Animal Kingdom has a terrific mix of fun and science education. We never miss an opportunity to ride the exciting rollercoaster featuring the legend of the Yeti – Expedition Everest or the white water rafting adventure Kali River Rapids! Beware, someone in your boat will get wet! But do not let that stop you. They allow you to wear your swimsuit if you bring your clothes with you in a plastic bag (available in any gift shop. They also give you two hours worth of lockers there for free ($10 per hour after that). But we
also learn quite a bit on Kilimanjaro Safaris. Now that Animal Kingdom has evening hours, we can go back and get a whole different tour at twilight when the more nocturnal animals, like lions are finally up and around. This past trip we really enjoyed watching the hippos being fed. Wow, can they open those mouths! In your safari vehicle there is an animal identification guide. We try to find and identify the animals before our guide does. If you have little ones, the most exciting experience might be taking the train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch to pet the farm animals in the petting area and seeing the colorful, cotton-top tamarins. And your little one might enjoy earning “badges” at each station as a Wilderness Explorer. Hands-on extras like identifying animal skeletons are available at these stations. You can do some or all of them (there are about 30). If you stay past dark, check out the gorgeous light show projected on to the Tree of Life.
Right in the front of the park we find tapirs, boars, macaws and other interesting animals. The Pangani Forest Exploration Trail in the Africa section and the Maharajah Jungle Trek in Asia give you the up close view of animals in their habitats. It is as good as any zoo. Probably better than most since Disney is careful to give you access to shade, bathrooms and food
everywhere you turn. There are guide sheets to take along for further information and animal identification. Asia also has a cool bird show called “Flights of Wonder” that shows off rarer birds and their natural behaviors.
My kids enjoyed digging for fossils in The Boneyard when they were little. And if you like musicals, the Finding Nemo musical combines amazing puppetry with live dancing and singing for an unforgettable show. Likewise, the “Festival of the Lion King” meshes quality singing with some fantastic acrobatics. Disney does the ambiance so well that it feels like you are in Nepal or Kenya as you walk through each section.
And do not forget the insects when you speak of nature – as we are reminded in the entertaining and surprisingly informative short 3D presentation “It’s Tough to be a Bug”.
If it feels like I am just naming exhibits, it is because Disney has set Animal Kingdom up as an incredible zoo field trip and amusement park all rolled into fun! I mean one! The education is not hard to find and is there for the taking. And if you are interested, there are some good eats to be found among the more exotic quick service stands around the park.
If you are getting FastPasses the longest lines will be for a group going on Expedition Everest (single riders can typically hop right on) and Kali River Rapids (unless it is cold out). It is usually a short line to see Mickey and Minnie here, though they are dressed in safari outfits. Enjoy!
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