Animal Kingdom Private Tour


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Published: May 21st 2016
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Our adventure at Animal Kingdom and a semi-private 3-hour tour, Wild Africa Trek. Best day ever!





I was the first one in the park!

Mark wrangled another set of tickets to Disney World, and I knew exactly what to plan for our day. I have always wanted to go on the Wild Africa Trek, a 3-hour tour for a group of 12 guests through the back pathways of the savanna. Knowing the afternoon would be too warm, Mark and I signed up for the earliest tour. We checked in with our guides in front of the turnstiles at 7:30 am; there were already 100 guests waiting in line for early magic hours. Once half the group was present, we were escorted into the park, and I was the first one in!



Gearing up

The tour meeting location is right next to the Kilimanjaro Safari ride entrance. We secured our bags in the free lockers, and then got geared up. Each person was weighed (oh, the horror!) and fitted with a safety harness, ear piece, and water bottle. We also doused ourselves in bug repellent. We looked like true adventurers. Our group of 11 was accompanied by three guides. We were given a brief safety talk and headed out on our trek.



Hike through the savanna

The first half of the tour was all on foot. We began our walk through the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, but veered off the trail and took a donkey path through the woods. This led us to our first stop at the Hippo pen. A cast member was standing by to explain Hippo behavior and conservation to us. We were tethered to rail and brought out to a ledge to watch the critters chomp on lettuce snacks.



Continuing through the woods, we came to a pair of rickety bridges suspended over a swarm of crocodiles. I was looking forward to this part! We were each given plenty of time to cross the bridges and gaze over at the crocks. To the side, we saw the Kilimanjaro Safari buses zip past, their poor, ordinary passengers gazing up at us with envy. I was once one of them.



Snacks and safari

After the crock pit, we boarded a small open-air truck and took the same route as the Safari buses, but with detours. We pulled over and watched the giraffes graze on palm tree leaves and saw the elephants romping around. And then, snack time! The tour disembarked at a hut overlooking the savanna, where we were treated to a fantastic sampling of date cakes, fruit salad, and all sorts of goodies. They had a dairy-free option for Mark also. Every bit was delicious! From the hut, we had far off views of the lions, whose behaviors were exactly like my mini lion at home. Then the group piled back into the truck to finish our safari drive, and back to the Trek gear center.



Photographer

Included in the tour are photography services. I brought my camera, but really didn’t need it at all. The three guides traded camera duty and took fantastic photos of the group members and sights along the tour. Over three hours, they took almost 200 shots. We also had download privileges for stock tour photos, which were very representative of what we saw. Next time, and there will be a next time, I am going to leave everything in the locker and just rock and roll.



Lunch and recharge

After the disappointing lunch experience at Hollywood Studios the other weekend, we decided to pack a cooler and return to the car for lunch. Deli meats, cheeses, fancy bread, and watermelon awaited us. It was hot and our feet were tired by the time we got to the car. An hour away from crowds and kicking our feet back was the best decision. With PB&J sandwiches packed for snack, we were ready to hit up the park again.



Casual afternoon

We did very little running around in the afternoon. Our fastpasses got us a visit with Mickey and Minnie, a seat at “Lion King,” and a seat on Expedition Everest for me. We also saw the Flights of Wonder show, met Baloo and King Louis, and took a handful of photopass pictures. Always, always ask the photopass photographer for magic shots. Unfortunately for us, some of them didn’t turn out because the photographer forgot to link the photo to the magic add-on. But the ones that do are a lot of fun. I love how Disney has incorporated photopass into their app and magicbands. You can instantly see your photos on your phone and then edit when you’re at your home computer. It’s great.



Nine hours of park time was our limit, and we shuffled out of Animal Kingdom toward home. This will be one of my most memorial Disney days.


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