BEYOND THE RIDES: The Caring for Giants Animal Kingdom Tour
Caring for Giants Elephant Tour
at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom Park
With 2018 being the 20th anniversary of Animal Kingdom park, it’s worth a look at how the park has evolved over the years and all it has to offer.Some of the more well-known additions to Animal Kingdom in recent years include the expansion into Pandora and the new nighttime show, Rivers of Light.While both attractions make great additions to the park and are highly recommended, there are some other more recent offerings worth knowing about as well.Enter: the Caring for Giants elephant encounter tour.
Caring for Giants is a 1-hour guided tour, taking you behind the scenes to learn about elephants and all that’s involved in caring for them, both at the Animal Kingdom and in the wild.You start the tour by meeting your guide across from the entrance to Kilimanjaro Safaris. To help the guides start the tour on time, you’re asked to arrive about 15 minutes early for check-in.
To get things going, the group is escorted through a gate leading to the backstage area.Here you get a rare glimpse of the roadways and transportation network used for getting cast members and animals from place to place.(Tip: Ask about the hidden Mickeys only viewable to guests on this tour).You’re quickly loaded into a passenger van and taxied down the road to an observation area located behind the elephant section of the Kilimanjaro Safari ride.
At the observation station, while you watch the elephants interact and roam, an elephant specialist will share all sorts of fun facts and details about these gentle giants.We were even given the chance to hold an elephant tooth and some petrified elephant poop.I know… contain your excitement!
Before heading back and concluding the tour, you’re introduced to a cultural representative from Africa who discusses caring for elephants in the wild.This includes important information about how we can help by supporting industries that discourage ivory trade and elephant poaching.
Like with all Disney World tours, you receive a special souvenir at the end of Caring for Giants.Although Caring for Giants is available to all Animal Kingdom guests, it does cost $30/person to participate.However, for the VIP access, escape from crowds and lines, and an extra dose of Disney magic, it’s well worth the cost!
Things to Know Before You Go:
Aside from the short taxi ride you take to get to/from the observation area, Caring for Giants is a walking tour.Guests will be standing for most of the hour-long adventure, including a walk up a set of stairs to reach the observation deck.
Tour participants do not get to feed or touch the elephants.You ARE given special behind-the-scenes access to view the animals, but guests are kept to the observation area about 50-100 feet away from the elephants. This backstage access gives participants a special view of the elephants interacting as a herd that you don’t otherwise get to see, even when riding on the Kilimanjaro Safari.
Tours are offered throughout the day.The “best” time to go depends on your particular group and how you’d like to plan the rest of your day at the park.My suggestion is to consider the afternoon hours when ride lines are longest.There’s nothing better than getting behind-the-scenes VIP treatment when everyone else is stuck in lines!Also, while some animals tend to be more active during the cooler morning hours, this isn’t necessarily the case for this particular tour.Disney runs the tours throughout the day partly because they feel that guests attending at any time will have a positive experience.
For more details about tour times, booking, accommodations, and rules, click here.