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Flights of Wonder
Flights of Wonder is a live bird show, featuring exotic species performing both natural and unnatural feats of wonder for what is usually a packed house. The stars of the show do not confine themselves to the stage (as you might expect from actors who can fly), but fill the theater with the beat of wings and (to a lesser extent) the sounds of their songs. The show is expertly presented by a bird trainer, with a lot of fun and just the right amount of education thrown in.
Flights of Wonder was the original Asia attraction, the only one to premiere on opening day in 1998. Indeed, it can only marginally be placed in Asia, as it is technically on the path between that land and Africa.
Flights of Wonder is just plain fun. As long as you are not nervous about birds buzzing your hair, you will enjoy this. The variety of species, the range of talents, and the sheer beauty of the performers is a wonder to behold. We have not yet run across a cast member host who does less than an above average job of handling the birds and pressing home the message, and the other non-winged participants have no trouble holding up their own end of the show. Add the fact that the theater is shaded but open to whatever breeze may be available, and this is a can't miss part of your day at the Animal Kingdom.
(Note: the bird stars of the show do change; this walk-through will be updated as frequently as possible)
At the beginning, a narrator explains how the Maharajahs imported exotic birds to Anandapur while several of those birds move across (and, of course, above) the stage.
The host then enters and describes how a team of experts has been invited to study in Anandapur, and as part of that, they provide this educational program on the various birds. The first bird is Miles, the trumpeter hornbill, who catches grapes tossed into the air. The host then asks for a volunteer: "Who wants to try?" A guest (invariably a child) is invited up, when the host says "I'm going to toss this grape straight up into the air, and you catch it, OK?" Of course, the volunteer then gets to actually toss the grape.
At this point, the show is interrupted by a tour guide who has lost his group. "Guano Joe" (or Jane, at times) agrees to join the show, until he finds out it is about birds. Apparently, he's afraid of birds, and he tries to get his group up and going. But the host enlists the audience to help convince Joe to stay, and reluctantly he does - from a distance.
The next act is a cockatoo who sings and dances (formerly a parrot did math). After that, another cockatoo practices pickpocketing with the aid of an adult volunteer. Then two more volunteers are invited on stage to have a great horned owl attack them - OK, it just swoops from behind the audience to a perch above their heads. We actually did this in 2009, and have the blurry photo to prove it! As the host explains how many mice owls can eat in a year, Joe reminds her of the rat infestation that hit Anandapur years ago, while several large white rats scurry around the tower behind the stage.
The next phase involves a Harris hawk buzzing the audience. At one time a vulture was also seen, but Baby Webster was not performing in January of 2009.
Joe then finally overcomes his fear of birds by feeding Frazier, an East African Crowned Crane. The host then describes some of the struggles for birds in the wild, but wraps it up with a Disney ending featuring an American Bald Eagle, explaining how this once endangered creature is making a comeback and is no longer on the endangered species list. The finale includes several other bird species flying around while Joe and the host reinforce the conservation message of the park.
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