Tuesday, October 13, 2009

6 Days to Disney pt. 1: Goin on Safari

I don't see how I'd ever be able to write a blog about the best things at Disney and not talk at least a little about the single largest attraction in all of The World..

Animal Kingdom's Kilimanjaro Safari.

Before Expedition Everest gave Animal Kingdom a true thrill ride that would appeal to teens, Animal Kindom had very little to draw the masses. It was mostly a park full of simpler wonders, and simpler attractions like It's Tough to be a Bug and the better-than-I-expected "Flights of Wonder" show. In fact, there were really only 2 A-Level attractions, Countdown to Extinction (now called Dinosaur! after the movie came out in 2000) and Kilimanjaro Safari.

I've always felt that the Safari was one of the most amazing attractions I've ever experienced. It's the only thing at Disney that's so cool on it's own merits that the theming and the storyline almost detract.

The premise is that you've transported yourself (by way of a looooonnnngg queue line) to Africa and you're making your way across the Serengeti on a Safari. This is the most amazing part. The attraction area is over 100 acres all on it's own. To give you an idea of scale, the Cincinnati Zoo is 67 Acres. The Magic Kingdom would fit completely inside the grounds. The attraction is full of animals given a huge amount of land to roam, seemingly free. There are barriers... you know.. to keep the lions away from the zebras, but you can't see them. The ride vehicles are re-claimed buses, outfitted like safari trucks, driven (free reined) by guides. The trucks can stop, speed up, go around (to a small degree) depending on what the animals are doing.

Some would say this is essentially just a souped up, Africa-centric zoo. And that's probably the case, except that people from places like Cincinnati are jaded against other zoos, because ours is so good. It may be a zoo, but it's a GREAT zoo. You see animals doing things that they normally don't in zoos...things they can only do because the area they have here is so large. To quote Walt from his iconic TV show announcing plans to build Disney World:

"Here in Florida, we have something special we never enjoyed at Disneyland... the blessing of size. There's enough land here to hold all the ideas and plans that we can possibly imagine."

That's the thing that makes Kilimanjaro Safari so special. Of the parks, Animal Kingdom has most taken advantage of the expanse of land. The Safari most of all the attractions. It's a beautiful, exciting display of nature, and is the best example of one of the founding goals of Disney World.

The only thing I'd change about the ride, and I've said this multiple times, is that I'd remove the silly "Little Red" storyline. I think there was some concern at the beginning that audiences wouldn't enjoy just a simple zoo/safari attraction without the Disneyfied storyline, and they had just turned out to be wrong (which is rare). The premise is that there are poachers in the protected safari land, and they've captured Little Red, the baby elephant. We somehow save Little Red over the course of the ride, but it's silly and unnecessary. I'd remove it altogether, and they have definitely cut back on it's emphasis over the years, but even a little is too much on an otherwise perfect attraction.

And now... The Disney Trivia Question of the Day

Question: Approximately how many branches does the Tree of Life have (I'll accept a round number)?

If you think you know, please send an e-mail to blog@beefymuchacho.com

Everyone with the correct answer will receive a point. An incorrect answer gets 1/2 a point. The person with the most points will get a Limted Edition Pin purchased during my stay.

Standings are being updated daily at http://www.beefymuchacho.com/ on the "Contests" page.

I'll repost the questions with the answers at the end of the contest.

1 comment:

djphob said...

Once again disagreeing, Little Red is the only part that makes it Disney-like in the least. I hate this stupid ride. I have never seen a single thing that I couldn't have seen in a zoo. Look! A flamingo! A lion that is 300 yards away! Amazing! Waste. of. time. /rant