Sweet 16! Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom is celebrating its anniversary this week and in honor of such a special occasion, I thought I’d share some thoughts on what I love about this oh-so-much-more-than-a-half-day park.
16 BEST Things (both great and small) about Disney’s Animal Kingdom:
1. Tracks! Take an occasional look down while you’re walking around and you’ll see animal tracks and leaf prints in the pavement. This tiny detail adds to the feeling that you’re in the wilds of Asia and Africa and it’s just pretty darned cool!
2. Naked Mole Rats (g’head and say nekkid if you like, I do) – They’re really pretty disgusting, but SO interesting! Find these gross yes undeniably riveting critters on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail (Africa).
3. Kilimanjaro Safari – My love for this attraction can be found here. It’s just awesome! That is all.
4. Foliage – The trees and plants in Animal Kingdom are cultivated to perfection! Lush, exotic and perfectly overgrown to add to each area’s theme in a way that is pretty much taken for granted and underappreciated – it’s SO good, you just don’t really think about it. A lot of work goes into perfecting the live backdrops for each area and attraction. Pay more attention next time you’re there, okay?
5. DiVine – Speaking of greenery! DiVine details can be found here. Please don’t miss her next time you find yourself following my advice (see #4).
6. Gorillas – The highlight of the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail (Africa section), this exhibit (two troops of lowland gorillas) is absolutely amazing. Patience during crowded times pays off – I calmly and quietly wait for an opportunity to zoom in and get some incredible pictures. In the morning, when the gorillas are most active, it’s just fun to watch them go about their day.
7. Festival of the Lion King – Currently closed for relocation to a new theater and scheduled to reopen later this year. This show is a must-do for our family. Wonderful songs, super costumes and tumble monkeys! Who could ask for more? Go see it and you’ll understand it’s greatness.
8. Tigers – Just as the gorillas are my favorite animals along the Pangani Forest trail, tigers are, to me, the best part of the Maharajah Jungle Trek in Animal Kingdom’s Asia section. The tigers are gorgeous and appear close enough to touch! Great photo ops abound in this beautiful area.
10. Conservation – Disney’s commitment to animal conservation is apparent throughout the park, but is particularly prominent at Rafiki’s Planet Watch. Lots of folks skip this area of the park, but it’s well worth the time and effort to make a visit (take the Wildlife Express Train to get there). This one area of the park can take 1-2 hours or more to give it the attention it deserves. No, there are no thrill rides or shows here, but you can see veterinarians in action taking care of injured animals or just performing routine medical exams. It’s the “backstage” area for the park’s animal care activities. If stuff like that interests you, you’ll like it.
11. The Queue for Expedition Everest – It’s not only my favorite thrill ride in the world, it’s my favorite standby line. I’ve been through it literally dozens of times and can still spot something new every time. No FastPass? It’s all good. Go standby on this one and take it all in.
12. The Music – No matter where you go in the park, the music is just wonderful. If you get the chance to catch a live performance, even better!
13. The Tree of Life – 14 stories tall, this is an absolute marvel! The joy of walking around the tree to study all the animal figures that make up the trunk, roots, and branches is indescribable.
14. Dinos in Dinoland – This may not be my favorite section of the park, but I’m still thrilled by the replicas of dinosaur skeletons on display. I remember how exciting it was when Sue was discovered in 1990 – the most complete T-Rex skeleton ever found – replicated for your viewing pleasure right there in Dinoland.
15. The Cast Members – Yes, they’re top notch at all the parks, but particularly so at Animal Kingdom. Throughout the day (and especially at the front of the park when it first opens), you’ll find interesting and passionate Cast Members – each holding a small animal – ready to let you take a look while they fill you in on anything you’d like to know about the little creature in their care.
16. Expansion! Even if you’re still not sure about the whole Avatar thing, if you’re an Animal Kingdom fan, you’ve got to believe that expansion is good! Think about all the cool stuff that could happen when the park stays open later – the nighttime safari, shows, and c’mon – deep down inside you’re curious about how Pandora will turn out. Personally, I can’t wait!
You’ll notice I didn’t mention any food! I do think Animal Kingdom offers a wide variety of delicious food, I just couldn’t settle on any particular items to make it onto the list. Go ahead and shout out some food love in a comment!
If you’re a big fan of Animal Kingdom (like ME!), be sure to check out the Radio Harambe Podcast!
An entertaining and informative Animal Kingdom fan site is Jambo Everyone – check them out if you have a minute.
What are your favorite things in Animal Kingdom? Were any on the list?