Well, I’ve JUST returned from sunny (and meltingly hot) Lake Buena Vista, and there’s plenty to talk about. I spend a week and a half there and I feel like I can not shut up about everything.
The biggest change (and the one that caused me the most worry) was the inclusion of stops on Kilimanjaro Safaris. As many people know (and loathe), Safaris used to be a roughly 18-minute ride through Harambe Wildlife Reserve, which merely slows to a crawl near the animals, and causes guests to scramble to get that perfect shot.
Well, not anymore! The managers and other various higher-ups finally realized that that’s not what people want from Disney or the only safari they may ever go on. We now stop roughly 10 times per safari, with mandatory stops at the most popular animals (rhinos, elephants, giraffes, lions, etc), and a few to use at our discretion. It is WONDERFUL. Being gone for 2 months really highlighted to me the general difference in feeling from guests before and after the ride stops. Now, you can ACTUALLY see the animals, get a wonderful picture, and see a little bit of the animal’s behavior! (Well, except for the lions. They sleep a lot.) This is currently being run as a “test”, though I can’t imagine they’ll go back to the old way. It was horrible like that. Disney’s got surveyors out, too, to ask guests what the ride was like, how happy they are, if they’ll ride again, things like that. They were out in May before I left, so they’ll be comparing those two data sets, and I’m sure stops will win out. The VP of Animal Kingdom came to our breakroom to ask how we, as drivers, felt about the stops, and our general sentiment was that we love them, minus some small details that just need to be fixed.
But that’s the biggest news over at safaris. For those of you who love the ride and love to take pictures, MAKE SURE you get over there next time you’re in Harambe! It’s so much more relaxed, informative, and interesting now.
Have to go for now, but more stories will be forthcoming!