Pride Rock (Spoiler Content!)
Jambo! The Animal Kingdom is probably my favorite park at Disney World. There are many reasons it is. One is the buildings and environment are authentic enough to really draw you into another world. It is not hard to forget you are in central Florida and think you really are walking down the streets of Asia or Africa.
This is particularly true of the Africa section if you happen to be there in the summer. Walt Disney World has been called the happiest place on Earth and I tend to agree but there is something else they don’t advertise. In Summer, it seems like the hottest place on earth! Especially in the Animal Kingdom for some reason. With the architecture and the heat you will believe you have been transported from Orlando to Harambe no problem.
My favorite ride at the Animal Kingdom is the Kilimanjaro Safaris. I love seeing the animals but don’t confuse this ride with a zoo tour. The imagineers have done a wonderful job recreating Africa. The animals are kept in areas that resemble their native habitat. There are no cages and bars. Only “open” savanna. Of course it is not as open as one would think. Predators are kept separated from prey and from guests! It’s just done in such a way that you don’t really notice.
The ride would be quite dull of course if you did not see the free roaming animals. Here the imagineers have stacked the deck in your favor. Using hidden feeding stations they increase the odds you are going to get a good view of the main attraction. Remember all those rocks and clumps of grass? Well behind a lot of them are food bins which keeps those animals close by.
That is not their only trick though. How many times have you been on the safari? Have you ever noticed that the star of the whole show, the male lion, is almost always on Pride Rock? There is a reason for that. You never see the surface of Pride Rock. Only the sides. If you did see the top you would notice something very out of place for an African savanna. Right there, for mr lion’s convenience, is an air-conditioning vent! So while you are panting away in the “African” heat he is up top getting a fresh breath of air. Now ask yourself a question. Given the options where would you be?
Just another way Disney has pulled out all the stops to create a great show for us because a lion walking around in the grass hidden would just be boring. When we see him on Pride Rock, though, it’s hard to not start singing “The Circle Of Life” from the Lion King.
Now if they could just get him to stay awake and active all day long! Alas, lions sleep a lot and I am afraid short of shooting him full of double expresso we have to settle for a sleepy lion.