ORLANDO, Fla. – Animal Kingdom's safari is expanding, and an audio-animatronic elephant will be replaced by real zebras.
Work will begin this spring on a new watering hole, featuring zebra at the end of the attraction. Disney says it is responding to guests desires for more opportunities to see live animals.
To make room, "Little Red" is going away. In the plot line of the 20-minute Jeep ride attraction, the animatronic elephant is "rescued" after poachers invade the "Harambe Reserve."
When the ride opened in 1998, the final scene featured the animatronic elephant in the back of a Jeep, while a cast member standing in front of a plane pointed a gun at the "poachers." The cast member told guests over and over, "Little Red is OK" as the safari trucks drove by.
The cast member was eliminated in a 2007 revamp that reduced the poacher storyline. Only "Little Red" was left from the original ending. Now, it will be removed. There is no word yet on how eliminating the elephant will further change the storyline.
Disney says the safari ride will remain open during the renovation work, which is due to be completed by the fall.