Guests wanting to venture off the beaten path at Disney’s Animal Kingdom will have the chance during a new, immersive, add-on experience in early 2011. [Read more…]
Guests at Disney’s Animal Kingdom are getting a special treat along the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail where they can get a rare glimpse of a newborn gorilla born Feb. 19. The critically endangered western lowland gorilla, whose gender is still unknown, is doing well and has already become an integral member of the gorilla family group which includes first-time mother, Kashata, father Gino, and two other females, Benga and Hope.
Members of the primate team at Disney’s Animal Kingdom are encouraged by Kashata’s natural instincts at motherhood. First-time mothers often experience difficulty knowing the right things to do. They must learn to properly hold the baby and adapt to a demanding nursing schedule.
“Kashata has been a model mother from the moment the baby was born, said Matt Hohne, animal operations director for Disney’s Animal Programs. “She immediately knew how to properly hold the baby and her nursing skills have been exemplary.”
Since Kashata has been holding the baby close to her body, animal keepers have yet to determine the baby’s gender. Most gorilla mothers keep their offspring close for several months while the baby adjusts to the environment. In addition, gorilla babies typically nurse for approximately 12 months and may be weaned between the ages of four and five.
The new baby, which is yet to be named, is the third gorilla born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan which manages genetic diversity among species through detailed records of individual animals. Disney’s Animal Kingdom also participates in AZA Species Survival Plans for several other animals, including elephants, cotton-top tamarins and okapi. The first gorilla birth occurred in 1997 before Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened, and the second baby arrived in 1999.
Aside from breeding activities, Disney’s Animal Programs team remains active in gorilla conservation in other areas.
The team currently provides staff expertise for the creation of the first rescue and rehabilitation center in eastern Africa for orphaned gorillas to ultimately reintroduce them back into the wild. They have also developed an innovative training technique that enables team members to monitor the heart health of gorillas at Disney’s Animal Kingdom by administering cardiac ultrasound exams on fully alert gorillas.
• Gorillas are the largest of all primates, standing five to six feet tall and weighing up to 450 pounds.
• In the wild, western lowland gorillas are found in lowland tropical rainforests throughout western Africa.
• Gorilla habitat in Africa is quickly disappearing because of coltan mining, a mineral used to make batteries for electronics. Recycling cell phones or laptops may contribute to gorilla conservation.
With my mother-in-law visiting and the colder weather we’re finally getting, we decided to visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom yesterday. Most of the animals were out enjoying the weather, but some looked like they were a bit cold.
Sometimes I see things like these bird nests and think it’s a bit of Disney magic – that Disney built those nice nests for the birds. But while watching these birds I saw another bird carrying a large twig in his mouth, adding it to the nest. Surprise.
I’ve noticed a lot more ride T-shirts in gift shops around the parks. It’s nice to see so many different design choices. If you’re a fan of Expedition Everest, just look at all of the options. They had even more designs available. Click on the photos for a larger view.
We’ll end the update with a look at some other characters I spotted in Camp Minnie-Mickey. As you can see, they had quite a few more characters besides the usual Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Donald.
The new Kidani Village expansion wing is scheduled to open Sept. 1. It will feature 160 two-bedroom equivalent vacation villas. The additional rooms complete the build-out of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas for a total of 449 two-bedroom equivalent vacation villas at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.
The new six-acre Pembe Savanna, adjacent to the expansion, will treat Kidani guests to a rare look at okapis, a typically shy animal closely related to the giraffe. The distinctly marked okapis, along with red river hogs, impala, waterbuck, blue cranes and spur-winged geese, will claim Pembe Savanna as their new home.
For more on Kidani Village and its new restaurant, Sanaa, get your copy of the Summer 2009 issue of Orlando Attractions Magazine.
Photo by Gene Duncan
The Flights of Wonder show has been performed daily at Disney’s Animal Kingdom for years now. But you may not have known how famous one of the stars of the show really is.
Groucho, the singing parrot has been named the World’s Best Singing Parrot on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. He’s also appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and many others. Today he is still one in a million, able to sing seven full songs which include: How Much is that Doggy in the Window?, Camptown Races, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Alouetta and Jingle Bells.
Hatched in 1986 in Kalamazoo, Mich. and raised by Theresa Barylock, Groucho is a yellow naped amazon parrot and his ability to articulate will amaze you. The animal care staff would like for us to warn you that owning a parrot does not guarantee that you will end up with a singing sensation like Groucho. For the most part, parrots chew, bite and squawk loudly.
Here’s another video of him during the show taken by park guest Rex Hughes, Jr.
Here are some of the new things happening around Walt Disney World this summer. We’ve written about some of these before, but some of this is brand new information. Be sure to get a copy of our Summer 2009 issue for more information on many of these happenings.
Stitch’s SuperSonic Celebration
Everybody’s favorite galactic pal – the “Guru of Gross-Out,” “the Maker of Mischief” – now stars in “Stitch’s SuperSonic Celebration,” a live stage spectacle (grand opening May 6) in Tomorrowland that celebrates everything worth celebrating around the universe in honor of “Galaxy Day.” This interactive, retro-futuristic musical revue features an animated version of Stitch interacting live with Magic Kingdom guests. The show also stars Tip Trendo, “celebritainer” party host extraordinaire, the Galactic Girls, Tip’s deep space diva back-up dancers, a pair of hip-hop robots run amuck, all underscored by a space-pop soundtrack that will rock the cosmos! Several show times daily.
Adventurers’ Celebration Gathering
A khaki-clad cast – including Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and Goofy – gather near Disney’s Animal Kingdom entrance each evening during park closing to bid farewell to guests with the music-filled Adventurers’ Celebration Gathering. Cast members shake their pom-poms and urge guests to join in the street-party fun by dancing to the music and forming a conga line procession while the Disney characters keep the beat from atop their safari vehicle.
The Pirates League
Calling all scoundrels, rogues and ne’er-do-wells – Captain Jack and the crew of the Black Pearl want you. Starting in late June, the Pearl drops anchor in Adventureland for The Pirates League, recruiting and training park guests of all ages in the scurrilous ways of buccaneers. Each guest checking in at the plunder-filled recruitment office gets an official pirate name. Next step is the Muster Station where – after applications of beards and eye patches, scarves and scars, earrings and gold teeth – the new recruits leave their old identities behind. Past a hidden portal and into the treasure cache, the new shipmates speak the pirate oath and have their official “pirate portrait” taken before being turned loose on an unsuspecting Adventureland – and no doubt feeling right at home at the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. Boys, girls and grownups ready for the pirate life start the process by calling 407-WDW-CREW beginning May 11. Packages start at $49.95 plus tax.
Hall of Presidents to reopen
A July reopening is planned for the Hall of Presidents, an iconic attraction in Magic Kingdom. An Audio-Animatronics version of President Barack Obama will join representations of the previous 43 presidents of the United States as part of an attraction that has been celebrating American history since Walt Disney World Resort opened in 1971. Disney Imagineers also are updating a broad array of show elements.
Fourth of July
“Disney’s Celebrate America!-A Fourth of July Concert in the Sky” will dazzle Magic Kingdom guests at 9 p.m. on the Fourth of July. That same park will feature a performance of the “SpectroMagic” nighttime parade, at 10:30 p.m. In the meantime, Disney’s Hollywood Studios guests are treated to a 9 p.m. performance of “Fantasmic!” while at Epcot, a holiday-inspired “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth” bursts above World Showcase Lagoon at 10 p.m.
Picnic in the Park
Summer guests to Disney’s Animal Kingdom have a new casual option to restaurant mealtimes – “Picnic in the Park” for al fresco dining. The to-go meal includes either sandwiches or rotisserie chicken or ham. Meals include sides, desserts and bottled water for each guest. Prices range from $24.99 for a meal for three to $56.99 for a meal for six. Meals can be booked at the podium near the park entrance or, after 1 p.m., picnics can be ordered at Tusker House Restaurant. Picnics are ready for pick-up within two hours at the Kusafiri Coffee Shop & Bakery in the park.
The inaugural ESPN RISE Games presented by Target will take place July 19-25, 2009, at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex. The week-long event will be anchored by three invitation-only, elite high school sporting events: the AAU 17-under Boys Basketball Super Showcase, the Under Armour High School Softball All-American game, and a new high school football event – Champion Gridiron Kings – a 7-on-7 competition featuring skill position players. The event will also feature competitive youth sports – baseball (10U, 11U and 12U), basketball (10U, 12U and 14U), field hockey (14U, U16 and 19U) and track & field (14-18).
The ESPN RISE Games is expected to welcome 4,000 student athletes. Team enrollment for the event’s open basketball, baseball, field hockey and track & field programs is available. Additional information on the ESPN RISE Games presented by Target is available at www.espnrisegames.com.
Treehouse living, a Walt Disney World tradition from 1975-2002, returns with the scheduled opening of 60 three-bedroom villas elevated 10 feet off the ground on pedestals and beams. Designed to blend into the forest glens where they are nestled, these vacation villas will sleep up to nine and provide Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa with a new room category.
Following the successful conversion of select rooms at Jambo House (at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge) into vacation villas in 2007, Kidani Village is taking shape (for phased openings scheduled in the spring and fall) with thatched roofs and a hewn timber design. Kidani means “necklace” in Swahili and the new building is shaped like a piece of native African jewelry with villas forming the beads, walkways creating the knots in between and the lobby representing the ornament or jewel at its center. With the May 1 opening also comes Sanaa, a new family dining location, featuring savannah views at select tables and serving familiar foods from tandoor ovens in addition to slow-cooked specialties with the flavorful spices of Africa and India.
Bay Lake Tower
Scheduled to open late summer, Bay Lake Tower nestles beside Disney’s Contemporary Resort and will serve up a variety of views including grand vistas of lakes and land, such as Magic Kingdom, from its 295 two-bedroom equivalent villas. Planned amenities include a community hall, pool bar, in-room dining, tennis courts, a pool and a water play area.
Disney Vacation Club accommodations can be booked by anyone for overnight stays through www.disneyworld.com or by calling 407/W-DISNEY (934-7639).
Disney held an “Open Mouse” today for cast members to get a look at their newest vacation club resort, Kidani Village at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Here are a few pictures of the resort. For more photos and information, buy a copy of our upcoming Summer issue. We’ll have a full story on the new resort and restaurant.
Above is a look at the main building from the walkway behind.
Although the Kidani Village, which opens May 1, is part of the Disney Vacation Club (DVC), if there’s space available, anyone can stay there. Stay with me here as I explain how this resort fits in with the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Jambo House is the name of the current Animal Kingdom Lodge. It’s a regular hotel except for the top two floors, which are part of the DVC. The name Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas refers to the DVC accommodations at both Jambo House and Kidani Village. So, the name Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge now refers to the entire site – Jambo House (hotel and DVC) and Kidani Village. To further complicate things, Kidani Village is just phase one of the new DVC resort. Phase two, Pembe Savanna, will open this fall.
The lobby of Kidani Village.
As you walk to the back of the lobby, you’ll see this view looking out at the savanna, where the animals roam.
One of the many villas that has a view of the savanna.
The entrance area to Sanaa, the restaurant at Kidani Village. Can you see the hidden Mickey?
This is just part of Uwanja Camp, the water play area. The large Samwawati Springs Pool and the Survival of the Fittest Health Club are nearby.
• For more information and photos of Kidani Village and Sanaa, be sure to read the Resort Report and Restaurant Report in the upcoming Summer issue of Orlando Attractions Magazine.