Thursday, September 5, 2013

Ideal Buildout: Columbus Zoo Safari Africa Jeep Adventure

While I reserve final judgement until the attraction is actually open, from what I’ve seen on paper the plan for Safari Africa is drastically different (read: smaller) than the initial rumors posted years ago. Initial plans called for a new boat and train rides.Now it will be interesting to see if it even opens with the zip line and camels rides. While we're eagerly awaiting what the expansion will actually look like, I thought it would be fun play planner/designer of the Columbus Zoo. My ideal plan for Safari Africa leans more toward the theme park/ride experience and makes the experience more like an actual safari.

Columbus Zoo is one of the best organized zoos. When the current Safari Africa area opens it will place the entrance to the new region smack dab in the middle of North America. While logistical or logical, it makes no sense in terms of organization for regions. In my ideal buildout, the Safari Africa experience begins where the African lions are now on display, tucked right by the exit of Asia Quest. In fact, in this plan the zoo will completely redo the African lion exhibit and integrate it with the new queue line entrance for the jeep adventure.

My ideal buildout has the same species of animals as the current plan, the difference is how I plan to get guests there. I’ve decided to combine the best features of Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney’s Animal Kingdom with the Wilds here in Ohio. Like Kilimanjaro, the Jeep Adventure is the only way to access the main enclosures, however, there is a station in the middle of the region where you can get out, take your time and explore at your own pace just like the tours at the Wilds.

Please note, I'm not sure how much land the zoo actually owns and what they could build on so my pictures are just guesses. Maybe one reason they chose not to do something like this is too similar to the Wilds. I’m sure the Safari Africa area under construction will be a great addition to the zoo but it’s always fun to daydream and play imagineer and think about what might have been. What do you think?