Friday, January 31, 2014

Day 396: FAF: Kilimanjaro Safaris

Time for the last Featured Attraction Friday of January. Rounding out our theme of "Starting Out," let's take a trip on the wild side and right over to Animal Kingdom, and specifically Kilimanjaro Safaris!

What's On The Map: 

Take a safari ride through the lush African Savannah to search for lions, elephants, giraffes and more. "Traipse along a twisting path amid a lush garden gateway and make your way to the rendezvous point of Kilimanjaro Safaris expedition, the touring company for your adventure into the wilds. Featuring picturesque open plains, shady forest landscapes and rocky wetlands, the 100-acre Harambe Wildlife Reserve is a spectacular sanctuary dedicated to the protection of African Animals.

Spot a shy hippopotamus nestled beneath a still pond. Behold a regal lion sunbathing on a rocky perch. Drive past a gentle giraffe grazing on a tall tree. Wave hello to a swinging baboon. Since animals have minds of their own, every Kilimanjaro Safari expedition is a unique and unforgettable experience" (WDW Website).

A Brief History Lesson: 

This week's History comes from Magical Mountain!

I suppose you could say that Kilimanjaro Safaris, along with the rest of Animal Kingdom, once again dates back to Walt Disney himself. We all know the story of The Jungle Cruise, and how Walt really wanted live animals, but realized that they would just be too difficult to control and maintain around the guests, so instead audio-animatronic creatures were installed.

Years later, Animal Kingdom was created, and "Imagineers wanted Kilimajaro Safaris to allow guests to feel like they were on a real African Safari. The Imagineering team visited Africa many times observing the wildlife in its natural habitat. Inspired by the sight of a leopard in a tree 300 feet away, the team decided that they could equal this thrill in our park. By the time the ride was finished, Imagineers spent over a year in Africa getting all the details they needed to create the perfect safari experience."

It's also worthy to note that Kilimanjaro Safaris would be the very first attraction to have the Fastpass system. Funny how the first park to switch completely to Fastpass+ was also Animal Kingdom!

Fun Facts: 

  • Environmental protection is of the utmost importance at Animal Kingdom for the sake of the land and for the sake of the animals. With that in mind, the Jeeps used for Kilimanjaro Safaris run on liquid propane, which helps keep emissions low. 
  • While you are out on safari, you may notice the grass is brown rather than a lush green, but it isn't a matter of neglect, it's a matter of design. Natural grasses have a cycle of growth and decline, both in Orlando and in the savannahs of Africa's in that regard, saving the landscapers the job of making the grass dry out for a more natural look. 
  • For the animal's safety, many of them must return to a shelter for the night. How do they know when to return? As you now know, each species responds to a specific sound. Out on the savannah, zebras return when the hear a cowbell, giraffes return to the sound of a sports whistle, most of the hoofed animals respond to a horn, and the Thomson's gazelles have the most unusual signal - they come running when they hear a goose call. 
  • Most of the landscaping throughout the savannah is real, but some of it is not. The termite mound, giant baobab tree, and those enormous ostrich eggs are less about the natural process and more about convenient engineering. 

My Thoughts: 

Just as I did with The Great Movie Ride, I've discussed Kilimanjaro Safaris before. Multiple times actually. I used to LOVE Kilimanjaro Safaris. LOVE LOVE LOVE it. It was the reason that Animal Kingdom was my second favorite park, right after Epcot. The storyline was wonderful, and it was just so much fun going after the poachers and going over the old bridge and everything. 

But now, that stuff is gone, or partially gone, and it just makes me very very sad. I want Big and Little Red back. And that's all I have to say about that. 

Still, it's a great attraction, and you should go on it (especially in the morning if it's raining. That's when we've seen the most animals for some reason or another). No matter what: Kilimanjaro Safaris is still one of the greatest attractions at WDW! 

And so, Featured Attraction Friday is done for January. It only took me like two and a half hours to do the four posts, but now that I have everything worked out I can get one of these posts out in about a half hour or less. Much nicer than the hour it took me to do the first one. 

Have a magical day!