marry: Those of you who read this blog, or even more so listen to Radio Harambe know that Disney's Hollywood Studios is not my favorite - not by a long shot.  Yet, I love some parts of the park like One Man's Dream, Hollywood Blvd., and Muppet Vision. Also, I love the Writer's Stop. While most guests run over each other to get to Toy Story or the Tower, we sign up for Jedi Training, ride Star Tours and then hit this coffee place for some really unhealthy breakfast options and coffee. Its quiet, quaint and just fantastic. I hope it never leaves.

By Safari Mike

Disney's Animal Kingdom News Round-Up for November 12, 2014: More Harambe News and a Construction Delay

Yet More New Aerial Photos of Harambe Construction:  We are still waiting to find out exactly what is going into the new Harambe area, as it is now obviously much more than just a pathway. This week we have a new aerial photo from Scott Keating, who has been a terrific source for these projects.

We see three possible structures here. There is a small building going directly behind the Mombasa Marketplace, as well as a much larger and multi-sectional building across from it. It also appear there is a clearing in the top left corner by the entrance to the Wildlife Express train station. This could be a place for a new building or possibly an animal habitat. With the continued silence from Disney, we can only speculate.

Affection Section Reopening Delayed: The Affection Section area at Rafiki’s Planet Watch was scheduled to be reopened by now, but according to it has been delayed until later in the week. It looks like they are going to need a couple of extra days to complete the work.

Park Hours for this week are...

Wednesday: November 12 9am - 6pm (Extra Magic Hour 8 - 9am)
Thursday: November 12  9am - 7pm
Friday: November 14  9am - 7pm
Saturday: November 15  9am - 7pm
Sunday: November 16  9am - 6pm
Monday: November 17  9am - 5pm (Extra Magic Hour 8 - 9am)
Tuesday: November 18  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 14

Have A Wild Time this week!!

Monday, November 10, 2014

My Hopes for the Harambe Market

There is a lot of construction going on behind Mombasa Marketplace. As we have reported for months now, Disney is constructing a market type area back there. It will actually lead out to the path from Asia, creating a second entrance into Harambe.

Here's what we know: Its a lot bigger than people had initially expected. It will be dining. Our understanding is it will be a market (which is why we here have dubbed it the Harambe Market for now). Think the Sunset Ranch over at Hollywood Studios. Several smaller kiosk or counters with a select number of items, open air, with a lot of seating. Almost like Sunshine Seasons at the Land Pavilion but outdoors. We have also heard the fruit market located near the entrance of Kilimanjaro Safaris will be moved over there, as well. Possibly even taking the dole whips at Tamu Tamu with them.

The question now is- what do I want? Well, I want to continue the look and feel of Harambe and bring an authentic street market to Harambe, much like ones you see in Zanzibar a small island off the coast of Tanzania that was an inspiration to imagineers in designing the fictional town. I mean, doesn't this look familiar?

Old Court House Stone Town Zanzibar

Now look at this? Which is Harambe and which is Stone Town in Zanzibar?

There is a lot of great food there. It is after all called the Spice Island and was an important stop for many traders from Europe, Persia and India. It still is an important source of nutmeg, cinnamon and black pepper.

Stone Town Waterfront, Zanzibar (10163203685)

I would love to bring some of the street food from this area to Harambe, and create an interesting dining experience. So what am I talking about? How about Zanzibar pizza? It's also called forodhani and is a mixture of veggies, egg and mayo (and sometimes beef) wrapped in a thin dough and fried. Kachori is a deep fried ball of mashed potatoes, chili, lime and ginger, and sounds amazing. Chapatti is a buttery flaky bread that's griddled. Skewers of meat are popular too. And then there is coffee, which there is more of a dark espresso.

Market (7928093184)

photo from

The popularity of the Harambe Nights event could be a driving force behind this. It was universally well loved. People seemed to really enjoy the street party atmosphere. And with Disney hoping to have this park open later and later, well you get the idea.

I expect there will be shopping too. It also wouldn't surprise me to see the stage for Burudika moved out from where it is now to the new area to open more walking space for the crowds. Lets be honest, that spot can get congested when the band is playing and Festival of the Lion King is just getting out.

Speaking of Lion King, we still don't know where the three spotted hyenas are going. They could be headed to the safari or the currently being refurbed Pangani. Or, there could be an exhibit built for them somewhere over in the new area. I enjoy stand alone exhibits like the gibbon and siamang exhibits in Anandapur, so I would enjoy being able to stop and watch the hyenas for a bit.

I have to admit I am excited to see what happens with this area. Disney has been quiet about it so far, but now the buildings are visible over the walls so guests know something is happening. Stay tuned for the official announcement.

By Safari Mike

Episode 42 of Radio Harambe - Our Harambe Expansion Wishlist

In this episode of Radio Harambe, Dave and Safari Mike discuss the news from Disney's Animal Kingdom and the rest of Walt Disney World, including some news from the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, new aerial photos of Avatar, and some Epcot news. In the feature segment, your hosts offer up their wish list for what they would like to see in the latest expansion of Harambe.

Please subscribe to the show on iTunes and also rate and leave a review there. Thank you very much for listening!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Aruna's Real Africa: Zazu!


According to the Disney Wiki Zazu is a red-billed hornbill. There are 5 species of red-billed hornbill, here in South Africa we have the Southern Red-Billed Hornbill and  yes, whenever we spot one we call it a Zazu.

Zazu trying to keep warm on a cold and damp day...
The Red-Billed Hornbill is one of 5 species of Hornbills in South Africa, and are quite common in Kruger but not as common as the Yellow Billed Hornbill that can always be found at the camp and picnic sites trying to get an easy meal. This makes it fairly easy to get photo's like this one...

Ready for my close-up!
The largest of the hornbills in South Africa, and indeed the largest of all hornbills is the Southern Ground Hornbill. Within South Africa they are classified as endangered with only about 1500 left in South Africa so this is always a very special sighting. Standing 36-51 inches and weighing up to 13.6 lbs, these are definitely Zazu's big cousin!

by Aruna Mohan