Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

Its true. The Animal Kingdom is not the focal point of celebrating the holidays at Walt Disney World. There are parties over at the Magic Kingdom, Holiday celebrations from around the world at Epcot and a new show at the Tower of the Terror.

But at the Animal Kingdom, you can certainly enjoy some fun decor. And, frankly, it is usually the least crowded park on Christmas Day. I decided to put up a few pictures of some the ways the Animal Kingdom shows its holiday spirit.

You can fun things like this Stitch scattered through out the park. 

At night, the park takes on a special look. Like the rest of the park, this one is darker and the holiday decor more subtle. 

The tree ornaments also a very different at the Animal Kingdom. Like the lion above, the decorations are very specific and well themed. 

And I just love Harambe during the holidays. Keeping with the theme of an old African town, you will find wreaths made of old bicycle tires. 

So Merry Christmas. 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Disney's Animal Kingdom News for December 20, 2017: Flight of Passage just got tougher to get on

More People for Avatar: In a bewildering decision by WDW, some previous benefits reserved only for Disney resort guests are being expanded to include some of the Disney Spring Resort hotels and some other non-Disney properties such as the Wyndam Lake Buena Vista and the Holiday Inn Orlando. There are eight hotels included. Starting January 1, these guests will be able to book fast passes 60 days out instead of 30 and use Extra Magic Hours. Flight of Passage just got harder to get on for Disney resort guests.

Baby Tigers: As you all know by now, little Anala and Jeda are now being seen in the Maharajah Jungle. The sumatran tiger cubs were born earlier this year. These animals are critically endangered, with less than 500 still surviving in the wild. Be aware, the cubs will not be out for the entire day at least for the short term future. As we get more information on a schedule, we will relay that.
photo courtesy of Disney
Happy Holiday
Park Hours for this week are...

Thursday December 21 9 am - 8 pm

Friday December 22 9 am - 8 pm

Saturday December 23 9 am- 8 pm  Extra Magic Hour in the morning

Sunday  December 24 9 am- 10 pm

Monday December 25  9 am- 10 pm  Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Tuesday December 26 9 am- 10 pm 
Wednesday December 27 9 am-10 pm

Monday, December 11, 2017

Flights of Wonder being replaced with Dug

I am a big fan of Up. Its my favorite Pixar movie and in my Top 3 of Disney animated movies. I think the Wilderness Explorers "game" is one of the very best things at Disney. And I want more Dug and Russell. But, I am not sure how I feel about this.

As we noted in our most recent episode of Radio Harambe, we were certain the rumors of the demise of Flights of Wonder were true. And yes, Flights of Wonder is ending on December 31st. A new show, featuring Dug and Russell from Up will begin next spring. I can almost guarantee that the show will be launched on Earth Day 2018, the 20th anniversary of the park's opening.

First, some good news. As we had mentioned on the podcast, we had information that the show would continue to use birds. And that seems to be exactly the case. Dug and Russell will discover the wonders of birds each day during the show. New script. Russell replaces Guano Joe, but otherwise, I figure the show will be basically the same in structure.

And that makes me happy. I love the way birds are exhibited at Disney's Animal Kingdom. You can truly appreciate the different species. And, let's be honest, the whole Guano Joe story line was unchanged for 19 years. It was time for a refresh. And I think with the test shows in Harambe and Dinoland, they were gauging general interest.

But, Dug and Russell? Like I said I love the movie and these characters. The movie, however, took place in South America NOT Asia, and I hate when Disney disregards place in their theme parks (like Guardians of the Galaxy in FUTURE world, or Frozen in Norway). Disney and Imagineering used to care about those kinds of things.

And, I don't like the fact that the birds will not be the star of the show. I really hope it doesn't turn into an UP show that happens to feature birds. It should be a way to show the public the beauty of the animals. They should be the stars.

Now, maybe using characters such as Up gets more butts in the seats meaning more people hoping to see a Dug and Russell show get a greater appreciation of birds. I hope. As you can see, this whole thing has me conflicted. I'm not sure what to think at this point. I suppose I need to see what they have planned.

But one thing is for certain. We have more proof of Bob Iger's belief that anything put in the parks has to be related to an Intellectual Property. And that is something I completely disagree with.

Safari Mike

Thursday, December 7, 2017

2017's Disney Conservation Heroes

One of the cool things Disney's Conservation Fund does each and every year is take the time out to recognize some of the people on the "front lines" of conservation issue. Disney recognizes a wide range of people, too. 

photo by Aruna Mohan

You will see park rangers protecting highly endangered species. People who spend their time in local communities teaching about sustainable growth and living with species who need protection. Scientists spending months at a time in remote places to expand our knowledge. Each of these heroes receive $1500 to give to their organization. 

Take a moment and look at the list of this year's winners and description of what they are doing to help us all. 

photo by Aruna Mohan

There is Parag Jyoti Deka who has spent decades trying to save the pygmy hog from extinction. Rocio Palacios of the Andean Cat Alliance studying the elusive Andean wild cat in Patagonia. Others are out there trying to protect sea turtle or snub nosed monkeys. And Mama Grevy, but I will let you read about her. 

Its impossible to overstate the impact of these men and women, and the many others like them. In today's age, it is these heroes who fight to protect our natural resources for our kids and grand kids, and their kids and grand kids. 

By Safari Mike 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Disney's Animal Kingdom News for December 6, 2017: Tree Climbers

Pool Closure: As is typical this time of year, Disney takes the opportunity with cold weather to refurbish some of the pools located at various resorts. From January 8 through January 19, the Samawati Springs Pool at Kidani Village will be closed for that very reason.

Climbing Everest? Nope Just the Tree of Life: Every once in awhile an awfully dumb guest decides to do something, well awfully dumb. Similar to attempts to scale the pyramid at the Mexico Pavilion in Epcot, 4 - that's right 4- guests attempted to scale the Tree of Life. Needless to say, they did not reach the top, and are likely banned from the park for the foreseeable future.  In any event, don't try this at home kids.

Park Hours for this week are...
Thursday December 7 9 am - 8 pm
Friday December 8 9 am - 8 pm
Saturday December 9 9 am- 8 pm  Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Sunday  December 10 9 am- 8 pm
Monday December 11  9 am- 8 pm  Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Tuesday December 12 9 am- 8 pm 
Wednesday December 13 9 am-8 pm

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Disney's Animal Kingdom News for November 22, 2017: The end is near for Flights of Wonder

Pumpkins Everywhere: The Disney parks blog has a post all about the use of pumpkins for enrichment. Basically, enrichment is anything keepers do to try and engage the animals in captivity. It can take all sorts of forms, such as training sessions or hiding treats in exhibits. One way this is done at the Animal Kingdom is take all of those pumpkins used during Halloween festivities and let the animals play.

End of Flights: Flights of Wonder is an original attraction, dating back to the park's opening in April 1998. Recently, several rumors have circulated that the show is finished at the end of the year.  According to the BlogMickey, they have received confirmation that indeed December 31, 2017 will be the last show.  However, in further reading these reports, they seem to say a new animal show with birds will be replacing it. This seems more like a new script then something completely different. I believe Guano Joe will be leaving but you will still see many of the birds demonstrate their natural talents.

Park Hours for this week are...
Thursday November 23 8 am - 10 pm
Friday November 24 8 am - 10 pm
Saturday November 25 8 am- 10 pm  Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Sunday  November 26 9 am- 8 pm
Monday November 27  9 am- 8 pm
Tuesday November 28 9 am- 8 pm 
Wednesday November 29 9 am-8 pm Extra Magic Hour in the morning

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Episode 122 of Radio Harambe - Caring for Giants

Safari Mike just returned from a trip to Disney's Animal Kingdom and he had the chance to experience the new Caring for Giants tour. He sits down with Dave to discuss this new way to see elephants in the Harambe Reserve.

Also, the time is soon approaching when we dedicate a show or two entirely to your questions and comments. Please email any to Enjoy the show!

Disney's Animal Kingdom News for November 15, 2017: Oasis Bridge and Pulled Pork

Oasis Bridge Refurb: One of my favorite spots in the park is the suspension bridge that runs into a cave at the Oasis. Most people don't bother going that way but kids love it. Currently, the bridge is under refurbishment until December 16th.

New Food: A new food item has made its way to Flame Tree BBQ. A baked mac and cheese with pulled pork has hit the menu. It also has cole slaw and a couple of onion rings on top. The item is $9.99.

Park Hours for this week are...

Thursday November 16 9 am - 7 pm
Friday November 17 9 am - 8 pm
Saturday November 18 9 am- 8 pm  Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Sunday  November 19 9 am- 10 pm
Monday November 29  9 am- 10 pm Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Tuesday November 21 9 am- 10 pm 
Wednesday November 22 9 am-10 pm

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Disney's Animal Kingdom News for November 8, 2017: Avatar models

Avatar Land Model: Over at Visit Orlando's Visitor Center, there is a large model of the Valley of Mo'ara on display. It shows in detail the attractions, the paths, the canteen and Windtraders as well as the floating mountains that don't float. The center is open from 8 am to 9 pm daily. You can find all sorts of information about the various attractions, resorts, hotels and restaurants in the Orlando area.

Carnival: Today Disney did some promoting on the parks blog (I know when don't they). Probably one of the lesser known entertainment acts in the park is the Discovery Island Carnival. This dance party with its Brazilian theme takes place every late afternoon. Latin music and colorful costumes are the backbone of this offering. Frankly, I prefer Burudika but hey that's me.

Park Hours for this week are...

Thursday November 9 9 am - 8 pm
Friday November 10 9 am - 8 pm
Saturday November 11 9 am- 8 pm
Sunday  November 12 9 am- 8 pm
Monday November 13  9 am- 8 pm Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Tuesday November 14 9 am- 8 pm 
Wednesday November 15 9 am- 8 pm

Top 10 Ways Disney's Animal Kingdom uses Water

Recently, we did an episode of Radio Harambe on water. That's right, water. There is a lot of water at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

 So I wanted to go through some of my favorite ways water is used throughout the park.

10. Pool at Flame Tree: The food has steadily gone downhill at the Flame Tree BBQ in recent years but this place will always be a great place to relax. It has an incredible view of the lake that sits in front of Everest and now hosts Rivers of Light (more on that later). But it also has this quaint little pool in the middle of some of its seating plazas. The statues lining the pond just add to ambiance.

9. Termite at Its Tough to be a Bug: It's Tough to be a Bug is an original attraction at the park and one of its most underrated. To be fair, however, as a 3D movie it can scare little ones. In fact, its easily the most scare inducing 3D movie at any of the parks. One of the big scares is when the termite comes out and talks about how he can spit acid. Well, spoiler alert, he spits on the audience. Water sprays in the back of seats shoot out a light spray of "acid."

8. Tiger Fountain: The maharajahs knew how to hunt tigers. Unlike house cats, tigers love water. They love to swim and play in water to cool off in the hot steamy jungle. So the maharajahs built a beautiful fountain to attract tigers and shoot them from their hunting blinds. Now, tigers still come but the guests not hunters await the blinds.

7. Oasis Waterfall: I really love the aesthetics of this exhibit. Located near the cave and bridge at the Oasis, water spills down into a pool filled with water fowl. The soothing sounds of the cascading water and the beautiful ducks and swans make for a calm, nice experience.

6. Water Cannons on Kali: At the opposite end of calm is Kali River Rapids a water rapids ride. Yes, the whole attraction is based on water. But here, I am highlight cannons. On a bridge near the end of the attraction, guests can operate water sprays to get those guests just a little more wet. It's particularity fun to drench family and friend while laughing maniacally.

5. Gibbon exhibit: Water is often used as a boundary in animal exhibits. Many animals won't cross water, and if built on the slope couldn't get out if they went in. But few exhibits do such a great job on incorporating water into a beautiful aesthetic. It doesn't hurt that the gibbons and siamangs (both lesser apes and not monkeys) are a lot of fun to watch.

4. View from Harambe Bridge:  I though about putting all of the Discovery River on this list. After all, there are many great spots to take in the river- from the deck of the Nomad Lounge, the path exiting Its Tough to be a Bug, the small seating area at Drinkwallah, but this one is my favorite, especially when the saddle billed storks are gracing its shores.

On one side is a great view of the new theater district of Harambe and the other side sports a terrific look at Everest with an aforementioned stork in the foreground.

3. Hippo Pool: Few people get to see a hippopotamus under water. There are only a couple of exhibits like this in the world. As you can imagine, its takes a lot of water pumping to keep the water clear enough to view the hippo. And when they move around under water, they are a site to behold. It is a much better view then seeing their backs from the safari trucks.

2. Pandora Waterfalls: I know I have been critical of the new land at the park. One thing is for certain though, the use of water is fantastic. This is especially true of the towering water falls. I am a sucker for them

1. Rivers of Lights: I think the best use of water in the park is for the amazing new night time show, Rivers of Light, No matter what you think of the show, the theater is beautiful and its a great use of the large body of water sitting in front of Expedition Everest.

 The show also makes great use of lily fountains and water screens, not to mention the boats.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Disney's Animal Kingdom News for November 1, 2017: Update on the tiger cubs

More Tiger Cub news: Well, we have names. Jeda and Anala. Jeda, the male cub, was named after the 2 parallel lines on his forehead that resemble a pause button. Hence, his name means "pause." Anala is Hindi for "fiery" or "sizzling." Here is the link to the parks blog for more information. Still no additional information on when the Sumatran tiger cubs will be on exhibit.

photo courtesy of Disney

Filming on November 4: Due to television crews around the park for upcoming holiday television shows, there will be changes to the entertainment offerings on that date. Winged Encounters, Tree of Life Awakenings and the bands that ordinarily perform on Discovery Island, all will not be available on that Saturday.

Park Hours for this week are...

Thursday November 2 9 am - 8 pm
Friday November 3 9 am - 8 pm
Saturday November 4 9 am- 8 pm Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Sunday  November 5 9 am- 8 pm
Monday November 6  9 am- 8 pm Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Tuesday November 7 9 am- 8 pm 
Wednesday November 8 9 am- 8 pm Extra Magic Hour in the morning

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Disney’s Animal Kingdom News for October 25, 2017: Hours Changed 

Change in Extra Magic Days: A subtle change is coming up next week for the park. For some time now, Extra Magic Hours have been the mornings of Saturday and Monday. Starting next week, Monday will no longer have the extra magic but instead that will happen on Tuesday. But don't get used to it. The month of November sees a lot of switching around.

Hair Wraps Anyone?: Hair wraps have returned to the park. Gone since early January of this year, the products have returned being added to the Island Mercantile on Discovery Island. The only other place to obtain these currently is at the Caribbean Beach Resort.

Park Hours for this week are...

Thursday October 26 9 am - 8:30 pm
Friday October 27 9 am - 8:30 pm
Saturday October 28 9 am- 8:30 pm Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Sunday  October 29 9 am- 8 pm
Monday October 30  9 am- 8 pm
Tuesday October 31 9 am- 8 pm Extra Magic Hour in the morning
Wednesday November 1 9 am- 8 pm

Monday, October 23, 2017

DAK Theme Spotlight: Reclaiming

The theme of the Maharajah Jungle Trek and Anandapur in general is the reclamation of nature on man's world. And it is seen everywhere along the trail. Like this overgrown statue. 

The trek itself was once the palace of the rajah which has long since been left to nature which is now reclaiming the old grand palace, leaving behind crumbling walls and columns. 

Within the land set aside by the people of Anandapur, wildlife hides among the nooks and crannies of the ruins, like the tiger above. This gives the entire trail a unique look among zoological exhibits. 

A long time ago we did a detailed look into the theme of the trail and all the details to it. And way back in episode 3 of Radio Harambe we did a walk through highlighting not only the details of the place but the animals that live there.  

So now, I just wanted to give you a look at the way imagineers demonstrated the more broad theme of the land. And the beautiful way they show nature taking back mankind's work. 

All throughout the trail "ancient" murals are shown broken among crumbling walls that once housed the hunting lodge of the Rajah. 

The best spots for this might be the aviary which was once the ball room of the lodge. Now reclaimed by the jungle and the beautiful birds that live there. 

So next time you walk through the jungle trek, don't just enjoy the animal life, but make sure you take notice of the design and aesthetic that transports you to the far away place. 

By Safari Mike