28 June 2010

Swooping, soaring aerial acrobatics

Without a pair of binoculars it is often impossible to truly inspect the vibrant colors and simple beauty of a bird in flight. Even in a perfect bird-watching environment to time to truly marvel at these winged beauties, many of which live in exotic locales all around the globe, are gone in the flick of a wing or the blink of an eye. An often overlooked attraction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, mostly because it is not a thrill ride but a production, and one that does not feature Broadway caliber songs or daring tumbling, features a vast array of feathered friends. I am, of course, speaking about Flights of Wonder.

The show takes place at the Caravan Stage in Asia, along the road to Africa just past Yak & Yeti, and is an outdoor amphitheater with a brightly colored canopy covering the audience. The stage itself is an overgrown and collapsing fortress with plenty of nooks and windows for the birds to hide in, make appearance from, and disappear in to. The Flights of Wonder story is narrated by a pair of hosts, one a bird handler/trainer and the other a goofy ‘tour guide,’ who crack jokes and set spectacular scenes, but the actual stars are the winged wonders themselves.From chickens to hawks, eagles, cranes, and owls, the entire aviary community can be found wandering through Flights of Wonder. The banner outside lists quotes about that show that state it is both “Wonderful” and “Inspirational.” Those words are good, but they’re not the right words, perhaps a better pairing of words would be “Jaw Dropping” and “Enlightening.” For, as guests are told the stories of the birds, their strengths, weaknesses, and adaptations, they are drawn into the world and plights facing the avian population. Coupled together with some fancy flying, snatching snacks out of midair, and the ability to get up close and personal with these wild winged creatures, and these are no long silhouettes against a blue sky, the birds are now flesh and blood friends that need assistance in their continued survival.While the fun and spectacle of Flights in Wonder offer more than enough reason to take in a showing of the performance (my favorite joke, for the record, is the mouse/rat gag), the program offers so much more. As guests we are given the rare opportunity to learn about these majestic creatures and watch them in action, for the winged performers Flights of Wonder offers them the chance to gain future advocates and conservationists so that their hatchlings and the guests’ children have a brighter future, together.

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