Saturday, March 11, 2017

Wanyama Safari at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge: A Photo Gallery

This week’s blog is another photo gallery from our trip to Walt Disney World. We stayed at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, which is our favorite Disney hotel anywhere. We love being able to look out the window in the morning and see the animals out on the savannas surrounding the hotel.

Not too long ago, they introduced a new experience at the hotel: the Wanyama Safari. This was a tour by truck through the savannas to see the animals up close, beyond what we could see from our room or walking the trails around the hotel. At the time, it was open only to guests at Animal Kingdom Lodge; it has since been made available to all Walt Disney World guests. 

Our tour started with a reception with cultural representatives from Africa at Jiko: The Cooking Place (one of our favorite Walt Disney World restaurants), with snacks from Africa. Then we met our driver and guide, who were keepers who cared for the animals at the lodge. They were both friendly, outgoing young men who had started their Walt Disney World careers with the college internship program and had worked their way up through zoos and animal parks to earn their positions at Animal Kingdom Lodge. They were both very knowledgeable about the animals and their habitats.

The truck was similar to the trucks at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park: an open flatbed truck with benches around the side and a roof over the top, with big open sides to see the animals.

Here are some of the photos I took. I’m sorry that, for the most part, they are without captions or labels; it’s been so long I don’t remember all the animals, and I was having so much fun on the tour, I didn’t take notes. 

(More blog after the photos, including this week’s Pop! of the Week.)

After the tour through the savannas, we returned to Jiko: The Cooking Place for dinner. While the food was fantastic, it was served family-style: we all sat together at a table and they brought out big plates of food, which we passed around and shared. While it was nice tasting almost everything on the menu, including the chicken and short rib and everything else, it was also pretty self-conscious dining this way with strangers. This is why I don’t have any photos; I didn’t want a bunch of strangers to see me taking photos of every dish. 

While I did have some nice chats with the other guests, I found the whole thing very frustrating. When they brought out the bread with dipping sauces, one mother had to tell her kid to stop taking more than his fair share. I felt weird about taking seconds of some favorites in front of the rest of the group. I think family-style works just fine when you’re with your family; when you’re with a bunch of strangers, it’s just weird. I notice that the web site for the tour does not say anything about the dinner being family-style; maybe that’s no longer the case? 

Overall, we loved the tour, and would almost certainly do it again. (I say “almost,” because with it now being open to all WDW resort guests, it might be tougher to get a reservation.) We stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge because we love animals, and getting a chance to see all these guys close up was fantastic. I really had no idea of the range and diversity of wildlife living on those savannas, and it really made me enjoy our stay that much more.

On to this week’s Funko Pop! of the Week!

This week, it’s actually Pops, because I received the bulk of my Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Pops earlier in the week. My particular favorites out of this batch are Rocket and Groot, and I couldn’t possibly separate them.

The new Baby Groot is absolutely adorable! 

I particularly love the sculpt for this new Rocket figure. Instead of the standard Funko pose, he’s blasting off on his rocket pack, and that really helps this figure stand out from the crowd.

Check out how the rocket blasts go around  his tail!

And that’s it for this week! See you next Saturday!

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