Rafiki’s Planet Watch at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Will Not Re-Open Next Month


Rafiki’s Planet Watch is in the north section of Africa.

Last summer, Disney Parks announced that Rafiki’s Planet Watch was going seasonal, aka “temporarily closing”, on October 20, 2018.  The last day for Rafiki’s meet and greet was September 29, 2018. It was expected that it would be closed for refurbishment through the winter and into Spring 2019.

It was supposed to open “seasonally” during high crowd months, i.e., Summer 2019, but that isn’t happening with the summer season officially starting in just a few weeks.

Check here for Updates: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/attractions/animal-kingdom/conservation-station/

“Rafiki’s Planet Watch and Wildlife Express will fully reopen this summer! The area will boast a few new enhancements for you to enjoy as we celebrate 25 years of The Lion King.”

Construction has been delayed and we suspect it’s all because of the new Star Wars:  Galaxy’s Edge construction going on at a frantic pace at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Disney only has so many construction teams and contractors and there’s major construction going on all across the Disney World property with Star Wars at DHS, Tron at MK, and the new Ratatouille ride at Epcot.  And the new Riviera resort and the new Skyliner gondola system….Disney is spending BILLIONS before the 50th anniversary celebration in 2021.


Rafiki pointing the way.

This means that this summer, the Wildlife Express train will not be running, the conservation station is closed, the Affection Section petting zoo is closed, and Rafiki’s meet and greet will continue to be closed.

Expect Rafiki’s Planet Watch to re-open in late August/early September 2019 now.


Walking into Africa.

Rafiki’s Planet Watch

Before it closed for refurbishment, it was fun to take the Wildlife Express Train to Conservation Station at Rafiki’s Planet Watch.

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Christian about to board the Wildlife Express Train.

You could visit Affection Section, the animal petting with a variety of animals, including goats and sheep.  They were very friendly.  Not sure where they are being housed now.


We liked the petting zoo! I wonder where the animals temporarily went this past year?

Walking the Habitat Habit!, an outdoor discovery trail featuring exotic sights and sounds, was fun too.


Conservation Station.


Some of the many animals – big and small – around the world that Disney’s Worldwide Conservation Fund is trying to help.


At Rafiki’s meet and greet in 2017.   He’s been MIA in 2019 so far.


Grandmother Willow singing a song about conservation.  This tree is being torn down during refurbishment construction.

The Song of the Rainforest booths, which were home to Grandmother Willow from Pocahontas, are being torn down to accommodate a space dedicated to Disney’s rich heritage of wildlife animation, showcasing how Disney animators have historically taken inspiration from live animals to ensure accuracy and realism in their work.

They’ll tie this in to historical film examples, like Bambi and The Lion King. Nods to True-Life Adventures, the original fourteen full-length and short-subject documentary films produced by Walt Disney Productions for Sunday night’s Wonderful World of Disney program in the late 1940s to 1960s will be showcased.

Wonderful World of Disney

Every kid in America watched this program on Sunday night in the 1960s.


Devoted to the preservation and conservation of animals, Rafiki’s Planet Watch features fun educational exhibits and activities to help create awareness of animal issues and offers a behind-the-scenes look into the inner workings of Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park.



At Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s Tree of Life with our mom.

We’ve written two books about our time working and playing at Disney World.

Both are available on Amazon.com: Two Girls and a Mouse Tale and Adventures in the Animal Kingdom.

Adventure Book Cover

Adventures in the Animal Kingdom

book Two Girls

Two Girls and a Mouse Tale

If you’d like to follow our daily Disney blog, here’s the link: https://collinsrace1.wordpress.com/

Have a magical day!


Mickey ears DAK  Two

Two Disney Sisters



Rafiki’s Planet Watch at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is Going Seasonal


Rafiki’s Planet Watch is in the north section of Africa.

Rafiki’s Planet Watch is going seasonal, aka “temporarily closing”, on October 20, 2018.

The last day for Rafiki’s meet and greet is September 29, 2018.


Rafiki pointing the way.

This means that, until next summer, the Wildlife Express train will not be running, the conservation station will be closed, the Affection Section petting zoo will be closed, and Rafiki’s meet and greet will be closed.

Expect Rafiki’s Planet Watch to re-open around late May 2019.


Walking into Africa.

Rafiki’s Planet Watch

While you still can, take the Wildlife Express Train to Conservation Station at Rafiki’s Planet Watch.


Christian about to board the Wildlife Express.

While there, visit Affection Section, the animal petting with a variety of animals, including goats and sheep.  They are very friendly.


We like the petting zoo! I wonder where the animals will temporarily go for 3 months until it re-opens?

Walk the Habitat Habit!, an outdoor discovery trail featuring exotic sights and sounds.


Conservation Station.


Some of the animals around the world that Disney’s conservation program is trying to help.


At Rafiki’s meet and greet. They will probably set up another meet and greet area for him in Africa.


Grandmother Willow singing a song about conservation.

Devoted to the preservation and conservations of animals, Rafiki’s Planet Watch features fun educational exhibits and activities to help create awareness of animal issues and offers a behind-the-scenes look into the inner workings of Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park.


At the Tree of Life.


Adventure Book Cover

Adventures in the Animal Kingdom

Lions and Tigers and Strollers, Oh My!

This is not Caroline’s first time in the Disney College Program. Along with her sister, she was previously accepted into the program a few years earlier.  Back in Colorado, Caroline was wishing for a little more pixie dust to brighten up her life.  On a whim, she decides to apply to the exclusive Disney Alumni Summer Program.

Now that she’s back, things get wild.

Wild, as in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, where Caroline is assigned to work in Stroller Rental.  While not the most glamorous position in the park, it’s often ground zero for humanity at its best and at its worst.

While Caroline makes many “Magical Moments” for deserving guests whose pixie dust has gone temporarily sideways, she also receives magical moments of her own through the friendships she makes, going to Disney cast member exclusive events, and all the spectacular dining opportunities at Disney World.

Caroline tells all – from the ins and outs of Disney’s secret training class called Traditions; to learning how to be a happy cast member during on-the-job training; to what it’s like to interact with fellow cast members and the guests who are ready to explore the most magical place on earth.

Join Caroline as she takes you on a wild ride through her adventures in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. But be careful, it’s a jungle out there!

Available now at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle formats. Published by Theme Park Press.

Book link on Amazon.com:  Adventures in the Animal Kingdom


car DAK costume

Adventure is out there!

About the Author:

Caroline’s love for all things Disney, and desire to grow up to be a Disney princess, is the reason she always wanted to work for Disney.  Her dream came true working as a cast member at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Caroline is the co-author of the book, Two Girls and a Mouse Tale, about her adventures working at Disney World with her sister.

She is currently a 7th grade middle school Social Studies teacher in Colorado.

Daily blog link:  https://collinsrace1.wordpress.com/


Welcome to Disney’s Animal Kingdom!


DCP Homecoming Weekend – DAK Party

The last big event that we planned to attend for Homecoming was the big party at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  It was originally set to be at Hollywood studios, just like the last year’s event.  But I was totally excited when they announced that it would be moved to DAK!  At first, they said the party started at 8:30, but you could get in at 7 to hang out.  Then, right before the weekend, they announced that you could get into at 3 so you could have time to enjoy the park! Really, so nice and thoughtful!


We got there after dinner and had some time to walk around my two former homes at Strollers and Discovery Island.  I LOVED seeing the new charges with Discovery Island. Outfitters has been changed to open up a larger/wider store called Riverside Depot.  And they filled all the merchandise in Is,and mercantile with Outfitters.  I loved how they kept with the theming of the two stores.  And I love how the Depot is like a dark blue – my favorite color!  There is also a huge glass mural behind the register.  Very nice!  And I like how they changed the register setup to be more similar to the stores in Disneyland.

After taking some pictures of the Tree of Life, we met up with Ricky and headed to Africa!


The park was still in the process of closing for the night and I got a kick out of seeing all the semi frustrated cast members who didn’t realize there was an event that rented out Africa for the night.  You could practically hear them say “why aren’t these people LEAVING?!?” Haha. (I could really relate, been there!)

The first part of the night would be a vip showing of Festival of the Lion King so we tried to stick around the entrance of that so we’d get a good spot.  Right before they allowed us to move in, our friend Kelsey found us again!

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Everyone started filtering in so we did too.  It was a total surprise when we looked around and realized we somehow were the very last people into the arena! So much for good seats!  We ended up getting a good spot, right in front of an alumni group from the 80s.  They kept chanting “retro” or “vintage” and were such a rowdy bunch, it was hilarious!

They had is wilderness guy as the emcee and he was pretty funny.  He told some dirty jokes which I was surprised about!

Right away he did the drawing for the prizes from the packet.  Elly and I worked all afternoon on it and so we were really nervous about if we’d get called!  I was really surprised at how many people got prizes.  I’d say at least 15 people were picked!  They all got water bottles a shad to go into the middle of the arena to accept them.  I was actually glad not to be picked! Haha

We did notice that most of the winners were from the older generation of the CP.  Marcie to,d me that here wasn’t anyone from the very first program in 1981 attending, but there was one person from the 1982 program.  He was the one to win the grand prize.

Next up was the drumming group that sometimes plays in Africa.  I’m always surprised how good they can dance.  Lot of hip shaking hahah

They played for a little bit then pulled audience members for a dance along.  It was pretty fun, but it would have been more fun to be a participant.

Just when I started getting worried that this was the extend of the event, they finally announced that the Festival of the Lion King was about to begin! Yay!

After the Festival of the Lion king, they announced that there were be tons of food, special character meet and greets of King Louie, Balo, and Rafiki.  We all agreed we were ok missing that since we see them all the time at Dak!


There was also free henna tattoo artists and also a fortune teller.

We came out and immediately got in the food line.  The snacks were so good!  There were little corn dogs, cheeseburger flavored wraps, and WHOLE soft pretzels with melted cheese dip! Yum!!


We got all the way through the line and saw the pretzels were out.  And we literally didn’t move until the brought more out. Haha the line was so long, but really, we were doing them a credit because the best part was missing!


They must have had them cranking, because within a minute, they brought 50 more pretzels out.

We sat down and ate our snacks.  So good!


Then we took some Dak pack pictures in our new shirts!

The dancing was getting pretty good, but Kelsey and I wanted to get a drink from the bar first.  I ordered a Dirty Shirley (yum!)


We made our way to he dance floor and I took one sip of my drink.  The bartender had floated the alcohol instead of mixing it and the second it hit my throat, I knew there’d be issues.

I have super reactive airwaves and tend to choke on liquids all the time.  I have taken to warning new friends since its been happening so frequently.  I’ll slightly choke on something and then my throat will close so forcefully that I sit there, trying to cough and breath for like a minute or so as tears are streaming and I feel like I’m dying.

Well this happens right there, in the middle of ten Africa dance floor.  I start really choking.  And I still have a good mouthful of drink in my mouth.  And I’m trying to figure out, should I spit it back into my drink, should I spit it out onto the ground?  I was in the midd,e of the floor and my bright hair draws some attention and I was feeling so embarrassed.

I’m trying to cough and swallow without opening my mouth and all I’m doing in a circular motion of accidental swallowing, choking more, coughing more.

Ok, this went on for longer than a minute.  Keys,eye was getting nervous, Elly was getting nervous, I thought I was dying.  Oh my god.

Finally, Elly kind of screamed “Caroline!” Which distracted me enough to just force all the liquid down my super tight throat (still going the wrong way down) and then I had to go to the bathroom to hack a lung for a good 10 minutes.  My face was all red from not breathing and also embarrassment and my makeup was ruined from all the forced tears from coughing so hard.

Ugh literally can’t take me anywhere.


I came back to the dance floor, trying to be casual again.  My friends were still embarrassed to be seen with me.  But they were able to do a giant selfie with everyone!  So we strategically placed ourself near the stage so we could be in the front haha
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Ok, this is such a cool photo!  But let me tell you how sweaty everyone was standing for for 5 minutes, so close to everyone. Haha

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We danced, we eat some Rice Krispies we found and Lesley hooked us up again by finding a guy handing out the cool buttons!


We did a lap and it was so funny – we found this long line in the back of Africa and we were like “oh cool, what’s here?!’ So we just got in line.  We finally asked what people were waiting for, and everyone screams “the exit!!” Hahah the longest line here was to leave!

By then, Kelsey and Ricky had to leave.  Good thing, because it started pouring and the DJ had to go away and all the characters had to go in.

They opened up Tusker House which I was thankful so we didn’t get drenched.  Plus I’ve never been inside there, so it was fun to explore!

We sat down and met some really nice girls who I’ve been Facebook friends with but never met.  So nice!

And then we were totally surprised when the characters came inside!  So instead of waiting in a giant line, we just met them right away!


Once it stopped raining,around 11:30 we were ready to leave.  We headed back to Rafiki’s train and saw they were separating people in several lines.  Contemporary, Coronado, and Main Entrance.  Instead of allowing us to just walking through to the front, we had to go backstage, on a Transstar to bring us to the front.  They separated us into groups of 50 and we had to wait for half an hour for the bus to go.  We were standing, and it was so packed!  All I could think was how this looked exactly like the Transstar bus whenever Dak was open late.

It took forever!  We had to go all the way around backstage, past DaK Lodge, then down the road until we could do a uturn and head all the way back through the main entrance and around all the Dak parking. Ugh!

The girl next to us got really sick and was pressing her face against the window and standing between some strangers legs.  She must have been really desperate because you know how gross those windows are!

We had to cross two parking lots to get to our car and then we were finally on our way home!  Elly and I agreed this was the worst part of the weekend.  It took us more than an hour and a half just to leave/get out of the park!

But, this whole day as been amazing!  I can’t believe how perfectly everything worked out and how great the whole weekend has been!

We didn’t go to bed until after 1:30 in the morning.  Hopefully we are sleeping in tomorrow!


10 Things I Miss About Disney’s Animal Kingdom

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I loved my work costume!

After working merchandise at Discovery Island for almost a year, DAK became my home away from home.  I miss it – and my fellow cast members – every day!

DAK coworkers (2)

August 2015:  Ice cream break with my DAK coworkers!

It was super fun to be able to come back as work as an alumni in the Summer of 2015!

I really loved working at DAK, especially the hours.  No working until 2am like at the Magic Kingdom!  Nope, those animals have to go the bed! In the winter months, I would get off work by 7pm.

Below is a list of the things that I miss the most about DAK. (I’ve added links to some of my earlier DAK blogs, if you’d like to see some photos.)


DAK’s Tree of Life

1. The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life dominated my time at DAK.  It was the first thing that I saw walking into work and many nights, the last thing that I saw as I was leaving the Park.  If they shut off the lights to the Tree and I was still stocking merchandise for the morning crew, it was getting late!

At 145 ft., this 14 story artificial tree has the images of more than 300 animals hand-carved into its trunk.  Every time I looked at it, I saw a new animal hidden in the carvings.


2. Animal Kingdom Lodge

I got to stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge twice during my time at the DCP internship.  Both times, I had views of the savannah in front of the Lodge and got to see the animals being fed in the morning.  The Lodge itself is beautiful, especially decorated at Christmastime.


3. The Attractions

You want to ride a roller coaster?  Expedition Everest is for you!

You’re hot and want to get wet to cool off?  Kali River Rapids is just the thing!

You want to be scared on a ride?  Take a seat on Dinosaur and be prepared to get scared!

You want a ‘midway’ amusement park experience with games and fun rides?  DinoLand is just the place!

4. The Animals

Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s 500 acres are home to some 1700 animals representing 250 different species throughout the Park. All of them are extremely well cared for and live in interesting habitats.  I should know – I did a backstage tour a few months ago.

5. The Characters

DAK has Park-exclusive characters that can only be seen at DAK.  Russell and Dug can be seen near the Tree of Life (“The wilderness must be explored!”). Pocahontas can be visited with at Discovery Island. Jimmey Cricket comes out to play just once a year – on Earth Day, only at DAK.  Rafiki is just a train ride away, hanging out at Rafiki’s Planet Watch. The list goes on…


6. The Conservation Message

Through my role, I collected over $1,000 for the Disney Conservation Fund.  Most months, I was one of the top fundraisers for DCF and got awards and prizes.  I really admire Disney’s commitment to worldwide conservation efforts.


7. The Food

The bar-b-que at the Flame Tree Barbeque is delicious and the outdoor seating is so pretty.  The carved animals are done in a prey/predator theme, each area different, all in vibrant colors of teal, orange, and yellow.

Pizzafari has delicious pizza and wonderful indoor (AC!) seating if it’s getting too hot outside. Each room has a different animal theme, all of it wildly colored.  So pretty!


8. Kilimanjaro Safari

With its lush setting and animals roaming around freely everywhere, this is one of my favorite attractions at DAK!

9. Flights of Wonder

This is not your average bird show. The birds are trained with lots of positive reinforcement (i.e., food bits) and like performing for the audience. They are all very smart and it’s a good show!

10. Finding Nemo – The Musical

WOW!  If you’ve seen this musical, you know what I mean!!!  It’s 35 minutes of the most elaborate live show performed in any WDW park.  The scale of this show is HUGE, some of the props and puppets are larger than a minivan!

 And, lastly: Avatar is Coming!

Construction began in 2014 on the new Avatarland, causing several of the attractions at the front of the Park – like Camp Minnie Mickey – to be moved. Can’t wait to see this in a few years!


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I miss my DCP friends most of all!

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My home park!


DAK pin trading (2)Two Girls and a Mouse Tale

   by Elly Collins & Caroline Collins

Ever wonder what it’s like to work for Disney???

We worked at WDW for a year in the Disney College Program (Fall 2013/Spring 2014) and have written a book about what it’s like to be a cast member working for Disney.

We’ve included advice on how to successfully get into the DCP program, including some of the actual phone interview questions, how to have a successful internship, and how not self-term before your program ends. Our book is filled with lots of behind-the-scene stories of the magic of Disney. Available now at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle formats. Published by Theme Park Press.

Book link on Amazon.com:  Two Girls and a Mouse Tale