This is Part Two in this article series. If you arrived here without reading Part One, you may want to start there. There will also be more posts in this article series so please use the buttons to the right to like our Facebook page or follow us on twitter to be notified when this blog is updated.
Part Two, First park of the afternoon: Disney’s Animal Kingdom in under fifteen minutes
Luckily, after all the distractions I ran into leaving the resort, the ride to Animal Kingdom from Animal Kingdom Lodge is very short, putting me in the park ten minutes before closing. Thinking that the last safari from Harambe was 45 minutes before closing, I figured I had no shot of catching it, so I took my time walking back towards Africa. As I came over the bridge into Harambe the last safari sign reads 5PM! Its three minutes to closing and I’m goin’ on Kilimanjaro Safaris! When I got to the safari vehicle the front row had three people and the second row had two people. I left an empty row and had the fourth row to myself with nobody behind me. The clock struck 5 and we were off on the very last safari of the day.
It was disappointing not to have my camera gear with me as our driver was really able to take her time since no safari vehicles would be coming up behind us until the next morning. (Note that all the photos in this post were taken with my cell phone, using the Pro HDR app.) Not only did we have lots of still time to take photos, but the animals knew it was time to go back to their backstage homes soon so they were all very active. One hippo roared, which I never knew they did. Our driver said that when one roars, others usually join in. And that they did. It was quite a loud performance. I had never noticed the trail that takes them back to their evening quarters but a couple hippos were on their way down the well hidden trail. Others were swimming and roaring in an area I didn’t know they had access to, under the suspension bridge used on the Wild Africa Trek. I always thought that the Nile Crocodiles were in there but looking closely, you can see that it is separate from the hippos. When we got to every drivers favorite view of the savannah, there was not a whole lot going on. The giraffes were starting to hang near the exits to their evening quarters. However, when we got to monkey point, the mandrills were out in numbers I didn’t even know Disney had. Including a baby. I almost never see the mandrills, and of course, I didn’t have my camera. Sigh…
Another sight I seldom see, several zebras were in their area on the other side of the river just past the creaking bridge.
Not much to say about the elephants, flamingos, or the rhinos, but the lions were exhibiting behavior I had never seen. Two female lions were playing like kittens, standing on their hind legs and swatting each other. Did I mention I decided to leave my camera in the room? Yeah, I did, no photos. That’s why they put that padding on the back of the safari vehicle seats. So I can bang my head on it when I miss photo ops because I left my camera behind. Anyway, the rest of the safari was fairly standard with a greater kudu deciding to stand in our way for a few moments while we sat and observed those ostrich eggs that just seem to never hatch. On the way out of the reserve the driver talked about the new area where the zebras will be relocated to, which seems to be coming along nicely. Hopefully that area will be complete soon.
Tip number one for this post: If you get a chance to catch it, I highly recommend hopping aboard the last safari tour of the day. There seems to be some unique behaviors and locations for the animals and, if your driver is as enthusiastic as mine was, you may even get a few extra minutes since there won’t be any traffic backing up. This will offer better photo opportunities, so don’t miss them because you left your camera behind like I did!
After the safari, I took my time waking out thru Africa. Animal Kingdom has some of the most photogenic details of any of the Walt Disney World theme parks so I had to grab a few photos with the cell phone. Not the greatest quality, but part of my goal for the day was to grab photos from each park so I figured I would share…
Thats about it for my quick tour of Animal Kingdom starting ten minutes before closing. Tip Number two for this post: Disney will usually allow you to get in line for any attraction right up until closing and will continue running the attraction until all guests have had their turn. Also, Disney is very accommodating as you make your way out of the park after closing. Most food service will be closed but the gift shops are mostly open for business. For me, I just enjoy taking my time walking out thru the nearly empty park, taking photos and admiring all the wonderful details that Disney puts into their parks and resorts.