Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Animal Kingdom Theme Spotlight: The Yeti Shrine

Asia at Disney's Animal Kingdom is actually 2 separate lands or villages. There is Anandapur, home to the Jungle Trek, the Yak & Yeti, Kali River Rapids, and Serka Zong, the home of Expedition Everest. A path joins to the two, and this small shrine with old ruins is one of the most photographed spots on the trail.

As you can see, visitors have left some offerings like fruit and carved animals. This shrine was built to appease the Yeti of the mountains behind it. And the shrine was constructed along the road to the Forbidden Mountain next to old ruins.

But the shrine's shape is the most interesting thing about it. By looking at this picture and the one below, you will the shrine was built in the shape of the mountains viewed in the distance. Another attempt to appease the beast living within it.

As an aside, the big moutain is NOT Everest. That is the Forbidden Mountain, home of the Yeti, the subject of the shrine. Everest is the smaller mountain to the right, the one you want to reach by crossing the Yeti's home.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Episode 86 of Radio Harambe - May 2016 News Special

It's another News Podcast, and this show is packed with the latest from Disney's Animal Kingdom and the rest of Walt Disney World. Among the topics Dave and Safari Mike discuss this week are Dinosaur, Star Wars, and the new Jungle Book show coming to DAK.

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

Friday, May 20, 2016

Some information about the new Jungle Book show

Disney updated its website and gave us some additional information about what to expect with the new night time show, Jungle Book Alive with Magic. First of all, as we said earlier, the show starts on May 28th, one day after the other night time events. Also, fast passes will become available starting on May 21st. Finally, there will be dining packages at Tiffens and the Tusker House.

On the site, there is a description of the show that states it is inspired not only by the recent movie but by Indian celebrations. Like the movie, it will tell the story of Mogwli on water screens, while barges with dancers, singers and musicians float around the water. There will also be performers on the banks, as well.

Finally, they reference the three big hits from the movie "Bear Necessities," "I Wanna Be Like You," and "Trust in Me." However, these will be Indian-pop style versions of these songs. So I guess this is Disney meets Bollywood?

Endangered Species Day

So Twitter just told me its Endangered Species Day. In honor of that, here are some pictures of endangered species located at Disney's Animal Kingdom where efforts are underway to help save these animals:

The African elephant is, of course, endangered mostly due to poaching for its ivory tusks.

Addax were hunted to near extinction thanks to its beautiful horns.

Thanks to habitat destruction as well as over hunting, many bat species are endangered. We have only recently begun to understand their importance in bug control and in pollinating fruits like these bats.

Like the elephant, poaching has decimated all rhino species.

Once hunted as it was believed to prey on livestock, the biggest concerns now for the painted dog are diseases found commonly in domestic dogs.

Many birds like this Victoria Crowned pigeon are suffering due to the destruction of its rain forest home.

In years past, cotton top tamarins were exported out of its native Colombia for use in medical testing. They are still taken for the pet trade, and like many animals, their forest homes are being destroyed.

All species of tigers are endangered thanks to habitat destruction and poaching as their body parts are used of medicinal purposes.

Cheetahs suffer from a rare genetic issue. At some point in their evolution, their gene pool was so reduced that now each animal shares an abnormally high amount of the same DNA, creating all sorts of problems with reproduction.

Found only on the island of Komodo and some nearby Indonesian islands, this is the largest of all lizards and has always had a small population. The dragon is now endangered thanks to the usual issues of poaching and habitat loss.

By Safari Mike

Animal Kingdom News for May 20, 2016: Menu release and closures

Dinos going Down: The attraction, Dinosaur, is going down for an extensive refurbishment from July 25th all the way until September 29th. This is a rather lengthy refurb but we don't expect any substantial changes other than maybe some minor new effects.

who remembers this? 

Its all in a Name: Anyone remember the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail? That was the original name for Pangani. Well, it appears that name is returning as of Memorial Day weekend. Early guest feedback suggested people thought there were only gorillas on the trail so they went straight to them. I doubt that will be an issue now. We are simply not sure why they are making this change. Frankly, I prefer the name Pangani, its a bit more mysterious. One thing it does do is gives us all hope they may someday go back to Dinosaur's original name of Countdown to Extinction.

Jungle Book Fast Passes: Its official Jungle Book: Alive with Magic is debuting on May 28th. For those going at that time (or shortly thereafter), fast passes and dining packages will be begin to become available on May 21st. The dining packages will be include Tusker House where you can choose breakfast, lunch or dinner. Tiffens is also available but only for lunch or dinner. The price for that will be $69, which includes an appetizer and dessert. The Tusker House, a buffet, dining package will cost about $37 for breakfast and $49 for the other two meals.

Concept art courtesy of Disney
From the above concept art, it does appear the show will play movie clips on water screens. That is pretty much what we figured.

Tiffens Menu Revealed: Disney has released the menu for the upcoming signature restaurant, Tiffens. The entrees include berbere spiced lamb chop, wagyu striploin and braised short rib, miso-glazed black cod, head-on prawns, roasted vegetable curry and other items. Appetizers include lobster-popcorn thai curry soup, flash fried icy blue mussels and something called the archaeologist's salad. Like some other recent openings, the menu is quite eclectic for a theme park and it wouldn't surprise me if things change in the coming days.

Park Hours for this week are....
Friday May 20 9am- 6:30pm
Saturday May 21 8am-  6:30pm Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Sunday May 22 9am- 6:30pm
Monday May 23 9am- 6pm Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Tuesday May 24 9am- 6pm
Wednesday May 25 9am- 6pm
Thursday May 26 9am- 6pm

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Avatar Presentation

A few weeks ago, Joe Rohde and Jon Landau (a producer for the Avatar movies) made a presentation to the people getting a preview of Rivers of Light. We previously linked for you the video of the actual presentation. The highlight of the video was a clip of the Audio Animatronic of a Na'vi. Its quite impressive.

But I did want to point out an interesting quote from the presentation:

There's a very sophisticated bed of sound that sits under the landscape. There are huge animals moving in the distance. There are things for you to do to involve yourself with the culture, and of course there are the major attractions with astonishing flight across the planet on the back of a banshee and this beautiful, beautiful, beautiful musical journey into the bioluminescent forest which is just a stunning, stunning illusion

There are some very interesting tidbits in there I think.  "Huge Animals Moving in the Distance"? Where? On the attractions? Or will there somehow be an effect of some type in the walking paths themselves?

I am also fascinated by the musical journey that will be the boat ride through the bioluminescent forest. The reference to the "bed of sound" under the landscape is a great metaphor. It seems rather obvious that at least the vast majority of the boat ride will be indoors and dark so the forest comes alive. If you watch the video, they spend a lot of it on showing this plant life. But, apparently, music will play a major role. Perhaps a real treat for all of you background music loop fans.

Finally, what does it mean that there will be things for you to do involving the culture? Now, I recall a Parks Blog post from last year wherein they talk about a shaman of the Na'vi sending you into this journey (i.e. the boat ride). Is that what is meant by things to do with culture, or does it mean there will be activities around the land for guests to enjoy that immerse you into the culture. Since the land itself will have a backstory involving an ecotourism company, the latter seems quite plausible.

One thing Mr. Rohde did say is that will be more information given out over the next year, so stay tuned.

Animal Kingdom News: May 13, 2016: A review of Pizzafari and some harpists

More and More entertainment: 2 additional acts that have been brought in for the new night time entertainment offerings have begun testing at the park. You will be able to see Kora Tinga Ting in Harambe and the Sunset Sarenatas on Discovery Island. These acts are not on the schedule as of yet. They are both harpists and from what I have seen, a bit on the new age-y side, if that's your thing.

New items at Pizzafari: There is a comprehensive review of Pizzafari, which recently reopened, over that the Disney Food Blog. The review focuses on some of the new flatbreads as well as the shrimp on a lettuce bed. Pizzafari was always my least favorite quick service at the park, but the quality has definitely been improving over the last year or so. It remains one of the most pleasant buildings to sit in though.

Park Hours for this week are....
Friday May 13 9am- 6pm
Saturday May 14 8am-  6:30pm Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Sunday May 15 9am- 6:30pm
Monday May 16 9am- 6pm Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Tuesday May 17 9am- 6pm
Wednesday May 18 9am- 6pm
Thursday May 19 9am- 6pm

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A photo for today: The ducks

A fun, somewhat hidden mosaic within the aviary of the Maharajah Jungle Trek. These walking ducks are certainly thematic to the exhibit.

The aviary is the old palace ball room, which is evident from the tiled floors and ornate columns. But nature have over taken it. The people of Anandapur have allowed nature to claim the room. These ducks from the old room now share the space with real ducks.

By Safari Mike

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Animal Kingdom News: May 5, 2016: A look at the Na'vi and new entertainment

Amazing Animatronic: I have to say, if this is real and not a CGI effect, its pretty darn cool. Disney held a press conference featuring Joe Rohde and Jon Landau. They discussed many of the things we already know although there is some new footage of the light effects and some discussion about how the land will tell a story. But they save the best for last: an up close look at what is purported to be an audio animatronic of a Na'vi. Its incredibly life like. The close up is on the face and you can even see "muscles" moving in the cheek. If this is for the boat ride, I am not sure how guests will be able to appreciate the details, but that's for another day. Watch this video from Inside the Magic until the end. It won't disappoint.

courtesy of Disney

Entertainment Tests: Some of the entertainment you will see at night in Harambe is starting to come out for testing. The Harambe acrobats and the Karibu sisters are playing during the day as we await Memorial Day and the shift to evening park hours. Both seem excellent.

Happy Mother's Day: Disney released a video on the parks blog about some of the new babies at the park, including their moms. Below is a giraffe mom with 2 of the babies that were born last year. So, Happy Mother's Day to all of you moms out there.

Park Hours for this week are....
Friday May 6 9am- 6pm
Saturday May 7 8am-  6:30pm Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Sunday May 8 9am- 6:30pm
Monday May 9 9am- 6pm Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Tuesday May 10 9am- 6pm
Wednesday May 11 9am- 6pm
Thursday May 12 9am- 6pm

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The dancing cranes

One of the very best exhibits is the "prey" area of the Maharajah Jungle Trek. This large yard not only can be seen from several vantage points but wraps around the tiger exhibit so both predator and prey are visible in line of view. With the addition of the macaques coming soon, the birds- specially the waterfowl and sarus cranes- have been returned to this area with black buck, Eld's deer and the recently added water buffalo.

We recently got a chance to see the cranes dancing as seen above. This is a rare site so not only do I have some great photos as above but this fun video....

By Safari Mike