Friday, February 11, 2011

Headed to the Conservation Station

The Conservation Station is another of Disney's often overlooked hidden gems. Once in Disney's Animal Kingdom Park, Guests must board a train from Africa to reach this wondrous location.

 The theming in this area is, of course, in Disney fashion and very detailed. For example, take a look at the ticket office...
 ... and other stops the train may make...

 ... and the storyline doesn't stop there. Once you board the train, your still a part of the adventure. Signs remind you that there's no cooking on board...
 ... and to watch out for those poachers.
 Not only does the train serve as a mode of transportation, you also have the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at some of Animal Kingdom's backstage areas, such as the rhino barn...

 ... the elephant barn...
 ... and the giraffe barn.
 As you approach the station, you catch a glimpse of the beautiful mural that adorns the outside of the building and much of the interior as well. All of these animals are endangered, but the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund is working around the globe to help protect these animals. While in the parks, you purchase a Conservation Button by donating a dollar or more, and 100% of this donation goes towards protecting these endangered animals and the beautiful world we live in.

 Once you reach the station, Rafiki leads you down the pathway to Rafiki's Planet Watch, the main building and attraction at the Conservation Station.

 You also, however, encounter several other things along the way. First up is the tamarins. There's usually a person on hand to talk to you about them, but they're really cute and somewhat small monkeys that are currently endangered.

One of the Kids Discovery Clubs is also located here. Kids (and adults) are given a plastic board and a crayon, listing animals to search for in our backyard. They may even find some of these little critters in their own backyards. The Conservation Education Presenters who were working at that time, DJ and Amanda were kind enough to smile for me...
Afterwards, just follow old Rafiki, he knows the way...
 Next thing you know, you've reached the station. Here you can either go inside, or walk directly to the left to our animal affection area, where you can pet the goats. Please no feeding though! "Our yummies are not good for their tummies!"
 Inside Rafiki's Planet Watch, the massive mural continues.
 If you look closely, the mural is a burst of diversity. As you walk inside though, the animals become more spaced and leached of color until finally, it dissipates to nothing, ending with the gorilla. I don't have a picture from the inside; you'll have to go check it out for yourself! There are also several Hidden Mickey's dispersed within the mural.
 One of the really cool things you can see here is the vet procedures. They usually occur right away in the morning and a schedule is posted in the window. The day I was there, the anteater was getting his annual checkup. (I'll write more about this in a later blog.)

There's a window where you can check out the amphibians...

 ... a few invertebrates...
 ... and even an animal nutrition window, where you can speak with some of the nutritionists and see some of the diets they prepare.

 Computers are provided, where you can check out different conservation initiatives, and even things you can help out with in your local area.
 Characters are present throughout the day, like Jiminy Cricket, Pocahontas, and Rafiki himself.
The Song of the Rainforest is a really cool experience. 
 You go into one of several rooms, where you'll find 6 different headphones. Once your party is settled in, you press a button, the lights dim, and the sounds begin.
 Grandmother Willow takes you on an audio journey of the magic of the rainforest, sharing the trials that the rainforest also faces, such as destruction due to human involvement. Its a moving message.

Don't forget to check out the snakes!
 At another area, you can take a peek through cameras stationed in different animal locations around the park. It's pretty neat. As an added bonus, you can steer the cameras yourself! Don't see an animal? No problem, just take the camera for a spin or switch to another!
They also sometimes have animal presentations throughout the day. From what I've seen, they usually come out with some sort of avian creature or insect friend to talk with Guests about. 
Then, when you're done with your adventure, it's time to head back to the train, as it is the only way for Guests to enter and leave the Conservation Station.

One of the great things about Animal Kingdom is the decor, and these benches at the station are no exception. In fact, these benches are more than great decoration; they're actually made from recycled plastic bottles. Neat huh?
All aboard!
On your way back to Harambe, you'll catch a glimpse of a few more backstage areas. This happens to be the back of the popular show, Flights of Wonder.
Before you know it, you're back in Harambe, ready to embark on your next big adventure! The Conservation Station is such an amazing place. I wouldn't take a trip to Animal Kingdom without taking a few minutes to visit and explore. There's just so much to discover, and you never know what you'll find. Have a wild time!

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