Walt Disney World - Animal Kingdom, Orlando
One of the things we like about Animal Kingdom is that there are real animals there. My mother and my grandmother both took the Kilimanjaro Safari, which is an open air vehicle that drives past the different animal habitats. It was something that was suited to their sedentary habits
The Disneyworld site says:
Climb aboard an open-air safari vehicle and hang on tight as you take off on a guided tour into the African outback—where over 34 different species of exotic African wildlife seemingly roam free. As your bumpy transport makes its way through rugged terrain, glimpse an array of exotic animals in a variety of unique habitats, your helpful guide providing you with valuable information during the journey.
After they did the Safari ride, we all had dinner at the Rainforest Cafe.
Animal Kingdom is the newest park in the Walt Disney World collection. Animal Kingdom is definitely a park for all ages. The park is broken into sections: Asia, Africa, Dinoland, Camp Minney-Mickey and Discovery Island. There are some nice animal attractions and rides. We first visited Animal Kingdom on a very hot day in 2008 and fortunately it was not crowded at all.
One of my favorite things here is the Tree of Life. You can't miss it; the tree is 145 feet tall and covered with over fifty animal carvings. It really is amazing. The base of the tree has a theatre for a kids show called: It's Tough to be a Bug". Liz has sat through it before and thought I wouldn't enjoy it.
The Kilamanjaro Safari was a nice way to see the park animals via a jeep ride. We saw some rhinos, warthogs, lions, gazelles and a hippo. I was warned that the safari has a cheesy element: the radio of the jeep anounced that there are poachers in the park. The jeep driver then speeds to see if we can catch the poachers. We arrive to see the poachers are caught and the animals are safe on the reserve. It made for some fun for the kids on the tour who looked really excited at the show.
The Kali Water Rapids were so much fun. I was warned ahead of time by Liz (who had ridden the ride many time before) that we need to wear rain ponchos and wear flip flops because this ride will soak you. The line was relatively short and our wait went by very quickly. We looped through various rooms that had colorful and interesting Asia artifacts, statues and costumes. When we were able to see the boats we geared up in our rain ponchos. We hopped into a large round inner tube looking boat with ten other people. The rise was so much fun with waterfalls, dips, spins and tons of water. We made it off the ride with some wet legs but some of our fellow riders were soaked to the skin.
Expedition Everest was an incredible ride. We boarded the "steam train" and rode through the forest, mountains and stops at a chunk of twisted metal. After many twists turns and steep drop you manage to escape the Yeti. It's a fast paced and fun ride...but don't eat before going on this adventure.
Animal Kingdom if uncrowded can definitely be done in a half day as we did.
From the beginning of September to beginning of November, Disney World has select nights where they celebrate Halloween with fireworks, parade, trick-or-treating, and to ride the rides in Magic Kingdom. I went a few weeks ago and it was such a great time. You pay a lower price to go from 7pm - midnight (we were able to get into the park at 4pm when we called the park and asked) and it was awesome! The lines were really short because they only sell a certain amount of tickets for this event so it was great to not wait in line and since it was later in the day, the sun started to set and the weather felt great!
Kids and adults are allowed to wear costumes (adults usually can not dress up) and you could find different places in the park to trick-or-treat and get candy. They had Disney characters all about to take pictures with kids in their costumes. It was a great time and a cheaper option to get into Magic Kingdom.
Having spent the morning in the lackluster Hollywood Studios, we decided to spend the rest of the day in the other park we weren't sure would fill our time - Animal Kingdom. Our first stop was on the Dinosaur ride, which as an adult was a blast, but it scared the heck out of the little ones. After that, we needed to calm it down a bit, so we did the Kilamanjaro Safari, which was really cool (felt like a real safari, complete with spotting poacher camps.) The animals are plentiful on this attraction. We enjoyed the Oasis, Maharajah Jungle Trek, and the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail - very zoo-like opportunities to see some animals.
We ended up spending quite a bit of time over in Camp Minnie-Mickey. We happened to walk up right as the Festival of the Lion King show started, so we went in. My four year old got a little restless, but the six year old seemed to enjoy it. What really is appealing in this area of the park is the character trails. Here, you can pose for a picture with Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy. There usually are a few others milling about as well (Thumper's girlfriend and Pocahontas were two we saw.) The lines weren't bad at all, especially in comparison to some we saw later in the trip.
It turned out that an afternoon was just about the perfect amount of time for us to spend here - if they were a little older, we might have been able to stretch it to a full day. This park did close around 7:00 - which is much earlier than the other parks at WDW. As with the other parks, food choices abound, but be aware of which need reservations.
When you are resident at one of the Walt Disney World resorts, you can visit as many of the others as you like for free!!
Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge is styled as an African lodge within a 43-acre wildlife preserve. It offers authentic African-inspired architecture with 'kraal' African-village landscape design. The resort is a semi-circle design and offers great views of the surrounding bushland with its many animal inhabitants. Here you can enjoy watching giraffe, kudu, buffalo, zebra and many bird species.
The DinoLand, U.S.A. area at Animal Kingdom is a bit different from what you usually find at Walt Disney World in that it is somewhat reminiscent of small town traveling carnivals. There are some traditional carnival games such as Whack-a-Mole and skee ball games (for which you have to pay to play), and even some of the rides have that slightly outdated carnival look - doesn't mean they're not fun, though! We went on the Primeval Whirl, a spinning roller-coaster, and although it was a fairly tame ride we all enjoyed it.
But our favourite attraction at DinoLand, U.S.A. was DINOSAUR, a thrilling fast and bumpy ride through time that goes back to the dinosaur era. Our least favourite was "Finding Nemo - The Musical". We weren't planning on going, but as we were walking past the theatre someone gave us a set of fastpasses so we thought we'd give it a shot. Visually the show was kind of nice, but the songs were kind of boring, verging on depressing. It doesn't help that young children were crying throughout the show because they were scared of the sharks and other villains in the Finding Nemo story. We ended up leaving before the end and the cast member who opened the door for us could hardly suppress a knowing smile...!
There are four major attractions in the Asia area of Animal Kingdom and they're all amazing! Perhaps the most popular one are the Kali River Rapids (you'll probably need a fastpass), a really cool white-water rafting experience. Be careful though: while some passengers might only get a few drops during the ride, others can get soaked! To see who was the "lucky" one in our group, just take a look at my 2nd pic...
The Maharaja Jungle Trek is a bit similar to Africa's Pangani Trail, but I thought the setting was better. The path takes you through the ruins of an abandoned city, where animals and vegetation have taken over what used to be human land. You get to see tigers, fruit bats and various bird species, among other things. Asia is also where you will find "Flights of Wonder", a live bird show that we all thought was very impressive, interesting and funny at the same time. I especially liked the singing parrot!
Finally, the Asia section is home to "Expedition Everest", a roller-coaster set in the humongous Forbidden Mountain. This is the only ride at Walt Disney World I could not bring myself to go on - the trains are pulled on a track that is over 100 feet high at its highest point, which is something that would not have gone well with my slight fear of heights. My niece and nephew did go on it though, and they enjoyed it so much that they did it twice in a row! They told me that at the beginning the ride goes forward, but after an encounter with the abonimable snowman, the train starts racing through the mountain backward! If you'll take their word for it, it was a great ride :o)
The Africa section of Animal Kingdom is home to one of the coolest attractions at Walt Disney World: the Kilimanjaro Safaris! You take place aboard a safari vehicle while your driver/guide takes you on a photo safari - now of course, having never been on a safari I can't compare it with the real thing, but the illusion was good enough for me :o) We got to see reticulated giraffes, African elephants, crocodiles, lions, rhinos, flamingos and more! And as if this wasn't enough, there's also quite a bit of action towards the end when our driver gets notice that poachers are believed to have kidnapped a baby elephant and we go on a wild race in an effort to uncover them. It was so much fun!
Next to Kilimanjaro Safaris, you'll find the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, a short but nice jungle trek that allows you to see some more animals such as gorillas and hippos. Also in that section you can ride the Wildlife Express Train that takes you to Rafiki's Planet Watch, the educational section at Animal Kingdom. Kids can learn about wildlife and animal habitats, pet some of the animals and interact with Disney veterinarians. Oh, and there's air conditioning there!
Animal Kingdom is the most recent of Walt Disney World's theme parks. It opened in 1998 and technically, it is the biggest of all the parks since it covers over 500 acres, but because there are less attractions it's the only park we were able to visit in just one day. As soon as you set foot in the Oasis section of Animal Kingdom, you immediately get the feeling you've been transported to some far away tropical jungle. There are a variety of animal habitats to visit, though when you're on a fastpass hunt, chances are you're more likely to visit them on your way out.
Discovery Island sits at the center of the park and it is home to the Tree of Life, a huge artificial tree almost entirely made up of animal wood carvings. Though it does not stand out the way Cinderella's Castle or the Sorcerer's Hat do, the Tree of Life is the official Animal Kingdom icon. Right underneath the tree there's a theatre where you can catch the 3D movie "It's Tough to be a Bug", inspired by the popular movie "A Bug's Life". As with most 3D movies at Walt Disney World, this one also comes with pretty cool "4D" effects that'll keep you laughing 'til the end!
The Kilimanjaro Safaris Ride that is located in the Animal Kingdom is part fun, part educational with some good photo opportunities. Although not nearly as exciting as going to Africa itself I'm sure, it is a very good opportunity to see a variety of different animals in a more natural habitat then in most zoos.
Along with this you get a pseudo ride through the African savannah and a story line about some poachers, who get caught in the end. Good fun!
What would a trip to Disney World be without a parade. This one is entitled Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade features popular Disney Characters, elaborate animal puppets, and nearly 60 Cast Members. It is scheduled for each the afternoon.
Dina- Sue is an outdoor cast , the largest Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton ever found, the original on display at the Field Museum of Natural History, which acquired the skeleton at auction with the assistance of Disney and McDonalds.
I guess this area fit in the " Ancient" animal section . We headed over here primarily for the Attraction Dinosaur . The archway into this site is a pretty authentic looking Dinosaur .Lots to do in this area for all ages, but less animals.
Located on Discovery Island this was one of my favorite shows. It is only about 8 minutes long but its well done and full of surprises . Its a little scary for young children since its located inside the dark caverns of The Tree of Life and I saw some leave before the show even began but its truly wonderful .
At first we thought this was areal tree but in actualfact it is a man made fourteen story (145-foot tall tree that has been engineered from a refitted Oil platform. There are carved images of 325 animals , including a hidden Mickey . Inside the Tree of Life is the 3-D production ,It's Tough to be a Bug!.