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May 6, 2014
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This article about Lion Country Safari commemorating King's Dominions 40th anniversary has some great photos and confirms that the attraction in 1974 involved driving your personal automobile through the three mile preserve with the animals.

I experienced this with my mom and dad in a Dodge sedan without air conditioning.  We were encouraged to keep the windows closed which was not fun in the summer heat.  We were able to lower the windows at times and take photos.  I remember ostriches in particular were curious about the cars and would walk along and peer inside and even peck on the glass.  Other times we would have to stop and wait for animals to cross the road or even be discouraged from resting in the road by park rangers.  The first batch of photos were taken by Mom and I with a Kodak Instamatic.

 

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Nov 1, 2012
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Lion Country Safari was a 3rd party company that ran zoological exhibits in the U.S. At one time, this company ran 5 LCS parks across the country. The original Lion Country Safari park still operates as a drive-thru attraction in Florida. The other 4 parks had closed by the early 1990's. The other parks were in California, Texas, Kings Dominion, and Kings Island.

KD and KI partnered with Lion Country Safari to have the zoos built on their property. The parks worked with LCS to build the animal habitats on their land; and, LCS provided the habitat specifications, the animals, and the full time rangers to care for the animals. Both parks worked with LCS to hire seasonal rangers to supplement the full time staff. I am not sure if LCS had their own full time vet(s) or used local veterinarians. Given the exotic nature of most of the animals, I assume Lion Country Safari had their own vet(s) and maybe supplemented with local vets as needed.

When the monorail was installed, KD and KI provided the staffing for the ride drivers and station folk. I assumed they trained with LCS personnel to handle emergency situations as needed.

Lion Country Safari was an up-charge attraction for the one year as a drive-thru attraction and the next 4-5 years using the monorail. By 1980 or 1981, the Safari Monorail was included with your park admission. 1992 (or 1993?) was the last year of operations for Lion Country Safari. The remaining animals were dispersed to other zoos and animal habitats across the U.S. I am not sure if any animals went out of the country.
 
Feb 9, 2013
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I went to the Lion Country Safari in Florida, it was awesome, and big. Of course unlike what I presume KDs was like, most of the animals were in a caged area, but there were other animals that could come up close to your car. I remember stopping many times for animals to pass. I wish KD still had something like that.

As a side note, Lion Country Safari in Florida also has a small amusement park at the end of the drive. It was very nice, and had a boat ride where you could go and see even more animals, but on water.
 
Nov 1, 2012
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Matthew said:
I went to the Lion Country Safari in Florida, it was awesome, and big. Of course unlike what I presume KDs was like, most of the animals were in a caged area, but there were other animals that could come up close to your car. I remember stopping many times for animals to pass. I wish KD still had something like that.

As a side note, Lion Country Safari in Florida also has a small amusement park at the end of the drive. It was very nice, and had a boat ride where you could go and see even more animals, but on water.

From what I could research about Lion Country Safari in Florida, all exhibits were open around the cars, including the lions at one time. But, as our population has lost all common sense and Darwin's rule on survival of the smartest applies, they had to fence off the lions from the cars driving through. Course, not having much patience with ignorant folks in my middle years, I would have left it open. Because, if I was the owner, it would save me lots of money in not having to buy as much meat to feed the lions. Course, the dumber the person, the more indigestion/heartburn the lions had to deal with. :evilgrin:
 
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Aug 28, 2012
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Chantilly
A friend of mine who went to LCS when he was a kid (197?) swears he rode in this Jeep on the tour.  Side note, he's a mechanic and remembers showing the guy how to use the 4wd which is in the glove box.  I took this picture at Knobeles this summer and sent it to him and he recognized it instantly.  Anyone know if they were ever used there, he does usually have a pretty good memory when it comes to these things.

20140628_133255_zps6c189d88.jpg
 

MAZ

Jan 30, 2014
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Richmond
I'm 96% sure that KD only used jeeps as maintenance vehicles. They installed the monorail system after 2 years in operation instead of going the 'exposed tram' route.
 
Nov 1, 2012
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Mazakman said:
I'm 96% sure that KD only used jeeps as maintenance vehicles. They installed the monorail system after 2 years in operation instead of going the 'exposed tram' route.

In 1974, the Safari was a drive-through attraction using your own car. In 1975, when the whole park opened, the Safari monorail system was in place and that's what you rode to experience the attraction. The monorail was operational until the Safari closed after the 1992 or 1993 season.
 
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MAZ

Jan 30, 2014
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Richmond
mwhinva said:
Mazakman said:
I'm 96% sure that KD only used jeeps as maintenance vehicles. They installed the monorail system after 2 years in operation instead of going the 'exposed tram' route.

In 1974, the Safari was a drive-through attraction using your own car. In 1975, when the whole park opened, the Safari monorail system was in place and that's what you rode to experience the attraction. The monorail was operational until the Safari closed after the 1992 or 1993 season.
ZJhauler was suggesting that KD provided transportation through LCS via a jeep/tram type vehicle. I was saying that I am pretty sure that KD did NOT provide transportation through the attraction until the monorail was installed. They only used the jeeps for maintenance. I guess what I was trying to say is, If you didn't drive your own car through, you did not get to experience the attraction.
 
Nov 1, 2012
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Mazakman said:
mwhinva said:
Mazakman said:
I'm 96% sure that KD only used jeeps as maintenance vehicles. They installed the monorail system after 2 years in operation instead of going the 'exposed tram' route.

In 1974, the Safari was a drive-through attraction using your own car. In 1975, when the whole park opened, the Safari monorail system was in place and that's what you rode to experience the attraction. The monorail was operational until the Safari closed after the 1992 or 1993 season.
ZJhauler was suggesting that KD provided transportation through LCS via a jeep/tram type vehicle. I was saying that I am pretty sure that KD did NOT provide transportation through the attraction until the monorail was installed. They only used the jeeps for maintenance. I guess what I was trying to say is, If you didn't drive your own car through, you did not get to experience the attraction.

You are correct. In 1974, the only way to experience the Safari was driving your own car through it. The park did not have an optional transport system for visitors that year. The park rangers used utility vehicles to drive themselves through (jeeps/pickup trucks/etc.) to monitor the animals/visitors.

After the Safari closed for the 1974 season, the park installed the monorail system, laying the track on the actual road visitors drove through that previous summer. When the whole park opened in 1975, you could no longer drive your car through the attraction. Also, you had to have purchased a general admission ticket to the whole park just to be able to experience the up-charge Safari. The Safari was an up-charge attraction for the first 5-6 years of operations. Around 1980 or 1981, the Safari was included with your park general admission ticket/season pass
 
Aug 28, 2012
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Chantilly
Thanks for clarifying it for me, I had never heard of them using any transportation other than the monorail and your own vehicle but I wasn't alive when it was first opened.  It's possible I misunderstood him though and the Jeep Commando wasn't a transport vehicle and he just ended up talking to one of the employees, he's just that kind of person.
 
Sep 9, 2014
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I remember my grandmother telling that back when KD had the drive-through Safari, they won free tickets but gave them away because they owned a car without AC and you had to drive through the Safari with your windows up.
 
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