Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Disney's Animal Kingdom News round-Up for September 30, 2015: Flik, Kali, and Conservation

The Return of Flick: As of October 4 guests will once again be able to meet Flik, the star of the Pixar film “A Bug’s Life”. He can be found over on Discovery Island by Creature Comforts, where Daisy Duck used to be. Daisy will now only be found during character meals at Tusker House.

Kali Extra Magic Experiment to End: We told you not too long ago about the strange decision to add Kali River Rapids to the Extra Magic Hours roster. It wasn’t the addition of the ride we found strange, but the timing of it. Kali is most appreciated during the hot and busy summers, when the ride is most crowded and most refreshing. Instead, it was added at the end of the summer when the crowds have thinned out. Well, as of next week Kali River Rapids will return to opening at 9am.

Extra Magic Hours Changes: Speaking of Extra Magic Hours, if you look below at this week’s park operating hours you will notice there are no Extra Magic Hours scheduled for this week. That is due to the fact that the park’s EMH scheduled will return to Sundays and Wednesdays in October, leaving the unusual 10 day gap in between EMH days at the Animal Kingdom.

DCF Awards $3 million in Grants: The Disney Conservation Fund (DCF) has announced its 2015 wildlife conservation grant recipients. 3 million dollars will be awarded to 104 different conservation projects helping species throughout. This means the DCF has now contributed a total of over $30 million since it began in 1995. As we love to ask in moments like this, “Does your favorite theme park do that?”

Park Hours for this week are...

Wednesday: September 30 am -5pm
Thursday: October 1  9am - 5pm
Friday: October 2  9am -5pm
Saturday: October 3  9am - 5pm
Sunday: October 4 9am - 6pm
Monday: October 5  9am - 6pm
Tuesday: October 6  9am - 6pm

Attraction Closures:
Disney Outfitters: expansion work until November 2015
Pizzafari: closed August 24 through October 19
Primeval Whirl: closed August 17 through to November 12
Flights of Wonder: closed 10/5/2015-11/5/2015

Have A Wild Time this week!!

DAK Theme Spotlight: The Colobus Monkey exhibit

The Pangani Forest Exploration Trail is a terrific zoological exhibit with some very popular animals like gorillas, meerkats, zebra and okapi. And these are naturalistic exhibits meant to showcase the animal in a replica of its natural home. So, you may wonder, what is the deal with the very first exhibit with a family of monkeys behind wire mesh?

Sure, it seems somewhat unnatural but that is the point. You see wildlife biologists and students are using the Pangani forest for study, and you will see signs of this throughout the trail. Dr. Kulunda is the director of the Pangani Forest Conservation School and he has set up this rehabilitation center for this troop of black and white colobus monkeys.

These monkeys are being rehabilitated. Perhaps their forest home was destroyed and they are being relocated here. Perhaps they were found injured. There are many reasons for animals to spend time in a center such as this.

Regardless of the reason, the goal here is to eventually reintroduce this group into the wilds of the Pangani forest. Looking around the exhibit, you will see signs of the students' notes and supplies at this center.

The team is documenting the activities of the monkeys to ensure their safe return to their homes. So while this exhibit might not seem as naturalistic as the rest of the trail, there is a definite story being told.

This is something that is done in the "real" world at various conservation centers including some of our very own conservation partners like the Ara Project and the Cheetah Conservation Center. So this exhibit is giving you a little look into the reality of projects going on around the world.

By Safari Mike

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Safari Mike's One Day Plan for the Animal Kingdom for a Family

So, on episode 68 of Radio Harambe, Dave and I set out our perfect plan for the best day possible at the Animal Kingdom. I took on a plan for a family while Dave tackled a plan for adults and/or solo travelers.

As with all plans of this type, it starts 60 days before the day you actually get there when you make those all important, constantly second guessed Fast Pass plus reservations. For this plan, I am telling you to make FP+s for Expedition Everest at 1030-1130, Kali River Rapids at 12-1,  and the Kilimanjaro Safari at 330-430.

Now, we assumed the currently fairly typical park hours of 9 am to 6 pm. We do not assume its an extra magic hour day. But even though the park opens at 9, we want you to get to park at 815. That's because the new opening procedures allows guests to enjoy the Oasis starting around 8:30 and we want you to do just that. Plus, you can get a Wilderness Explorer's book during that time. I do not build in time to play this incredible game, but get the book and try it out as you go along. 

Once the park opens, you head to  the Maharajah Jungle Trek and rope drop that. Once done, you should be at Dinosaur by about 9:30. This is followed by Primeval Whirl and Triceratops Spin and in between check out Chester & Hesters and Cretaceous Trail. This land will be generally empty while everyone else is doing Everest and the Safari. Make sure you get to the Nemo Musical right next door by 10:25 for the 1030 Finding Nemo show.

Once the show is over at around 11:05, you can go ahead and use your Expedition Everest fast passes. You then should make it to the 11:45  showing of Flights of Wonder and then it will be time for your Kali River Rapids fast passes. Make sure you take a few moments at least to enjoy the gibbons and the shopping in this area. 

You should be at Discovery Island in front of the Tree by 12:45 ish. It's a great time to spend a few moments to check out some of the animal exhibits there as well as the Tree of Life itself. A family spending 5 minutes to see the animals embedded into the tree can be time well spent. I want you to be right in front of the park's icon a few minutes before 1pm for the showing of the underrated Winged Encounters. 

After checking out the Discovery Island trails and perhaps even meeting Dug & Russell or Pocohontas before and after the short parrot show, you should head over to Harambe Market and have lunch by about 1:30. This will give you PLENTY of time to sit, relax and enjoy the 1:50 show by the Burudika band. 

My plan has you at the Festival of the Lion King by 2:20 for the 2:30 pm show, I want you to use your fast passes for the Safari at around 3:45. This gives another 45 minutes or so to shop the great stores around Harambe, grab a beverage at the Dawa and perhaps even check out the trail behind the Tree of Life. 

As I said, at 3:45 use your safari fast passes then walk the Pangani Trail. Try to be at the bachelor group of gorillas by about 4:40 or so. They usually are very active right before the end of the day and make for a fun watch. 

So now it should be about 5pm and I know there is stuff we haven't done. So here you need to decide what you want to do. You could spend the time heading over to Rafiki's Planet Watch. Or, you could meet Mickey at the Adventurer's Outpost, take in It's Tough to be a Bug and enjoy some shopping. Under those 2 alternates, I would recommend ADRs for one of the lodge restaurants for about 6:30, enjoying the savannas before dinner and then some night vision goggles action after dinner.

Plan C would be making dinner reservations for the last possible seating at either Tusker House or Yak & Yeti, usually at 5:30, before that take in either a meet n greet at the Adventurer's Outpost, or a showing of It's Tough to Be a Bug time permitting, or you can just enjoy shopping and atmosphere. But you won't finish dinner until at 6:45 or 7pm. Then, walk slowly out the near empty park, and if its a certain time of the year, it will be dark, a most magical time for the park. 

As you can see this plan avoids lines. It puts you at Dinoland early when everyone else is heading to Everest and Harambe. You have fast passes for the biggies later. Feel free to swap stuff out. If for example you and your kids don't want to do Everest or Kali, swap in the Mickey and Minnie meet n greet and spend the other time meeting Baloo or Dug. But either way, this plan should give you a great day at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

By Safari Mike 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Construction Update 9/24/2015

I have some great photo updates of the construction around Disney's Animal Kingdom. Thanks again to Nick (make sure you follow him on twitter @NCucerzan). Lets start off with a look at the Disney Outfitter's construction.

Here is a panoramic view of the Rivers of the Light work from the Flame Tree Barbecue.

Now some more looks specifically at parts of the construction:

This looks like some water side viewing as they look to have some railing being set up.

This area, as you can see, is close to the Flame Tree area.

Work is getting serious and there will be a LOT of water side viewing areas around Everest.

The above area is near the Theater in the Wild.

Work also continues that odd little building as you can see above as well as the seating areas.

Vegetation being cleared for the view as well.

Here is ramp for the viewing as well. Now for some looks of the area from the top of Everest.

And here is some more looks. As you can see barge work is being done far from the actual Rivers of Light presentation. Not sure what this will be.

Near here there is work being done on the old Everest Fast Pass kiosks. Its being converted to a food stand. No date on when it will be done but its a significant construction.

So lets end it with some fun pictures. The park has some new baby warthogs.

Cute little guys.

By Safari Mike and thanks again to Nick

Happy Elephant and Rhino Day!

Today is Elephant and Rhino Day at Rafiki's Planet Watch! So let's celebrate with some photos of these incredible animals.

Elephants are perhaps the most iconic animal at Disney's Animal Kingdom, and have always played a big part in the park's story. 

But some of the best encounters on Kilimanjaro Safaris come courtesy of the rhinos. I will never forget when this big girl walked inches from the truck. 

And who doesn't just love to see a black rhino, a species under constant threat in the wild, just relaxing at the Animal Kingdom without a care in the world. No poachers here!

by Dave McBride (@RadioHarambe)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Disney's Animal kingdom News Round-Up for September 23, 2015: Elephants and Rhinos, Oh My!

Elephant and Rhino Day: This Thursday Sept 24 Rafiki’s Planet Watch will celebrate Elephant and Rhino Day. According to the Disney Parks Blog, “guests have the opportunity to meet rhino and elephant keepers, learn the differences between how white and black rhinos eat, how elephants communicate, how we are trying to keep them safe in the wild and much more"

Don’t miss this wonderful little events if you are at the Animal Kingdom. The chance to talk with the folks who work with these animals everyday is worth the train ride to Rafiki’s.

Sumatran Rhinos on the Brink of Extinction: With Rhino’s being celebrated at the park, we thought we would pass along this alarming bit of news. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), one of the world’s leading conservation organizations, declared earlier this week that the Sumatran Rhino is now on the brink of extinction. These rare and amazing creatures are under threat mostly from poaching and habitat loss. This situation may be too critical to reverse, but we have to try. Go to to find out more about the Sumatran Rhino and see how you can help.

Park Hours for this week are...

Wednesday: September 23 9am -5pm
Thursday: September 24  9am - 5pm
Friday: September 25  9am -5pm (Extra Magic Hour 8 - 9am)
Saturday: September 26  9am - 5pm
Sunday: September 27 9am - 5pm (Extra Magic Hour 8 - 9am)
Monday: September 28  9am - 5pm
Tuesday: September 29  9am - 5pm

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

Attraction Closures:
Disney Outfitters: expansion work until November 2015
Pizzafari: closed August 24 through October 19
Primeval Whirl: closed August 17 through to November 12
Flights of Wonder: closed 10/5/2015-11/5/2015

Have A Wild Time this week!!

Episode 68 of Radio Harambe - Best Day at DAK

What is the best plan for one day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom? This week, Dave and Safari Mike offer up there personal touring schedule for one day at the park. The guys also discuss the news from Disney’s Animal Kingdom and the rest of Walt Disney World, including Elephant and Rhino Day, and accomplishment for Boma, and even a lengthy discussion on the recent PBS documentary about Walt Disney.

If you have any questions or comments about the show, feel free to email us at Asante Sana!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

International Rhino Day 2015

Coming this Thursday is Elephant and Rhino day at the Animal Kingdom, but today is International Rhino day. So I wanted to take a moment and discuss rhinoceros conservation.

These animals are some of my favorites. They are so prehistoric looking. In fact, rhinos can be seen in prehistoric cave paintings from Europe where they once roamed. They were widespread throughout Africa and Asia in more recent times, being found in the Asian forests and African plains.

There are many threats to all species of rhino. The most well known is obviously poaching. Powdered horn is used as herbal medicine in Asia for a variety of issues ranging from cancer to impotence to hangovers. Poaching has exploded in recent years and the demand is being driven by an increasing upper middle class in Vietnam where the ownership of a horn is a sign of stature. In South Africa where 40% of the black rhino population lives, there were 1215 incidents of poaching in 2014 alone. Poachers have even taken to using helicopters and night vision equipment as the profit for a horn has increased dramatically.

Habitat loss is another issue, particularly for the Asian species of rhino. Things like logging, expansion of farming and dam construction has taken a toll on the rain forest where the majority of the animals live.

This Greater One Horned Rhino resides at the Bronx Zoo

There are 5 species of rhino. In Africa, there is the White and Black rhinos. In Asia, there is the Greater One-horned rhino as well as the Javan and Sumatran species. Only the Greater One-horned species (which currently numbers about 3400 in the wild) and the White rhino (which numbers about 20,000) are not critically endangered, although both are in serious trouble. The Black rhino numbers about 5,000 in the wild. Worse still are the Javan rhino and the Sumatran rhino which both number less than 100 individuals in their jungle homes.

By Safari Mike


Monday, September 21, 2015

AKL Art Spotlight: Ndbele's Beaded Apron

The Ndbele, sometimes spelled Ndebele, are a tribe from the South Africa and a part of the Nguni group of tribes, which comprise nearly two thirds of the African population of that country. They are closely related to the Zulu tribe.

Their art form is a defining characteristic of the people. There is a strong emphasis on linear designs. The symmetry and edges were all done without the benefit of rulers and other similar tools as artists were able to keep lines straight freehand. Most homes are adorned with colorful geometric patterns on the outside, a unique look for certain.

Women of the tribe use decorations, as well. The status of the woman is closely tied to adornments and jewelry. The apron, such as the one depicted above, is a symbol of the culmination of a marriage and the woman will wear this after the birth of her first child.

By Safari Mike

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Disney's Animal Kingdom News Roundup for 9/16/2015: More earth tones and awards

Pizzafari work: Our friends over at the Orlando Park News continually bring great updates to their site. This most recent one shows the new look of the allergy kiosk which has recently reopened. Its all browns and yellows. While, perhaps more striking, is the new look of Pizzafari. Again, its very earth tone but has some striking new designs including beautiful cheetahs on its walls.

Best Buffets: A travel site, Cheap Tickets has recently put out a list of the best 7 buffets in the country. And Boma has made the list. That's right, in the entire country! We have often sung the praises of the place so its nice to see some national recognition.

Park Hours for this week are....
Thursday September 17 9am- 5pm
Friday September 18 9am- 5pm
Saturday September 19 9am- 5pm
Sunday September 20 9am- 6pm (Extra Magic Hour 8am to 9am)
Monday September 21 9am- 5pm
Tuesday September 22 9am- 5pm

Primeval Whirl should reopen November 12th
Pizzafari should reopen on October 19th

Check out the Kenny the Pirate for the entertainment schedule

Have a Wild Time

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Loss of Whimsy?

We have broached the subject before on Radio Harambe. But we are concerned there may be a loss of what makes the park's hub, Discovery Island, so great. It's whimsical nature.

It all started with the advent of Starbucks. Now, unlike some others on our team, I am not anti-Starbucks. But I am not a big fan of the change to earth tones.

Now compare that to the look of the rest of the island.

The tropical island feel permeates the place.

The fun designs accentuate the style. Even with the potted plants.

Imagineers traveled throughout the world in order to design this park and it shows. On Discovery Island, the main influence is Bali, a small island off the coast of Indonesia. But designers also used the Caribbean and other island cultures as a back drop. You see Discovery Island is supposed to be a sort of amalgamation of all of these island cultures, many of which use bright primary colors. Look at the old siding of the Flame Tree BBQ pre-recent refurb.

Now look at the current siding of Flame Tree BBQ.

Whimsical, yes. Bright? Not really. Its much more earthy its look. A deep red clay color. Yes, it looks good but I much prefer the tropical island look of the old one.

Hopefully, we don't lose more of that style with the currently under refurbishment Disney Outfitters and Island Merchantile.

But I think we will.

By Safari Mike