As soon as I saw Walt Disney World Resort announce the Caring for Giants Tour at Animal Kingdom Park, I knew this was a Must Do for my family! Elephants are my absolute favorite animal and this opportunity to see them a little bit closer was not to be missed. And, the price was right too! Just $29 per person for a one-hour, behind-the-scenes look at the elephants and a chance to talk to some of the people who care for them.
Our tour was scheduled for 3:30p.m. on Saturday, April 1. We arrived at 3:15 so we could check in, sign our safety waivers and hit the restroom before setting off on our tour. The check in desk is located just before the entrance to Kilimanjaro Safari.
As you can see, there are many animal experiences at the Disney Parks. In the past, it could be a challenge to find the tours. Now, however, the staff at this desk can answer questions for you and sign you up right there, provided there is space available.
At 3:30, the Cast Members led us back stage to our waiting van for the ride to the elephant habitat. Our driver, Hollis, was extremely friendly, funny and knowledgeable. She kept us entertained as we rode through the not-so-pretty part of the park. Did you know that Animal Kingdom is, by far, the largest park on Disney Property? The entire Magic Kingdom could fit inside the Kilimanjaro Safari attraction!!
Once we arrived at the tour location, Hollis dropped us off with Jake, our guide. Jake works in the Education area of Animal Kingdom and has a degree in Biology. He knew each elephant by name and personality.
We walked up some ramps and ended up behind the elephant habitat that you see from the Kilimanjaro Safari ride. Our guides explained that the elephants are free to do whatever they want to do. You may see them clearly, or you may see them at a distance lying in the dirt. They will not be herded or forced to move into view.
As an animal lover, I truly respect the way Animal Kingdom treats their animals. As an American Zoological Association accredited facility, they meet strict standards of care for the animals. All of the keepers have dedicated their careers to making sure the animals in their care receive proper treatment. As our guide said, "These elephants are spoiled!"
Baby Stella, born last December, was truly the star of the show!! When you see her in person, you can see that she is covered in fuzzy hair. All elephants are covered in hair, but hers looks soft and fluffy. She scampered after her family and was playful and cute as could be!
After we watched the elephants for about 20 minutes, we were met by two Cultural Representatives from Africa who shared some experiences from their home countries of South Africa and Botswana.
I highly recommend this tour for anyone who loves elephants and has visited Animal Kingdom before. It was an hour well-spent!
Mary Graham is a Vacation Specialist with Coasters & Castles Travel. Animal Kingdom is her favorite park. Mary has lost track of how many times she has visited Disney World (20+) and has been as a couple, and as a mom of toddlers to teens. She would love to help your family plan a magical vacation to Disney World or any other Disney destination.