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^^I'm pretty sure the original story (or what is left of it) will finally be completely phased out once this change to the savannah is complete. The story has been slowly removed/modified since the park's opening where you originally saw Little Red's mother, Big Red dead at the end of the attraction. There also used to be live actors dressed as poachers who would appear alongside the touring vehicles, and several show effects (such as gunfire in a speedy chase along the road) that have been shut down over the years.

Edited by jedimaster1227
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Adios, muchachos

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Sounds like a positive change, but I do miss the original storyline and effects (although that jeep/gunfire rarely every worked properly). The 'actors' were just the guides/drivers - it was one of the positions they rotated through. IIRC, nearly the entire audio track was re-recorded before the park opened to the public (or shortly thereafter) based on preview opening feedback, like Countdown to Extinction.

 

Nice to see the ride evolve, though.

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It seems like every time they update this attraction it involves more animals and less story. Not that there's anything wrong with that (It is a safari after all!), but I kind of liked the ending in it's current form. You spend so much time cruising around big open spaces with live animals, the forest area with the tight turns and the geysers gave the ride an exciting finish. Hopefully Disney will find a way to integrate that sort of excitement into the new Zebra section.

 

RIP Little Red... I guess she's finally getting poached, just like her mother...

I despised the forced ending. Some of the greatest attractions don't have a clear cut story (see Haunted Mansion, Pirates, etc.). Absolutely love the fact that they are cutting out the cheese from this otherwise fantastic ride.

 

I wasn't so much saying that the ride needs a story, and yes I know plenty of rides at Disney don't have clear stories. My point was more that you go through a lot of varied landscape at the beginning of the ride, and then spend a loooong time slowly cruising in big open areas. The finale of the ride puts you in a different environment, sped up the vehicles a little bit, and just offered some variety and a clear "finish". I'm not so much lamenting the loss of a story, because the safari doesn't really need one, I just hope the new ending has a little bit more excitement than "slow, open spaces... ok done". I just hope the new ending integrates something more that just slowly cruising through big grassy areas.

 

Not that there's anything wrong with the Savannah... it is a safari after all... I just never got off the ride thinking that I needed more of it.

Edited by larrygator
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I always found the storyline to be bit forced, and won't be sorry to see it go. Still, keepng a few "thrill" elements, like geysers and that old "rickety bridge" effect, would be OK.

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  • 1 month later...

http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2012/03/qa-with-imagineer-joe-rohde-recipient-of-the-buzz-price-thea-award-recognizing-a-career-of-distinguished-achievements/

 

In November, we announced that Imagineer Joe Rohde would be honored by the Themed Entertainment Association with its Buzz Price Thea Award Recognizing a Career of Distinguished Achievements, and on March 17, 2012, Joe received his award during the Thea Awards ceremony at the Disneyland Hotel. I recently had the opportunity to chat with Joe about the award and his career at Walt Disney Imagineering – which has included such enormous projects as Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park; Expedition Everest; Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa; and the upcoming AVATAR project at Walt Disney World Resort.

 

What does receiving the Buzz Price Thea Award Recognizing a Career of Distinguished Achievements mean to you, coming from your peers in the industry who make up the Themed Entertainment Association?

 

It’s a great honor to look at my list of achievements and to be counted among people who have done so much more than I have – it’s really an honor.

 

Looking back on your career, what has been the most exciting project you’ve worked on, and what has been your biggest challenge?

 

When I first saw the Disney’s Animal Kingdom site, I was truly terrified. Disney’s Animal Kingdom was unexplored country – we were doing lots of things that had never been done before. It’s hard not to see getting Disney’s Animal Kingdom built as a challenge. Attempting to do so many things all in one project – it was challenging and a growth experience. We were truly learning as we were doing.

 

With Aulani, I knew there was more to Hawai`i that many visitors don’t realize, and I knew Disney had a great opportunity to tell that story.

 

You’re known for your love of storytelling and attention to detail. You’ve visited many places all over the world for research – which have been your favorites? Are there places you’d still like to visit?

 

I love the Himalayas, and I’ve spent a lot of time there. When we were doing research for Expedition Everest, we visited places few people have been before.

 

Where I’d like to go…I have to go camel trekking in Mongolia and I want to go to Papua New Guinea.

 

What are you looking forward to next?

 

When I think about the AVATAR story and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, I see the value systems that underlie both. We have the opportunity to tell that story in a way that will make the AVATAR experience feel like a natural part of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

 

All of us who are designers have an opportunity to take the work we are given and make it something unexpected. That’s how we help the company to grow and expand into new areas.

 

Please join me in congratulating Joe on receiving the Buzz Price Thea Award Recognizing a Career of Distinguished Achievements!

 

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http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2012/03/yummy-new-tastes-at-disneys-animal-kingdom-at-walt-disney-world-resort/

 

While we’ll always have our favorites, oh, how we love delicious new food finds when we wander through Disney Parks. On a recent trek through Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, we were tempted to stop for our usual favorite – the rib and chicken combo at Flame Tree Barbecue, where the ribs are worth getting messy for while sitting at the outdoor picnic tables on a glorious spring day. (And where else can you find a basket of onion rings?)

 

But food lovers can be a fickle bunch, so we headed for Tamu Tamu, where they’ve replaced the burger with a slow-roasted pulled beef sandwich, spicy beef piled on a warm pita with mint-yogurt cucumber sauce. On the side are housemade potato chips (yes, housemade). You can opt for apple slices, but we just couldn’t.

 

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Some days we prefer to sip our lunch, especially on hot days. We recently discovered three cooling cocktails at the outdoor Dawa Bar in Harambe Village: the Dawa Colada with Bacardi Razz Rum, pina colada mix and raspberry puree; the Harambe Cooler with African rum, Myer’s Original Dark Rum Pangani Punch (We’re not sure what Pangani Punch is, but we like it!); and the African Margarita with Sauza Gold Tequila, Van der Hum Tangerine Liquer, sweet-and-sour mix and lime juice.

 

Or check out the new Triple Yeti Blast, a frozen, layered margarita with lime, mango and strawberry at the Upcountry kiosk across from Kamal’s in Asia. Order your Triple Yeti Blast and head for the waterfront seating overlooking the Discovery River – an easy way to while away the afternoon.

 

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Do you have any favorite new park dining finds to share?

 

http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2012/03/kunekune-pigs-ham-it-up-and-an-artful-pig-paints-all-at-affection-section-at-disneys-animal-kingdom-theme-park/

 

Some rare pigs made their debut late last year at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. And these are some pretty smart swine.

 

In a previous post, Disney Parks Blog author Jackie Ogden told us about the arrival of the intelligent (and surprisingly agile) kunekune pigs. The pigs, found in New Zealand but believed to have originated in China, once faced extinction. Thanks to breeding and conservation efforts, they have since come back in a big way.

 

When I heard about these plump pigs in our park (“kunekune” means “plump” in the Mãori language), I knew I just had to meet them.

 

The Animal Care cast members at Conservation Station work with the three little pigs regularly on a variety of behaviors. This work helps the pigs stay fit, intellectually stimulated and comfortable around guests. They also help teach park guests about the real dangers of extinction.

 

“Most people have heard about endangered species in reference to wild animals, but many domestic animals are at risk of extinction as well,” Jackie said. “By showcasing rare domestic breeds, like babydoll sheep, Nigerian dwarf goats and kunekune pigs at Affection Section, we are helping our guests learn more about them and how they can help.”

 

Join me as I experience some of the great work the Animal Care team does with the kunekune pigs. Also, keep an eye out at the end the video for another rare and intelligent pig, an African Guinea hog named Mindy. She loves to paint.

 

All of the pigs are quite a hit with guests at Affection Section, so be sure to stop in and say hi next time you’re at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park.

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Here's some random photos from Animal Kingdom from a little over a week ago. Took these the day after running in the Everest Challenge.

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Animal Kingdom rope drop. Way too early to be here after being here late the night prior

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Funny that this yeti doesnt move either

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Here birdie birdie birde

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Random Everest reactions

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Totem pole fish eye.

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Everest HDR

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Doing his best ostrich impression

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Shrine HDR

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Amazing! Really makes me miss this place.

 

I haven't seen it brought up on here (apologies if I'm late to the party though), but Screamscape reported something interesting about more Safari changes coming:

 

(5/12/12) WDW News Today has a nice report about the current state of the Kilimanjaro Safari attraction at Animal Kingdom, now that the Little Red figure and plot story has been removed. Currently the finale of the ride has guests driving past long construction walls while the new Zebra habitat area is under construction. The old on-board soundtrack recordings featuring “Mr. Wilson” are now removed as well, replaced only by background music and sound effects.

 

While the current changes are set to be compelted by this Fall, apparently WDI’s Joe Rhode informed the attraction’s Cast Members that even more changes would be coming down the pipe for the attraction over the next 3-4 years. One of the planned future changes, would be the installation of a special Nighttime Safari version of the ride that would be an entirely different experience from the daytime version.

 

Of course the big news you can take from this is that Walt Disney World may be finally ready to get serious about opening up Animal Kingdom at night at last. Going back to the first major expansion of Animal Kingdom in Dinoland, Disney made sure to decorate the carnival ride style area with appropriately night-time lighting as a way to future-proof the area for when the park’s hours would be extended. The same could be said to Expedition Everest, but the longer daily hours never came. Of course, you may recall hearing about a proposed night event once in development for the park back in 2007 called Rivers of Light, which was put on indefinite hold and never heard from again.

 

With Avatar land lurking on the horizon, which will likely represent the single largest investment expansion in the park’s history, it would only make sense for Disney to finally extend the operating hours of the park, and come up with a whole laundry list of new evening / nighttime things to do in the park by then, which could include some kind of new nighttime spectacular as well.

 

I know that extended hours came up back when Avatar was announced, but it sounds like they could be more than just talk! I'd love to see this place open later and maybe get its own nighttime spectacular (looking at you, WoC/DD), it just needs enough to occupy people for the extra hours first. Cue Avatar!

Edited by coasterfreak101
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Thanks guys I don't mind the HDR photos in moderation. I like a variety when it comes to picture taking and editing. Some pictures are perfect right out of the camera but some arent and need just a tiny bit of tweaking. Also editing helps cover up my lack of photography skills lol.

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Amazing! Really makes me miss this place.

 

I haven't seen it brought up on here (apologies if I'm late to the party though), but Screamscape reported something interesting about more Safari changes coming:

 

(5/12/12) WDW News Today has a nice report about the current state of the Kilimanjaro Safari attraction at Animal Kingdom, now that the Little Red figure and plot story has been removed. Currently the finale of the ride has guests driving past long construction walls while the new Zebra habitat area is under construction. The old on-board soundtrack recordings featuring “Mr. Wilson” are now removed as well, replaced only by background music and sound effects.

 

While the current changes are set to be compelted by this Fall, apparently WDI’s Joe Rhode informed the attraction’s Cast Members that even more changes would be coming down the pipe for the attraction over the next 3-4 years. One of the planned future changes, would be the installation of a special Nighttime Safari version of the ride that would be an entirely different experience from the daytime version.

 

Of course the big news you can take from this is that Walt Disney World may be finally ready to get serious about opening up Animal Kingdom at night at last. Going back to the first major expansion of Animal Kingdom in Dinoland, Disney made sure to decorate the carnival ride style area with appropriately night-time lighting as a way to future-proof the area for when the park’s hours would be extended. The same could be said to Expedition Everest, but the longer daily hours never came. Of course, you may recall hearing about a proposed night event once in development for the park back in 2007 called Rivers of Light, which was put on indefinite hold and never heard from again.

 

With Avatar land lurking on the horizon, which will likely represent the single largest investment expansion in the park’s history, it would only make sense for Disney to finally extend the operating hours of the park, and come up with a whole laundry list of new evening / nighttime things to do in the park by then, which could include some kind of new nighttime spectacular as well.

 

I know that extended hours came up back when Avatar was announced, but it sounds like they could be more than just talk! I'd love to see this place open later and maybe get its own nighttime spectacular (looking at you, WoC/DD), it just needs enough to occupy people for the extra hours first. Cue Avatar!

 

Ill tell you what, the night of the Everest Challenge was the first time I have been inside Animal Kingdom at night and it has an awesome different feel to it than it normally does during the day. I would love to see some later hours and nighttime stuff going on

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The park was definitely a really neat atmosphere at night after the Expedition Everest Challenge, but some areas of the park were way too dark and required temporary lighting to be brought in, taking up precious walking space in that park. I'd love to see the park stay opened later once Avatar arises, but I think areas like Camp Minnie Mickey, Oasis, and that section between Africa and Asia would need more permanent lighting added.

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Very true. There were some pretty dark spots scattered around even with the added lights orbs they had for us. Makes you wonder what they do for the maintenance workers who work over night trying to get things done in that darkness lol.

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The park was definitely a really neat atmosphere at night after the Expedition Everest Challenge, but some areas of the park were way too dark and required temporary lighting to be brought in, taking up precious walking space in that park. I'd love to see the park stay opened later once Avatar arises, but I think areas like Camp Minnie Mickey, Oasis, and that section between Africa and Asia would need more permanent lighting added.

 

Yeah, I think that's one of the big pieces they know they have to address before they can extend the park's hours. Dinoland has night-lighting set up and ready to go, but the rest of the park will need some upgrades! Who knows, maybe their $500 million price tag actually includes some of the prep work for the park to stay open later, if they've tied it into the project budget in some way?

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  • 4 weeks later...

I had parties in college that can parallel the "before and after" photos but not from dressing up like Disney characters, just to many kegs.

 

That just proves that teenage boys will do almost anything for a little something something. Dressing up like Peter Pan like that back fired on him though. I imagine that was a pretty cold night with her.

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So they go to Hollywood Studios with Star Wars Weekends going on where people can and do dress up and are making a story about it when they try to go to the other parks?

 

And once again, as seems to be the case with any of the major news stations in Orlando, they look to make their name by going after the people who put them on the map...

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http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2012/06/get-wild-for-less-on-the-wild-africa-trek-at-disneys-animal-kingdom/

 

I recently took a trek deep into the Pangani Forest with Josh Sussman, an actor known for his roles on “Wizards of Waverly Place” and as the lovestruck gossip columnist Jacob on “Glee.” He’s also provided the voice of Randy, a sinister crab on Disney Channel’s hit show “Fish Hooks,” so Josh knows a little about interesting animals.

 

Our VIP excursion took us hiking through the jungle, walking across battered footbridges, traversing riverbeds teeming with giant crocodiles, learning about hippo herds and staring skyward to spot giraffes. A Florida shower hit as we boarded our private safari vehicle, which even added to the fun as we had a chance to study the animals through our binoculars as they enjoyed the cool rain on the savanna. By the time we reached our safari camp that overlooked the expansive savanna, the rain had stopped and the sun returned, providing a nice setting as we enjoyed a tasty selection of African-inspired foods.

 

In addition to leading our tour and entertaining us with their knowledge of the animals, our Safari Guides also tag-teamed as our personal trek photographers. Included in the price of each trek is a photo CD with professional photos of the tour and the exotic animals you’ll spot along the way.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOX_WXuq7K0

For a limited time, you can save $50 on treks at or after 11:45 a.m. For more details on the limited-time Wild Africa Trek offer, call 407-WDW-TOUR or visit disneyworld.com/trek.

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This is the first video I've seen of the Wild Africa Trek--looks like fun (particularly the suspension bridge over the crocs).

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  • 3 weeks later...

Last week I had the chance to stop by Disney's Animal Kingdom Park for the first time in a while, this time to check out the Sundowner Celebration, a seasonal event for the month of June that added food and beverage, entertainment and culture options throughout the park that really made for an awesome experience.

 

It has been rumored that this event and the Taste of Africa event it evolved from were tests for an eventual evening offering to be held at the park down the road for longer operational days. This seems to go hand in hand with recent rumors that Kilimanjaro Safaris is slowly being modified (with the animals being acclimated to evening tours) to allow for later operation (possibly with a different storyline to be run during evening rides), plus the expectation that whatever comes with the Avatar expansion will be suited for evening operations.

 

Regardless of what this test may mean for the future of the park, I can happily say that there was much to love for the offering as it was when I visited. I could best liken it to the Glowfest/elecTRONica/Mad T Party offerings at Disney California Adventure, except with a splash of culture and a much more spread out, naturally blended approach to its delivery. I really enjoyed everything that I experienced, and only wish I had known about this quietly run offering sooner, because I would have gone back at least a few more times before its run ended. Here's hoping the Sundowner Celebration will come back soon!

 

[coastertube]http://www.themeparkreview.com/coastertube/play.php?vid=Sundowner_Celebration_Street_Party_f3k7[/coastertube]

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Parked at the front of the park's entrance is a truck advertising the Sundowner Celebration with a guide of the many offerings added throughout the park.

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Harambe, Discovery Island and Asia each received additional food and beverage options, a street party and several "culture stops."

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For the index...

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The one thing that the Sundowner Celebration almost forces you to do is to stare at the Tree of Life from different sections of the park... How dare they force me to look at something so cool?

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How Beastly of me to include this photo from a long forgotten Kingdomme.

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Harambe Village played host to a Wine Walk, allowing you to pay for the amount of tastings you wanted, and they even had a non-alcoholic option for the younglings.

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This booth was made solely for Renee.

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My favorite part of the Sundowner Celebration, but we'll get back to this later...

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Imported beers!

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One of the culture stops included a look at Mancala.

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There were several "The Art of Henna" booths added in the park for the celebration.

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Didn't get to try them during my visit but...

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They sure looked good!

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The Kusafiri Coffee Shop and Bakery had some other awesome looking desserts added for the event...

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Like this beauty!

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Like I mentioned earlier, the walk between Sundowner Celebration areas forces you to stop and admire...

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Along the walk, I found this musical culture credit!

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The Angklung may look like it is easy to play, but I couldn't quite get the hang of it... (The cast member's expression gives away his thoughts on my musical prowess.)

 

I guess I'll just stick to the violin and piano.

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One cart sold a lychee fruit salad (in a pineapple bowl) as well as edamame.

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Another neat culture booth was the Summer Roll demonstration where we were taught how to make summer rolls.

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He made it look very easy!

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After describing and demonstrating the entire process, we were told where we could find the needed ingredients, and were also offered recipe cards so we could make our own summer rolls at home.

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Moving towards Asia, one booth had new margaritas, a frozen non-alcoholic drink and ginger beer added. They also sold wasabi peas!

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Another cart along the way sold "Asian Hot Dogs."

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This musician was stationed in front of the Flights of Wonder theater and was quite talented!

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As opposed to "In my Jedi Language."

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Yak & Yeti had a cool (and free) fried rice demo!

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The Bhangra DJ Dance Party was an awesome little addition to the Yak & Yeti/Kali River Rapids area that really blended in perfectly and added some great music to the atmosphere!

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There wasn't a single tune I recognized, but it was all enjoyable to hear regardless.

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A temporary bar was set up across from the dance party featuring some additional custom drinks.

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I decided to try the Ming Wild Berry Lemonade, which was delicious. It was pretty much an unfrozen version of the Cheshire Cafe's (Magic Kingdom) frozen raspberry lemonade.

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We took a brief break from the Sundowner Celebration to ride Kilimanjaro Safaris. Now gone is the story about poaching and Little Red, as well Wilson and Mrs. Jobson. The finale has been torn out to make way for the new zebra watering hole to open later this year.

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By the time we got off of the ride, it was time to see the Harambe Village Street Party featuring Burudika and the Tam Tam Drummers of Harambe!

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Another culture stop in Harambe focused on African cooking...

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It included a look at the common spices used in the local cuisine.

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The Harambe Street Party drew a large crowd throughout the day with a mix of African songs and some unique renditions of more popular songs such as Waka Waka by Shakira and You Can Call Me Al by Paul Simon.

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The Dawa Bar was advertising a few of its featured drinks as well.

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A booth advertising the Wild Africa Trek has been added near the Dawa Bar.

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Another food stand had some unique popcorn, dried fruit and plantain chips...

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Oh, and that heavenly drink I normally can only get at Boma?

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They've got Jungle Juice!!!

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It's the Burudika Epic Sax Man!

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Found a path I'd never seen before in the park... Well done Mr. Rohde!

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Not too long ago it was reported that a branch fell from the Tree of Life, and in response, Disney had covered some of the pathways closest to the tree with netting structures. A lot of fans have been vocally against the structures, claiming they ruin the ambiance...

 

I'm here to say that having walked through them myself, they aren't as bad as they are being made out to be. They blend into the scenery pretty well and really only bother the people who had seen these paths sans nets before.

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And better yet, their presence overhead in no way prevents you from still getting awesome photos of the Tree of Life.

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Taken right under one of the nets...

 

Case and point.

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One final lap through the Sundowner Celebration allowed us to find another culture booth, this one being a Joffrey's Hot Tea Brewing demonstration.

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Hadn't visited the Yeti in a while...

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I have a strong feeling that this view of Disney's Animal Kingdom will begin to change very soon...

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Glad to see that the more exotic flavors of popcorn are starting to show up in the U.S. Disney parks--African spice and apricot sound pretty good.

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