Park Spotlight: Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom has been getting much publicity since the opening of the new land of Pandora back in May 2017. Animal Kingdom is one of the four theme parks of Walt Disney World. It is located near Orlando, Florida. It is the largest theme park in the world, covering 580 acres. Animal Kingdom opened on April 22, 1998, which happened to be Earth Day. It was the fourth theme park built at Walt Disney World. This park is themed entirely around the natural environment as well as animal conservation. The Tree of Life is the centerpiece of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Many people view Animal Kingdom as a “half day park”. However, this is a false statement. Even though there are not many rides, the shows and trails can take a while to complete. Even though Animal Kingdom may be viewed as light on attractions, it contains lots of quality entertainment. Some of those phenomenal shows include the Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo. The acrobats and singers in the Festival of the Lion King Show are amazing! You can also walk through trails and see animal exhibits like birds, gorillas and tigers. These exhibits make you feel like you are experiencing the animal’s actual environment.
The new attractions of Animal Kingdom include the Flight of Passage Ride and Na’Vi River Journey. Many people have stood in line for hours to ride these rides. The new Rivers of Light nighttime entertainment and the bioluminescence of Pandora has brought much attention to Animal Kingdom Park. The park has had late magic hours over the past summer months to allow people to enjoy the beauty of Animal Kingdom at night.
Animal Kingdom is a park enjoyed by all ages. There are height restrictions on some of the big rides; however, there are lots of attractions and activities for all ages. Some special events held at Animal Kingdom include Backstage Tales where people can see Behind the Scenes of how Cast Members care for the 1500 plus animals. These tours cost extra money and are not included in admission ticket prices. Another special event is called Savor the Savanna: Evening Safari Experience. You may enjoy a private safari during this Behind the Scenes tour.
Although Animal Kingdom does not have any many thrill rides as other parks, it does have Disney’s newest thrill ride. Flight of Passage has been called “Soarin’ on steroids”. Personally, Soarin’ was my all-time favorite ride at Disney World, until I rode Flight of Passage. It is unbelievable!!! On Flight of Passage, you climb on the back of a banshee and link to an avatar. You can even feel the avatar breathe! Then you embark on a breath-taking ride! The other ride in the land of Pandora is Na’vi River Journey. It is a slow-moving boat ride with at bioluminescent environment. It is extremely beautiful but not a thrill ride. If you wait for a lengthy amount of time, you might leave disappointed, especially if you ride Flight of Passage first.
Another popular ride of Animal Kingdom is Kilimanjaro Safaris. It exposes guests to many animals in their natural environments. The safari drivers are very knowledgeable. Expedition Everest is a roller coaster that goes backward and forward. There is a height restriction for this ride. Single rider line is available with Expedition Everest. Dinosaur is another ride many people enjoy. It is a time rover that takes you through dark scenes with animatronic dinosaurs. It can be a scary ride for young children and it has a height restriction also.
Not only does Animal Kingdom have great rides and attractions, it has some great food as well. Tusker House is a buffet style table service that many people like to get reservations for. It is character dining with Donald Duck and friends. Another fabulous table service restaurant is Tiffins. It is one of the newest table service restaurants at Animal Kingdom. Many people enjoy Rainforest Café. It is a jungle themed dining experience with great food. Try the volcano for dessert! It is to die for!!
Some of the quick service meals that are raved about include Flame Tree Barbecue, Pizzafari and the newest one in Pandora called Satu’li Canteen. Food at Animal Kingdom is simply amazing!
A few tips for visiting Animal Kingdom Park include making fast passes for Kilimanjaro Safaris, as well as Expedition Everest. Having a fast pass for Flight of Passage is a necessity! If you have young kids who are not tall enough for Flight of Passage, you can get fast passes to see Mickey and Minnie at Adventures Outpost. If you get a fast pass for Rivers of Light, you end up sitting close to the show elements. The left side of the fast pass seating is better than the right.
Overall, Animal Kingdom has went from some people’s least favorite park to their favorite park. It definitely is not a “half day park”. I strongly encourage you to visit Animal Kingdom park and take your time to thoroughly enjoy all the attractions, shows and food.