The Errico’s are back with one more post on Disney.
Enjoy their adventures as they travel Disney’s Animal Kingdom!
With Maria back in school and concentrating on her studies, I’ve taken over for the final part of our magical journey around Disney World. We conclude with the newest park, Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
The Oasis Exhibits
OK, so you might be in a rush to hit the more popular attractions but if it’s the slow season or you are more of a laid back, “I can fast pass that,” kind of person, take a quick stop here before beginning your adventure. If you catch it right, you can see some cool animals like an anteater and a wild boar. The earlier in the day the better because just like us, the animals tend to slow down the pace as the day gets warmer.
The Tree of Life / It’s Tough to be a Bug
As you emerge from the Oasis Exhibits trail, you will see the spectacular center piece of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, “The Tree of Life.” In my opinion, this is one of Disney World’s greatest man-made masterpieces. Do yourselves a favor and as you walk through the queue line to the “It’s Tough to be a Bug,” show; take your time to really see the tree. There are over 300 animals carved into the tree and some of them are tough to find so be on the lookout!
Once inside the tree, prepare yourselves for the wild 3-D show, “It’s Tough to be a Bug.” Be forewarned that the younger kids may not enjoy this show as much as the rest of your crew but if loud noises and king-sized bugs don’t bother them (or you), it’s a great time. Make sure to prepare yourself when Claire de Room hits the screen. I think you will figure out how.
Discovery Island Trails
This place is truly about animals and the Discovery Island Trails give you some great looks at several species. Tortoises, lemurs, and tamarins, oh my!
Festival of the Lion King
From the day we arrive in this park and blinking step into the theater…ok you get the idea. The Festival of the Lion King is a breathtaking show held in the Camp Minnie-Mickey section of the Animal Kingdom. The music, tumblers, costumes, and characters are charming and mesmerizing. It’s a Broadway-quality production in the heart of Florida. See it once then see it again. You’ll be humming, “Hakuna Matata,” for the rest of your day.
This is where the kids, young and old, have a great opportunity to meet some of their favorite characters all dressed up and ready for a safari. Normally the lines here aren’t horribly long and the backdrop for pictures is fantastic.
There are a few ‘must-do’ things in the Animal Kingdom and this is one of them. Kilimanjaro Safaris transport you from Central Florida to the African Savannah. While on your jeep ride, you’ll get a close up view of gazelles, hippos, elephants, giraffes, lions, and several other animals native to Africa. Have your camera ready for some great shots but make sure you’ve got it secured because this ride is a bit on the bumpy side.
Pagnani Forest Exploration Trail
What I enjoy doing after the Kilimanjaro Safaris (well after I grab a Mickey head ice cream bar) is to walk the Pagnani Forest Exploration Trail. You’ll see birds, fish, a hippo area, and my favorite, the gorillas. It’s a great way to take a little break while seeing some wonderful animals.
RAFIKI’S PLANET WATCH
Wildlife Express Train
In order to get to Rafiki’s Planet Watch, you need to board the Wildlife Express Train. It’s a pleasant ride over and you get to see a little bit of the behind the scenes portion of the park. Take a peek at where they house the elephants. It’s pretty cool.
Welcome to one of the more educational parts of your visit to the Animal Kingdom. This trail offers us tips on how we can work better with nature while giving us views of some tamarins.
Welcome to the main destination of your Wildlife Express Train trip. As you enter, take in the colorful art adorning the walls and enjoy the air-conditioned comfort too! Conservation Station is a great stop for budding veterinarians as we get to see a little bit of how animals are cared for and nurtured in the Animal Kingdom. This building also features several hands-on sessions where we get to meet some cool critters found throughout the world. If you’re really lucky, characters from Pochahontas or Tarzan may stop in to say hello.
More hands-on for you as this little petting zoo area features some warm and cuddly creatures for you to pet. Make sure you follow the posted rules and I’d advise you to use the hand sanitizer when you’re done.
Maharajah Jungle Trek
Another great walk through attraction where you can see interesting animals such as bats, Komodo dragons and tigers. Pay attention to your surroundings while on this trek as the Disney Imagineers make it look and feel like the ruins of an ancient Asian palace.
Kali River Rapids
This is another of those ‘must-do’ attractions but with a caveat: if you don’t like being wet, don’t do it! You move quickly down the Chakranadi River in an oversized tube. It moves quickly and there is actually a story used as the ride’s backdrop. This is a fabulous ride for those who don’t really mind a little water…alright a LOT of water in their clothes.
Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
Prepare to go on a high-speed search for the Yeti that guards the mountain. The newest roller coaster at Disney World does not disappoint the thrill seeker as it twists and turns you several times on your trip. The Yeti is pretty impressive too as it is the largest audio-animatronic in all Disney World. Get here early or get over and grab a Fast Pass because this one gets busy in a hurry. One thing to note about Everest: it seems to break down a bit more than other Disney World attractions so keep an eye open for potential closures.
It’s a playground designed to make us feel like we are part of a dig for dinosaurs. There are lots of cool things to climb over and dig through. You don’t need to be a kid to have some fun here plus there are places to sit while the kids work off some energy. This is never a bad thing.
Fossil Fun Games
This is a rarity on Disney World property. It’s a carnival games area where for a few bucks per game, you have a chance to win stuffed animals in line with the overall theme of the Dinoland, U.S.A. section. To be honest, I’ve never really seen any of the games with a big crowd because honestly, if you win a big, stuffed dinosaur and are getting on a plane to go home what do you do with it?
Finding Nemo – the Musical
Think “Little Mermaid” show but in an outdoor theater. “Finding Nemo – the Musical,” combines music, live performers and puppetry to retell the story of our favorite clownfish. It’s a decent show but to be honest, my family misses the “Tarzan Rocks” show that this replaced.
I love classic rides and Primeval Whirl is just that. Disney has taken the wild mouse-style coaster and transformed it to fit with the dinosaur theme. When this section of the park (known as “Chester and Hester’s Dino-Rama”) gets busy, you’ll find two coasters running. You’d be surprised at just how many people like riding this coaster.
Also part of Chester and Hester’s is TriceraTop Spin. This is pretty much the Magic Kingdom’s Dumbo ride only with triceratops instead of elephants. That said, it never has a line and it’s a good time so definitely give this a spin (oh that was bad).
The final of my suggested ‘must-do’ Animal Kingdom attractions is DINOSAUR. We are on a mission for the Dinosaur Institute. That mission: bring back a dinosaur from 65 million years ago! Your mode of transportation for this task is a Time Rover and let me tell you, it isn’t the smoothest ride in the world. Once we get back, you’ll see several different audio-animatronic dinosaurs that you will swear are the real deal. This version of the ride isn’t nearly as intense as it was when it first opened but it’s still thrilling and a whole bunch of fun. As you head down the steps to the ride area, take a look at the red, white and yellow pipes overhead and notice the chemical formulas written on them. It will be the perfect ‘condiment’ to your day.
Animal Kingdom also has a great three o’clock parade every day called, “Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade.” I think it’s the most underrated parade in the parks. It’s colorful and interactive and gives visitors their best chance to actually be in the parade (ask guest services for details on this). My family loves it and I think you will too.
As for dining, Animal Kingdom covers that pretty well. They have a Rainforest Café near the park entrance that my family loves (“Volcano!”). The Discovery Island section of the park features the Flame Tree Barbeque, which has one of the most incredible barbeque sauces you’ll ever taste. Do yourself a favor and grab a table down where you get a fantastic view of Expedition Everest. If you’re really hungry, try the Tusker House. It’s an all-you-can eat buffet filled with different meats, salads and desserts made with an African flavor. Tusker House also offers a breakfast buffet character dining experience if that’s more to your liking.
If it’s pizza you crave, Pizzafari is where you want to go. Personal pizzas, salads and breadsticks are the main options for you here and it’s all very good. Let me offer one final piece of eating advice. In this park near the area by Pizzafari is a kiosk where you can get the most amazing chocolate chip ice cream sandwich you’ll ever have. They make them to order and while the cookies aren’t warm, they are big and delicious. Word of warning though: you probably shouldn’t order one for every person in your group. They’re that big!
It has been fun writing these with my daughter for you. I hope those of you that read this find Disney World as magical as we do.
A very Special thanks to you, John and Maria, for showing us the magic in the various Disney theme Parks. I am filled with gratitude, and I am sure all the Disney fans who have enjoyed your posts are, too.
For everyone else, what is your favorite Disney park? Tell me in the comments!
Please share this post with other travelers who are true Disney enthusiasts. Thank you!
If you missed the last post, read it here: Decorating for Tranquility and Relaxation
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