Everything You Need to Know about Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom opened in 1998. It was the fourth park in the Walt Disney World Resort. The plan for it was to inform people about animal conservation. Disney created a theme park with hundreds of different species set in similar habitats to those not in captivity. Captivity has a negative connotation to it for some, but Disney’s Animal Kingdom is not just a park for families; scientists benefit from being able to study the animals in such a natural habitat, without having to go to Africa or Asia.
The Tree of Life
As you walk into the park, there is an enormous baobab tree called the Tree of Life, inspired by a mythical tree of the same name. Within the tree’s great trunk and its roots are 325 carvings of animal species. The Tree of Life is an awe-inspiring sculpture. Each of the parks has a focal point as you enter them. Cinderella’s Castle sparks imagination and creativity, the Tree of Life represents how beautiful and important nature is.
Must See Rides
Within the Tree of Life is a Bug’s Life show, which is fun for families. Most everything is family-friendly at Animal Kingdom, with the exception of the Expedition Everest rollercoaster, which requires a height restriction, but is totally awesome! There is a section of the park with carnival games and rides. Tucked away behind that is a ride called Dinosaur. Your ship uses time travel to go back to when the dinosaurs became extinct. It is reminiscent of Magic Kingdom’s Pirates of The Caribbean ride, but may be scary for kids under ten.
Must See Performance
A performance all families should be sure not to miss is the elaborate Lion King show. There is singing, dancing, and acrobats all on a circular stage in the middle of an audience set in a ring around it. The performers are excellent and put on a show worthy of Broadway. No kidding. This show is great! All of your favorite Lion King characters are there, singing all of your favorite songs. There are shows throughout the day, so make sure to plan accordingly.
World of Avatar
The newest addition to Animal Kingdom, and the hottest new attraction at Disney is the World of Avatar. Escape to Pandora and make sure to get fast passes to its two biggest attractions, Avatar Flight of Passage, and Na’vi River Journey. In the flight of passage you fly on the back of a mountain banshee in a 3D ride over the moon. The Na’vi River Journey takes you through the glowing rainforest in search of Na’vi Shaman of Songs. Disney suggests signing up for fast passes for this ride over a month before visiting because of its overwhelming popularity.
In spite Avatar’s success, my favorite attraction at Animal Kingdom is still the Safari Ride. This isn’t a fast-paced 3D, technological attraction, it is literally a two week safari squeezed into a fifteen minute truck ride. There are animals all over the park, but here you get to see giraffes with long necks eating leaves off a tall tree, lions basking in the sunlight on top of their mountain perch, elephants and their babies, all in what looks like their natural habitats. Seeing these majestic animals is an experience like non-other. Adults are just as fascinated by the animals as the little kids. Walt Disney World is actually a wildlife refuge, so it makes sense that they would want their animals to have the best lives they can give them.
In the past Animal Kingdom was not thought of as a must-do on the Disney list. Avatar has brought a lot of people into the park that might not have thought to go there a couple of years ago. So make sure to get your fast passes to Pandora, but while you are in the kingdom, do not forget to check out everything else this park has to offer!
Special thanks to Emily Shannon for writing this article. Emily Shannon lives fifteen minutes from the happiest place on earth. She grew up going to the parks and has loved Disney all her life.