Animal Kingdom Park in Orlando is the last of the four Disney Parks we will visit. Hope you are up for it and not too exhausted yet. This park is the last of the four park built in Orlando and was opened on May 22, 1998. It was the last one constructed and is the largest of the four parks. It spreads across 500 acres giving the 1,700 plus animals plenty of room to roam in the attractive landscape and effort was made to have the animals in their natural environment.
There are very few rides in this park because the focus is on an animal educational experience. There is however an abundance of sites to see, animals to watch, and lots and lots of walking. Animal Kingdom Park is not like a zoo, there are no animals in cages. Animals are allowed to roam freely in their specified space with no confinement.
Even though there are few rides, because of their popularity, the lines are extremely long, but they are all worth the wait. Fast passes are available to help so the wait time won’t be so bad.
Animal Kingdom was constructed around the terrain so there may be some backtracking. It will seem like you are going over the same area, but the scenery is so delightful that you won’t mind it. Just enjoy the landscape.
Upon entering the park you will be in the Oasis section. There are exhibits of the Giant Anteater and the Spoonbill. Animals can be seen throughout the park and some will be close enough to pet, others you may want to take a pass on the petting!
Taking the bridge path from the Oasis you can cross over the Discovery River and enter the next section, Discovery Island.
Once you cross the river you will be on Discovery Island. The little ones may like watching a short 3-D film, It’s Tough to be a Bug. Careful, this Pixar film is full of creepy things.
The island is full of paths showing off the plush surroundings and many of the animals. These “pathways” are known as the Discovery Island Trails.
Mickey and Minnie will entertain you at the Adventures Outpost headquarters.
Along the way on the island there are several eateries and a few shops that may interest you.
Pandora – The World of Avatar
For all you Avatar fans, you are not alone, so bring along your patience. More often than not, the line will be very long, but the adventure is well worth the wait. Some people have waited 3-4 hours and said they would do it again. True fans! A Fast Pass ticket will help, if you can get one, they go fast as this a such a popular ride.
Avatar Flight of Passage, a 3-D ride, where you sit in a “link chair” much like a bike. You are then locked in and ready to fly on the back of a mountain banshee over the land.
Prior to getting on the ride there is a sample of the chair to see if it will accommodate you before you wait in line and then find out it’s not for you. There are scents and snorting noises as your banshee soars through the mountains and caves and leaves you wondering where you left your stomach. This ride is an unforgettable adventure full of thrills.
After exiting Avatar Flight of Passage, catch your breath and relax on the Na’vi River Journey boat ride into Pandora’s rain forest at night. As you float down the river in the dark the lighting is spectacular and there are gorgeous scenes of plants, a variety of animals, and the memorable Na’vi Shaman of Song.
Both rides are full of adventure and Disney did an excellent job bringing us Avatar.
Festival of the Lion King is a fantastic Broadway like show which is a musical with brilliant artistry. The costumes are colorfully elegant. The dancing and singing will make you feel as though you are actually in Africa. It is amazing to watch all the talent displayed as the actors relate with each other to put on a performance like this for your enjoyment.
A guided tour, Kilimanjaro Safaris, goes on a safari ride around the African Savanna in search of animals common to Africa such as elephants, lions, gorillas, zebras, and giraffes. The lions are real African lion kings.
Walk through the Gorilla Falls Exploraion Trail and see African wildlife like the western lowland gorilla, hippos and birds.
The youngsters may want to visit the Affection Section where domesticated animals are available to pet, maybe even feed, and have fun interacting with them.
Ready for another walking tour? Maharajah Jungle Trek, is a self-guided tour where you can find Asian tigers, monkeys, a Komodo dragon and several exotic birds flying around amid tropical trees.
Kali River Rapids is a wild ride down the river in the jungle landscape on either side of the raft. Hang on to your belongings, they have been known to end up in the rapids, gone forever!
Ready for an adrenaline rush? Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain will get your heart racing. A slow steep climb takes you way up the Everest mountain, goes through the dark high mountain, and then the DROP. This is like a real roller coaster ride. Scary!
Another Pixar film, Finding Nemo – The Musical has some catchy tunes. Unlike the film, this rendition has live music and interesting puppetry.
If the younger set in the group like dinosaurs they might have fun on the Tricera Top Spin which takes them on a ride high above Dinoland.
The Dinosaur is a dark and scary ride on the Time Rover. It takes you on a prehistoric tour to help save the dinosaurs from becoming extinct. The ride is for all ages, but height needs to be at least 40″.
See if you can spot any American Crocodiles or Tyrannosaurus Rex roaming around here.
Throughout the park in each section, there are restaurants and shops to make sure no one goes hungry. Plenty of shops help with all your purchases.
Spoiler alert… Disney’s Animal Kingdom will have extended hours starting Memorial Day Weekend, 2019. Here are some features.
1. The Tree of Life will be illuminated to show off its 145 foot height. The “Tree” is found in the Discovery Section.
2. The Harambe Wildlife Preserves is in the African section and the Kilimanjaro Safaris and is very attractive at night.
3. The Rivers of Light combines it all, light, water, and music. Everything coming to life for a beautiful show. The Asian section is where Rivers of Light is found.
4. Expedition Everest is such a better encounter in the dark of night. This ride is also found in the Asian section.
5. New Nighttime Entertainment will keep you “entertained” with music, dance, live bands and shows. Perfect way to end the day.
And So It Ends
There may not be many rides here at Animal Kingdom, but this park is full of things to do and animals to see. Some you may never have heard of before. As with the other Disney parks, by the end of the day you will have had your quota of exercise for the week.
Animal Kingdom will be celebrating its 25 year anniversary by presenting Nighttime Magic, a show of the “Tree of Life Awakening”.
Hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I have had writing it and giving you some insight to what the park has to offer. If you would like to leave a comment or question, please feel free to do so. If you have a question, I will try to answer it and get back to you as soon as I am able, usually within the same day. Thanks.