Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Disney Behind the Scenes Day 2

Everything at Disney is theme related, including the "do-it-yourself" waffle maker in our hotel...

Today's adventure was 3 hours behind the scenes at Animal Kingdom. We had both thought this would be our least favorite park and one we wouldn't return to on our own. Wrong! Our guide, Anita, showed us the backyard area for the elephants and we noticed all the animal areas are built so securely they are hurricane proof. All the animals have buildings they can come to, though they are free to stay out 24/7 if they wish. Keepers never coddle them or approach them directly without some barrier between to preserve the wild-animal quality in the animals. Animals that socialize with others have common roaming areas, and the rest have separate areas with moats or fences (unseen by the public) to keep them apart. Again -- no photos are allowed in "backstage" areas, but here's one we took from the public area of a tiger in the veterinary treatment room getting its annual checkup. It is sedated and having blood drawn and teeth cleaned as well as other well-being checks.

We were amazed to learn that all the animals (even fish and birds) are trained to assist in their own well-being. For one example, monkeys learn to get on a scale each day to have their weight recorded, and the ones with heavy tails hold their tails to give accurate weights! Many are trained to "present" a shoulder to receive injections or for blood draws, and many will open their mouths to allow tooth brushing or rotate to allow perusal of the bodies. And the medical facilities rival the best hospitals and every animal is closely monitored and regularly tested to keep all healthy.

In addition to the animal health facility, we also toured the nutrition building where over 2000 separate dietary meals are prepared each day by a staff of 10 nutrition assistants. That's over 9000 pounds of food daily -- meat and fish for the carnivores and produce for the herbivores. We watched 2 assistants cutting and weighing food and packing it in plastic containers for tomorrow's meals -- with separate cutting boards and different colored containers so meat and veggies never cross-contaminate the other. Huge bales of grains and heavy bags of food mixes (many specially made for Disney per recipes prescribed by the nutritionist) are stored in warehouses we toured. It is all a truly humongous undertaking. Only an animal's keeper(s) feed them, making certain each animal gets the right quantity of food.

We also rode the Wildlife Express train and the Kilimanjaro Safari truck ride before departing.

After lunch at the hotel, we walked the mile to the Disney Downtown area...

...where much of the stores relate to children, as well as the outdoor artwork as seen in the Tinker Toy structure...

...and the Lego "family" complete with 5 dogs...

We also found a couple old friends...

...and bought some Christmas ornaments in a huge store comprised of only Disney ornaments (a separate store from the Disney Store down the block -- much larger than any in a mall back home), bought a few Disney pins which are all the rage down here, and enjoyed ice cream from Ghirardelli. Tonight we go to the Cirque du Soleil production "La Nouba." I'm sure we won't be able to take photos, but I'll tell you about it in tomorrow's post, after we take the Cirque du Soleil "behind-the-scenes" tour.

Behind the Scenes -- Day 1

Behind the scenes -- Day 3

Behind the Scenes -- Day 4

To see my other Disney posts, click "Disney" in the "labels" section in the sidebar to the right.

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