Disney's Animal Kingdom
Orlando Travel Blog› entry 2 of 4 › view all entries
So on our first full day in Disney World we decided to visit the Animal Kingdom. Our hotel was just outside of Disney grounds so we took a shuttle from there to the main transportation center and another shuttle from there to the Animal Kingdom. I was happy we made the choice to visit here first. We didn't really know what to expect from the experience. Would it be like a zoo? Are there big rides and all that? We had done a bit of reading up in advance, but still we weren't quite prepared.
I am, and my parents are, really into nature and the first thing you see when you walk in is a jungle setting...and I mean they really go all out...full of lush vegetation and exotic animals. Of course, my sister and her family aren't quite as big into looking at every detail and trying to find every bird and lizard and furry critter that crawls by.
I guess I shouldn't take the time to walk through every thing we did that day, but I will hit the highlights for anyone who would potentially visit and use this as a reference.
Other fantastic details: the museum-like/Nepalese temple setting of the Expedition Everest (best ride in the park), or the carvings and architecture of buildings and walls in the Maharajah Jungle Trek, to the sound, visual, and physical effects of the "Its Tough to be a Bug" 3D movie inside the immaculately carved "Tree of Life" which adorns the center of the park.
The smells and music emitting from the cafes and restaurants seemed as authentic as I could imagine and paralleled well with the segue from the African region to the Asian.
The best rides here: Expedition Everest and Kilimanjaro Safaris. We rode both twice. I can't speak for Kali River Rapids as it is a ride that gets you wet and we were not prepared to deal with the wet clothes for hours and the temperature of the day. Pangani Forest Exploration Trail and Maharajah Jungle Trek are walking tours of an African and Asian (respectively) jungle setting with really nice enclosures for such large animals as gorillas and tigers, as well as aviaries, aquariums, and reptile houses. My parents and I spent as much time as we were allowed in each of these areas until my neice and nephew's attitudes evolved to the point that we knew it was time to move on.
There is also an area called Dinoland USA, which features a carnival type attraction for kids to win prizes, as well as Primeval Whirl and DINOSAUR. The last two are rides, but not quite roller coasters. PW spins and twists you around on a fairly short ride that was fun for all of us. We even almost got my mom on this ride, though she bailed at the last minute. DINOSAUR is a super jerky, twisty, shaky moon vehicle type ride where you are supposed to try to capture this one species of dinosaur before the big asteroid hits and destroys them all. Its really loud and dark with lots of roaring and explosions. This was the first real ride for the kids and they both covered their ears and closed their eyes. We finally toughened them up after a few rides on Everest.
At the end of the night we found ourselves rushing, even running, to make the last showing of Festival of the Lion King. The show turned out to be pretty spectacular and well worth the effort. There was pyrotechnics to make things exciting, but it also included lots of well known songs and acrobatics from familiar characters found in the Lion King movie.
By the time we were ready to leave we had stood in many a line, and traversed the park several times. My feet were sore, my legs were tired and I was out like a light when I hit the pillow in our room. I felt like that and I'm in pretty good shape at 30. I couldn't imagine my 60 something parents or my 40 something sister and cuñado taking care for middleschool kidz running all about.