Animal Kingdom is a zoological theme park at Walt Disney World. This was our 2nd stop in Orlando after visiting Magic Kingdom the previous day. We knew what to expect while visiting Magic Kingdom but Animal Kingdom was a complete surprise!
It’s very different from your typical disney park. Everything around the park is themed around natural environment and animal conservation. You get the feeling of walking into a tropical jungle as soon as you enter the park with pathways surrounded by tall, beautiful trees and various animals & birds all around you. It’s absolutely wonderful!
Pay attention while strolling along the walkways in Animal Kingdom, you will see a lot of hidden disney elements everywhere in the park. The theme shines through even in the tiniest of things around the park. Disney’s attention to detail is mind blowing!
The whole theme park has been divided into various sections like Asia, Africa, Dinoland USA, Discovery Island and the soon to be introduced Pandora. They say Pandora will be open to public by or before summer 2017. The crowds are far lesser in Animal Kingdom when compared to Magic Kingdom. But I’m sure the crowd flow will change dramatically once Pandora is open!
Once you have explored the park to your heart’s content, it’s time to hit the rides! But where do you start? Visiting any theme park for the first time can be pretty overwhelming – not knowing what to do and how to squeeze everything into a day’s visit! So to make your life easy, I will include some basic tips to plan your disney vacation better and the “Top 10 things you should to do if you visit Animal Kingdom” on your next vacation!
Let’s start with some general tips:
- Enter the park at rope drop, so you’ll have enough time to explore the park to it’s maximum potential.
- Plan your visit well in advance and avoid weekend and holiday crowds by visiting on weekdays. Trust me, we have seen the difference!
- Buy your tickets ahead of time.
- Wear the most comfortable clothes and shoes.
- Complete the popular rides in the morning (crowds are far lesser at that time).
- Keep your afternoons easy with less crowded attractions.
- Visit the popular rides again around sunset.
- Get to tree of life well ahead of time and catch a good viewing spot.
You will find some rather interesting performers while walking around Animal Kingdom. One such interesting performer we came across was the walking tree lady called ‘Divine’. You will find her hiding amidst the trees doing acrobatics. Look for her!
9) Catch the 4D show of “It’s Tough to be a Bug”:
This 4D show is based on the movie ‘A bug’s life’. I hadn’t seen the movie but it still was pretty fun. It’s a multisensory look into the world of bugs with the character “Flik” from the movie. You will definitely enjoy the show!
8) Meet Mickey, Donald and Goofy:
Not many people know this but there’s a secret entrance to the park through the rainforest cafe. Normally there are huge lines at the usual entrance so you can get in through the cafe and save some time. Plus if you enter at rope drop, you will be greeted at the entrance by Mickey, Donald and Goofy themselves! They drive around and start off the day at Harambe Market in Africa.
7) Flights of Wonder:
We had absolutely no idea about this wonderful show until we chanced upon it while walking around the park. I had done some initial research about the attractions prior to visiting but none of the articles/blogs spoke about this show.
Flights of Wonder is an interactive show that will entertain, amuse and educate you about different species of birds. They create a very lively atmosphere with various birds soaring over your head and interacting with the audience throughout the show. I loved the way they educated the audience about the birds with a dose of fun and humour injected into everything.
6) Maharaja Jungle Trek (Asia):
The Maharaja Jungle Trek takes you along many winding trails filled with beautiful animals from Asia. You can find everything from Bengal Tigers, Sumatran Tigers, Malayan flying foxes, komodo dragons and blackbucks here!
The Pangani forest exploration trail in Africa is another really cool way to get up close and personal with many more beautiful animals and birds.
You can see various african animals like okapis, black and white colobus monkeys, gorillas, hippos, meerkats and grevy’s zebras. You will also find many exotic birds here like African jacana, African grey parrots, collared kingfishers and bearded barbets!
This ride was thrilling to say the least! It is high and fast and goes backwards! Yikes! Backwards! The sound effects, the speed of the coaster, the rush of adrenaline coursing through your body makes the ride superbly exciting… a Yeti is trying to catch you after all!
My husband convinced me to ride this coaster twice! Once was bad enough, but I was not sure if I would be able to ride twice. But it wasn’t that bad the 2nd time, since I already knew what to expect and was mentally prepared to face the Yeti yet again!
It’s an awesome rollercoaster and you should definitely try it the next time you visit Animal Kingdom!
The Tree of Life is such a beautiful and intricately carved tree. There are 320 animals carved into the tree apparently and these animals come to life in the evening. It is amazingly impressive and something you should not miss!
The Kilimanjaro Safari was the main attraction that tipped us over slightly a little bit more towards Animal Kingdom than Hollywood Studios as our 2nd theme park choice. It is one of the most popular attractions in Animal Kingdom.
The best time to go on the safari is definitely early in the morning or around/after sunset since the animals are the most active then and the lines to get in will be a lot shorter. We did both. We entered the park at rope drop and headed straight towards the Kilimanjaro safari. We also went on the sunset tour and saw a great difference in animal activity after dark. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience both times.
Driving through the beautiful disney created African savanna in a huge safari truck was amazing! You will see every animal here that you might encounter in the real african safari – right from sable antelopes, pink backed pelicans, yellow billed storks, white & black rhinoceros, zebras, giraffes to nile crocodiles, cheetahs, lions and african elephants! It’s a great experience and should definitely not be missed.
Well, those are some of the amazing things you must do at Animal Kingdom. I have not included Finding Nemo musical, the Lion King show or the Dinosaur ride in the must do list since we couldn’t try those when we visited Animal Kingdom. But I have heard rave reviews about all 3 of them and hence you probably should include all of them in your itinerary as well.
We had a mind blowing time in both Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. It was amazing but exhausting at the same time. Make sure you take loads of rest in between theme parks. It is very difficult to see all 4 of them in one go. We had initially planned to just see these 2 parks and then head back to Atlanta immediately after. But we were so exhausted that we decided to extend our trip for another day by just chilling in Daytona Beach and then drive back to Atlanta! It really helped. I will talk about Daytona beach another day or probably in another post. 😛 Until then I hope my above tips and tricks will help you in planning your next animal kingdom vacation better! I hope you have a fabulous time the next time you are there!