Last week my family and I decided to visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom. We were really looking forward to our adventure since our last visit to this park was in November!
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As we entered the park, we picked up the new map, which is now oriented true north. A nice feature of the new map is each section highlights the animals you can encounter throughout the park. The new map corresponds with the My Disney Experience app now available for free. I downloaded the app a few weeks ago so we used my son’s iPod Touch while in the park. Animal Kingdom provides free Wi-Fi connection. There were certain remote sections of Animal Kingdom that did not have a signal, but I found it was generally available in most open areas.
One of the most unique features of Animal Kingdom is the ability for park guests to experience live animals in a natural setting. For this trip I decided to focus on the live animal experience Animal Kingdom offers. These experiences are easy to overlook while enjoying the thrilling rides and shows at the park.
After you enter Animal Kingdom, the first section is the Oasis. This area provides a transition from the entrance gate and invites guests to take their time as they become immersed into the park. Like most teens, my son is a theme park thrill seeker and headed straight for Dinosaur, skipping this area. I took my time and saw the various animals and plants in the Oasis and on Discovery Island. Seeing the Tree of Life as you walk onto Discovery Island is such a delight and provides an exceptional backdrop for photos. The animal carvings that make up the trunk of the tree are amazing.
Also located here on Discovery Island is the popular 3D attraction It’s Tough To Be A Bug.
Crossing into DinoLand U.S.A., I met my husband and son after their exciting ride on Dinosaur. The posted standby wait time for Dinosaur was only 20 minutes, but it was still early in the day.
Primeval Whirl and TriceraTop Spin are also popular rides in this area, along with The Boneyard playground. A not-to-be missed show at Animal Kingdom is the Finding Nemo musical located between DinoLand U.S.A. and the bridge to Asia.
As my husband and son rode Disney’s best rollercoaster (in our opinion), Expedition Everest, I decided to see the Flights of Wonder show. This live exotic bird show was entertaining, informative and something the entire family would enjoy.
The birds were beautiful and amusing. Some birds flew over the heads of the audience and one even took a dollar bill from a guest. During our show, the owl decided not to follow the routine and flew to the top of the set. It had to be rescued by a cast member behind the scenes. The hosts, who had to ad lib during this time, were funny but also instructive throughout the show.
After the Flights of Wonder show, my family and I ate lunch across the walkway in Upcountry Landing, a covered, peaceful area with tables and chairs overlooking the Discovery River and The Tree of Life.
Later in the afternoon we came back to Asia. While my son and husband were enjoying getting soaked on the Kali River Rapids, I walked along the Maharajah Jungle Trek. I was able to see a komodo dragon, tigers, bats, and various birds.
Cast members were located throughout the trek to provide additional information and answer any questions. The trek was an engaging walkway the entire family can enjoy. The walking treks offered a unique opportunity to get away from the hustle and bustle of the crowds and become immersed in nature for a short time — not a common occurrence in a theme park.
The Expedition Everest standby wait times varied throughout the day, from 25 minutes in the morning to 50 minutes later in the afternoon. For the single rider line, the posted wait time was only 5 minutes. The posted wait time for the standby line at Kali River Rapids in the afternoon was 40 minutes. There was no wait for the Jungle Trek, and the Flights of Wonder show was scheduled five times that day.
Crossing over into Africa, we caught the very end of the Tam Tam Drummers of Harambe show in the center of the village. We then went to Kilimanjaro Safaris, one of the most popular attractions at Animal Kingdom. We really enjoyed our safari ride through the savannah. We saw many types of animals including elephants, ostriches, giraffes, rhinos and hippos.
One thing to note, we sat in the last row of the truck and it was an especially bumpy ride at times. My son thoroughly enjoyed the safari ride, laughing every time we sped up or hit a bump.
After the Safari tour my husband and son went back to Expedition Everest to confront the Yeti several more times; I walked along the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail. This is another engaging self-guided walk where I saw various animals including monkeys, fish and gorillas.
There are also exotic birds along this trail. As before, Disney cast members are located throughout the trail and are very knowledgeable and will try to answer any question you have.
After exiting the Pangani Forest Trail in Africa, I walked to the Wildlife Express Train and rode it to Rafiki’s Planet Watch. Walking from the train station to the Conservation Station, I spent some time in Habitat Habit watching monkeys. Just outside the Conservation Station, the Affection Section enables guests to literally have a hands-on experience with live animals. The cast members were also very diligent about reminding everyone to wash their hands before leaving the affection section. Inside the Conservation Station guests could see the veterinary areas.
Rafiki was also available for a character meet-and-greet. Throughout the station were various interactive booths and exhibits for guests to learn more about the animals featured at Animal Kingdom.
Meeting up with my son and husband, we left Africa and crossed onto Discovery Island and saw the beginning of Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle parade near Pizzafari. This parade has the most unique floats seen in the Orlando area, fun music, and favorite Disney characters and is not to be missed while visiting Animal Kingdom.
After the parade, we walked down to Camp Minnie-Mickey. Gi-Tar Dan was performing outside The Festival of the Lion King show. The lines for the characters’ meet and greet in Camp Minnie-Mickey were very short but started filling up soon after the Lion King show finished.
Not only is Animal Kingdom a must see for family members that love animals but it provides a unique experience with one of the best roller coasters in Orlando, excellent live stage shows and an amazing opportunity to see rare and unique animals from around the world all in one location. I hope that you can experience all the exceptional features Animal Kingdom has to offer on your next visit to Orlando.
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Disney’s Animal Kingdom trip report – photo gallery
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