Disney debuted a new tour earlier this month titled Caring for Giants. Here are the details on the tour:
What – An elephant viewing tour
Where – Disney’s Animal Kingdom
When – Occurs multiple times daily; 60 minute tour
Cost – $30 per person
This new tour allows guests a chance to see the elephants from the Kilimanjaro Safaris from a viewing platform as well as hearing from an animal specialist and African cultural representatives. Guests meet for the tour at the Curiosity Animal Tours booth across from Kilimanjaro Safaris. It is highly recommended that you arrive 15 minutes early as the tour schedule is very strict.
After receiving an overview of the experience and going over the photography rules (no pictures of backstage areas, of which you’ll see plenty), you’ll follow a Cast Member backstage to your transportation.
A 5-10 minute ride gets you around the back side of Kilimanjaro Safaris and to a platform overlooking the elephant section of the ride. As you watch Kilimanjaro Safaris vehicles pass by, you get to watch the elephants roam free around their enclosure. Because they have the freedom to roam around, there isn’t always a guarantee that you’ll have one pass right in front of you. We went on the last tour of the afternoon that was offered (4:30pm) and found most of the elephants searching for shade on a hot day in late-March. Just like the Safaris, you’re going to want to try and book this tour as close to the start of your day as possible.
The thing that stood out to us on this tour, besides the elephants, was the Cast Members themselves. They went above and beyond the already high standard set for Disney Cast Members and were extremely knowledgeable about the creatures. The viewing time is split into two portions, time with the animal specialist and time with the cultural representatives. The animal specialist was able to tell us everything we might want to know about the animals and how Disney takes care of them. He was able to point out the different elephants by name and tell us how each one was unique. As we made our way over to the cultural representatives, they told us more about what is being done in Africa to take care of the elephant population from a first-hand perspective. They shared a particularly interesting story about how farmers are keeping elephants out of their farms using a low-tech solution.
Throughout both portions of the tour, you are treated to the best possible views of the elephants. Cast Members understand that you’re there to see the elephants first and are constantly looking to give you the best view. They don’t mind talking to the back of your head while you take as many photos as you’d like.
At $30 per person, this is a perfect tour to mix into your day at Animal Kingdom. The tour offers you a chance to get some great photos and views of these gentle giants as they socialize and enjoy their day. Just like Kilimanjaro Safaris, it’s highly recommended to do this tour as early in the day as possible. According to our animal specialist, the elephants are much more active in the morning, exploring and socializing before the heat of the day.
It is worth noting that this tour takes you past a lot of backstage areas and may “ruin the magic” for some.
As far as how you can prepare, we highly recommend taking a proper camera on this tour as your phone won’t take the best possible photos. A camera with zoom is ideal. The photos above were taken with 50 – 200mm zoom lens.
For us, this is the type of tour that we’d be happy to not only recommend highly, but go on again ourselves soon. All proceeds go towards the Disney Conservation Fund.