Disney's Animal Kingdom is both my all-time favorite theme park and favorite zoological park. Disney is known for incredible theming and there is no better themed park than Disney's Animal Kingdom. It's gorgeous and immersive, with no detail overlooked.
We spent two days at Disney's Animal Kingdom. I always could spend more time and on previous trips with friends, I left the group to spend days at Animal Kingdom on my own. I love it so much. Two days was enough for this trip though. Compared to the other parks, there are less attractions and frankly, the kids don't have a huge interest in seeing the animals.
Here is our family picture in front of the iconic Tree of Life. This is a photo pass picture and Tinkerbell was added in. I like Tinkerbell, but she doesn't belong at Animal Kingdom. If they have to add a "magical touch" why not something more appropriate? Zazu maybe? It ruins the picture, but this is the best group.
The trunk of the Tree of Life is filled with animal sculptures. My favorite is the one of David Gray Beard: primatologist Jane Goodall's favorite chimpanzee. The Tree of Life is truly stunning and worth exploring. The tree also houses the attraction, It's Tough to Be a Bug. This is a 4-D show featuring characters from A Bug's Life. It's a cute show with some uncomfortable effects, but worth seeing, if you haven't done it. We have the attraction in California, so we decided that it could be skipped.
First stop, Africa for the Kilimanjaro Safaris and Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail.
We had a fast pass for Kilimanjaro Safaris, an open-air vehicle ride to see African animals in a setting to make it look as if they are roaming free on the savannah. Animals include lions, elephants, zebras, crocodiles, flamingos, and giraffe. This family-friendly attraction is definitely one of the most popular rides at Disney's Animal Kingdom. It shouldn't be missed and since it features real animals, no two rides are ever the same. One time, an Ostrich sat in front of the vehicle and we got stuck for about ten minutes.
The Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail is a walk-through exhibit featuring more African animals: Meerkats, Western Lowland Gorillas, Grevy's Zebras, Naked Mole Rats, and more. I could spend all day just watching the animals on the exploration trails. One of my favorite WDW memories was arriving before park opening for a behind the scenes tour and I was allowed to wait on The Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail. I was alone with the zoo keepers and got to watch them feed the hippos. The hippos were extremely active and playful, including a baby. I spent many years volunteering at The Greater Los Angeles Zoo ( both as a high student and eventually as an adult in the behavioral research department) and I can tell you, that the best time to visit a zoological park is early in the morning or at closing. The animals are most active, especially if they are excited for food or enrichment items. In California rainy days are great, because it's somewhat of a novelty for the animals.
We breezed through all of the animal trails. It was not nearly enough time for me, but I've visited Disney's Animal Kingdom many times. We wanted the kids to have the best time ever, so we let them guide how much time was spent on the trails.
From Africa to the continent of Asia.
Expedition Everest is my favorite Disney coaster. It has the best themed queue, it's truly thrilling, and it features a Yeti. Felix handled it okay compared to other thrill rides and Zoe loved it. I'd have to ask her again, but I'm fairly certain that it was her absolute favorite ride of the trip. We went on it twice, once with a Fast Pass and once without.
I took plenty of pictures of the queue, which includes a "Yeti Museum" and interactive posters elements.
Kali River Rapids is a rafting adventure ride with an ecological theme. You usually or I should say, I usually, get drenched. It's a really fun, but rather short ride, that I often avoid because of the getting drenched bit. We did it with the kids, loved it and of course, got drenched. Here are pictures of the queue, which is also very themed.
Asia has an animal trail, the Maharajah Jungle Trek, featuring Tigers, Gibbons, Komodo Dragon, and the single best thing at ANY Disney park = Malayan Flying Fox aka Giant Fruit Bats! They are fantastic. I could watch them all day long. We definitely visited them, as I would not visit Disney's Animal Kingdom without a stop to see them, but we didn't take any pictures.
From living animals to extinct animals, next we visited DinoLand U.S.A.. We spent the most amount of time in the parking-lot carnival themed area of Chester & Hester Dino-Rama. We used a Fast Pass for Primeval Whirl, a mouse-type rollercoaster that spins. The kids loved it and I have to say that it's much more comfortable to ride this sitting next to a kid, rather than another adult. We also did the Triceratop Spin, where you sit in baby triceratops and you can control the up/down, while it circles.
DinoLand's big dark ride, Dinosaur, was down for refurbishment, so we missed it. I think it's okay though, because it might have been a little too intense for the kids. I always still have a freaked out look in the ride photos, which are taken at the scariest part of the ride.
There were a few other things we missed. I really wish we had done Finding Nemo:The Musical, which is the best Disney stage show in any park. I really enjoy Conservation Station, which is a great place to take kids who are interested in a veterinary career. They have an area where you can watch vets working (if a procedure is scheduled) and there are animal care experts on hand to answer questions. They also have a petting zoo and you get to take a fun train ride to reach Conservation Station, taking you past the off-view animal enclosures.
Pandora: The World of Avatar was still under construction. I'm not at all a fan of Avatar, but I'm sure that the attractions and land look amazing. I'm looking forward to seeing it on our next trip. They had not started running the Animal Kingdom at Night or the new night show, Rivers of Light, so those are other things to look forward to seeing on our next vacation.
Other than snacks, we didn't dine at Disney's Animal Kingdom, but from previous trips, I highly recommend Yak and Yeti. Make sure to save room for the pineapple wonton dessert. Yummy!