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Backstage Safari

Backstage Safari takes place at the Animal Kingdom. You are shown around some animal backstage homes and then conservation station. I have been lucky enough to go on this tour near the beginning of its run back in 2000 and then more recently in 2009. They have tweaked the tour quite a bit in those nine years. Some of my initial questions/comments were dealt with and as an added bonus they added a ride through the Safari too.

Tour Log (5/8/2009)
Started off near guest relations at the front of the park. We signed in and met our guide for the morning.  We received our headphones and then headed for the park.  Entered through the turnstyles and headed over toward the Rain Forest Café.  After a brief introduction we headed backstage and hopped in a couple of vans and drove to the elephant/rhino barn area.  There we were introduced to a rhino keeper and given the opportunity to pet a white rhino.  After the encounter spent a little time near the elephants area then back in the vans and off the Conservation Station.  We walked through the veterinary hospital then crossed the parking lot to the food preparation kitchen.  We then headed for a quick snack and bathroom break then hung out in a classroom for a few minutes before heading back to the van and around to the parade gate.  There we walked on stage and headed for a private Safari ride.  After the ride we met up near Tusker house to wrap up the tour.
Tour Log and thoughts (12/2000)
  • Met at Conservation Station around 8:30am (took first train out there)
  • A beverage was available if you wanted one
  • The tour started off by walking backstage right across from conservation station
  • Walked over to the Elephant Barn
  • Went upstairs in the building and sat on a balcony that overlooked the barn and heard from one of the animal keepers
  • Walked back towards Conservation station pointing out many of the buildings (such as animal quarantine, receiving, and night houses)
  • Got to experience an "animal encounter" which consisted of a trainer going in a cage with a Falcon and working on a flight routine with the bird.
  • Next went to a classroom behind conservation station to watch a video showing some of the animals and their trainers
  • Toured Conservation Station operating rooms, research rooms, etc.. (all backstage, looking back through the glass at the park guests) Also toured the kitchen (food preparation facility)
  • Back to the classroom for a wrap-up and to get pins for going on the tour

I really enjoyed the Backstage Safari. Check out the tour log below for a listing of where we went on it.

I thought it was fairly informative and showed some really cool things at Animal Kingdom. My wish for the tour is that it would focus more on what is unique to Disney and how they do things. They spent a lot of the tour focusing on conservation and animal enrichment. This is good and all, but I was on a backstage safari and I wanted to know about Disney backstage. They did reach and exceed my expectations a few times, namely the elephant barn and the animal hospital backstage at conservation station as well as the food preparation area.

One part of it that did not make any sense to me was why it starts in the back of the park first thing in the morning. I think it should have started in the front of the park so you can have a "tour" of the park on your way backstage. It seems it would be easier to meet people at guest services in the front of the park and then just walk them all back there. You could actually meet even earlier than 8:30 then. A couple years after we took the tour, Disney did switch the meeting place to the front of the park instead of where we had to get to.



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