Disney’s Animal Kingdom was dedicated and opened on April 22, 1998 – no coincidence that it also just happens to be Earth Day. As Disney’s fourth park, it is home to approximately 1,500, representing 250 species. With a message of conservation and the environment, Animal Kingdom is a place of discovery.
And while the Magic Kingdom will always be first in my heart, Disney’s Animal Kingdom is quickly becoming my second favorite park.
I think it often gets a bad rap for being a ‘half-day park’, but in reality, it is more like a two-day park if you want to experience everything that this beautiful park has to offer guests. Here’s a look at why I truly LOVE this park —
Attention to Details
Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a park filled with little details around every corner. It certainly isn’t a park to rush through, a leisurely stroll will let you discover so many hidden treasures. These bikes can be found right next door to the Kusafiri Coffee Shop and Bakery – just across from the
These bikes can be found right next door to the Kusafiri Coffee Shop and Bakery – just across from the Kilimanjaro Safaris. The quote on the wall, the posters – it is such a ‘real’ touch.
Finding Nemo: The Musical
Based on the Pixar classic, Finding Nemo: The Musical is an absolute ‘must do’ for our family. It is a 30-minute show filled with beautiful puppetry, songs that you’ll be humming for days (Just keep swimming..) and it is a nice break from the heat of the day.
PRO TIP: FastPass+ is available, but unless you want to sit close to the stage, I don’t think you need to worry about using FastPass+ for this show. There’s truly not a bad seat in the auditorium.
Be A Wilderness Explorer
There’s nothing better than sneaking in a little education while you’re on vacation and the Wilderness Explorers program makes learning fun! This free program allows guests to learn about wildlife and conservation all while enjoying their day at the park.
With zero technology involved, it is 100% focused on interacting with Cast Members throughout the park. Pick up a handbook at the front of the park or one of the nine Troop Leader headquarters around the park. Open your guide to the map and start exploring! At each station, you can earn at least one badge from your guide and have the chance to learn from the educators. And best of all – it is free!
Explore and Learn at Conservation Station
At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, hop aboard the Wildlife Express Train to explore Conservation Station for a look at the animal habitats and the expert care these animals receive each day. While at Conservation Station, you’ll find Cast Members stationed throughout the area ready to help you learn about the animals and experiences you encounter throughout the day. Explore the interactive exhibits, the petting zoo and be on the lookout for character sightings – including Rafiki!
This self-guided area explores the working side of the park – from the veterinarians, biologists and caring for the animals. The Cast Members in this area are so knowledgeable and excited to talk with guests about the animals. You can tell they love their job! PRO TIP: I’ve been told that if you visit the area in the early morning hours, you can observe animals in the veterinarians receive check-ups!
The Kilimanjaro Safari is such a unique experience — with animals roaming the African savanna, each time you climb aboard a safari truck it will be a different experience. You’ll see giraffes, lions, zebras, warthogs, cheetahs and more.
On our last trip, we had a FastPass+ for the safari in the morning and ended up going again in the late afternoon right before the park closed for the day and saw many different animals on each trip. PRO TIP: FastPass+ is highly recommended for this experience. Wait times tend to increase throughout the day.
The Wild Africa Trek
If you’re looking for a truly unique experience, don’t miss the Wild Africa Trek. This guided, three-hour tour is limited to groups of 12 people, allowing for an up close and intimate safari tour. The adventure begins with a short hike through the Pangani Forest, then on to a harnessed walk across rope bridges suspended high above hippos and crocodiles.
From there, it’s on to a fun safari truck ride through the savanna where you have an up-close look at the animals. After the truck ride, it is time to enjoy a peaceful break at the safari camp. There’s an additional cost for this tour. PRO TIP: As the weather warms up, you can save $50 off the price of an afternoon Wild Africa Trek, offer valid from April 24 through October 22, 2016.
Festival of The Lion King
Gymnasts, incredible singers and puppetry retell this classic story of Simba, Scar, Timon, Pumbaa and friends at the Festival of The Lion King. This live, stage show keeps me singing and my girls love seeing the gymnasts. Aerial acrobats and the pageantry make this show another ‘must do’ for our family.
PRO TIP: This show plays numerous times throughout the day.While it may not be necessary on slower days, I’m still a big believer in using FastPass+ for this one.
So, there you have it. Just a few of the reasons I love Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park. I didn’t even talk about the fantastic food that can be found at the park and the popular DinoLand U.S.A. I guess another story is in my future to explore even more of the fun at this great park.