Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Disney's Animal Kingdom News Round-Up for January 28, 2015: Snow Leopards and Entrances

Leopard in the Land to Screen at D.C. Film Festival: We reported some months ago on a new documentary film called The Leopard in the Land, starring Joe Rohde, would be making its debut at the Environmental Film Festival this Spring in Washington, DC.  We now know some of the details. The film is scheduled to be screened on Friday, March 27 at American University. Here is the trailer…


For those who don’t recall, The Leopard in the Land follows Rohde’s month-long expedition across Mongolia’s to help conservation of the endangered snow leopard. “The Leopard in the Land shares a pilgrimage that explores why we travel, how we interact with the world, and the effect this has on everything else – including the elusive and enigmatic snow leopard.”  Go to this link for the Snow Leopard Conservancy to find out how you can buy a DVD copy of the film.

Kali River Rapid Entrance to Move?: We have known for some time that Kali River Rapids ride would be closed for maintenance this winter, which is not at all unusual for any Disney water ride. But what is a bit strange is we have now learned the entrance is being moved to the former FastPass machine area.



If this is in fact true, we are not totally sure how it will work. The area in question is under a house built on stilts, part of the backstory of the area. So if true, it is at least a positive that imagineers have chosen to integrate the structure more into the guest experience. More on this as we get additional information.


Park Hours for this week are...

Wednesday: January 28  9am - 5pm (Extra Magic Hour 8 - 9am)
Thursday: January 29  9am - 5pm
Friday: January 30  9am - 5pm
Saturday: January 31  9am - 7pm
Sunday: February 1  9am - 8pm (Extra Magic Hour 8 - 9am)
Monday: February 2  9am - 5pm
Tuesday: February 3  9am - 5pm

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

Attraction Closures:
Kali River Rapids: closed until February 4
Sunrise Safari: discontinued
Creature Comforts: closed
Flame Tree Barbecue: closed until April 2015

Have A Wild Time this week!!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

A Photo for Today: Decor Becomes Art

There literally is not one spy in Disney's Animal Kingdom that is beautiful, not one small corner where Imagineers took the easy path. While most people blaze through Discovery Island to get to their e-ticket of choice, they also miss some stunning details, such as this butterfly.


If you don't know where this is, we ain't going to tell you! Instead, the next time you are in Discovery Island try and find it. Along the way you will be stunned by the detail and variety of stunning artwork one can find in the decor.

by Dave McBride (@RadioHarambe)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Disney's Animal Kingdom News Round-Up for January 21, 2015: Avatar and Tigers

What exactly is “Morpho”?: WESH News in Orlando reported yesterday on a new and mysterious construction permit filed by Disney to begin work on a project they call “Morpho. Okay, maybe it’s not all that mysterious since the term “Project Morpho” is the codename we have known about for some time for the Avatar construction project at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The permit is for what they call “DAK Expansion - Morpho 803 Completion Package” and it is unusually vague.

image copyright Disney
What is new is that despite all of furor over someone flying an unmanned drone over the Avatar construction area, Disney allowed WESH’s helicopter to essentially get the exact same view. I guess WESH can thank the mysterious drone pilot for paving the way for them to get access to the skies hove DAK. If you didn't see that drone video, take a look at this one. It gives you a real sense of the scale of the area and its buildings and even a bit of the layout.

Some Great News for Tigers: Let us turn to some conservation news, and how about a little good news for a change? According to a report by the Guardian on Tuesday, India has reported a dramatic increase in its tiger population over the last three years.


Tigers face a perilous fight for survival. Between poaching and habitat loss, many believed the end was inevitable. Perhaps this glimmer of hope may change that and maybe, just maybe, we are finally on the road to success.



Park Hours for this week are...

Wednesday: January 21  9am - 5pm (Extra Magic Hour 8 - 9am)
Thursday: January 22  9am - 5pm
Friday: January 23  9am - 5pm
Saturday: January 24  9am - 7pm
Sunday: January 25  9am - 7pm
Monday: January 26  9am - 5pm (Extra Magic Hour 8 - 9am)
Tuesday: January 27  9am - 5pm

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

Attraction Closures:
Kali River Rapids: closed until February 4
Sunrise Safari: discontinued
Creature Comforts: closed
Flame Tree Barbecue: closed until April 2015

Have A Wild Time this week!!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Episode 49 of Radio Harambe - Previewing 2015 at Disney's Animal Kingdom

We are back this week with our first normal episode of 2015. Dave and Safari Mike discuss all the news from Disney’s Animal Kingdom including a change to the park tours, a bit of Avatar news and some controversial elephant talk. We also discuss the news from the rest of Walt Disney World including the Sorcerer's Hat, more Frozen and the astronomical price for the new Polynesian bungalows.



In our feature segment we have a full preview of 2015 at Disney's Animal Kingdom as we talk about everything know will happen at the park and even a few things we think may happen. Asante Sana and enjoy the show!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

A Photo for Today: Tam Tam Dancin'

Disney's Animal Kingdom is home to not only incredible attractions and wildlife, but also world-class entertainment, including the fun and always exciting Tam Tam Drummers.



Don't miss these guys the next time you are in the park. They plan on the stage in the center of Harambe and mostly in the early part of the day. Check your time schedule for exact showtimes. Oh, and don't leave your dancing' shoes in the hotel!

by Dave McBride (@RadioHarambe)

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Drone Flyover of Pandora

Have you seen this fascinating, and probably less-then-legal, video of a drone flying over the Avatar construction area at Disney's Animal Kingdom? Wow, technology has really taken the next step here in looking behind the Disney walls. Those aerial photos now look so 2014! 

 

My only wish here is that whoever filmed this didn't wait a few more months until we could really make out some interesting stuff, and not just steel and concrete. We get a good idea of the scope and layout, but that's about it. And now Disney will probably be on the lookout for these drones. Used incorrectly, I can imagine such drones could be a safety hazard to workers, but I doubt this is the last attempt at such a stunt.

by Dave McBride (@RadioHarambe)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Disney's Animal Kingdom Lands On “Worst Zoos for Elephants” List

This week, Disney made a list it probably wish it didn’t as the Animal Kingdom is named on 2014's "10 worst zoos for elephants" list as compiled by an organization called In Defense of Animals (IDA), a California non-profit animal advocacy group “dedicated to ending institutionalized exploitation and abuse of animals by defending their rights, welfare and habitat.” Here is the reason IDA gives for DAK’s inclusion on their list.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom (DAK) has made some not-so-magical decisions for its elephants that have resulted in tragic deaths. In July, pregnant Moyo, and her unborn calf, died as a result of birth complications after being shipped from Disney’s Animal Kingdom to The National Elephant Center in Florida (a facility run by a consortium of AZA zoos). Zoos generally do not transfer pregnant females because of the great stress of travel and potential complications, yet DAK trucked Moyo – who also reportedly had a “rare hormonal issue” – to this unproven Florida center.
Apparently DAK also made this list in 2007 for “dumping two prematurely infertile elephants at a facility known for aggression between its elephants.” As one would expect, Disney has not commented on this dubious distinction.


It is really difficult for us to comment officially on this without knowing much more about the inner workings of Disney's elephant care programs, as well the IDA's methods and motivations behind this list. I think it goes without saying that some "advocacy" groups simply do not like to see any animals, especially such large species, held in captivity. But what I certainly can comment is Disney's head-in-the-sand approach to handling such attacks. I truly believe that if Disney stands behind what they are doing and believe their handlers are doing the absolute best for these animals, they really should say so. These folks devote their lives to the welfare and well-being of the animals in their care and the top brass should come to their defense.

by Dave McBride (@RadioHarambe)

Disney's Animal Kingdom News Round-Up for January 14, 2015: Walls and Paint

More Discovery Island Walls: The return of some elbow room we reported a few weeks ago on Discovery Island has apparently disappeared again as new wall go back up in front of the Tree of Life, making for a serious bottleneck situation over there. Disney tries to suspend as much construction as possible during the incredibly busy holiday season, and that is apparently what happened here. But as the crowds thin out, and the operating hours at DAK shrink, construction work gets back into full swing. So, needles to say, we are back to a park full of walls...ugh.


Creature Comforts Gets Fresh Coat of Paint: As we have reported, the old Creature Comforts gift shop has closed and will be gutted in order to accommodate DAK’s Starbucks location. As a result, the building’s exterior has been given a fresh coat of paint and a new color scheme. Here is an article from wdwmagic.com with some great photos. Taken by itself it is very nice, but I am not sure how well it fits in with the rest of Discovery Island.


Park Hours for this week are...

Wednesday: January 14  9am - 5pm (Extra Magic Hour 8 - 9am)
Thursday: January 15  9am - 5pm
Friday: January 16  9am - 5pm
Saturday: January 17  9am - 7pm
Sunday: January 18  9am - 8pm (Extra Magic Hour 8 - 9am)
Monday: January 19  9am - 8pm
Tuesday: January 20  9am - 5pm

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

Attraction Closures:
Kali River Rapids: closed January 20 to February 4
Sunrise Safari: discontinued
Creature Comforts: closed
Flame Tree Barbecue: closed until April 2015

Have A Wild Time this week!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

World News Op-Ed: The End of an Era

A couple of weeks ago the walls came down revealing the new lobby at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. And it appears my fears have been realized. What was once a brilliant piece of Walt Disney’s legacy, and nothing short of a “wow” moment for those who saw it, is now…well…just a lobby.

the former lobby at the Polynesian
The Polynesian earned a special place in the hearts of Disney World travelers from it’s opening in 1971. And it was not just the location on the monorail loop people loved. From the beginning of Walt Disney World, the Polynesian set the standard for all the future resorts on property. Designers successfully captured the feel of a far off place, and we loved it! As you left the parking lot behind, the Polynesian transported you to the South Pacific. It was a tropical oasis and most of the story was told by the lobby. Your first view of that awe-inspiring and lush rainforest, with amazing colors and the sound of babbling waters, was a sight most of us just couldn’t wait to see again. For me, the sights, sounds and smells of the Poly’s one-of-a-kind lobby were some of the things I dreamed about on those freezing New Jersey winter evenings, pining away for my next visit to the Vacation Kingdom.

And now that’s all gone, replaced by something much more mundane and far less special. Gone are the beautiful orchids, spectacular greens and fantastic waterfalls. When the midday light shone in upon this scene people just couldn’t get enough, or at least I couldn’t. My only regret is that I couldn’t afford a SLR camera back then and was never able to really capture it in all its glory.

the new lobby
Sure it’s more functional and open, and I am certain a heck of a lot cheaper to maintain. And if taken without the resort’s history in mind, I suppose it is even pretty nice. But you simply can not forget history, ever, especially in a company with such a rich and important history as Disney. This is a serious downgrade, there is no other way to put it. What was once an amazing escape into the gorgeous world of the South Pacific is now nothing more than a nice lobby, and not nearly befitting of the resort’s price tag. In year’s past, I would make it a point to trek over to the Polynesian just to have a drink and soak in the ambience. It appears those days are sadly over.

Folks will continue to flock to the Polynesian, and pay through the nose for it. It’s location is enough to guarantee that. And Disney will save a ton, and therefore make a ton, with this new lobby instead of the costly old one. But is that really what Walt Disney was all about? Did he ever opt for the cheaper model? In a word, no.

There are even more changes underway at the Polynesian including changes to the pool, dining and the addition of new bungalows. It may very well be that after all of these projects are completed the Poly will be a better place then it was before. But it certainly won’t blow you away upon your first view like it once did. That’s the standard Walt wanted for this signature resort, and that has been replaced with “low-maintenance” and “functional”, two words hardly ever associated with ideas of Mr. Disney.

by Dave McBride (@RadioHarambe)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Episode 48 of Radio Harambe - Our 2015 DAK Wishlist

It's time for another special episode of Radio Harambe. On this show, Dave and Safari Mike will offer up their "wish list" for what they would really like to see happen at Disney's Animal Kingdom in the coming year.



Here is how it works, each host gets 6 items on the list, three small, two medium and one big one. And they also look back and see how last year's lists did. Enjoy the show and Asant Sana!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Aruna's Real Africa: Video Highlight from Kruger

The last couple of weeks have been pretty busy. To compensate for 4 months with only the Kilimanjaro Safaris to tide me over I was seriously in need of some time in the bush, so I managed to fit in a quick trip to Pilanesberg Reserve before the planned trip to Kruger with guests.  This means I have over 1000 photo's to sort through as both parks provided quite a few surprises.

Video courtesy Penga Ndlovu Tours

Pilanesberg is an unfamiliar park to me and besides the newness there was also great birding, so I have a lot of pictures that need identifying ;-)

As for Kruger, this trip was almost an "upside down" trip. We saw hardly any elephants, giraffe or zebra, but had a lot of sightings of the smaller animals such as 3 different types of mongoose, plenty of tortoises (due to the rainy weather) and my absolute highlight a thick-tailed bushbaby at the campsite.

You could also definitely notice it was spring, there were babies everywhere, especially impala and warthog. This of course meant that the predators were out in full force, we had 3 different hyena sightings and 4 sightings of lions and 2 of them had actual visible and awake lions.. probably because I complained in one of my recent posts ;-)

So pictures will have to wait for a bit, but I want to share this video with you. The absolute highlight of the trip, 5 rhino trying to decide if the car was safe or not. They started out about 30 yards away and just kept coming closer, after a few pictures I decided just to put the camera down and enjoy the amazing experience...

by Aruna Mohan (@arunarealafrica)

Thursday, January 8, 2015

A Photo for Today: Gone Fishin'

It is hard to believe a year has gone by since the closing of Camp Minnie-Mickey, my how time flies. So I thought we use today's "Photo for Today" to inject a little DAK nostalgia into the blog and post this photo of three buddies on a fish in trip.


by Dave McBride (@RadioHarambe)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Disney's Animal Kingdom News Round-Up for January 7, 2015: Backstage Tales and BBQ

Backstage Safari to become Backstage Tales: Beginning in March of 2015 , the Backstage Safari tour will end and a new tour called “Backstage Tales” will commence. From the description given by Disney it is hard to see any real difference between the two, other then the new tour will be 45 minutes longer and $18 more expensive. If we get anymore information as to what is being added to the tour we will certainly pass it along.


Can’t Live Without Your BBQ?: As we reported a few weeks back, the Flame Tree Barbecue is now closed for extensive refurbishment, scheduled to reopen in the spring. But fear not barbecue fans, you can apparently still get some of those menu items at different locations throughout Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The website wdwmagic.com did a fantastic story on this earlier in the week.


Park Hours for this week are...

Wednesday: January 7  9am - 5pm (Extra Magic Hour 8 - 9am)
Thursday: January 8  9am - 5pm
Friday: January 9  9am - 6pm
Saturday: January 10  9am - 8pm
Sunday: January 11  9am - 6pm
Monday: January 12  9am - 5pm (Extra Magic Hour 8 - 9am)
Tuesday: January 13  9am - 5pm

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

Attraction Closures:
Kali River Rapids: closed January 20 to February 4
Sunrise Safari: discontinued
Creature Comforts: closed
Flame Tree Barbecue: closed until April 2015

Have A Wild Time this week!!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

EXCLUSIVE Behind the Scenes at Avatarland

As construction continues, here is a small peak over the walls at Avatarland, or Pandora or "Pandora; the Land of Avatar" or whatever you want to call it...


The above and below pictures are looking at the new land from over by Pizzafari, which we believe will be the main entrance to the new land. As you can see, the bridge once leading to Camp Minnie-Mickey is getting worked on as it leads to this huge worksite.


How about we take a peek from the other direction? Well, there will be path leading from the Harambe Theater area that will lead into Pandora. Here is a peak over the wall near the new restroom building just off the Festival of the Lion King entrance.


The path looks great. We can't wait for it to be open. I have to say there does seem to be some sort of structure there. I am unclear what that is but the path will likely lead under a bridge and you can see the path sloping downwards.

By Safari Mike

Monday, January 5, 2015

EXCLUSIVE Behind the scenes at Harambe Market

We have been talking about the new Harambe Market for some time now. Here are some great "over the walls" photos for you. First as you can see, there building are peaking out over the walls.


But once over the wall, there is a lot going on


The 2 buildings are coming along nicely. Still no announcement from Disney or timetable, but it should only be a few months.


In the above pic, you can see the walls look a lot like the ones around the Tamu fort seating area. You also get a good look at the water tower and what looks like a smaller structure.


Here's a bit better look at the "crumbling" wall.


Finally, the other side of the area. This smaller structure stands directly behind Mombasa. This will be the entrance to the Market from the path towards Asia. Again, that same crumbling wall motif will mark the entrance.

Hopefully, there will be more pics coming soon

By Safari Mike

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Episode 47 of Radio Harambe - 2014 Year in Review at DAK

To celebrate the New Year, we have the first of two special year-end episodes of Radio Harambe. This one is our Year-in-Review show when Dave and Safari Mike take a look back at all the big stories at Disney's Animal Kingdom in 2014.



Believe it or not, Safari Mike is actually in the Radio Harambe studios for this show, for the first time ever! Our next show will be the 2015 Wishlist so stay tuned for that. Asante Sana!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

A Photo For Today: What Does His Name Mean???

The Caravan Stage is home to a terrific stage show called "Flights of Wonder". The show takes place in some old ruins which are now how to many species of exotic bird, and even some rats. While watching the show you will be joined by a tour group lead by this fellow...


His name is "Guano Joe", and we will let you look up the meaning of his nickname...

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A Walk Around DAK with Nick - New Years Edition

We are lucky enough to have another edition of walking around Disney's Animal Kingdom with our friend Nick. You should be following him on twitter at @NCucerzan and he's giving us some great photos over the last few months as he strolls the park. 


As you can see DAK is a bit crowded but there are plenty of walls. 

Work continues of the Disney Outfitters as it expands. 


As you may recall, walls around the Tree have been pushed back. 

It looks kind of barren but there is some great detail. 

The new coffee kiosk by Flame Tree has opened. 

The menu looks fairly typical of a coffee kiosk. That is except for the Island Cappuchino.

The details are outstanding. 

And so do the pastries. 

Flame Tree is about to go under a refurb. Some of it will change but here's a montage as it is now. 

Rivers of Light continues to grow. 

From Flame Tree you can see some good details. 
Along the River banks work on what we suppose is viewing areas continues 

The Harambe Market (still not officially announced) nears completion. 

You can begin to see structures above those fancy construction walls. 
Hopefully full details will be out soon. Keep it posted here for details

And speaking of fancy walls, we love how construction walls at DAK are so different. 

Don't you just love them. 

Happy New Year Everyone!