After our respite at the Dawa bar, we were set for adventure on the Kilimanjaro Safari.
When people say things are worth the price of admission, it’s usually a bit of an exaggeration, not so here. The Kilimanjaro Safari is a totally unique attraction, far from the typical zoological experience. I’ve chronicled this adventure previously, so I won’t trouble you with a whole slew of photos. Just a half slew.
While riding through in these open-sided jeeps, you get up close to these wild animals in the most realistic surroundings. You’ll see wildebeests, impalas, Thomson’s gazelles, giraffes, and even rhinos roaming apparently free. There are no fences or barriers in sight. No worries though, there are camouflaged fences, impassable bridges and barriers in the water that keep certain animals, such as lions or crocodiles, segregated from the vehicles and from their natural enemies, ’cause we know how that can turn out.
That’s not to say that Disney’s always been reluctant to show the harsh realties of life on the Savannah. While there’s always been a strong conservation message to the Safari, poaching used to be the main theme. When this attraction premiered, guests came across the bloody carcass of Big Red the elephant, tusks removed, obviously downed by the nefarious poachers. Even though the dead elephant was fake, it looked real enough to terrify little children and upset many adults. Sure, they were only trying to drive home the point that poaching is evil, but their message was a wee bit too heavy-handed for a theme park. After numerous complaints at Guest Relations, the storyline of Big Red’s fate became more ambiguous.
Today, the poaching storyline is all but gone and the final scene was changed to showcase a new zebra enclosure. However, the zebras were only there a few months before being replaced with addax antelope. Apparently zebras are fond of two things: fighting and making more zebras. Neither of those activities went over well with parents who’d brought their kids on the ride.
Throughout the safari you will notice large black birds that the tour guide never mentions. They are scavengers and find the safari a good place to pick up an easy meal. They are never pointed out because we’re supposed to be in Africa and these birds do not exist there. I’ve heard that, if asked, the driver will say that they are a “rare sight” because they are typically only found in Florida. Well played.
With or without the canned storyline, this attraction is just outstanding. It’s also one of the few “rides” that is guaranteed to be different each time you go on it. Despite all the controls, animal are animals so you’ll get a different experience each time you hop on board your jeep. Kwa herini, Safari!
Time to have a real bone fide lunch. I’ve always wanted to check out Flame Tree Barbecue. It gets consistently good reviews for the food, plus the lovely seating area is a real bonus. The theme all around the buildings and signage is “animals eating other animals”. Love it!
When we were on the Dining Plan, even the free one, we would feel compelled to get the most out of our credits. At a place like this we would have each gotten full meals and an unnecessary dessert. Paying out of pocket, we got a reasonable portion to share. Much better in my book.
The Barbecue was pretty darn good. It had that authentic smoke that leaves a pink hue to the meat. It’s so authentic that this was necessary:
We got some pretty boss onion rings too.
About that view I mentioned, keep walking aaalll the way back and you’ll get this vista:
We did another first this time and caught the Flights of Wonder bird show. This was a really fun take. There was a cute story line and the birds performed admirably. I made no attempt at photography for this. If you’d like to see the whole show check it out HERE. It’s about twenty minutes.
There are two large scale stage shows at the Animal Kingdom: Festival Of the Lion King and Finding Nemo-The Musical . Because the showtimes inexplicably overlap, you usually have to choose one or the other and we’ve chosen Nemo on the past few trips. I love that show. This time we thought we give Simba some love, since we’ve only seen it one time.
There is so much talent in this show, singing, dancing, acrobatics and impressive animatronics. I’m glad we saw it again, but there’s just something about Nemo I like a bit more. This is just a personal preference thing. Both shows are Broadway quality and well worth your time.
Animal Kingdom is considered a half-day park, and things are supposedly going to change in the not too distant future. We’ll have to see about that, but as of right now, a five o’clock closing means that we’ve got to find somewhere else to while away the evening. We’ll be heading back to our digs a Pop Century to freshen up, then out out the town, baby!
Next Up: We head Down town via Route 66!