Being a former cast member, I often get asked for advice from people who are planning a trip to Disney World. What should I do when I get there? How does this certain program work? Meal Plan? Fastpasses? Which rides can I skip? And so on. That being said I thought that I should do a blog for each park do not worry we’ll get to resorts later. (I do apologize in advance, as I have lots of tips and tricks to share so these might be longer than my normal blogs, but trust me well worth it.)
The next park that I am going to spill the beans on is Animal Kingdom. This happens to be my Dad’s very favorite park, and our family’s favorite Lodge!
Animal Kingdom is the newest of the fabulous four. It came on the scene in 1998 and is has been changing/evolving ever since. It is actually the largest park, and because of its nature it happens to be the hottest. I personally prefer to do this park early in the morning. In the works is a whole new land based on the movie AVATAR! Recently Africa has had a bit of a facelift, one that I have yet to see, they expanded and moved the Festival of the Lion King and added a bit more shopping and quick service options.
Originally the park was supposed to have a land based on mythical creatures, like Pegasus, Dragons, Unicorns etc. Personally I would have LOVED that! However they chose to give us Dinoland instead with the awesome Dinosaur ride.
Let’s break the park down by lands. When you first enter the park, the land that you have to go through is called the Oasis. Inside the Oasis you will find little alcoves that has birds, fish, monkeys etc. Kind of like a really nicely hidden zoo. Fun Fact: along the way you will find cast members whose job it is to tell you about those animals.
Eventually as you make your way through the trees and alcoves you will come to a bridge that leads you directly to THE TREE. If you don’t know which tree I am referring to, trust me it’s big. The Tree of Life is the hub of the park, and you can see it from all sides. It actually sits on it’s own little island called Discovery Island. On which you will find more hidden zoo’s as well as a 3D movie attraction called It’s a Bugs Life. Personally I skip this island/land as to me there are more “safari” like things that I like to do. However this attraction is quite cool, you will experience the sights, sounds, smells and stinger of a bug’s life.
Fun Fact: There is an island called Discovery Island over by the Contemporary Resort and Fort Wilderness. Before Animal Kingdom was built that was where the attraction was with all of these animals. After Animal Kingdom was built the animals were all relocated to their new homes, however the island is still abandoned.
The next land that I hit is called Africa! Which is home to one of the top attractions in Animal Kingdom!
SAFARI!!!! – This is definitely the ride you either need to do when the park just opened or get a Fastpass for! The line is outside, so the later in the day the hotter you will be. For this ride you will be in a big truck, these trucks have a special story, they were special made just for this ride. By taking apart existing trucks and putting them back together again they were able to create these very cool safari trucks. During the ride you will see animals, free ranging animals. Because these are real animals with agendas of their own anything can happen! I’ve had giraffes on our roof, rhino’s in our path, an ostrich that wouldn’t pull over etc. The trucks have to follow the road, but the animals can cross that said road at their leisure. This is definitely a ride where you will want to be on an end, because you will be taking lots of pictures!!!
Festival of the Lion King – I really love this show! I was so glad that it has found a new home after it’s land got closed due to the new Avatar. This is a very loud show with singing, dancing and acrobatics featuring all of the songs from the Lion King. Plus some appearances from your favorite Lion King characters! It is definitely a must see attraction. The building seats a whole lot of people so you may not need a Fastpass. (After a long hot day, this attraction will offer the comforts of air-conditioning and a much needed break from the weather).
Mount Everest – This big mountain is the perfect photo opportunity! It’s also the perfect roller coaster!!! I would definitely get a Fastpass, however if you can’t get one they have a single rider line. No, you will not sit together but it gets you on the ride faster. This ride always feels too short to me; I’m always game for going again. Beware; you will encounter broken tracks, going backwards through the mountain, and the mountains owner himself, the Yeti!
Kali River Rapids – You will get wet on this ride. Unless you are my mother, everyone will get wet on this ride. (Funny Story!) This is one of those rides where eight people sit around in a circle looking at each other, you go down a bumpy river and falls and you will all end up soaked in the end. If it is REALLY hot, this ride is awesome! It’s also quick moving and I have never had to get a Fastpass for it.
Yak & Yeti – This is my favorite table service restaurant in this park. It kind of reminds me of a PF Chang’s, and I have loved everything that I have ever eaten there. When I am by myself I often skip the line and eat lunch at the bar.
This land is almost like a giant carnival. With the main attractions securely hidden among the trees. You have to really know where you are going to see them. I should know, I didn’t know they existed for the longest time! (I only look at the map for the pictures! ;))
Dinosaur – If you have a bad back, please skip this ride. In this ride you are in a car that seems to want you out of it, that’s how much it’s moving the entire time. In reality you are traveling back in time to the meteor shower to save a dinosaur from extinction. I would get a Fastpass if you are there during the busy season, if not then I have never had to wait in line long.
Flame Tree BBQ – On your way back out to Discovery Island you will run into this little gem. This is my favorite Quick Service Resteraunt in Animal Kingdom. It is even expanding it’s seating to accommodate more people.
Other Tidbits & Fun Facts about Animal Kingdom
The Rainforest Café has a separate entrance to the park.
They are working on a new light/water/color show that will take place around the tree.
Animal Kingdom’s Christmas parade is my favorite! It’s just so fun! I like to watch the parade in front of the first shop to your left as you come into Discovery Island. There is an alligator head there that I hang out by.
This park closes early because of the animals; also it doesn’t have fireworks because the noise will bother the animals.
I hope you have fun on your next visit to Animal Kingdom!