Hey There, Hi There, Ho There, Ohana,
A lot of people always ask us, “don’t you get tired/bored of going to Disney World all the time?” A valid question as most “non-Disney” people often only view visiting WDW as going to a theme park and on rides. However, we all know that Disney World has so much more to offer. One of our favorite things to try and add on a new experience. Whether that be something like Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (which we’ll be going to in just a few days!) or one of their awesome tours, there are plenty of ways to make repeat visits to WDW feel new and exciting. Today, we’re going to share our experience with one of these tours, Caring for Giants.
This tour takes place in Disney’s Animal Kingdom and provides guests with a much closer look at the African elephants you usually see from a distance while on the Kilimanjaro Safari attraction. Here’s the official summary of the tour from Disney:
“Delve into the wondrous world of our park's largest inhabitants.
During this 60-minute experience, you’ll meet with a knowledgeable
Guide who will provide insight into the inner workings of our African
elephant herd. Your guide will provide a glimpse into the day-to-day
care of these amazing animals and share stories of Disney’s
conservation efforts dedicated to the preservation of wild populations throughout the world.
Throughout this experience, you’ll be able to observe the elephants
from approximately 80 to 100 feet away—so you’ll enjoy a closer
encounter with the elephants than you would during other in-park experiences.”
That description is essentially accurate, but might be a tad misleading to some. We’ll discuss in detail what we experienced during the tour in a second, but we’ll let you know right off the bat, you DO NOT experience where these elephants are cared for. You will not enter their barns or see where the vets take care of them. You will essentially just be brought to a closer viewing area on the safari. Your guide is not a zoo keeper or vet, but a CM that has been trained to give this tour. We did however get lucky that one of the elephant keepers decided to pop in during our tour (which they don’t always do) to answer more of our questions.
One of the most appealing aspects of this tour (aside from being able to see elephants of course), is the price. Especially when compared to many of the other tours offered at WDW as Caring for Giants is definitely one of the more affordable options. At the time of this writing the tour costs $35 per person. As with almost everything at Disney World these days, reservations are required and we suggest making them as soon as you can to ensure you get the date and time that works with your park reservations. Also, it’s important to note that the tour does NOT include park admittance, you will need to have valid park admission to enter the park in order to participate in the tour.
So when the day/time of your tour arrives, you’ll have to make your way over toward Kilimanjaro Safari where you’ll find the tour kiosk directly across from. You’re supposed to arrive about 15 minutes before your actual tour time so that you can sign the necessary waivers to participate. Your group will gather together (we had 14 people in our group including the 6 of us) with the tour guide who will go over some of the important rules and info before heading “backstage.”
(Lincoln with our tour guide Ali)
Now, this is a “backstage” tour so you will therefore see some “backstage” areas, but this is not actually part of the tour. You simply see a few of the “off-stage” buildings as you walk to your shuttle that will bring you to the viewing area. You will see some of the animal barns along the route as well, but this is no different than if you’ve ever taken the train ride over to conservation station (you may actually see the train as well). Your tour guide will talk a little about the backstage area sharing some info on where you are and about the elephants you’re going to see. In all, the drive is about 10 minutes (which is part of the 60min tour).
When you arrive at the viewing location, the guide will park and you’ll take a very short walk up a ramp to the are where you will spend basically the entire length of the tour (you do walk again about 50 feet down a path to a secondary location as well). It was here that we were met by a surprise elephant keeper who decided to stay with us for the entire tour! The viewing location is actually on the other side of where the safari vehicles drive and you’ll actually see those vehicles going by. However, unlike the ride where you’re probably 200-300 yards away from the elephants here you’re about 50 depending on where they decide to roam. Again these are not backstage elephants, but the same ones being seen while on the safari. We got lucky during our tour as they cam as close as they normally could to take their daily naps. (PRO TIP: The keeper told us the 2pm tour is usually the best as that’s when the elephants will usually escape back to the viewing area to nap). Here, you’ll spend some time asking questions and taking as many pictures as you want!
(You can get some pretty close pics from this spot!)
(And of course some great selfies lol)
After about 10-15 min here, you’ll start to take another short walk down a path to a secondary location to try and catch a glimpse of some other elephants and to continue your discussion. This secondary spot includes a few props which the tour guide will discuss (things like an elephant skull, bee hive, and even elephant dung are discussed). Just as a side note, we want to take this opportunity to again shout out how amazing WDW CMs are. Lincoln (5) was the only child on our tour and by this time was becoming antsy. The elephant keeper (again not really part of the tour) noticed this and took him one-on-one to show him different things about elephants which got his total attention. This allowed him the opportunity to learn more about the animals and gave us the chance to enjoy the tour as well!
(Elephant Keeper Katelyn was definitely a highlight for Linc)
You Spend about another 10-15 minutes here adding up to a total of about 30 minutes of actually viewing the animals and asking questions. The other 20-30 minutes was the walking and driving part. Once your time viewing the elephants is over, you’ll walk back to the shuttle and be driven back to where you originally left. Right before you leave “backstage” the guide will present you with a little memento of the tour…”poo paper” (paper made from elephant poop) with your name on it. You’ll then head back through the gate and off to continue your day.
(Lincoln with his "poo paper")
Overall, it was cool to see the elephants. IMO there are some things that they could maybe do to spruce it up a little – I would have loved to be able to see where the elephants are cared for or some other areas would be nice. You also don’t get to really do anything other than look at the elephants so the “caring for giants” name is a little misleading. However, if you LOVE elephants, this definitely gives you the best shot at getting some awesome pics of them in Disney World and we really couldn’t complain about the price point either. While this is probably a one and done tour for us, it was definitely an enjoyable experience that we are glad to have done.
If YOU are interested in tour (or any other tours) you can use the my Disney experience app to try and find a time that works for you or better yet, reach out to our preferred travel agent Sue Passauer (info on website) and she’ll be able to do it for you! Thanks for reading along and as always,
See Ya Real Soon!