Exploring Discovery Island-Disney’s Animal Kingdom

If you’ve visited here before, you may have noticed what a HUGE Animal Kingdom fan I am – Kilimanjaro Safari, Expedition Everest, Maharajah Jungle Trek and Pangani Forest Exploration Trail are some of my most favorite attractions at Walt Disney World.  It’s the incredible theming and the perfection of those Disney details everywhere you look that make me love this park so much.  That’s why I chose this particular post from Disney Musings to share with you today for Saturdays With Nick.  The artistic details and interesting animal exhibits of Discovery Island are even more reason to love Animal Kingdom.  If you have never taken the time before or are planning your first visit to Walt Disney World, I whole-heartedly recommend taking some extra time to check out this amazing area.

Exploring Discovery Island-Disney’s Animal Kingdom

The Tree of Life is Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s majestic centerpiece.

There are 300 animals carved in this iconic symbol.

There is a wonderful and often overlooked area that gets you closer to this amazing display of artistry called the Discovery Island Trails.

I say often overlooked because every time we’ve visited this serene area, it is relatively uncrowded.
There are wooden foot bridges and tunnels.

Animals you may spot along these paths include White Storks, Asian Small-Clawed Otters, Red Kangaroos…

…West African Crowned Cranes, African Crested Porcupines, Galapagos Tortoise, Lesser Flamingos, Macaws, Saddle-Billed Storks,  Lappet Face Vultures, and Ring-Tailed Lemurs.

If you want to get off the beaten path at the Animal Kingdom, take a stroll along the Discovery Island Trails.

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Just Back From Disney World – 10 Things I Learned

RM-WDW SignWhat an amazing, surprisingly unusual trip to Walt Disney World we just had!  I knew it was going to be different because I was participating in my very first runDisney events, but so many wonderful and unexpected things happened that have forever earned this vacation a special place in my heart.  I’ll be writing individual reviews on restaurants, attractions, and activities over the next couple of weeks, but if you read anything here and you have questions or want more information – shout it on out in the comments section and I’ll do what I can to oblige.

Just Back From Disney World – 10 Things I Learned

1. The Walt Disney World sign still makes my heart beat faster – Even after all these years, there’s nothing more thrilling that visual proof that you have arrived at your favorite place to be (away from home).RM-Frozen-5K-2015

2. It can be freezing in Florida in February – I live in Louisiana, I know we get an occasional cold snap, but in Florida?  I honestly wasn’t expecting wind chills in the 20’s.  Luckily, we packed for just about every possible weather and were prepared.  I only wished my homage-to-Donald “costume” for the Frozen 5K (appropriately named, for sure) had included a bit more coverage for my knees.RM-Flag-Retreat

3. The Flag Retreat in Magic Kingdom makes me cry – I’ve heard about it for years and have never found myself in the right place at the right time to experience this unbelievably touching, patriotic ceremony.  I tried to sing along to God Bless America with the Dapper Dans, but I was too choked up to croak out even a few bars.  This is a must-see and you should put it on your Disney to-do list right now.RM-Lisa-and-Glass-Slipper-Sign

4. The hype you hear about runDisney events is well-deserved – I have participated in dozens of races over the past 17+ years and some of them were pretty amazing and well organized.  Nothing – not even in my wildest imagination – could have prepared me for the truly magical execution that makes a runDisney experience far superior to any other event.  Unless you have your heart set on a personal record, then you should know, that goal would be very challenging during a runDisney race.RM-Fiesta-Donald

5. Donald Duck is still my favorite Disney character.  And that’s all I’ve got to say about that.

6. Il Mulino at the Swan is an absolutely fantastic restaurant – This place was so special – everything about it was perfect to us and a full review of our dining experience will be written very soon.

7.  Being Stranded at Walt Disney World induces euphoria – I’m sure for some people, being iced-in and unable to get home, even from Orlando, would be a major inconvenience.  For us, at this particular time, it was the gift of not one, but TWO extra Disney days to enjoy – and enjoy them we did!  Ferris Bueller-style, we packed so much extra happiness into those two days, you won’t believe it…story to follow, so check back.RM-Polynesian-Village-Resort-Lobby

8. The Polynesian Village Resort’s renovated lobby is gorgeous – I’m not insensitive to the long-time Polynesian fans who are heartbroken by the changes to their favorite resort, but to me, the new Poly is a beautifully improved Poly.  I think the colors, furniture and décor, and overall feeling of welcome is lovely.RM-Hat-Shopping-Downtown-Disney

9.  Disney Springs is coming right along.  Sure, the construction walls are a big ugly pain to maneuver around, but something in the atmosphere has changed – there’s now an air of expectation and excitement.  We can tell the Downtown Disney area is going to be better than it ever was before.  The new hat shop’s a gem – of course I’ll write a post on that too.RM-New-Tree-of-Life-Roots10.  Animal Kingdom is starting to reveal what the future holds – and if the new details to the Tree of Life are any indication, this park (that I love SO much) is going to be even more incredible.

Please let me know what you want to hear most about in greater detail.  Check back over the next couple of weeks for more scoop on what made this latest visit to Walt Disney World a truly extraordinary Disney vacation.

Faux Flora at Walt Disney World

RM-Swiss-Family-Robinson-TreeSome of the best magic at Walt Disney World is achieved with the careful cultivation and placement of thousands (and thousands!) of trees, shrubs, bushes, flowers, and topiaries.  I’ve heard staggering statistics on the army of gardeners and horticulturalists it takes to keep the World looking so beautiful.  Sometimes, Disney park designers and Imagineers come up with incredibly imaginative uses for trees and, out of necessity, those trees must be fake!  That’s what I want to talk about today.  Fake Trees – aka Faux Flora!  There are bunches of fake animals at Disney World, too, but I’ll save the faux fauna discussion for another day.

This is not an all-inclusive list of every artificial plant in every Disney park – I just want to talk about a few of my favorites ones.  Ready?RM-Swiss-Family-Robinson-SignRM-Swiss-Family-Robinson-Treehouse

Swiss Family Robinson Tree – This Adventureland marvel in Magic Kingdom gets overlooked a lot.  Probably because it is low-tech and, well, a bit boring.  The TREE though has been standing there since the park opened in 1971 looking pretty awesome!  Next time you pass by, at least check out the details of the artificial tree, even if you don’t want to climb the 116 steps to see how the Family Robinson lived.RM-Palm-Tree-Tomorrowland

Tomorrowland Palm Trees – They’re sharp-looking and don’t try to be something they’re not.  Perfect for Tomorrowland’s futuristic feel, these were steampunk before that was even a thing.RM-Tree-of-Life1

The Tree of Life – 50 feet wide and 145 feet tall, it’s more a work of art than just a fake tree.  This completely artificial plant plays an important role as the icon for Animal Kingdom.  Built using an oil rig for stable frame, this Animal Kingdom icon boasts over 300 animal carvings, 7891 end branches and more than 102,000 artificial leaves in 5 shades of green.  The tree’s roots shelter the theater for It’s Tough to be a Bug.  If I’m on vacation, I can often be found studying the minute details of the different animal carvings.RM-Baobab-Tree

Boabab Trees – You know these trees – they’re the upside-down-looking ones on Kilimanjaro Safari.  Admit it – the safari just wouldn’t be the same without them!THE DiVine at Animal Kingdom

DiVine – She gets a lot of flack.  I hear people dis this living but artificial figure in Animal Kingdom all the time.  I think she’s cool!  If you don’t know what I’m talking about – check out my DiVine-specific article here.  I haven’t seen her in a while, but make a point to look for her on every visit along the path between Asia and Africa.

Know about any faux flora I’ve left off my list?  What fake trees are your favorite at Disney World?