Currently Disney’s Animal Kingdom is celebrating two special dates. The first takes guests back 25 years, to the release of the animated classic The Lion King. The second is the just released updated version of The Lion King. In the 25 years since the first movie something sad has happened to the lions in Africa. The number has depleted drastically since the first movie, and there are now only about 20,000 lions in the wild. Disney Conservation Fund wants to change that. A group of lions is called a pride, and Disney Conservation Fund has teamed with The Wildlife Conservation Network’s Lion Recovery Fund to offer you opportunities to have a great time while helping to protect the pride.
On Friday, July 19, a friend and I were part of a sponsored media group who was invited to hear more information. We learned quite a bit about the ways that you can help to make a difference. The first is simple. If you are at Walt Disney’s World, ride Kilimanjaro Safaris. For each guest who rides between now and July 25, Disney will donate $2 to the Lion Recovery Fund, up to $350,000. Our group was given the opportunity to ride, so we were able to do our part. It felt good to know that we were helping the lions.
Another way that you can help is to purchase a special limited edition Simba or Nala. They are available at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney Springs, or online at ShopDisney. For each plush sold, $5 will be donated to the Lion Recovery Fund. You can also make a direct contribution to the fund if you would like, one hundred percent of the money donated will go directly to the fund, it’s not just a portion. The goal of Disney Conservation Fund and The Wildlife Conservation Network’s Lion Recovery Fund is to double the number of lions in the wild by 2050.
There is a special dining experience that is taking place this summer at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It’s called Circle of Flavors: Harambe at Night. During the event you’ll enjoy unique foods in what Disney is calling a Virtual Safari. You’ll visit the Harambe Train Station, Rafiki’s Planet Watch Train Station, and Harambe Market. The event is family friendly. Some of the foods that that are part of Circle of Flavors are Char-Grilled Steak with Herb-Infused Mealie, Chakalaka, and a Red Wine Sauce, as well as Chicken with Fingerling Potatoes, Kool Slaai, and Mango Sambal. There are also meat free offerings foods for the kids. You will also have your fill of themed desserts and beverages. There is entertainment as well. Circle of Flavors takes place from 6:00 until 9:00 on Wednesday evenings. The cost is $125 per adult, and $99 for children ages three through nine, and reservations can be made on the Walt Disney World website.
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Speaking of Rafiki’s Planet Watch, it is open once again, with a fun new addition. The attraction is called The Animation Experience at Conservation Station. You will learn to draw one of the characters from The Lion King, it’s more technical than you might think! It is also a lot of fun. FastPass+ is offered for the experience. Make sure that you give yourself time to get there, since you have to take the Wildlife Express Train to get to Rafiki’s Planet Watch.
Another wonderful part of the media event was that we were able to meet some of the team who is in charge of taking care of the lions at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. There are three at the park; one male and two female. We learned that lions sleep up to 20 hours a day. That is why either first thing in the morning or at the end of the day is the best time to ride Kilimanjaro Safaris if you want to see the lions active. We also learned a bit about the different personalities of the three lions. It is obvious that the team loves what they do.
There are also some other fun offerings to help celebrate The Lion King. There is a brand new scavenger hunt where you can purchase a map and stickers, and once you’re finished you will receive a prize. There are some incredible limited time foods and drinks sold throughout Africa. Special commemorative merchandise is also available, and there are The Lion King themed picture opportunities as well.
You can also take Festival of the Lion King to a new level by purchasing a dining package. There are two tiers available, and the Tier One package includes a guided safari tour! Either package features a three course meal at Tiffins, as well as reserved seating.
There has never been a better time to visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom. You can enjoy all that the park has to offer, and at the same time help to double the number of lions in the wild. I would like to thank Walt Disney World for inviting my friend and me to learn what we can do to Protect the Pride. It was informative and fun, and I am happy to share this information with others.