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Florida Guide > Animal Kingdom

Grand Gathering Safari

Some American friends of ours who often stay at a Walt Disney Resort Hotel during their short trips to Orlando invited us to their Grand Gathering Safari and Dinner at the Animal Kingdom. There were 10 adults and two children in our party.

I was amazed at how well organized the whole evening was. We first met at the Flights of Wonder attraction at 5:15pm where we were all given stickers for our group and told which animal group we would be in, we were the cheetahs. I think your group is very much decided by what hotel you are going back to after the gathering. We all rode on the same safari vehicle as the rest of our animal group and this also included people that were not in our party.

After a brief introduction by ' mama' you are called by your group and assigned to a tour guide. That tour guide walks you down to the Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction and you board a ride vehicle for your safari.

This safari is very different from the one that you get on the ride. There is no audio featuring the poachers and the whole storyline that goes with the ride. Your tour guide points out animals as you ride along. We saw some amazing animals very close up and personal including a giraffe, elephant, alligators, and rhinos. There was also a gigantic male lion that put on a show for us. I thought the safari was much better than the usual safari during the day.

After about 30 minutes we got off the vehicles and were taken to the Tusker House restaurant where we were greeted by an African band playing music and ' mama' was there to welcome us.

After we were taken to our table we were told we could help ourselves to the buffet as soon as we liked. The girls were by this time starving so did not hesitate. Unusually their buffet table was at child' s height but not unusually they had mac and cheese and what they described as incredible corn dog nuggets.

The food was great and it was a good time to try some different food that you normally would not try at home. I cannot remember the names of the dishes but anything we had we thoroughly enjoyed.

The African band continued to play during dinner and mama began to welcome each family individually and announce any special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries, etc.

Then all the children are encouraged to go up and dance and even my girls who are usually very shy joined in. Before you knew it, Timon and Rafiki came in and were dancing with the children who then all got in line to meet and greet the characters.

I believe this event was a bit pricey but we had a very enjoyable evening.

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Page added on: 8 November 2009
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