Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Wild Africa Trek - With a Dash of Disney Magic

Over the years I have come to realize not to sweat major disappointments in life as they have a way of quickly turning around with spectacular results. My journey on the Wild Africa Trek at Disney's Animal Kingdom illustrates that point quite well and with a healthy dose of Disney magic thrown in.

I am a big Disney fan, veteran of nearly 200 visits since 1976, and I was looking for something a little different for this trip. I noticed years ago on a visit to Animal Kingdom there were guests in harnesses crossing bridges and walking dangerously close to crocodiles. You can see them quite clearly from the Kilimanjaro Safaris ride. This was on my bucket list for quite a while so I planned an entire trip just for this one excursion.

A few facts you need to know. Park admission is required. Even though this trek takes 3 hours of your day, you still need to buy a ticket to get in the park. It's also ferociously expensive. Our Trek was around $150.00. That is Per Person!! Also at Noon but the morning trip I wanted was $200.00 which pushed it out of my consideration entirely. And this is with every discount we could work out. So your next question - Was it worth it... Well not so fast.

P1000369This is Florida in the autumn. It rains, it lightnings, and on this day it thundered so loud we heard the echo off Mount Everest about a quarter mile away. The Trek runs for 3 hours rain or shine but lightning will put a hold on your plans. We had a good hour and a half of rain this day and it all happened while we were gearing up and waiting for the weather to clear. While we stood out of the rain our tour guides for the day entertained us non stop the entire time. With every thunder crack, our wait clock got reset for 15 minutes. We were just about a minute away from leaving the hut when the sky decided to fire off one last parting shot. That cancelled our Trek for the day.


In years past, this would have ruined my entire vacation. I would have flown off into a pouting rage and ruined everyone's vacation around me. Well I've grown up and this is Disney so this is what happened.

We were given the choice of a refund (no way), the next tour at 2:30 (um... still rainy) or 8:30 am the next morning (Bingo - The expensive tour). We had some other plans but the Trek was the main reason we came so we took door number three.

P1000351So how did we finish the day? Of course as luck would have it, we stopped for lunch and came out to clear blue skies. The free ponchos we acquired were well appreciated on the Kali River Rapids. Later we took a bus to Magic Kingdom to ride the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Ride. Next a monorail to EPCOT and scored a seat at the Rose and Crown Pub for dinner and the best seats in the park for the fire works. Perfect day even though we completely missed the event we came for.

P1000320The next day the weather was absolutely perfect. We met our guides Moira and Jenny at the entrance and were greeted like long lost friends. We already spent and hour and half with the very bubbly, funny, and knowledgeable Jenny and I specifically requested her for our tour the next day. I would like to think I really had that kind of pull but it was just pure luck of the drawl she told me. (wink wink)

Time for the Trek.

 After signing a short waiver and removing everything from our pockets like wallets and cell phones and putting them in lockers, we were fitted for a harness, headset, water bottle, and a huge amount of enthusiasm from our guides.

P1000436Will your Trek be like mine? Probably not. Every animal cooperated. The gorillas were feeding and roaming right in front of us. The Hippos swam across the pond for a bit of lettuce. The Zebra, Giraffe, Rhinos, and Elephants all decided that today was the day to be frisky, playful, and running. One of the crocodiles snapped at another just feet below us. We even had an Ostrich challenge our right to be off the road and blocked our way for a bit.

You may or may not get that lucky but you will certainly get an education, a fantastic meal on the Savannah, a very stimulating rope bridge, and an album full of photos taken of your party and the wildlife to download later and enjoy at home.


OK - time to answer the big question. This trip was just a bit more than I could really afford but it is one I will never forget and always be talking about to whoever will listen. It was made even more unforgettable because of the guides and staff who made this dream come true for me even with a glitch in the weather that was not in their control. It will also always remind me that no matter the size of the disappointment, don't dwell on the losses, concentrate on wins.

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