BEYOND THE RIDES: The Caring for Giants Animal Kingdom Tour

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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. 

Baby Stella and Siblings

     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.

Passenger Van to Viewing Station

     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!

Elephant Tooth

     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.

WDW Elephant Specialist

     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! 

Kisses for Baby Stella

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.

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About the author

BrookeA

Brooke's first experience at a Disney park was to Anaheim at the age of 5. Two years later, she made her first trip to Orlando where she instantly discovered her "Laughing Place". Regular trips to Disney World have been a very big and important part of her life ever since. When she isn't planning her next Disney adventure, Brooke is a full time Jedi Master, a web developer, and writer. Contact Brooke at [email protected]

5 Comments

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  • Thanks for the article. If I can be crass, what kind of souvenir did you receive? And is it one per family or one per person? It’s an inexpensive tour at $30/person, but curious is all. Thanks.

    • Hi Stuart-

      Great question. While most of the Disney World tours give you a commemorative pin exclusive to the tour, the caring for Giants souvenir is a bit… unique. Each participant does get their own souvenir. The tour is all about caring for elephants and doing what we can to protect them in the environment so the souvenir is a lanyard with a name tag made from special recycled paper… aka, elephant poop. It’s neater than it sounds but it also isn’t a pin like what you get on the other tours. I will say though that Disney could change the souvenir at any time and I don’t know what they will offer month to month.

      One last thought is that I really wouldn’t base your decision to do the tour on the souvenir alone. It’s an all around experience and the $30, to me, was worth the experience with or without a souvenir.

    • You’ll really enjoy your time! Keep watching WDWNT.com for more information about other tours and activities that go “beyond the rides”. Next week’s article will be particularly strong with The Force…

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