April 2001 Trip Report

April 2001 Trip Report: Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge and "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire--Play It!"

Dates: April 16-23, 2001


  • Jennifer Watson: 32, Disney veteran and co-author of PassPorter Walt Disney World, on her umpteenth trip to Disney (from Ann Arbor, MI)
  • Dave Marx, 46, Disney veteran and co-author of PassPorter (from Ann Arbor, MI)

Transportation: Southwest Airlines (from Detroit Metro Airport) and Tiffany Town Car

Resort: Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort

Parks: Disney's Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Disney-MGM Studios, Magic Kingdom, Pleasure Island

Restaurants/Eateries: Jiko, Boma, more to come later

Other: This is a research trip to check out the new resort and new attraction. Most of our time will be spent researching in great detail and thus will go outside the realm of the typical vacationer experience. Thus, this resort may not make for scintillating reading, but it should be full of great observations, facts, and information.

Updated 04/18/01

Copyright 1999-2001
PassPorter Travel Press, an imprint of MediaMarx, Inc.
Questions? Problems? E-Mail Us!

  Day Three: April 18, 2001

Today's report comes from the "African veldt." So, as intrepid, honorary members of the Adventurers Club, we humbly present our carefully-logged observations in hopes you'll find us worthy of the Balderdash Cup and honor us as Adventurers of the Year.

Our itinerary called for intensive observation and exploration of our recently adopted habitat at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, and we stayed true to our plans. We awoke sometime after dawn and made our sleepy way towards the lobby and Boma, to graze on a delightful, buffet breakfast in the company of Deb and Linda. Then, on to the hunt!

The canny human can stalk his/her quarry from nearly everywhere within the safety of the Lodge. The structure is made of over 21 interconnected buildings, joined by glass-enclosed passageways that provide excellent vantage points for the seasoned hunter. Four observation platforms in the Kudu and Zebra Trail wings sport sets of high-power binoculars, capable of resolving a pair of Love Bugs mating on the back of a wildebeest at 200 yards. Several excellent viewing platforms adjoin the lobby itself, and of course, the famed Arusha Rock overlook and several vantage points near the Uzima pool provide up-close, ground-level views of the wild lands. However, all one really needs is a savanna-view room. Herewith, our journal of today's expedition:

A chill north wind brought blue, cloudless skies to the Uzima Savanna.

A pair of East African Crowned Cranes pecked at the ground, moving in tandem like a pair of synchronized swimmers. Meanwhile, 40 yards away across the watering hole, a mixed group of impala and Thomson's gazelle wander, grazing through the low, green grasses.

The wildlife moves at ease, oblivious to the presence of its human neighbors less than 100 feet distant. The air is filed with the hoots, cries, and calls of young homo sapiens, the occasional scrape of metal patio furniture on dun-colored concrete balconies, and the low murmur of adult voices. In singles, pairs, and family cohorts, young and mature humans emerge from their dens to survey the verdant scenery from their personal "Pride Rocks," linger a while, and drift back into the shelter of their domicile.

The generally placid pace of the savanna is occasionally broken by the playful prancing of antelope and gazelle, as they give brief chase before settling down to graze. A small herd of giraffe canter out onto the broad plain from their backstage care area, delighted for the chance to let out some pent-up energies.

But wait! What's this? A young, adult impala (just a bit smaller than a yearling white-tailed deer) wanders close to our viewing blind (that's "balcony"to us Yanks). Close on his heels is a tiny Thomson's gazelle, the Chihuahua of the grazing quadrupeds that call this savanna "home." In a flash the plucky "Tommy" has dropped his head into a fighting stance, his thin, straight, stiletto horns pointed at the heart of the impala. They're still mere toothpicks when compared to the gracefully curving horns of the impala. The Tommy charges ahead two steps in a bold feint, as his much larger rival first turns to do battle, then retreats several steps to graze another patch of grass, clearly too contented to rise to his small friend's challenge.

Such is the gentle drama of this peaceable kingdom, populated by a mild-mannered society of herbivorous mammals and dramatic, large birds. No lions crouching in the grass, or hyenas circling on the edge of the herd, awaiting opportunity to wander into their path. Ironically, the greatest risk is to the human predators, highest on the food chain. It is we who must beware, as video cameras stand silent watch over the weaker herd. Woe unto the careless human who tries to feed the wildlife or throws trash towards the savanna. Justice will be swift and sure -- errant visitors will be asked to leave the comfort of their lodging and seek shelter elsewhere in a wider, crueler world. And even when safe behind our tempered-glass sliding doors, signs warn us to draw our drapes, lest our grooming and mating rituals be espied by the never-sleeping cameras.

The shadows of evening are creeping across the plains. Now, only a few distant patches of sunlight remind us of the day's feeble warmth. Larger, muscular antelope have joined the graceful gazelle -- Bongo, Greater Kudu, and perhaps we see Blesbok off in the distance, with rich, dark brown coats and brilliant white faces (be sure to bring good binoculars, and telephoto lenses for your cameras).

On the neighboring Arusha savanna the Ankole cattle, their huge horns putting a Texas Longhorn to shame, are rousing from their midday slumber. Once night falls they'll blend back into the shadows of the savanna's "artificial moonlight" -- flood lights on the distant roofs of the Lodge that bathe the wildlands in the perpetual glow of a full, harvest moon. One can easily observe wildlife at any hour of day or night, while the animals doze or wander as their natures dictate.

It's now near midnight back on the Uzima savanna. The sleeping storks and cranes stand silent, one-legged vigil in a dim night bereft of real moonlight but bathed in the soft artificial light that wafts down from the rooftops. Automatic lawn sprinklers promise an unending stream of green grass and plenty unknown in the wild. So the time has come to bid goodnight to our gentle neighbors, and close our sliding doors on peeping frogs, chirping crickets and cool breezes.

Good night!


P.S. Today we had plenty of time to observe the savanna (and write the above report) as we were playing telephone tag with tech support for our Web site. It seems the PassPorter.com store "closed" on Monday and we've been trying to make it accessible to everyone again. What a time for this to happen! If you're trying to place an order, you'll encounter problems in the store -- we encourage you to either use our toll-free number (1-877-929-3273), order from Amazon.com or BarnesAndNoble.com, or try again later. You're welcome to e-mail us and ask us to let you know when the store is open again, too! It should be back up very soon (we hope!).

P.P.S. We received wonderful news today! PassPorter 2000 is the *First Place Winner* of the ForeWord Book of the Year Awards. Last year our first edition took second place, so we're astonished and very happy to receive this news. The second and third place winners were books by Globe Pequot Press and Lonely Planet, two very respected and much larger publishing companies. We're also happy to note that Susan Shumaker and Than Saffel's book -- Vegetarian Walt Disney World and Greater Orlando -- was a finalist for the ForeWord Award, too! Congrats to Susan and Than -- we highly recommend their wonderful guide.

Next Report: Day Four

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