Disney’s Animal Kingdom

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Magic in the Details: Digging DINOLAND U.S.A. ~ by Guest Author Adam M. Berger

Published November 17, 2014 by jpmdo

As a professional attraction show writer, I’m always fascinated by the many ways the Disney Imagineers use their mastery of visual storytelling to immerse guests in their themed environments. But you don ‘t have to be a theme park designer to appreciate the countless details that fill every Disney theme park, helping to communicate the storyline and adding so much enjoyment to your experience.

One of my favorite examples of this is also among the most easily overlooked—especially if you are visiting without a young child in tow. I’m talking about The Boneyard playground in the Dinoland U.S.A. section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. You may think The Boneyard is all kid’s stuff…but you’d only be half right, because it’s also an example of Disney themed storytelling at its finest.


The story plays out on several levels, and you can decode it by simply looking around and paying attention to the details. First, you’ll notice that this is very clearly a paleontological dig site, with the fossils of dinosaur bones exposed in the various layers of earth that have been deposited over millions of years. If you take a few moments to study the (fake yet very realistic-looking) rock formations, you can clearly make out the different layers or “strata” in which the fossils have been trapped.


Superimposed over this is the architecture of the paleontologists’ camp. The scaffolding, netting, and debris chutes double as climbing structures, slides, and other play elements. But check out the graphics, signage, and audio and you’ll discover an intriguing conflict that is at the heart of the Dinoland U.S.A. storyline.


The conflict is a generational one. First we have the professors of the fictional Dino Institute and their outdated understanding of dinosaurs. Then we have the youthful graduate students and their new (and occasionally radical) ideas about the subject based on the latest scientific research. Take a few moments to examine the plaques, signs, and whiteboards posted around the dig site and you’ll see the conflict in full blossom, with the students tacking their own handwritten corrections onto the Institute’s official descriptions. In places, the professors have pushed back with their own tacked-on notes.


As it happens, the conflict between the professors and the grad students is not just an example of the eternal “generation gap” between young people and their elders. It’s also an example of an uneasy real-world transition that’s been occurring in recent decades—from traditional scientific ideas about dinosaurs to newer theories that have revolutionized our understanding of these prehistoric beasts.

You can also see the grad students’ rebellious streak demonstrated in other ways. Although you won’t find any of the grad students at work on the dig site, you’ll hear two of them yucking it up between tracks as the wisecracking deejays of the Institute’s pop rock radio station. And be sure to seek out a certain wall of excavation tools, which reveals at least one student’s non-conformist impulses.


 So have you visited DAK’s Boneyard playground? Were you surprised to discover the depth and detail of the storytelling in what is nominally a “kids zone”? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.


Adam M. Berger is president and senior show writer at Berger Creative Associates, Inc., an Orlando, Florida-based creative writing and consulting firm serving themed attraction and design clients around the world. He is also the author of the book Every Guest is a Hero: Disney’s Theme Parks and the Magic of Mythic Storytelling—available in print and e-reader editions from Amazon.com and other fine online booksellers.


Go Back in Time to the Land of Dinosaurs.

Published October 25, 2014 by jpmdo


DINOSAUR is a dark ride attraction in Dinoland USA at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Walt Disney World. At first, the ride was named Countdown to Extinction, but it was later changed to DINOSAUR to promote the 2000 Disney movie, Dinosaur. The attraction’s only connection to the movie is that they both have Aladar the Iguanodon and a Carnotaurus.

Guests enter the Dino Institute, which shows real dinosaur fossils and a background narration by Bill Nye the Science Guy. They watch a pre-show video, where Dr. Seeker tells the guests that he will send them back in time to the Cretaceous period so that they can bring Aladar back to the present.

The guests exit the pre-show area and go down a staircase to the underground loading area, where they board a Time Rover and are sent back into a prehistoric jungle.


As The Time Rover drives through the jungle looking for the iguanodon, it passes different kinds of dinosaurs. The computer gives a warming of how many seconds before the asteroid will hit. After the vehicle comes across a Carnotaurus, Seeker decides to abort the mission. The Time Rover finds Aladar, who’s holding up a fallen tree so that the guests can pass under. The computer announces that there the meteor is about to hit. The Time Rover arrives back into the present followed by Aladar, who then goes wandering through the institute. Seeker thanks the guests for their help and tries to find the Iguanodon.

Out of all the attractions in Animal Kingdom, Dinosaur is my favorite. Every time I go to the park, I have to ride it, and I never get tired of it. Even though the ride is fast, dark, and kinda choppy and has sharp turns, sudden drops, and things that jump out, it doesn’t bother me, or stop me from enjoying the ride.

12Amber Montes de Oca is a huge Disney fan. She’s an annual pass holder and loves to visit the Disney parks often. Her hobbies are singing, acting, and drawing. She has a BA from the University of Central Florida.

Solving the Mystery of the Disney World Turkey Leg

Published November 1, 2013 by Disneyways.com

Disney World turkey legs…are they really made of turkey?

What gives them that unique taste?

Do we really want to know?


Next to Dole Whips, School Bread, and Mickey Bars – the Turkey Leg has trotted it’s way into the lineup of iconic Disney foods. Please join me this month as we explore the subject of the Disney Turkey Leg (and more!) in the November edition of the Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free at Walt Disney World newsletter!

Special thanks to Sarah Norris for allowing me to guest post. I am thrilled to be a part.

Just click on the photo below to get all the turkey talk and remember – if you are doing Disney on a special diet –

do not miss the Gluten and Dairy Free at Walt Disney World site!

Have a magical day!

PicMonkey Collage


Wordless Wednesday – Virtual Safari Tour!

Published April 17, 2013 by Disneyways.com

This week’s theme is Flora, Fauna, Fantasy 15 in celebration of Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s 15th Anniversary.

Thank you Deb from FocusedOnTheMagic.com for the great idea!

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Focused on the Magic

World Secrets – 5 things you may not know about DiVine

Published February 19, 2013 by Disneyways.com

Experiencing a “DiVine” intervention during your visit to Animal Kingdom!

While walking through Animal Kingdom near Bradley Falls – on the pathway between Africa and Asia – you may see a curious site. A small crowd of park guests looking up, pointing and others walking by who will do a double take once they realize what is going on. Have they all lost their minds? Perhaps. It is more likely however that they  are admiring one of the most fantastic characters inside Animal Kingdom. Her name is DiVine, and she has been entertaining at Animal Kingdom since 1998.  She’s a character who is hired by Disney to help convey the park’s theme of teaching us that nature is invaluable.  She’s painted green, walks on stilts, and is wrapped in leaves and ivy to camouflage herself into the rest of the park’s foliage. In fact, if you get near her before the crowd gathers – you may find that DiVine blends so completely with Animal Kingdom’s dense flora that you may never notice her until she moves. These are photographs I took of her from a beautiful February day in 2013.

Look closely, I promise there is a person in every single one of these photos.

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Do you want to know more DiVine secrets?

1.Truth be told there is more than one person who portrays DiVine, and she actually does not work directly for Disney. She is contracted by Disney through a company called Living World Entertainment.  Not only does DiVine appear at Disney’s Animal Kingdom she can also be booked for parties or other special occasions and events outside the theme park. Imagine the laughs you could get watching your friends and family react to this amazing creature appearing in your own back yard!

2. Everyone who portrays DiVine must have a background in dance and fine arts, and is expected to meet certain height and weight requirements. How does she stay so fresh in the hot summer months? Well, she uses a special body spray so the leaves and ivy don’t fall off of her. It is amazing to think of the time and attention to detail DiVine must go through in order to entertain guests.

3. DiVine can typically be found near the pathway between Africa and Asia inside the Animal Kingdom.  But did you know she also has appeared on occasion near the front entrance to the park?  Normally you will want to look for her between 10:00AM and 2:00PM.  She is not always listed on the Times Guide, but on this particular day I really lucked out and she was there.

4. DiVine does not make eye contact. In fact she often keeps her eyes closed and the expression on her face looks much like she is enjoying pure nirvana. You will never hear her speak. Like most plants – she is a great listener I suppose. She obviously cannot sign autographs, but I found her to be very accommodating to my camera and almost it was almost as if she were posing just for the entire crowd. She continues her contortions and movements while entertaining the crowd.

5. DiVine is on stilts so her height can vary between 7 and 16 feet depending on what she is doing with her hands and legs. She was so gorgeous and graceful, I could not resist filming her as well, and you can see the results of that below.

DiVine is fabulous and really something special. Next time you are in Animal Kingdom, I hope you’ll take the time to see her if you can.

Kilimanjaro Safaris – Hippopotamuses for Christmas

Published December 25, 2012 by Disneyways.com

Every year at Christmas the radio stations here in Orlando play that old song, I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas!

Here are some actual pictures we took on Animal Kingdom’s  Kilimanjaro Safaris recently! I hope you enjoy them and have a magical day!

hippo side IMG_0007 IMG_0006 IMG_0010 DSC02885 DSC02884 DSC02883

Check Out This Eland Starting a WILD Fashion Trend!

Published November 11, 2012 by Disneyways.com

This was the most adorable behavior I have ever seen from an animal at the Kilimanjaro Safari Tour at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This Eland is making herself a grass hat. At least – that’s what it looked like she was doing. Watch her as she puts her antlers in the tall grass and turns just enough to entangle the grass so she can wear it on top of her head! Then she sort- of swings her tail and sticks up her nose as if to say, “I know I look HOT!” Everyone was cracking up. It was the cutest thing!

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November is a great time to do the Safari Tour because the weather is so nice! These photos were taken around 4PM and the animals seemed to be enjoying the beautiful day. I have more Safari pictures coming – I just felt that these were deserving of their own post.

We want our MTV – I mean – ECV!

Published October 15, 2012 by Disneyways.com



Photo credit: Disneyworldbasics.com

The following is an update to the information in this post.  Update posted October 26, 2012:

Walt Disney World Resort has selected five featured vendors that have agreed to rent resort Guests only those Electric Conveyance Vehicles (ECVs) that, based on size and speed, have been determined safest for use in the theme parks, resort hotels and transportation system.

Disney will recommend the featured vendors to our Guests and allow them to drop off and pick up their devices at our resort hotels, without the need for Guests to be present. All other vendors will have to arrange drop off and pick up directly with Guests and will not be able to leave the devices unattended.
This process will be implemented across all resort hotels beginning on November 1, 2012.

Begin previous post:

I adore my father-in-law. He smiles when I call him my FAVORITE father-in-law, since he’s the only one I’ve ever had. He really is one of the most terrific people I have ever known. Brilliant business man, cigar aficionado,Yankees fan, lover of all great music – (including Sinatra AND disco!), husband to his wife for over 60 years, embracer of laughter and life…and my favorite thing of all…he is a wonderful adviser and best friend to my husband.

Just like some other seasoned, mature folks however, my favorite father-in-law also happens to have mobility issues.  I love his company and I have wanted to take him to Disney World with me for years. I keep hoping to talk him into it one day. Out of curiosity – I started looking into the options Disney has regarding electric convenience vehicles – or scooters as we locals like to call them. Not that he’d really need or want one – but I thought it would be nice to give him the option.

I am hoping maybe you can benefit from some of my research on the subject. I threw in some wheelchair and stroller information too.

According to Disney,

“ECVs are available only on a same-day basis and may only be used in the Park where they are rented.  ECVs will be held if Guests wish to leave and return to the same Park.  Guests planning to visit more than one Park on the same day should retain their deposit ticket from the first Park they visit.  This will enable them to obtain a replacement wheelchair or ECV on the same day, if available, at the next Park with no additional charge.  NOTE: Wheelchairs or ECVs may not be available at the second Park. NOTE:  Guests must be 18 years of age or older to rent ECVs.  Devices are to be single-rider only. Guest Relations, located inside the Theme parks, provides a variety of services including: general information, priority seating for restaurants, ticket media information, Park guidemaps and entertainment schedules, and information on services for Guests with Disabilities.The Guide for Guests with Disabilities  provides a detailed overview of services and facilities available for Guests with disabilities and is available at Guest Relations locations within all four Parks as well as Guest Services locations at the WALT DISNEY WORLD® Resorts. Requests for brochures prior to a vacation should be sent to the Disney Reservation Center at (407) 934-7639.”

While you wait for your brochure to arrive however, here are some tips to help you start planning. Please keep in mind that in all of these locations – Disney REALLY stresses that vehicles are available on a first come first serve basis and of course – they are not free. For more information, ask for the Guidebook for Guests with Disabilities at any of these locations.

Magic Kingdom 
Wheelchair and ECV rentals are available at the Stroller Shop inside the Magic Kingdom theme park entrance.


Wheelchair and ECV rentals are available on the east side of the Epcot theme park Entrance Plaza and at the International Gateway. For more information, ask for the Guidebook for Guests with Disabilities at Guest Relations on the east side of Spaceship Earth.


At HS you will want to check with Oscar’s Super Service near the main entrance. Guests visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios are able to rent strollers (single or double), manual wheelchairs, or electric scooters in this location. Replacement wheelchairs are available at the In Character Costume Shop.

Animal Kingdom

AK has ECV Rentals located  in Garden Gate Gifts near the main entrance. Guests visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park are able to rent strollers (single or double), manual wheelchairs, or electric scooters. Rentals are subject to availability.

Downtown Disney Marketplace Strollers and Wheelchairs

There is information to suggest there may be ECVs to rent, as well as strollers, and wheelchairs, located between Tren-D and Once Upon a Toy near the restrooms. However, when I called Disney, the operator on the line told me they do not rent them there. Not that I doubt – her but I am still curious and want to find out the whole story. I guess I will have to make a research trip myself to find out for sure. Anything for my Disneyways readers! Aw, who am I kidding. It’s all about feeling the wind in my hair on the new Dumbo ride.

Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach Water Parks

Wheelchairs are welcome at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park and Blizzard Beach; however, they are not available for rent. No ECVs available at either.

Walt Disney World Resort Hotels
A limited number of wheelchairs (not ECV’s) are available at each Disney Resort Hotel.  A $315 USD deposit will be held on the Guest room account—charged only if the wheelchair is not returned.

Something to keep in mind:

Each of these locations have opening and closing hours that tend to vary, as well as an additional cost for rentals. You will want to check with Disney directly for details.

But what if you are staying at Disney for a whole week or even longer? Well first of all the first call you should make is to ME so I can come along.  LOL

On your next call perhaps, Disney will refer you to the area rental companies such as those listed below.

Apple Scooter

  • Best Price Mobility
  • bpmobility.com
  • 866-866-3434
  • ECVs, powerchairs, wheelchairs
  • Buena Vista Scooter Rentals
  • buenavistascooters.com
  • 866-484-4797 / 407-938-0349
  • ECVs, strollers, wheelchairs, and more
  • CARE Medical Equipment
  • caremedicalequipment.com
  • 1-800-741-2282 / 407-856-2273
  • ECVs, medical equipment, wheelchairs, and more

Another GREAT source of info (and the first place I thought of in my search) is  www.disneyonwheelsblog.com.

You can find a WEALTH of information here, including;

Walt Disney World Guest Assistance Card info

Parade viewing from a wheelchair

Tips for when you make dining reservations

Companion restrooms

And from theinfomouse.com – here are tips on your first visit.

Do you or a loved one have experiences you’d like to share regarding strollers, wheelchairs or ECV rentals at Walt Disney World?

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