Dis­ney His­tory

WDW Magazine - - Content - BY KATH­LEEN LO­GAN WOLFE

Jambo! I re­cently had the plea­sure of a one-of-a-kind stay at the Walt Dis­ney World Re­sort and want share what made it so very unique, un­like any other Re­sort ex­pe­ri­ence on prop­erty. While it wasn’t all lions, and tigers, and bears (oh my), it was gi­raffes, ze­bras, white-bearded wilde­beests, and more!

Hands down—the big­gest draw to stay­ing at Dis­ney’s An­i­mal King­dom Lodge at the Walt Dis­ney World Re­sort, are the three vast Savannas (grassy plains) that are home to more than 200 mam­mals and birds of about 35 dif­fer­ent species. The Sun­set, Arusha, and Uz­ima Savannas all host a unique col­lec­tion of an­i­mals ex­clu­sively, though the beloved gi­raffes can be found on all three.

If you are lucky enough to re­serve a Sa­vanna View Room and stay as a guest at this Re­sort, it means that at any mo­ment, you can step out onto your bal­cony and see na­ture in all of its glory. In each room at Dis­ney’s An­i­mal King­dom Lodge, you can find a Wildlife Spot­ting Guide that pro­vides an illustration and some in­for­ma­tion on the an­i­mals that you may see dur­ing your stay. My fam­ily couldn’t wait to wake up each morn­ing or re­turn to our room bal­cony to dis­cover which an­i­mals that we could check off of the list from our Arusha Sa­vanna View Room.

While I wasn’t con­vinced when I orig­i­nally booked the reser­va­tion, that view is most def­i­nitely worth the pre­mium price. But no wor­ries if you are not a guest at the Lodge,

any­one can pick up one of these spot­ting guides at the front desk and take in the views of the Savannas from sev­eral pre­mium view­ing points through­out the re­sort, in­side and out­side, at no cost. Of­ten, you will find Sa­fari Guide Cast Mem­bers out­doors to an­swer any ques­tions that you may have re­gard­ing the an­i­mals, their care, or about the Savannas.

Speak­ing of the an­i­mals, some species you will see are: Gi­raffes, Ze­bras, Anikole Cat­tle, Bon­gos, Bles­boks, Elands, Greater Kudus, Im­pala, Gazelles, Water­bucks, Red River Hogs, and White-bearded Wilde­beests.

There are also a wide va­ri­ety of beau­ti­ful birds such as: Abyssinian Ground Horn­bills, Blue Cranes, East African Crowned Cranes, Flamin­gos, Marabou Storks, Ostriches, Pink-backed Pel­i­cans, and Rup­pel's Grif­fon Vul­tures.

Be­cause the Savannas are ac­tu­ally HOME to these an­i­mals, view­ing is avail­able 24-hours a day. The ar­ti­fi­cial moonlight that per­pet­u­ally il­lu­mi­nates the Savannas at night make it pos­si­ble to see those noc­tur­nal species as well. Mak­ing that ex­pe­ri­ence even cooler are the com­pli­men­tary night vi­sion gog­gles avail­able to use from sun­down un­til 9:30 PM at the Uz­ima Over­look at Jambo House, or the Ki­dani Over­look at Ki­dani Vil­lage Vil­las, for view­ing the an­i­mals with ease af­ter dark.

If you want to take the night­time ex­pe­ri­ence to the next level, there is the Starlight Sa­fari Tour from 10:00 PM – 11:00 PM. For $75 per per­son (guests age 8 and above), you’ll hop into an open-air sa­fari ve­hi­cle, equipped with night vi­sion gog­gles, and get the best view of about 30 species in their nat­u­ral habi­tat dur­ing this one-hour ex­cur­sion. A por­tion of the tour price is do­nated to the Dis­ney Con­ser­va­tion Fund.

While all guests are wel­come to come to the Savannas to see the an­i­mals, they are not al­lowed to feed or touch them. You may some­times catch Sa­fari Guides clean­ing and prep­ping a Sa­vanna with food while the an­i­mals are re­moved for a few hours each day. One Sa­vanna will be un­avail­able for about two hours each day for main­te­nance.

If you do plan to stay, or sim­ply visit, Dis­ney’s An­i­mal King­dom Lodge dur­ing your va­ca­tion, I rec­om­mend pack­ing a set of binoc­u­lars for the best an­i­mal view­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Ku­fu­rahia (En­joy)!

Photo by Kath­leen Lo­gan Wolfe

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