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Disney's Walk on the Wild Side at Animal KingdomMarch 8, 2013 By: John Stone
|Close encounter on Disney's Wild Africa Trek // Photo by Maureen Stone|
There was a moment in crossing a rope bridge, high above a pool of more than a dozen hopeful crocodiles, when this Wild Africa Trek participant realized that once upon a time it was impossible to imagine doing anything as uniquely memorable as this in a Disney theme park. Despite the safety harness worn by each trekker while moving from plank to plank within the net cords of the rope bridge, a strong surge of adrenalin hits you. In simpler words, this “premium” Walt Disney World Animal Kingdom experience involving multiple close-range African animal encounters is unlikely to be forgotten soon.
|Crossing the Wild Africa Trek rope bridge // Photo by Maureen Stone|
Our three-hour experience began at about 8:30 a.m. with instructions and outfitting in utility vests by our guides, Jason and Lauren. During the tour that ended by noon, our group of 11 guests enjoyed prime photo opportunities with hippos, elephants, zebra, giraffes, rhinos, wildebeest, antelope, the aforementioned crocodiles, and others grazing in the Animal Kingdom savannah. Participants could hear the guides clearly through an adjustable audio transmitter and headphone included in their outfit.
|A view from the Wild Africa Trek rope bridge // Photo by Maureen Stone|
|Disney Wild Africa Trek Guides Jason and Lauren // Photo by Walt Disney World|
Hiking Plus Platform Viewing
There are essentially two sides to the experience, starting with a 90-minute hike through bamboo and pine forests with the rope bridge crossing as its central highlight, followed by a 90-minute safari ride with a refreshment snack stop at an elevated viewing platform and cabin in the middle of the savannah. At the snack stop, tasty yogurt, granola, fruit, prosciutto, smoked salmon, brie cheese and fig cakes are served with a fruity “jungle juice” beverage. Good photo opportunities with the grazing animals visible in the backgrounds are available. Guides Jason and Lauren kept our group entertained with an array of amusing, not-too-corny animal jokes. (Example, during a viewing of large circling birds: “Look alive out here because the buzzards will only be looking for you if you’re not.”) A portion of all Wild Africa Trek ticket revenue is donated to wildlife conservation programs, and guests are given an opportunity at the end of each trek to choose on endangered animals they would like their donation to assist.
Info About Wild Africa Treks
• Disney offers eight of the Wild Africa treks per day, with the first departure at 8 a.m. and the last at about 3 p.m. Each guest pays $189 plus tax for the trek plus the normal Animal Kingdom park admission. One tip for those who don’t mind hot, humid weather: the price drops to $139 on summer afternoon departures.
• The Africa Trek meeting point is next to the Tusker House Restaurant in the Africa section of Animal Kingdom.
• Kids must be at least eight years old and 45 pounds to participate. Pregnant women may not go on the trek. The maximum body weight per participant is 300 pounds.
• The maximum group size is 12 guests. Drinking water is provided.
• The price includes a high-qualify photo disc of your trek with animals and guest photos taken by guides during your experience. The disc is mailed home a couple of weeks after the trek. Guests may only bring small digital cameras with an arm strap. No large equipment is allowed.
|Elephants snapped in Trek photo disc // Photo by Walt Disney World|
Other Premium Guest Experiences
Disney guests who prefer not to trek have a dozen other premium experiences now available at Walt Disney World.
• A dining adventure with an animal specialist overlooking the savannah from Animal Kingdom Lodge is $49 for adults, $29 for kids age three to nine.
• A Segway landscape tour is available around Fort Wilderness campground area.
• A two-and-a half-hour surfing lesson is available on early mornings at Typhoon Lagoon for $150.
• A luxury sunset yacht tour on Seven Seas Lagoon is available at $533 for up to 18 people with dining and butler service available at additional cost.
• A Sunrise Animal Kingdom Safari, including a 45-minute safari ride and Animal Kingdom Lodge breakfast, is $65 per adult and $32.50 per child age three to nine.
• A Waynama Safari is an afternoon game drive with Animal Kingdom Lodge dinner.
• Dinner with a Disney Imagineer at the Hollywood Studios Brown Derby Restaurant is available for $65 per adult and $37.27 per child age three to nine. The same dinner for higher prices is available at the Flying Fish Resort at Disney Boardwalk Resort.
• A children’s Grand Pirate Adventure, including a Seven Seas Lagoon voyage and treasure hunt, is $34 per child. A Pirates and Pals Fireworks Voyage is $54 per adult and $31 per child.
• Three-hour Richard Petty driving experiences are available at the Walt Disney World Speedway, with longer “Ultimate” 30-lap and 50-lap experiences priced at $1,299 and $2,099 per guest. There is also a luxury-car driving experience starting at $169. Only adults 18 and over can drive, and 14-year-olds and up can ride.
• Couples’ spa experiences are available at the Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort Spa.
• Dolphin swim encounters called “Disney’s Dolphins in Depth” are available at the Seas with Nemo & Friends pavilion at Epcot for $194 per person.
Theme park admissions may be required in some, but not all Disney premium experiences. More information is available at 407-WDW-TOUR. Africa Trek information is available at www.disneyworld.com/disneyafricatrek.
|Lion spotted on Wild Africa Trek // Photo by Walt Disney World|