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Editor’s Note: This article was written prior to the parks closing due to COVID-19.
The Caring for Giants tour at Animal Kingdom is one of your best bargain behind-the-scenes tours at Walt Disney World. If you haven’t yet done this tour, consider it for your next trip.
The tour, open to ages 4 and above, costs $30 per person and takes about an hour. It’s best to make a reservation for this tour before your trip. Disney offers the hour-long tour daily at several times throughout the day, so there are plenty of options. You could also probably book the tour during your trip for a later day. Please note if you cancel the tour less than two days before your reservation or fail to show up for the tour, you will not receive a refund.
Ok, on to the Caring for Giants tour itself. Participants need to check in about 15 minutes before the tour at a kiosk located across from Kilimanjaro Safaris entrance. Make sure at least one Guest in your party has their photo ID with them. Once there, you’ll sign some paperwork and get your name tag. Made from 85 percent elephant poop fibers, that name tag is your first “contact” with the elephants.
When the Caring for Giants tour begins, a Cast Member will escort you backstage. Disney does not allow photography during this part of the tour. After a short walk, you’ll board a shuttle that will take you to the elephants. You’ll drive past some other animal care buildings on a shuttle that our driver told us used to chauffeur celebrities such as Paul McCartney around Walt Disney World.
In a few short minutes, the shuttle arrives at the elephant area. After a quick walk up an elaborate ramp and a short path, you will find yourself on the backside of the elephant enclosure. Guests in non-transferrable wheelchairs may remain in them for the tour, but need to let guest relations know in advance so they can make spacing accommodations on the shuttle. Guests using an ECV must transfer out of the ECV before beginning the tour.
Once at the elephant enclosure, your guide will share information about Disney’s elephant herd which consists of a matriarch and her offspring. At this point, it’s a little luck of the draw as far as how good of a view you will have. When my daughter and I went on the tour, at first guests on the safari – which you can see across the enclosure – had a better and closer view of the elephants than we did.
If that happens, relax and wait. You are out there for a bit and the elephants, who are free to move around as they please, will likely wander closer at some point. They elephants can get as close to 80 feet from you!
While you’re there, you will learn about how Disney cares for its African elephants. In addition, you will hear from an African cultural representative about conservation and other efforts taking place in Africa. Our representative told us about the elaborate beehive fence systems used to keep elephants from damaging farmer’s crops. Who knew that elephants were afraid of tiny little bees?
There is plenty of time to ask questions as well as to observe and capture photos of the elephants during the Caring for Giants tour. Keep in mind, you are outside this whole time, and while there are a few benches, there is not enough seating for the entire tour group to sit. You are also free to wander the path a bit and seek out other vantage points for photos.
Your tour guide will then escort you back to the shuttle stop for your return trip. Remember, no photos in backstage areas. Once you are back at the kiosk, you need to return the lanyard holding your name tag, but the tag itself is yours to keep as a souvenir of the tour.
Afterwards, it’s kind of fun to hop on the safari and see the elephants again with all your newfound knowledge. In addition, if you’re like us? You’ll look for the tour group on the other side of the enclosure now.
I love Disney and I consider Disney snacks a major food group. Dole Whip floats are my favorite! I've been hooked on Disney since my Disneymoon at Walt Disney World and I love sharing my knowledge of Disney with others.