Friday, 3 June 2016

On Safari at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Saturday 30 April 2016. We head for Disney's Animal Kingdom today and take a ride on the Kilimanjaro Safari, a long wheel-based Jeep ride through a savannah area where you really are face to face with wild animals.

It's a very bumpy ride though, unnecessarily so I thought. It might be realistic but it distracts the rider from looking for the animals. There was also one point where we crossed a "collapsing" bridge with cries of alarm from the driver and I had to wonder whether we were on a safari to see animals or were we on a white knuckle ride?

For a while I struggled to see any animals, I was sitting in the middle and the seats were wide enough for five or six people, so driving around the edge of a drop that had alligators below in a pool meant nothing to me as all I could see was the opposite top edge of the pool's side.

But the animals are undoubtedly there and most are in the same environment as you are. Here a herd of wildebeest (what do you mean? Of course I've heard of wildebeest...) take in some rays. It's a far different park to the rest of them. The Disney Imagineers had no control over where the animals would be, they were not designing spectacular lines of sight or scenic vistas.

They could place watering holes and had an idea of where particular animals might be visible from the ride vehicles. There are hidden barriers such as chains or bars that hoofed animals would find hard to cross and there are barriers created by use of banks of earth, hidden troughs or rocks that just look natural. You are not likely to see a zebra being run down by a lioness or two therefore...

But when you see something like this and can't see anything that would stop it from coming right up to your vehicle, there is a certain thrill invoked.

The thrill for the elephant just wasn't as apparent, as it turned its back on us and ignored us completely. How rude...

Though it had managed to stay awake! The next animals we encountered though were to provide an even greater thrill for us.

Being in the same environment as a couple of white rhinos, with no fence or bars between you and the animals is definitely an experience.

But then the driver said "We're just going to stay here a moment whilst the female and young one cross the road. Mum is looking at us and I don't want to upset her..." Looking at the horn on the end of an animal weighing several tons and capable of running at 30 miles per hour in a straight line directly at you ... well, I didn't want him to upset her either... After all, the collective noun for rhinos is a crash!

And then we spot a pride of lions sleeping on the rocky edge of a gully.

Once again the temperature was hitting the mid 90s. Grace was still not feeling 100% and Gill and Eddie had to take her back to the resort for a while. We park hopped to the Magic Kingdom, where it turned a little overcast as we got there.

We had another turn on the stern wheeler around the island of Tom Sawyer - nope, still haven't read the book. I do however remember watching the TV show of his pal Huckleberry Hound... (note: for anyone incredulously smacking their forehead - that was a joke...)

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