15 May 2009

Rattle our quills

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is home to over three hundred species of animals (birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians) and fifty species of fish. In an effort to educate their guests on the natural tendencies of the creatures in their care the park has created numerous ways in which guests can gleam information on habitats, dining preferences, defense mechanisms, and other habits critical to each animal’s survival.

Caretakers regularly speak with guests, both at scheduled and unscheduled intervals, safari and walking trails build informational spiels into their experiences, and there is statistical signage almost everywhere one could look throughout the park. Each land of Disney’s Animal Kingdom takes a differing approach to its signage, with Discovery Island offering the most distinctive and memorable signs. Here, oversized notices have artwork showcasing how the animal, and its natural environment, looks, a map detailing where the creature can be found, the common and scientific name of the animal, and a verse about the animals life.

That’s right, verse, as in poetry. The time-tested method of using rhyme to educate, a technique used regularly to create and increase children’s vocabulary and reading skills, is uniquely employed in Discovery Island. While a child, or even their parent, may remember the giraffe they saw on Kilimanjaro Safaris, they will surely be able to recall, “When predators come and test our wills,/We stamp our feet and rattle our quills.”

Like all exhibits and experiences within Disney’s Animal Kingdom, these signs, and their ability to impart a lasting impression is based solely on the guests ability to slow down, take some time, and explore the often overlooked aspects of the park. This isn’t to say that guests shouldn’t be walking quickly towards Kilimanjaro Safaris or Expedition Everest as the park opens, but they should also find time to experience the exhibits and attractions that feature the park’s stars, the animals, before rushing off to another park at midday. The rewards of using curiosity, imagination, and a relaxed pace can truly offer many one of a kind rewards.

No comments: