Animal Kingdom, in my opinion, is a park that is too often overlooked by visitors. It is SO much more than a zoo, and if planned correctly, the entire park can be easily experienced in one day. There are six major areas, or lands, to be explored at Animal Kingdom. These consist of: The Oasis, Discovery Island, DinoLand USA, Africa, Asia, and Rafiki’s Planet Watch.
There are, of course opportunities to explore animals in natural habitats, but there is so much more to do and see. The park centers around the “Tree Of Life.” This tree is 14 stories tall and has hundreds of lifelike animals carved into its trunk and roots. It is truly a sight to behold.
The park features many favorite characters featured in Disney’s more nature-based films, such as Pocahontas, Jungle Book, and Tarzan. The Fab Five are there too, decked out in their best safari gear.
In addition to learning about the animals that are native to Asia and Africa, guests are given an opportunity to interact with cast members from those countries. This is a great chance to learn first-hand about language, culture, daily life, and even fashion from these amazing countries.
While there are several great thrill and educational rides at Animal Kingdom, the only true roller coaster is Expedition Everest. This ride is in the Asia portion of the park in an area styled after a Nepalese village. The ride itself takes place in a train car that is headed to the top of Mount Everest. This is a Fastpass attraction and is a ride not-to-be-missed!
Rafiki’s Planet Watch is an amazing area to take the children. This “land” features the Conservation Station and Affection Station. This is the portion of the park that houses the veterinary and conservation headquarters. The vet area features an operating room with large glass windows so you can see the entire procedure. This is wonderful place to take any budding veterinarians you may have in your family. Both stations are very hands-on and have there are experts stationed throughout to answer any questions you may have. After exploring the Conservation Station, children can move outside to the Affection Station which is set up as an animal petting area.
New this year is the Wilderness Explorer program! Based on the movie “Up,” guests (children and adults) have the opportunity to obtain a Wilderness Explorer booklet and earn 32 badges. As guests enter the park the booklets can be picked up (for FREE) at the bridge between The Oasis and Discovery Island. It is possible to complete the entire field guide and obtain all the badges in 3-5 hours. This program makes the park even more exciting and encourages guests to venture into portions of the park that they might not have explored otherwise.
The final, not-to-be-missed items, are the two musical shows, “Finding Nemo” and “Festival Of The Lion King.” These shows are Broadway quality from the talent of the actors/vocalists to the costumes and sets. They are both over-the-top and are sure to appeal to adults and children alike.
I truly hope you take the time to spend one day of your Walt Disney World vacation in Animal Kingdom. It is a different kind of Disney adventure that the whole family will enjoy.
*RIDES & ATTRACTIONS*
Discovery Island Trails
It’s Tough to be a Bug!
Tree Of Life
Festival of the Lion King (Musical Show)
Pangani Forest Exploration Trail
Wildlife Express Train
Rafiki’s Planet Watch
Expedition Everest-Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
Flights of Wonder
Kali River Rapids
Maharajah Jungle Trek
Finding Nemo (Musical Show)
Fossil Fun Games
The Oasis Exhibits
(Each location will be labeled with…
D-dinner *Table or Quick Serve)
Dawa Bar (Lounge/Table)
Harambe Fruit Market (S/Quick)
Kusafiri Coffee Shop & Bakery (BS/Quick)
Mr Kamal’s (S/Quick)
Tamu Tamu Refreshments (SBLD/Quick)
Tusker House (BLD/Table)(Character B/L)
Anandapur Frozen Beverages (S/Quick)
Royal Anandapur Tea Company (S/Quick)
Yak & Yeti Local Food Cafe (LD/Quick)
Yak & Yeti Quality Beverages (Lounge/Table)
Yak & Yeti Restaurant (LD/Table)
Dino Diner (S/Quick)
Dino-Bite Snacks (SB/Quick)
Beastly Kiosk (S/Quick)
Flame Tree Barbecue (LD/Quick)
Gardens Kiosk (S/Quick)
Rainforest Cafe (BLD/Table)