An infamous little elephant is back in Walt Disney World! Yesterday, we were on the first Keys to the Kingdom Tour to return to Magic Kingdom in nearly 700 days. We’ll have a full review of the tour later today, but there is one tidbit that we couldn’t wait to share – the return of the infamous Little Red elephant from the Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction.
As told by our Keys to the Kingdom Tour guide, the audio-animatronic at the end of the Magic Kingdom’s Jungle Cruise attraction is actually a repurposed figure from Kilimanjaro Safaris. As announced by the Disney Parks Blog in early 2012, the Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction would undergo a change that would remove the “Little Red” scene that discussed the real threat of poachers by showing the baby elephant in the back of a truck as poachers attempted to take her from the savanna:
Beginning this spring, the Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction will undergo some changes to give guests an additional opportunity to see more of their favorite animals, specifically zebra. To do so, Walt Disney Imagineering will make some creative changes to the last scene in the attraction by removing the Audio-Animatronics “Little Red” elephant and related set pieces. This area will then be reconstructed as savannah space and feature a new watering hole for live animals.
With the recent refurbishment of the Jungle Cruise at Magic Kingdom, our tour guide explained that the audio-animatronic “Little Red” was repurposed to find a new home. For years, Little Red sat in a backstage area at Disney’s Animal Kingdom since her removal from Kilimanjaro Safaris in 2012. In Spring 2020, Little Red was removed from the backstage area at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and prepared to be added to the Jungle Cruise.
In January 2021, Disney officially announced that the Jungle Cruise attraction would receive a major rewrite as part of its Diversity & Inclusion initiative taking place throughout the company. Of course, by then Disney was already in the process of reshaping Little Red’s ears to transform her into an Indian elephant to fit the story of the Jungle Cruise.
In May 2021, Disney released concept art of the revised Trader Sam scene to remove the problematic Audio-Animatronic figure and replace him with a gift shop. It was not only an opportunity to make a joke about “exiting through the gift shop”, but also the future home of Little Red, as seen below in the concept art and installed on the attraction!
And that’s the story of how Little Red made it from the Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom to the Jungle Cruise attraction at Magic Kingdom!
As always, keep checking back with us here at BlogMickey.com as we continue to bring you the latest news, photos, and info from around the Disney Parks!