As fourth quarter and school came to an end last month, I told my son that if he made honor roll, we could do ANYTHING he wanted to do on all of Walt Disney World property (I mean within reason LOL). Since we live five minutes behind Cinderella’s castle, we try to do something new whenever we can as a family. I listed a few things that I knew would intrigue him 1) horseback riding at Fort Wilderness 2) Star Wars Galactic Dessert Party at Hollywood Studios and 3) Caring for Giants tour at the Animal Kingdom. Whelp, he came home with the report card and BAM honor roll!! Pretty much as he was walking in the door, he shouted with excitement, “Let’s do Caring for Giants!”
Booking for the Caring for Giants Tour
It was SUPER simple. I just called up the Disney World tour/events hotline – (407) WDW-PLAY and asked for availability for the upcoming weekend. They offer tours from 9:30 am – 4:00 pm that last one hour with a maximum of 12 people. Because it is the “rainy” season here, I recommend booking a morning tour (less chance of thunderstorms canceling your visit). Pricing is pretty inexpensive for a backstage Disney tour at only $30 per person for ages four and up which is paid right over the phone. Also, I was able to use our Disney Vacation Club discount for an additional 15% off, so for myself and son, it was only $51! Something remarkable to know about the price is that 100% of what you pay goes right back into the Disney Conservation Fund. That you can feel really good about, I know we did! To learn more about Disney’s Conservation efforts check out www.disneyanimals.com.
Arrival for the Caring for Giants Tour
Our time slot was 12:30 pm, so we made sure to be tapping into the park by noon. Give yourself plenty of time because if not the tour will leave without you. Check-in is at the Curiosity Animal Tours Stand across from Kilimanjaro Safaris in Africa. Make sure you have your ID because they do check (one per party). Once that is all taken care of, they hand each person a lanyard with their name tag on it. But make sure you read the fine print on the back side of the paper (check out my picture below)!!
Yep, you read that right elephant POOP paper! We made sure to spread the “fun” to the other members of our tour, and watching their faces was hilarious! Unfortunately, due to lightning in the area, our 12:30 pm tour was canceled. The cast members were quick to assist in rescheduling us for the 1 pm time slot, and if need be the 1:30 pm tour just in case the storm did not pass quick enough. They can quickly change your tour time as long as the group is not full. I know I heard one family talking about needing to reschedule because part of their group was in the Flight of Passage fastpass queue.
Backstage Experience on Caring for Giants
Before we were escorted backstage, the cast member gave us specific rules concerning pictures and video. Absolutely NO videos or photos can be taken backstage until they gave us the all clear upon arrival. I figured for sure we would take a smaller safari truck, but instead, we boarded an air-conditioned bus (similar to the type that transfers guests at Animal Kingdom Lodge between Jambo House and Kidani Village). We were beyond thankful for that air conditioning. It was a quick ride behind the scenes to our destination of the elephants. Once we arrived and exited the bus, we could see this silver walkway that turned into brown. The cast members let us know that once we walked to the brown section, we could then begin taking pictures.
Up Close with Elephants on Caring for Giants
Most of us have all ridden the Kilimanjaro Safari at some point and seen an elephant or two, but walking up and seeing pretty much the whole herd was unreal! Everyone in our group couldn’t stop squealing with excitement. Our zoologist guide answered any and all questions between explaining what “Caring for Giants” really takes. It was amazing to learn how smart they really are and from a very young age can be trained. Baby Stella, our guide said, at only two can do all necessary behaviors at the doctor visits (like lifting a specific leg to get a manicure) like her big sister Luna. Stella as the baby, of course, stole the show, and we were even able to watch her nurse (check out the photo below). Did you know that an elephant gestation is 23 months?! My son laughed as I cringed in horror at that thought – haha! I also asked about the impact of Hurricane Irma, and the zoologist giggled. She joked that while all other parks took all this manpower to clean up, she said the herd of elephants thoroughly enjoyed eating all the new brush that blew in as they cleaned up their area (pretty fast too)!
In addition to our zoologist, we had a lovely woman from South Africa as our cultural representative. She spoke about the drastic reduction in the number of elephants due to poaching and habitat loss. Also, she explained how the KaiNav conservation nonprofit combats poaching by searching for snare traps and turning them into art (see the example below). Fun fact, elephants are afraid of bees. Local farmers use beehives to naturally keep a herd away from their crops (see photo below). Did you know that elephant poop can be used as medicine? She said that to ward off a cold, allergies or sinus infection they roast the elephant dung over a fire and then inhale air with a towel over their head. I do not think we’ll be trying that next cold season LOL!
Two Thumbs Up!
We took this tour last Saturday, and my son still can not stop talking about it or spouting off random elephant facts! For a tween, that says A LOT! For the price and experience, this is a definite must do in my book! I look forward to bringing our toddler when she turns four! Check out this link for more information. Have you taken this tour or another Animal Kingdom tour? Post in the comments below! If you are interested in other Animal Kingdom tours check out Wild Africa Trek Disney Tour Review.
Life is too short not to live YOUR happily ever after, so my husband and I decided to move the family out of the D.C. suburbs to live in the land of the mouse. I’m raising 2 kids on pixie dust and dole whip behind the castle. Everyday is a new adventure with Mickey! I look forward to sharing my pro mom tips to help you create your own magical adventure.