It’s been a while since Rafiki’s Planet Watch went under for refurbishment, and since then, Animal Kingdom hasn’t quite been the same. (At least not to me.) During a tour of the park yesterday, we dropped in to speak to some of the Cast Members stationed outside of the Wildlife Express Train station to inquire more about the current status of our beloved Conservation Station.
While we already know the attraction is set to reopen this summer (despite lots of back-and-forth concerning a potential spring opening), according to Cast Members, the attraction is set to reopen in late August, given that construction has apparently been slow on the interior of the Conservation Station.
The Song of the Rainforest booths, which were home to Grandmother Willow from Pocahontas, are currently being torn down to accommodate a space dedicated to Disney’s rich heritage of wildlife animation, showcasing how Disney animators have historically taken inspiration from live animals to ensure accuracy and realism in their work. They’ll tie this in to historical examples, like Bambi and The Lion King. Nods to True-Life Adventures, the original fourteen full-length and short-subject documentary films produced by Walt Disney Productions in the late ’40s and ’60s will also be referenced in the space. Only one of eight original booths has been torn down, so there’s still plenty of work to be done, hence the late summer estimate for re-opening.
If you never got to experience the Song of the Rainforest booths, they were an immensely relaxing audio tour of a rainforest habitats, with Grandmother Willow as your host. These were a favorite of mine as the dark room and rain sounds were a nice respite from the hot, loud crowds elsewhere. These will be sorely missed, but it’ll be interesting to see what they do with the new Disney nature documentary/wildlife animation section.
If you want to remember Rafiki’s Planet Watch and the Conservation Station in its full glory as it was before closing for refurbishment, check out our full tour of “closing” day at Rafiki’s from last October: