Our consideration of the Festival of the Lion King Signature Dining Packages continues with a look at our experience at the show and the private safari ride.
Part 1, located here, focused on the meal portion of the package at Tiffins. If you’re considering a meal at Walt Disney World’s highest-rated theme park restaurant then it’s worth checking out. Even if you don’t really care about seeing Rivers of Light, there’s also the potential to save a lot of money with that Dining Package, particularly if you’re considering the $62 Surf and Turf pictured above.
As described in Part 1, there are two Tier options with the Lion King Dining Package. Tier 1 includes reserved seats in the very front of one of the four seating sections for the show. Tier 2 includes reserved seats in the row immediately behind it. While the tickets we were provided in the first picture told us to arrive 15 to 35 minutes before showtime, those in Tier 1 can return closer to the 15-minute mark as the seats are reserved and pre-assigned. Those in Tier 2 may want to arrive a little earlier to find some of the better seats in the second row that’s not immediately behind a tall blogger with a big camera. It may also be worth noting that some number of regular guests will probably also join those in Tier 2. A late-arriving family sat down right behind Erin and me, exclaiming excitedly about their “luck.” They were not really supposed to be there. There is typically plenty of seating for disabled guests, but those in ECVs or wheelchairs will likely be sat a bit further back until the Dining Package availability ends on November 21st.
That’s the Tier 1 bench immediately across from us. The majority of those selected to imitate the animals at the beginning of the show came from those using the Dining Packages, so it may be a good way to have a shy family member selected for that experience.
Typically, I recommend seeing the show from further up in the bleachers.
There’s a lot to take in and up close, you can really only see what’s immediately in front of you. The highest row is also the only one with a back to the seats.
While I’m sure the performers didn’t give it a second thought.
The show is performed at least eight times a day, 365 days a year.
But it was slightly awkward making eye contact with the performers throughout the show.
Here’s a few more pictures:
Overall, we both enjoyed the unique experience of sitting in the front row without any obstructions. Obviously during the rest of the year, someone sits in these seats “for free,” but there’s no way to guarantee that experience outside of the Dining Package, which delivered exactly what it promised. Festival of the Lion King is Walt Disney World’s highest-rated theater show for a reason.
Before the show started, a cast member came over to each of the Tier 1 participants and instructed us to hang back for a minute after the show ended so we could be walked over to our private safari ride with the 12-or-so other people.
The safari experience was led by a member of the Animal Kingdom Education Team along with one of the regular drivers. It wasn’t unlike your typical ride through, but we did learn a lot about some backstage elements and there were more opportunities than usual to ask questions. If you’ve recently experienced the safari, you might have noticed that the crocodiles are painted with bright colors that indicate how far along they are in their yearly checkups.
You might have also noticed that some of the trees are covered in chainmail.
This is to help protect the bark. Otherwise, the trees would probably be stripped over the course of a few minutes.
Some of my status cows are still on loan.
Perhaps because I am not very intelligent or perhaps because I had never given it much thought, I always imagined that the cast members walked the animals to and from the savanna in some sort of Noah’s-Ark-esque march through the various sections and out one end or the other.
Of course, that’s not how it works at all, and each area has walkways in and out where the animals can come and go as they please. They’re not locked into the enclosure at all, which is why some safaris see more animals than others. I would guess that these giraffes have a number of blogs that they need to keep up on, cutting down on the amount of time they’re out and about.
It was fun to see baby Aella out on the safari.
She appeared on the savanna for the first time just about two months after being born. She’s about three and a half months old now and while she used to basically be attached to her mother, she’s now displaying a bit of independence hiding out in these bushes.
These wildebeests look slightly less impressed.
The baboons were also active.
It’s hard to tell, but mamma is carrying around her baby here as well.
Here with the crop.
That was pretty precious to see.
If you’re interested in animals and some of the backstage elements that go into running Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you might check out my Caring for Giants review here.
It’s a great opportunity to see the elephants up close and learn more about them. Official information is available here.
Me until the temperature finally drops below 90 degrees sometime (hopefully) later this week.
Me trying to get my $55 worth at ‘Ohana.
Then regretting it as I can’t even lift my head off the ground.
One last fun little detail – the yellow-billed storks are named Carl and Ellie after the characters in Up.
Overall, we found a lot of value in the Tier 1 Festival of the Lion King Signature Dining Package. The cost is $25 more than Tier 2, but it guarantees the front row at the show and includes an interesting ride through the savanna. We nearly or completely got our money’s worth just from the meal at Tiffins and each of the additional elements exceeded our expectations. It was a fun “add-on,” but probably far from a must-do unless you’re planning on going big at Tiffins anyway. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience.