Disney’s Animal Kingdom is set on the far side of the Walt Disney World Resort area. Some consider it a half-day park while others enjoy it so much they even return for a second full-day. It all depends on what your interests are.
As suggested by the name, the focus of this park is on nature and animals. While there are a few rides, thrill seekers will be easily bored here. On the other hand, this is a wonderful place for those that can slow down to let the music, sounds, and sights really sink in.
Upon entering, I took everyone’s ticket and headed straight to Expedition Everest to get FastPasses (more on the ride later). Then I went back to meet the group who hadn’t strayed very far from the entrance yet. There’s a green area and rock-like arch as you get further into the park. Don’t go too fast as there are several animals on exhibit here. In the morning, cast members could even be seen displaying various items such as fur, skulls, etc. while giving some facts about that particular creature.
One area that you will pass again and again during the day is Discovery Island, marked by the HUGE tree in the middle. If you look closely, various animals are meticulously carved (molded) into the tree in fine detail. Picture opps abound here. Don’t forget, you can always ask the Disney photographer to use your camera as well.
The highlight of our visit was the Kilimanjaro Safari. Some say that the best time to do the safari is first thing in the morning, while others debate that the late afternoon is better. I think it just depends as each will present a different experience – they are wild animals after all. We decided to do the safari first and maybe go again later if we felt like it.
We got on our safari jeep and I began to wonder what this attraction would be like, especially when we heard our driver/tour guide begin her introduction. She had a REALLY strong lisp that seemed to pierce our ears over the speaker.
Unbelievable! I don’t know what happened but we saw most everything, and in abundance at that! I was amazed at how close we got to some of the animals! In case you were wondering though, at no time did we feel in danger.
Even the tour guide ‘seemed’ surprised at just how many animals were out and about, including three cheetahs and the lion who decided to wake up for us. I say ‘seemed’ because I’m never sure if that’s part of their script to make you feel special or if it’s genuine. That didn’t really concern me, though, because I was loving every minute of it! How awesome is it that we were able to see about seven hippos all lined up, lazing in a pond?! Seven! Not one, not two, but seven! Although, the elephant herd and five giraffes were impressive too.
Nothing could top that so we opted not to go again later. We then left ‘Africa’ and headed into ‘Asia’. Our first stop was the show, Flights of Wonder. It was an entertaining bird show but the storyline and side character was a bit dorky. The singing parrot more than made up for it though as he sang “How much is that doggie in the window?” in its entirety.
After walking the trail here with bats and tigers, it was time for us to get lunch! My sister had made a reservation at Rainforest Café and we were glad she did. Though Animal Kingdom has much shorter hours than the other parks, this break was just what we needed to get second wind.
We made our way over to It’s Tough to Be a Bug! You have to see this show! It’s a 4D attraction so, in addition to watching a short film in 3D, you also get other sensory effects. I loved how the 3D glasses were ‘bug eyes’ that even included antennae. If you have someone in a wheelchair or ECV, have them sit in one of the normal seats if possible. You’ll find out why when you watch the show.
One show I did not want to miss was the Festival of the Lion King. I had in mind the Broadway show that so many rave about. This was not it. The singing and music was fantastic but the rest was kind of, uhm, cheap. The audience sat on benches and bleachers. Big floats were brought out with animatronic animals that barely moved. When they did, it was very clunky. The acts, including the monkey trapeze/acrobat/trampoline-jumping guys, all seemed like routine fillers. And why, oh why, did we all have to do the jive?
There were a few character greetings but my daughter decided not to get any autographs that day. We found out she gets grumpy in the heat, just like her papa. That was fine though as we were all less than bubbly at that point.
Finding Nemo – The Musical. What was that? I whispered to my husband that the only song from the movie I could recall was when Dory was saying, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…” We had to giggle when this part came up in the show.
The costumes and props were wonderful. The characters really looked as they did in the movie and that monstrous pelican just popped out of nowhere! It was especially clever how the tank scenes were set up. The ‘musical’ part was strange though. The singers toted around their respective fish head (or other creature) and basically talked to a tune. I felt that it was ‘eh’ but the others liked it. I guess the grumpiness was infecting me now. Oh well, at least I know that the song featured in the Nemo ride at Epcot was from here.
We finished our day on Expedition Everest. This coaster is so unique and crazy fun! After we jumped off, we immediately ran around to get on again. It actually goes backwards at one point and has parts of complete darkness. The ride experience is different depending on where you sit.
The park closed about 6:00pm but we had only seen about 80% of it. That was fine though. Our feet couldn’t take any more walking for the day and, since none of us were really into dinosaurs, we just skipped that part. We had a great day and were content with our Animal Kingdom day.