|CLICK ON ANY MAP ICON TO SEE A SPOTLIGHT ABOUT THAT FEATURE.|
For 2007, the Safari Hospitality Center
area got a makeover becoming the Safari Exploration Station, further
emphasizing the educational aspect of the Wild Safari. This makeover
included several new animal encounters and informational displays to
supplement the existing food, retail, and service facilities. The area was revitalized with fresh
paint and landscaping.
The Safari Exploration Station became an attraction included as part of
the Wild Safari admission, or as an upcharge for those who did not
purchase Safari tickets.
An important part of this renovation was the re-alignment of the park's entrance roads, and the re-direction of the Safari entrance. Traffic going through the Safari branched off from the theme park traffic, and the access to the Safari Exploration Station was limited to those who had already toured the Safari.
In its inaugural season, the colorful new makeover and the addition of more educational exhibits were coupled with the Safari being open weekdays in spring before the Theme Park began full time operations. This was all part of an effort to try and bring additional school groups to the park and help extend the season further. A new theater was added offering a new facility for presentations. An upcharge pony ride attraction was added as well as some new play pieces, offering more things to do for kids who were antsy from being in the car for so long.
Dozens of animal exhibits were part of the area as well, often changing as new babies were born or new animals were acquired. Birds, coatimundi, rabbits, snakes, turtles, lion cubs and more were available to see up close in a way that was never possible in the original drive through Safari. To complement the animal exhibits beautiful and unique landscaping was added including a water feature powered by solar energy. An alphabet garden was built along one edge of the area with letters set into the ground with plants whose names began with the letter planted next to them.
Perhaps the most unique element of the Exploration Station was an animal unlike any other. A giant wooden elephant was displayed as part of the area. The ornately carved elephant was acquired along with the flying elephant ride for the Golden Kingdom in 2005 and it sat in a backstage area for two years before it was decided to add it to the Exploration Station.
The Safari Exploration Station was abandoned after the 2010 station as many of the animals and exhibits were moved into the theme park as part of the Safari Discoveries area which took over the former Temple of the Tiger area. The facilities at the Exploration Station were largely deserted staring in the 2011 season and in 2013 were completely closed as the Wild Safari was incorporated into the theme park as an attraction with the introduction of the Safari Off-Road Adventure. More of the animals and their enclosures from the Safari Exploration Station made their way into the new attraction as part of the Camp Aventura area which was a stop off in the middle of the tour where guests could step off their tour vehicles and get up close to smaller animals much like the experience at the Safari Exploration Station.