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Animal Kingdom

Asia cost a fortune, cookie

Running along, Asia comes next. When the park first opened Asia wasn't ready. Its Tiger Rapids Run attraction that would send riders through raging white waters with tigers circling about wasn't ready. The conceptual artwork was impressive. Unfortunately Tiger Rapids Run never opened. The problem? No tigers. When things go wrong Animal Kingdom resorts to its prime directive - rename the puppy and water down the theme. Out of the remnants of Tiger Rapids Run, Kali River Rapids was born.

After being fed an anti-logging message you board your raft and begin to ascend a wood-paneled lift hill. Yes, you read right. No matter how many trees Disney had to take down to build this attraction and supply it with moving parts you are supposed to believe that Disney is the good guy with the anti-logging message.

You will see the environmental hypocrisy everywhere in the park. Enjoy the Kilimanjaro Safari's message that poachers who kill animals for their hide are evil as you squirm snugly in your upholstered safari bench seat. Take in the animal preservation exhibits as the smell of burnt critter flesh permeates from Flame Tree Barbecue and the other meat-intensive eateries. No matter where you stand ideologically no one appreciates being preached one message by the preacher who is practicing another.

But Kali River Rapids does take you past a fiery scene in which a logger's truck is stuck in the mud. Is the message here that the logger is more devoted to his craft by working while the eco-friendly family that runs the rafting business chose to close down for a break of worship? Is it a more gripping philosophical beat that nature is more powerful than human machinery? You expect the rest of the ride to reveal more, but, sadly, that's it. You go down small slide, bob around the water some and watch other park guests try to squirt your circular raft with water out of the trunk of elephant sculptures.

There are three rapid rides in Central Florida. You have Congo River Rapids at Busch Gardens Tampa. You have Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges at Islands of Adventure. Kali River Rapids is the driest of the three. We're not talking about the soak factor here, even though that's certainly true as Kali is by far the lamest and tamest of the three. No, it's also the driest in terms of themed elements, which is saying a lot when you consider that Congo River Rapids has no theme at all.

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