The Walt Disney World Resort located in Orlando is home to four separate theme parks and two water parks. Animal Kingdom is one of the four theme parks in the resort, and features the most unique theme of them all. If you enjoy a zoo then you have come to the right place! Because, among the great rides and attractions featured at the Animal Kingdom you can find the most exotic of animals just about everywhere you look. In fact as soon as you enter the park there is a good chance you will be greeted at the gate by these awesome animals. Trainers will lead the animal’s right up to you and let you touch them; these include exotic animals such as sloths, various monkeys, tigers, ant eaters and more! When it comes to the Animal Kingdom theme park the name says it all!
Much like the other theme parks Animal Kingdom is divided into seven separate sections, each with their own unique set of rides, attractions and animal exhibits. The sections are: the Oasis, Discovery Island, Pandora: The World of Avatar, Africa, Asia and Dinoland U.S.A.! These sections are located around Animal Kingdom’s icon at the center of the park, the Tree of Life. This massive tree can be seen from all around the Walt Disney World Resort. It is a massive tree with carvings of exotic animals from every corner of the globe, as well as Disney characters. Animal Kingdom is a great place to spend one of your vacation days while in the Central Florida area!
Oasis is Animal Kingdom’s entrance; here you can find spoonbills, ducks, giant anteaters and wallabies. If you follow the entrances main path you will find yourself in Discovery Island. As mentioned above you can often find animals out of the cages for you to take pictures with and sometimes touch. This is a really great experience, as the handlers can answer just about every question you ask them and is definitely worth taking the time out of your day to stop and see. Much like the other theme parks this location is home to shops and restaurants, so you can either purchase your souvenirs when entering the park or leaving. If you plan on eating at the park there is a good chance you will be visiting this area as well. It’s important to note that this area is also home to Rainforest Café, a unique dining experience that feels like you are actually in a rainforest. With animatronic animals and special effects this forest changes from night to day, sunny to thunderstorm and more, its one encounter you won’t want to miss!
Originally called the “Safari Village” this zone is located in the center of the park, and if you plan on visiting all the rides and attractions around the park there is a good chance you will be passing through here several times during your day. Known as the “Central Hub,” of Animal Kingdom Discovery Island connects all the separate zones together. Discovery Island houses the theme parks icon, the Tree of Life, which leaves cover nearly the entire zone in their shade. You can find animal exhibits housing black crowned cranes, lemurs, kangaroos and several others surrounding the tree. Here you can find the attraction It’s Tough to be a Bug!, a 4-D film that brings the adventurous world of Flik and Hopper to life from Disney-Pixar’s popular movie A Bug’s Life. This great adventure follows our favorite bug Flik on another one of his miniature adventures, with special effects and 3-D this adventure really comes to life!
This zone or “land” is set in the fiction village of Harambe, located in east Africa. This area contains a large number of exhibits featuring African animals as African elephants, lions, giraffes and more! Disney’s legend suggests that the village of Harambe was once part of an obscure Dutch colony. But, during a peaceful revolution the Harambe became self governing in 1963. Years later it became the starting point for tourists and students with the intention of observing Africa’s abundant wildlife. Here you can find one of Animal Kingdom’s most popular rides, the Kilimanjaro Safaris, where you learn that the village has been renamed the Harambe Wildlife Preserve. On the Kilimanjaro Safari you climb aboard an open sided touring touring-vehicle that will take you through the wild planes of Africa. When you are done on the ride make your way over to the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail where you get to see Nile hippos, fish, birds and your final destination, gorillas!
The only section of the park that is not connected to Discover Island or its nickname the “Central Hub” is Rafiki’s Planet Watch. In fact it isn’t possible to access this area of the park except by the Wildlife Express Train, which takes you behind the wildlife exhibits for a unique look at how the animals are taken care of. Along the way you learn about the efforts being taken to keep a variety of these endangered animals save before arrive at the Conservation Station. The Conservation Station is an in depth look at how the animals at the park are kept in good health. See medical procedures and routine check ups from behind a glass window. Operate cameras that are inside the animal exhibits to get great up close looks at the animals. This is a fantastic behind the scenes adventure that has a great educational value. Outside the Conservation Station you can find the Affection Section, where you can feed goats and sheep at a large petting zoo.
Asia was the first expansion area to be added to the Animal Kingdom theme park. Much like the Africa zone this area is home a fictional location, the kingdom of Anandapur; which means the “Place of many delights.” This area is home to two separate villages, the first being the Anandpur Riverside Village and the second being Serka Zong, which is supposed to be located at the foot of the Himalayan Mountains. Just like Africa this area has become the center for animal research and preservation in the area. Here you can find the major attractions, Flights of Wonder, a live bird show that features incredible stunts performed by highly trained birds. With a comical first time employee who is afraid of birds they teach you as well as their new “trainee” about the importance of the bird species. Asia is also home to the parks newest addition, Expedition Everest. This wild roller coaster takes you up into the snowy mountains and deep into their long abandoned mines in search of one of nature’s most elusive myths, the Yeti! This great roller coaster features a wide variety of unique tricks and surprises, so keep your eyes open!
This great zone feeds your natural curiosity about dinosaurs. This fictional Dino Institute and surrounding facilities were designed to attract those with a general interest in the age of dinosaurs. Here you can see those long extinct animals in a whole new light! In fact, come face to face with some of the worlds oldest animals such as the American crocodile and the Asian brown tortoise, both species have links to the ancient age of dinosaurs. Here you can find one of Animal Kingdoms most popular rides, DINOSAUR. DINOSAUR takes you back into time where a crazy scientist is using you to accomplish his maniacal plans. You have to complete your mission because it turns out you have arrived just minutes before the climactic event that wiped out the dinosaurs so many years ago! When you are done on DINOSAUR head on over to Hester’s Dino-Rama where you can find some great carnival rides feature comical dinosaurs! This area is great for kids and all ages!