Secrets of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park

Secrets Animal Kingdom

Could you just imagine? Heading out on the Kilimanjaro Safari ride and you don’t see one, not one, animal? How does Disney make sure you get to see some of their animals when you hop on board one of those jeeps?

The Imagineers spent a considerable amount of time and energy designing all of the details that make Disney’s Animal Kingdom such an amazing park and a great place to spend time. Never rush through your time there. Take a careful look at all there is to see so that you can get a full appreciation for all that has gone into the park. All the little hidden details are amazing.

If you are a Disney regular, we know you have you heard of DeVine – I love walking through the park and seeing the expression on a new visitor’s face when they see her for the first time!

Did you know the park, when viewed from above, is actually the shape of Africa?

Secrets of the Safari

The animals on the preserve are treated exceptionally well and the naturalists on the preserve use exercise and feeding to their advantage to help make sure guests get the best experience. To make sure the animals will be around for you to see from the jeep, staff of the park shoot raisins out of cannons to get the gorillas to move out and about by the safari vehicles. Honey is smeared in key locations for the elephants and my most favorite secret of all – when you see a lion lounging on the rocks during your safari – every single time! It must be magic! Or . . . the top rock is air conditioned to entice the lions to spend time there! Food is typically hidden in strategic places like rocks, trees and hollowed out logs in order to keep the animals entertained and to make sure the guests get to see them. When the safari is done for the day, different species of animals have been trained to respond to the sound of a whistle, a click, drum, horn, bell or even duck calls, which signal that they can return to their nighttime accommodations.

Don’t ride the safari just once. Different animals can be seen at different times of the day. Ride first thing in the morning and then again late in the afternoon and you will have two different experiences.


At one time,  “Beastly Kingdom,” was planned as a land of the park with mythical creatures, but was never developed. You may still see signs that have the silhouettes of various animals AND a dragon. The originally park design was supposed to include an area which would have mythical creatures (such as dragons and unicorns). This space is currently being used as Avatar Land.


Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park is full of coded signs. The Boneyard sign in Dinoland U.S.A. is in the shape of a Stegosaurus bone. The Route 498 sign refers to the opening of the park in April 1998. The red, yellow and white pipes running along the loading area in DINOSAUR are stenciled with the chemical formulas for ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise. 

There are 27 Hidden Mickeys in the mural in the Animal Kingdom Conservation Station. Can you find them all? 

The Tree of Life

Jane Goodall visited the park during construction at the invitation of Michael Eisner. He asked her opinion on the animals being carved into the tree of life. Ms. Goodall chose the spot for the chimpanzee, at the entrance outside of It’s Tough To Be a Bug, so that all guests would be able to see “David Greybeard” the first chimp she ever observed. Notice he is more detailed than the other animals – multicolored (grey beard), and there is a plaque next to his image describing him.

There are so many things and little details that I love about Animal Kingdom and it has become my granddaughter’s favorite park. What do you like best about Animal Kingdom?

You might also like to read the 10 Secrets of Disney Cruise Line’s Castaway Cay

A First Look at the Specialty Cocktails of Pandora-The World of Avatar

Cocktails Pandora World Avatar

With the opening of Pandora-The World of Avator getting closer and closer, Disney is releasing more and more information about what we can expect on our next visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park.

Food and beverage is part of the storytelling at Pandora—The World of Avatar, and the Disney beverage team put together a fun, creative menu of libations.

To match the “pods” (bao buns) and bowls at Satu’li Canteen, the Pandoran Sunrise is a non-alcoholic mix of tropical Juices blended with Powerade Melon – you can get in the souvenir Satu’li Canteen Flute Flask.

Photo Credit: Disney Parks Blog

Wine by the glass is Banshee, a small Napa Valley winery with a serendipitous name (guests fly on the back of a mountain banshee on the exciting Avatar Flight of Passage experience). A Banshee Chardonnay and Banshee Pinot Noir are on the menu by the glass. And there’s a refreshing Dreamwalker Sangria with a splash Blue Curaçao.

Photo Credit: Disney Parks Blog

Two ales round out the beverage menu: Hawkes’ Grog Ale with a fruity hop character (a taste of apricot and peach, a hint of wheat on the finish), and Mo’ara High Country Ale, a malty amber ale with the aroma of herbal spice hops and tastes of caramel, toffee, and nuts.

Next door at the Pongu Pongu walk-up window, the Night Blossom frozen drink is a non-alcoholic mixture of limeade with apple and desert pear flavors topped with passion fruit boba balls (you can get in a souvenir Pongu Pongu mug with a glow cube).

The Mo’ara Frozen Margarita is another frozen drink with Sauza Conmemorativo Añejo Tequila with strawberry and blood orange flavor topped with strawberry boba balls (also available in a souvenir mug).

Both the Hawkes’ Grog Ale and the Mo’ara High Country Ale will be on tap here too, with the option of the souvenir mug.

Countdown is on to the May opening!

#PuppyDogPals ~ What An Adventure on Disney Junior!

Puppy Dog Pals Disney Junior
Photo Credit: Disney Junior

Puppy Dog Pals is an upcoming Disney Junior show that will debut on April 14, 2017 at 10:30 a.m. ET/PT with two back to back episodes on the Disney Channel. The premiere episode will also become available that day on the Disney Junior app and Disney Junior YouTube page.

Puppy Dog Pals Disney Junior
Photo Credit: Disney Junior

The story focuses on two fun-loving pug puppies, Bingo and Rolly, whose thrill-seeking appetites take them on daily adventures around their neighborhood and beyond and around the globe. 

Puppy Dog Pals Executive Producer Sean Coyle ~ Photo Credit: Disney Junior/Aaron Poole

The series was created by comedian Harland Williams and executive-produced by Sean Coyle.

Whether embarking on a mission to help their owner Bob or assisting a friend in need, the pugs’ motto is that life is more exciting with your best friend by your side. Along for the adventures are their community of colorful animal pals including Bob’s cat Hissy and A.R.F., the lovable robot dog created by Bob. Each episode features two 11-minute stories that showcase Bingo and Rolly’s similarities and differences while demonstrating positive lessons about friendship, problem-solving, collaboration, creativity and adventure.

Even though the show is geared toward the pre-school set, I was totally wrapped up in the show when I was given the opportunity to screen it in late March. The lessons the show is trying to teach – creativity, friendship and problem solving – are so well done in a fun and entertaining way. I guess I’m a child at heart because I truly enjoyed not only the messages be taught but the cutest little puppy dogs teaching those lessons!

After the screening, I was given the opportunity to take part in a Q&A with the Executive Producer Sean Coyle and Disney Junior Creative Executive Diane Ikemiyashiro. These Q&A’s always spark my interest. I truly enjoy learning about the thought process behind these shows and where some of the outstanding ideas come from. 

When asked what age group the show was designed for, Sean Coyle told us they were definitely aiming for the two to five age range. As a parent of two little kids, he is very picky with what they watch because it has to be something that he doesn’t mind spending time with either. And so that was really a focus for him and many of the crew members too. The writers, the directors, the designers just wanted to create something that kids would love but also something that people two to eighty could enjoy spending 25 minutes with. Believe me! They hit it right too! I know I enjoyed watching it myself but enjoyed just as much watching the reaction of a child (son of a visiting blogger) sitting a few seats away.

According to Sean, early on they ran focus groups with pre-schoolers as the audience and listened to the suggestions and comments of those pre-schoolers. How cool is that? Grown-ups taking into consideration the thoughts and ideas of pre-schoolers! Sean also said that at Disney there is always a standard of quality. He knows that he can turn on a Disney show and leave his kids if he has to because there isn’t going to be anything suspect or controversial. It’s a trusted brand.

Sean indicated that in the development stage he would study his own children’s reaction to a lot of it. I would feed them character designs and story ideas and ask them if they would watch a show about two dogs that perhaps go to Hawaii and surf. He would then gauge what they responded to and how they responded to it. 

At the core of Puppy Dog Pals is the family unit. Two brothers that love each other, support each other and help each other. A wonderful message – it’s about family bonds, being friends, making friends, being a good brother.

Both Sean and Diane agreed that the ultimate goal of the show was to have some education told in a very entertaining and storytelling way. I certainly think they are successful with Puppy Dog Pals!

Here’s a great trailer – Enjoy!

Recurring guest stars will include musician Huey Lewis as Bulworth, the junkyard dog; Patrick Warburton (“Family Guy”) as Captain Dog, the star of the pups’ favorite television show; Jack McBrayer (“30 Rock”) as Hedgie the hedgehog; Yvette Nicole Brown (“Elena of Avalor”) as Daisy, a kind German Shepherd; famed sportscaster Bob Uecker as a baseball announcer; Leslie David Baker (“The Office”) and Cheri Oteri (“Saturday Night Live”) as neighbors Frank and Esther Exposition; Jill Talley (“American Dad”) as bossy pup Cupcake; Mo Collins (“Fresh Off the Boat”) as Strider, a fast-talking sheep herder; and Tress MacNeille (“Mickey and the Roadster Racers”) as Bob’s Mom.

Games and activities featuring Bingo and Rolly became available on the Disney Junior app and on April 7. 

I was provided an all expense paid trip to San Francisco for the purposes of this review and event. All opinions are my own.

Do You Remember the Magic Kingdom Swan Boats?

Do you remember the Magic Kingdom Swan Boats? I do! The Swan Boats were operational at the Magic Kingdom from May 20, 1973 through August, 1983 and were one of my very favorite attractions!

The Swan Boats used to sail around the canals in the Magic Kingdom. The boats could carry around 28 to 30 guests and toured the canals of Adventureland and around Cinderella Castle. The Swan Boats traveled the waters of the Magic Kingdom, offering very unique views of Cinderella Castle, The Swiss Family Robinson TreeHouse and other attractions along the way. The boats were named for some of Disney’s animated heroines. Among the names were Tiger Lily, Tinker Bell, Katrina, Flora, Fauna and Merryweather.

Originally there were 12 boats when the ride opened, but this was reduced to 11 when one of the boats was converted to clean the canals. By the end of the rides operation, there were only 5 boats operating. The reason for closing was because of the cost to keep the boats running. They constantly had issues with their natural gas engines and guidance system. Originally the guidance was done with an electronic system but was changed to use water propulsion to turn the boat. Eventually the boats were removed and sold.

Until  a redesign of the Magic Kingdom hub began in March of 2014, a noticeable piece of the attraction’s history existed between Cinderella Castle and Tomorrowland. A shady seating area at the water’s edge, with a green roof, which was originally built as the Swan Boat’s second and permanent loading dock. The former entrance to the attraction is what many guests recognized as the Rose Garden and the original loading dock for the boats was used as an outdoor seating area just outside the Plaza Restaurant.

The Ride

After boarding the boats near Tomorrowland, you took a seventeen minute guided tour through the main hub, into Adventureland, and back again. The pinnacle of the ride was to drive around the Swiss Family Robinson TreeHouse before heading back to unload. After closing, the boats were sent to a storage lot on property where they were all sold at auction with the boats and swans sold separately. Rumor has it that 6 of the swans are currently accounted for with one belonging to a man in Florida who also has the only known surviving boat.

Are there are Walt Disney World attractions that you miss?

15 Quick Service WDW Restaurants to Offer Mobile Ordering Soon

WDW Quick Service Mobile OrderingAs we reported to you in late March, an Advanced Ordering System will be available at the new quick service restaurant, Satu’li Canteen at Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom when it opens at the end of May. A similar system is used for both breakfast and lunch at the Be Our Guest restaurant in the Magic Kingdom.

This will be a new convenient option to order and pay for meals on-the-go within the My Disney Experience app which will allow you to bypass the queue to order when you arrive at the restaurant. Using the app, you can select menu items, customize your order and pre-pay for your meal. When you arrive at the restaurant you will tap an “I’m here” button in the app, which will notify the kitchen to prepare your meal. When ready, you will receive an alert through the app to pick up your meal at a designated window.

Walt Disney World has now released the names of 15 other quick service locations throughout the property (including Disney Springs) that will be using this new option soon. Those restaurants are:

  • ABC Commissary
  • Backlot Express
  • Columbia Harbor House
  • Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe
  • D-Luxe Burger
  • Electric Umbrella
  • Flame Tree Barbecue
  • Liberty Inn
  • Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe
  • Pinocchio Village Haus
  • Pizzafari
  • Restaurantosaurus
  • Satu’li Canteen
  • Tomorrowland Terrace Restaurant
  • Tortuga Tavern

They still haven’t given an exact date when these 15 locations will be utilizing the system, but the fact that we now know which quick locations will use it, leads me to believe it will be soon. They may also be planning to roll the system out slowly throughout the above list of locations.

As a family with multiple food allergies, I was curious if we would be able to use this system. I contacted representatives of Disney Special Diets and asked if the allergy menus would be available through this system. They indicated that when dealing with food allergies, they would prefer guests still use the ordering system in place now where you come to the restaurant and speak to a chef or manager about your individual allergies.