By Pink Diva
Rafiki’s Planet Watch is tucked away in Africa in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It has been a part of Animal Kingdom since it opened on Earth Day 1998. Named after the wise, ol’ Rafiki from The Lion King movies, Rafiki’s Planet Watch focuses on conservation of the planet and all living creatures.
The only way to get to Rafiki’s is to take the Wildlife Express Train. You can either leave your stroller at the stroller parking leading to the train or you can take it on your journey. We opted to leave our stroller since we knew the kids would want to be out and exploring. The educational train ride takes you behind the scenes of the safari where the animals are kept at night and cared for.
TIP: Rafiki’s closes earlier than the rest of the park. Make sure you give yourself enough time to get there and explore.
Once you exit the train you find yourself wandering down a nature trail. There are a few small animals there to greet you. Conservation is the main focus at Rafiki’s and while you hike down the path you will see signs and examples of things you can do at home to improve the planet or help local animals.
After you finish your hike, you are in Rafiki’s World. There is a character greeting spot (we saw Chip and Dale when we were there), conservation building and Affection Section ready for you to explore. We stopped at the Affection Section first. There are sheep, goats, and pigs that wander around for you to pet and brush. Cows, donkeys and more goats surround the Affection Section. The animals come and go freely, but there are roped off sections where the animals can go to get a break for the petting. Please respect their space and obey the signs.
If you can drag your kids away from the animals outside, they will be delighted by the wonders inside. Rafiki himself can be found in here ready to take pictures. There are snakes, frogs and other small creatures in habitats around the large room. The middle of the room has helpful staff members and stations. Some cast members share the unique animals that are housed there while others have conservation information from around the world.
TIP: The conservation area is all indoors which can be a great place to cool off when it’s hot or get out of the rain.
Moving around the room you get an up close look at what Disney Cast Members do to care for the animals and conservation research. If you are lucky, cast members may be working and available to answer questions. There are labs and a veterinary exam room.
You can take a few minutes and get a self-guided of the backstage at Animal Kingdom. Farther around the room you can experience the sounds of the rainforest. The booths are set-up for up to six people and lasts about five minutes.
TIP: When the sounds of the rainforest starts it gets completely dark so that you can fully experience the sounds. This frightened my kids a bit until we turned on the flashlight on the cell phone.
You can easily spend most of your day exploring Rafiki’s Planet Watch. It’s educational and fun. We had a limited amount of time and were only able to scratch the surface of what there is to explore. Go, have fun, and come home ready to implement some of Rafiki’s conservation ideas.