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  1. #1

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    Jan. 12, 2007: Lion Country Safari in Irvine, California

    Take a safari through an African wildlife preserve in your family car. Do you remember Lion Country Safari in California? Did you know there's still a Lion Country Safari in Florida?

    Link to Lion Country Safari in Irvine, California.

    Please discuss it here.
    Werner Weiss
    Curator of Yesterland, featuring discontinued Disneyland attractions

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    Re: Jan. 12, 2007: Lion Country Safari in Irvine, California

    Oh Werner, you have made me a very happy man. I just loved Lion Country Safari when I was a kid. We made dad take us all the time. We liked the Hippo boats.

    Remember Bubbles the Hippo? She escaped and ran down the freeway. Made it quite a few miles before they shot her with tranquilizer darts in a drainage ditch. Sadly, she drowned in a shallow pool of water.
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    Re: Jan. 12, 2007: Lion Country Safari in Irvine, California

    Quote Originally Posted by Dustysage View Post
    Remember Bubbles the Hippo? She escaped and ran down the freeway. Made it quite a few miles before they shot her with tranquilizer darts in a drainage ditch. Sadly, she drowned in a shallow pool of water.
    Yes, I remember. It was 1979. Heavy rains raised the water levels at Lion Country Safari, allowing Bubbles the Hippo to escape from the property. Day after day, the press would report Bubbles' location in Laguna Canyon. Lion Country Safari got all sorts of publicity. For a while it looked as though Lion Country Safari would have a new star.

    Unfortunately, the story had a very sad ending when Bubbles drowned after being tranquilized during the effort to capture her and return her to Lion Country Safari.
    Werner Weiss
    Curator of Yesterland, featuring discontinued Disneyland attractions

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    Re: Jan. 12, 2007: Lion Country Safari in Irvine, California

    I'm a life-long resident of Southern California, but I never made it Lion Country Safari even though my grandparents lived right down the road. Come to think about it, never made it to Busch Gardens or Universal Studios either. So thanks Werner for showing me what I missed now that I missed it.

    Makes me feel like a trip to the Japaneese Deer Garden, then a quick stop to Movieland Wax Museum and Mideval times for dinner. Do you know what their operating hours are off season?
    Last edited by Katella Gate; 01-11-2007 at 10:58 PM. Reason: Afterthought

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    Re: Jan. 12, 2007: Lion Country Safari in Irvine, California

    Quote Originally Posted by Katella Gate View Post
    Makes me feel like a trip to the Japaneese Deer Garden, then a quick stop to Movieland Wax Museum and Mideval times for dinner.
    And don't miss Marineland of the Pacific in Palos Verdes.
    Werner Weiss
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    Re: Jan. 12, 2007: Lion Country Safari in Irvine, California

    That is awesome. I remember being told about this place and it is great to see it on Yesterland. Thanks for sharing.

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    Re: Jan. 12, 2007: Lion Country Safari in Irvine, California

    I remember Lion Country well! My parents took me there several times. My father took his super 8 film camera and used a lot of film. I remember entering the first area. Our station wagon was swarmed by ostriches and they were pecking the daylights out of the windows. There were so many pecking that I thought the windows were going to break. They pecked the windows really hard. I dare not roll it down lest they peck me too. A giraffe stood in front of us and decided not to move. It relieved itself onto the car in front of us. There were frequent traffic jams due to elephants and giraffes blocking our path. We would see the zebra-striped jeep roam around in the areas where the lions were. They were keeping an eye on things. My father caught footage of a lion that suddenly died and they went over to check it out. Several large rhinos walked in front of our car and I was afraid. We had the Hatari! soundtrack at home and on the album sleeve of the Long Playing Record, there was artwork of a Rhino turning a Jeep over with all the actors inside. I remember paddling the paddleboat hippos and they were a lot of fun. I remember the kiddy jeep ride also and rode it several times. There were animatronic animals on the ride such as an alligator that opened it's mouth as the tiny jeep approached it. My dad's filming shows the monkeys were on an island with several trees. The cheetahs had their own area at the end. There were several fenced areas in which you passed through. The kept large tree parts near the road and the Rhinos loved to itch and scratch on them, just a few feet from your car window. Everytime we went, it was really hot outside. The animals were in the shade most of the time trying to stay cool. Those were good times.

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    Re: Jan. 12, 2007: Lion Country Safari in Irvine, California

    *sigh* Cool looking place.
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    Re: Jan. 12, 2007: Lion Country Safari in Irvine, California

    Quote Originally Posted by Katella Gate View Post
    I'm a life-long resident of Southern California, but I never made it Lion Country Safari even though my grandparents lived right down the road. Come to think about it, never made it to Busch Gardens or Universal Studios either. So thanks Werner for showing me what I missed now that I missed it.

    Makes me feel like a trip to the Japaneese Deer Garden, then a quick stop to Movieland Wax Museum and Mideval times for dinner. Do you know what their operating hours are off season?
    It's so funny, I workin in an office literally next door to the old Lion Country Safari, and now instead of a "real" jungle, the area around it is now unfortunately a Corporate Jungle! But, boy I sure do miss Lion Country Safari. I have lived in Orange County since 1972 so I kind of grew up with the place and was devastated to see it close. Although I do admit I have seen a concert or two at Irvine Meadows (I'm sorry Verizon Wireless). When my oldest brother was married he lived in condos right behind it, but he says he encountered more problems from the rock concerts at Irvine Meadows (dodging druged-out Ozzy Osbourne and Kiss fans on Irvine Center Drive on the way home from work) than he ever did from Lion Country Safari!

    Just so you know, unfortunately Movieland Wax Museum closed permanently last year and the Japanese Deer Garden closed a very long time ago I think more than 30 years ago! So sadly you will only be able to visit these in Yesterland as well...

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    Re: Jan. 12, 2007: Lion Country Safari in Irvine, California

    Quote Originally Posted by Dustysage View Post
    Remember Bubbles the Hippo? She escaped and ran down the freeway. Made it quite a few miles before they shot her with tranquilizer darts in a drainage ditch. Sadly, she drowned in a shallow pool of water.
    OMG I thought you were gonna tell this story that gave you happy memories!!! LOL dork. Poor Bubbles....

    Hippos are pretty vicious animals though...

    I don't remember doing animal safari at all (it closed when I was 7) but it seems pretty scary -- didn't they do this same thing in the movie "The Omen'??
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    Re: Jan. 12, 2007: Lion Country Safari in Irvine, California

    I am old enough to have visited Marineland, Busch Gardens (Calif), the Aligator Farm, and Lion Country Safari. BUT I am young enough to not be able to remember most of them. I was only 13 when Lion Country closed.
    I also remember how hot it was when I went and most of the animals were hiding in the shade.

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    Re: Jan. 12, 2007: Lion Country Safari in Irvine, California

    While reading the first half of the story, I was saddened, thinking "this place would never exist in today's PETA-ridden and lawyer-infested country". You can imagine how my jaw dropped when I read about the still-open park in Palm Beach.

    Next time we visit Orlando, I'm definitely taking the kids there.

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    Re: Jan. 12, 2007: Lion Country Safari in Irvine, California

    In the swingin' seventies my dad had a "Frasier, The Amorous Lion" t-shirt. On the front was a drawing of Frasier's slightly demented visage peering out at you, on the back was, well, a rear view of Frasier and his "swingin' " attributes.
    So full of Disney Magic, my eyes are blue.

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    Re: Jan. 12, 2007: Lion Country Safari in Irvine, California

    Quote Originally Posted by Gn2Dlnd View Post
    In the swingin' seventies my dad had a "Frasier, The Amorous Lion" t-shirt. On the front was a drawing of Frasier's slightly demented visage peering out at you, on the back was, well, a rear view of Frasier and his "swingin' " attributes.
    Wow, talk about free love!!!
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    Re: Jan. 12, 2007: Lion Country Safari in Irvine, California

    Quote Originally Posted by BrianFuchs View Post
    While reading the first half of the story, I was saddened, thinking "this place would never exist in today's PETA-ridden and lawyer-infested country". You can imagine how my jaw dropped when I read about the still-open park in Palm Beach.

    Next time we visit Orlando, I'm definitely taking the kids there.
    The driving time between Walt Disney World and Lion Country Safari is almost three hours each way. Here are the directions:


    Although that seems like too much driving for day trip, visitors who combine their WDW stay with time in Southern Florida (such as Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, or the Keys) will pass fairly close to Lion Country Safari when driving down the Florida Turnpike. In that case, Lion Country Safari is a fine place to spend part of a day without too much extra driving.
    Werner Weiss
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