Today we're off to the Animal Kingdom. The Animal Kingdom is Walt Disney World's newest and largest park. Opened in 1998, The Animal Kingdom offers visitors a theme park experience like no other. The Animal Kingdom focuses entirely on animal conservation while offering visitors animal attractions, rides, shows, and Disney fun. The park is divided into 7 different areas: The Oasis, Discovery Island, Camp Minnie-Mickey, Africa, Rafiki's Planet Watch, Asia, and Dinoland, U.S.A.
Although the Oasis is the first area you enter, the Tree of Life on Discovery Island is the park's main focal point. It is equivalent to Cinderella's Castle at the Magic Kingdom or Spaceship Earth (the EPCOT ball) at EPCOT. The Tree of Life is 14 stories tall and 50 feet wide. This spectacular piece of art consists of about 325 sculpted animals. Visitors heading on their way to the Bug's Life 3-D show, have an opportunity for a close up look at the animals. My girls love making a list of animals before we go and racing to see who can find the most animals on their list. And don't miss a great photo-op in front of The Tree. Disney can even add characters to your photos. One year my daughter got a picture that looked like she was holding baby Simba and one year it looked like Tinkerbell was standing in her hand. Discovery Island is also the home of my favorite restaurant at The Animal Kingdom. The Flame Tree Barbecue, is a quick meal restaurant, with good food and great scenery. It so relaxing to eat your lunch on the water while looking out towards "Asia" and Mount Everest.
Camp Minnie-Mickey is the place to visit if you have little ones who are ready for some character interaction. At Camp Minnie-Mickey, you will find Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Chip and Dale, Pocahontas, and many more (depending on the time you go). And if you don't have any little ones, you still won't want to miss The Festival of the Lion King. The Festival of the Lion King is one of Disney's most spectacular shows. The music, costumes, stunts, and interaction are amazing. At the end of one show my older daughter had the opportunity to go out with a "monkey" and play an instrument during the closing song. Such a little thing made such a huge impact on her. She loved it. And the following year, my husband was chosen to be the head elephant for our elephant section. By far, the funniest thing that ever happened at Disney!
The most popular attraction is located in Africa. The Kilimanjari Safari takes you on an exciting expedition through the African Savanna where the animals roam freely. When they say freely, they mean freely. Our first Safari trip we were actually chased by an angry ostrich. It was not happy that we were driving near where he was eating. After you exit the Safari you have the option of walking the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail. This trail has many exciting viewing areas including, gorillas and hippos. After you explore the walking trail, hop on the Express train to Rafiki's Planet Watch to have a behind-the-scenes look at Disney's animal care facilities. The kids can even visit the petting zoo and brush a few goats or sheep.
Asia is the home of Animal Kingdom's only roller coaster. Expedition Everest - The Legend of he Forbidden Mountain is a high speed roller coaster that takes you into the heart of Mount Everest...Yeti territory. There are many hidden surprises on this roller coaster, but I won't ruin it by sharing the secrets. Asia also has the very wet Kali River Rapids and the Maharajah Jungle Trek. The turbulent rapids will guarantee you get wet, but you can dry off by exploring exotic animals including giant fruit bats, birds, tapirs, Komodo dragons, and tigers. If you like birds, don't miss the Flight of Wonders show. It is truly a sight to see!
The final area of Animal Kingdom is Dinoland, U.S.A. Dinoland has rides, carnival games, a Boneyard playgroud, and the amazing Finding Nemo Musical. The Finding Nemo Musical is a stage show created by combining live performances with outstanding puppetry. This is a show that is a must-see for anyone who visits Disney World. The entire show is phenomenal. Disney spared no expense while creating life-like puppets and underwater scenery. The music and visuals will keep any age viewer memorized.
Have you ever been to the Animal Kingdom? What was your favorite part? What attraction is on your must-see list? Grab a latte, put up your feet, and join the discussion!