Do you love getting up close with animals? This week, the Walt Disney World Resort launched a new tour at Disney’s Animal Kingdom that provides guests with the opportunity to get to know some of their resident animals. The Up Close with Rhinos Tour definitely is a unique and amazing experience. I am thrilled that I was given the opportunity to check out the Animal Kingdom’s newest offering.
This tour is offered daily at 11 am (check-in is 15 minutes prior to the start of the tour). Check-in is located at the kiosk across from the entrance to the Kilimanjaro Safari attraction. After you sign your releases, you are given your lanyards and you wait for your guide to take you on this unique experience.
Once everyone has gathered, you get to behind the walls and backstage. Since this tour takes place completely in the backstage area, photography is not permitted.
Once backstage, you will board a small bus and head to the animal barns. We got to see a young elephant enjoying some enrichment and a cheetah relaxing in the sun before we arrived at our destination – the rhino barn. We toured the barns and learned about these magnificent creatures.
We learned that there are two varieties of African Rhinos – the white and the black. The white rhinos are the ones we got to visit with today. There are also three species of Asian Rhinos – the Javan, the Sumatran and the Greater One-Horned. Disney’s Animal Kingdom only has the African species in residence. We learned that all rhinos have three twos and that all have two horns excepted the Javan and the Greater One-Horned Rhino (hence the name).
All animals at both Disney’s Animal Kingdom and the Animal Kingdom Lodge have specific sounds that are used to call the animals back into their barns. The sound for the rhinos is two large metal bars being banged together.
We then went out to the Rhino yard where we met Jao, a 25-year-old wild caught female and Lola an 8-year-old female. We got to watch a training exercise which is used to help the animals come and stand still. This is used for veterinary care procedures. We also got to meet Dugan, the newest member of #TeamRhino. He is a male and is in the process of being introduced to Jao and Lola in hopes of there being a successful breeding to help the survival of this amazing species.
We got to observe these magnificent creatures, ask questions and then we got to do the best thing ever!!!!! We got to pet Jao. We got to feel her skin and see her up close. We got to look in her eyes and let me tell you, she has the most beautiful eyelashes. We also got to witness the amazing bond the rhinos have with their keepers.
Overall, this tour was amazing! It runs for about an hour and there is minimal walking required. I highly recommend you check this out! Most importantly, the entire cost of the tour is donated to the Disney Conservation Fund and earmarked for Rhino conservation.
What you need to know before you go:
- This is an outdoor experience. Be sure to check the weather forecast and dress appropriately.
- Comfortable closed-toe shoes are strongly recommended.
- No cameras, video equipment or cell phones may be used while participating in this tour.
- Guests must be 4 years of age or older to participate.
- Guests under 18 years of age must be accompanied by a participating adult (18 years of age or older).
- Park admission is required for participation and is not included in the tour price.
- Check in at 10:45 AM at the Curiosity Animal Tours kiosk, located across from the Kilimanjaro Safari attraction entrance.
- The tour begins promptly at 11:00 AM. Late arrivals will not be permitted to join the experience.
- Itinerary, content, duration, and availability are subject to change without notice.
- You will forfeit the entire price of this experience if you fail to show or if you cancel within 2 days of your reservation.
- For information about service animal policies for this experience, please call the Guest Animal Experience team directly at (407) 938-1487.*
- Guests using nontransferable wheelchairs may remain in them throughout this experience; however, due to limited capacity onboard the transport vehicle, all accommodation requests should be confirmed by calling (407) 938-1487.*
- Guests using an ECV must leave their mobility device at the transport vehicle boarding area, where they will retrieve them upon the conclusion of the experience. Guests must walk by themselves, or be assisted by a member or members of their party in a courtesy wheelchair to participate in this experience.
- This experience includes visits to outdoor areas that may contain common allergens such as dust and hay as well as biting and stinging insects.
- The experience will be held rain or shine, with the exception of severe weather or lightning.
- ALLERGY ALERT – you will be in an area with dust, hay, and possible nut exposure.
- The cost of this tour is $40.
- Annual Passholders are eligible for a discount.
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