We’re excited to have Animal Kingdom expert Safari Mike from the Radio Harambe podcast and the Jambo Everyone website answer a few questions regarding his views on Orlando tourism. Mike has long been an advocate of Animal Kingdom and has supported numerous conservation efforts around the world. His weekly podcast has become the go-to place for the very latest news regarding Animal Kingdom and all of Walt Disney World. Mike and his Radio Harambe co-host Dave McBride have both long been advocates of Animal Kingdom not being a half day park.
OTR- What makes Orlando unique when compared to other tourist centric destinations?
SM- This one is easy: Volume. The sheer number of theme parks and attractions is overwhelming. Like I said, I never set foot “off property” but I know I am missing another world. Back when I first started going to WDW, there was just the Magic Kingdom (yes I am that old). So we would go to Busch Gardens, Sea World, Silver Springs, Cypress Gardens. Then Epcot opened and we stopped doing a couple of those other attractions. Then Disney MGM Studios opened and it was game set and match. Other than checking out Universal Studios in its infancy we really never set foot off property. But there is sooooo much out there that people could spend a month on vacation in Central Florida and not see everything.
OTR- What is the most ‘Disney’ ride currently at Universal Orlando Resort?
SM- This one is a toughie since I usually don’t leave the World. But I am constantly looking at videos and whatnot of Universal. The easy answer would be something Potter due to the level of theming or perhaps Spider Man since that’s actually a Disney property. But I am going to pick Revenge of the Mummy. It just seems like a Disney type ride with the level of details in it. The queues, the effects, the façade, all are quite “Disney.” And if they ever put it into Hollywood Studios it would automatically be a Top 3 attraction, no?
OTR- What are your predictions/hopes on what the next big news item regarding Disney World resorts being?
SM- This would have to be what’s the next DVC. We all know its coming and they have pretty much maxed out the monorail resorts for vacation club expansion. Once the Poly is done, what will Disney do next for DVC? I have heard all sorts of things including even a large addition to the Caribbean Beach resort to allow for rooftop Illuminations viewing or something build right behind Epcot for the same advantageous views. I suppose only time will tell but with DVC being such a cash cow, you can bet they are not done with it.
As for hopes? I want them to build a train that runs from Kidani to Jambo to a dedicated DAK entrance at Harambe. How cool would that be?????
OTR- What is the one thing that would cause the biggest improvement to Orlando International Airport?
SM- I have three words for this – Earl. Of. Sandwich. That’s right, my home airport of Newark NJ has an Earl in one of its terminals. Let’s put one in the Orlando airport. Then I wouldn’t have to try to work my way down to that ridiculous Disney Springs area and its nightmarish construction to get a decent sub. And who wouldn’t feel better about going home munching on a holiday sandwich? I say no one. And what better way to enjoy the Magical Express ride to the Animal Kingdom Lodge than by chowing down on a Chipotle Chicken Avocado. Better WiFi? Sure that would be nice. Quicker baggage claims? OK, that helps. But both pale in comparison to adding an Earl.
OTR- What ride at Walt Disney World would you point to as best resembling what the future of the parks will be?
SM- I was going to say Triceratops Spin here, but I decided against that. Instead, I am going with Enchanted Tales with Belle. What’s that you say? Well, hear me out on this one. Yes, I know it’s an attraction that is basically for little kids and it doesn’t have a ride element. But the reality is the technology in here is pretty amazing. The mirror effect and the Luminere AA are wow factors. I see these types of things continuing; clearly the 7 dwarves at the mine train take a cue from the Luminere figure. The lighting effects are used so well (Avatarland anyone?). And, most importantly, an immersive experience, which is of course, a Disney hallmark. Yeah, this attraction is not necessarily a “big deal” but it does show to me where Disney is possibly going into the future.