A Path Less Traveled is a new addition to Animal Kingdom’s tour lineup. It’s currently offered through May 5th, 2018, but the end date may be extended if strong interest continues.
This is how Disney describes it:
A Path Less Traveled costs $59 per person and departs daily at 11am with check-in beginning at 10:30am. Prospective tourists must call 407-WDW-PLAY to inquire about availability as online booking is unavailable.
The tour accepts up to 45 guests per day split into three groups of up to 15 people each.
You’ll be assigned to a group based on your arrival time. People were particularly Johnny-on-the-spot on our tour date – we arrived at 10:40am and the first two groups had already departed.
There’s quite the Release and Indemnity Agreement to sign upon your arrival. Try not to get trampled by an elephant because Disney ain’t payin’ for it.
A snack is served following the Caring for Giants Tour – you’ll select it before embarking on the first part of the tour.
Just about everyone selected the Pretzel with Cheese as pictured. Combined with the Diet Coke, the a la carte combo price is north of nine bucks.
The tour begins with a walk to the Wildlife Express train over to Rafiki’s Planet Watch.
We didn’t have a reserved car, but it was early enough in the day that our group was able to occupy our own space down on the far right of the train. First class travel all the way.
The ride over to Conservation Station allows for a couple quick glimpses of backstage areas.
But the experience was just about the same as walking over and riding the train at any other time of day.
While the tour is part of Animal Kingdom’s 20th anniversary celebration, there weren’t a lot of elements tying back to that point. We did hear a little about Beastly Kingdom and the dragon that continues to welcome guests to the Park, but that was about it. Our tour guide, Dan, was fabulous throughout the experience, but he shined brightest when his natural eagerness to explain what makes the Park tick made us all the more excited about what we were learning.
No pictures are allowed backstage, but I’ll offer a brief overview of some of the things that we saw during the 1.5 hour portion of the tour that offered a glimpse into the Park’s animal care program.
The Animal Nutrition Center was neat – the food they were preparing for the animals looked considerably better than the majority of the quick service food served around the Park. We learned all about what the animals eat and how it’s prepared and got to see it in action.
We also went behind the scenes at the Veterinary Hospital, getting a close up view of a number of the machines used to keep the animals healthy, in addition to learning about some of the specialists that come in from around the world to offer their expertise.
We also got a closeup look at Jill, the precious-beyond-words miniature Sicilian donkey, who recently had a little problem with her eye. After the operation to fix her up, she was going to need to keep the eye open and protected, so the animal care specialists actually went to Disney Costuming to see if they could help out.
They ended up creating a custom-made eye cover for her so she could go about her day without a worry in the world, other than her boyfriend Jack trying to get a little nibble in.
We also spent some time learning about the purple martins and other migratory birds, including having an opportunity to see a nest of baby birds that were under a week old. We got lucky in being able to enjoy the company of the gentleman that started Disney’s conservation project 15 years ago. Really interesting stuff.
There were plenty of opportunities to ask questions and all of the cast members were excited to see us and provide some background into what they were up to. It was an enriching 90 minutes.
At the conclusion of the backstage portion of the tour, which was right around 12:30pm, we were free to do whatever we pleased around Rafiki’s Planet Watch and then take the train back to the mainland.
The second part of Path Less Traveled is Caring For Giants, which is also available as a standalone tour at a cost of $30/person.
The 3pm and 3:45pm tours were reserved for our group. Most of those that checked in earlier were on the 3pm run through. I review the experience in full in this post, in case you missed it, but anyone that’s interested in the backstage elements should also enjoy this picturesque opportunity to see the elephants up close for about 45 minutes.
Finally, reserved seating in the Asia section for the first Rivers of Light show is also included.
Overall, I enjoyed The Path Less Traveled and thought it was a good value. Things break down something like:
- $30 for Path Less Traveled
- $7 for reserved seating for Rivers of Light (value based on the $7 difference between going to Tusker House dinner normally and the price paid for the Rivers of Light Dining Package)
- $9 Mickey Pretzel snack with Diet Coke
That puts us at $46 and I think it would be easy to justify $13 more for the 90 minute backstage portion of the tour.
Note that The Path Less Traveled is an all-day thing. And even if you’re planning on skipping Rivers of Light, you’ll still need to check-in for the tour around 10:30am and swing back around at 2:45pm or 3:30pm to check-in for Caring for Giants.
But I hope that this offering gets extended. It’s “just right” for those that want to enjoy a little bit of the backstage elements without having to spring for a more-expensive, all-day tour akin to the 7-hour Backstage Magic. It’s also a good excuse to finally get around to doing Caring For Giants, which was really fun. And it opens up your FP+ lineup with the reserved seating for Rivers of Light. I liked that we had an opportunity to do our own thing in between the various elements.