Giraffes at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge
  • On Feb 28, 2024
    Lindsay from ON Asked Please note that experiences, policies, pricing and other offerings are subject to change and may have changed since the date of this answer.

    Planning a 50th birthday trip and trying to decide between 3 Enchanting Extras: Caring for Giants, Starlight Safari or Up Close With Rhinos. What are the pros and cons of each experience? Also, do Boma or Sanaa have anything special for birthdays? Thanks!

    Hello again Lindsay, it's so great to see a familiar fellow Canadian face back here at planDisney!

    If we recall correctly, it's your husband who will be celebrating his 50th birthday here at Walt Disney World Resort and I can't think of a better place to do it. It also looks like you've decided to venture down from Ontario ahead of the holiday season, which I personally think is a great idea to avoid the extra hustle and bustle of the crowds in December that can make booking these special experiences more challenging. Here are a few Princely Pros and Cons as well as a bit of personal experience sprinkled into the Enchanting Extras that you're considering for the occasion:

    • By far the one that fellow guests report having the most challenging experience in snagging a spot, is Up Close With Rhinos. This is largely due to the fact that it currently only takes place once per day! The biggest draw is just how close you can potentially get to one of them, with a chance of possibly being able to feel the texture of rhinoceros skin in person (though this is never guaranteed). However, as the entirety of this takes place in backstage areas, capturing any of the experience on photo or video is not permitted and valid admission to Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park is still required despite it taking about an hour of your day.
    • Caring for Giants also requires valid theme park admission, but tends to take place several times each day. Only the transportation portion of the experience takes place backstage, so once you're safely at the Harambe Wildlife Reserve elephant habitat (opposite to where the Kilimanjaro Safaris vehicles drive past), the Cast Members will let you know when you can take photos or videos. This experience is more casual and less structured, and the elephants could very well choose to remain at a distance if they wanted to - so that's something to keep in mind if you're keen on being as close as possible! 
    • Another difficult reservation to obtain is Starlight Safari at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge; I personally recommend being ready to check online even as early as midnight as soon as you are able to make bookings as a Resort Hotel Guest - especially on a day towards the end of your stay. In my opinion the biggest Pro is that this currently takes place twice in the evenings (though schedules are subject to change), does not require any theme park admission and can be a nice way to go for a nighttime ride after a special birthday dinner. Bear in mind that you remain safely seated on board for the duration of the experience and truthfully, despite being able to capture your experience in photos or videos on the savanna, it can be pretty dark out so the night vision scopes are very key!
    As for celebrating a birthday at Sanaa or Boma - Flavors of Africa, our experience has varied from receiving a cupcake to a small plate of assorted desserts at the end of the meal so it may depend on the Cast Member serving you and what is available that evening. 

    Hope this helps planning the best Birthday Trip Ever!
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Meet the Panelist: Prince, Ontario

Hello, Bonjour, Aloha and Ahoy there! As a performer and world explorer who's been to all of the Disney theme parks around the globe, I'm always happy to provide my best adventuring advice and knowledge to navigate your way to all of the greatest snacks, attractions and entertainment on land and at sea. Find me featured on the planDisney Podcast and on the Disney Parks Blog, discussing Disney Eats at festivals and beyond, holiday events at Walt Disney World Resort and planning my Disney Fairy Tale Wedding! Learn More About Prince

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