I cry inside every time I have a client tell me that they want to plan a Disney World getaway but have been told by friends or family to leave out Disney’s Animal Kingdom. When Animal Kingdom first opened back in April 22, 1998, it quickly became one of my favorite Disney theme parks and has had a special place in my heart since.
Animal Kingdom is so much more than a half day park or a “zoo” and has so much to see, do and explore. Though you can absolutely leave it out of your travel plan and still have a dream Disney World getaway, here are a handful of reasons why I’d like to encourage you to add a day this theme park to your “To-Do” list!
Winged Encounters- The Animal Kingdom Takes Flight
Though many Disney World guests rushed over to the Magic Kingdom for the opening ceremony, in my opinion, the one that happens at the Animal Kingdom is even more magical! You’ll be absolutely awe-struck by this morning performance near the Tree of Life where all of the brilliantly colored birds at Animal Kingdom swoop and soar over Discovery Island. It makes me teary-eyed every time.
If you don’t make it to the park first thing in the morning, don’t worry, there’s usually a performance in the afternoon as well. That being said, we can’t think of a better way to start the day then with this big dose of Disney magic.
Pandora – The World of Avatar
It doesn’t matter whether or not you are a huge fan of James Cameron’s avatar films, Pandora – The World of Avatar is simply not-to-be missed! There’s nothing like the sense of wonder and awe you feel when walking underneath the floating mountains for the first time or when you see the park come to life in all of its beautiful bioluminescent details.
As if that wasn’t awesome enough, add in two fantastic attractions, the tranquil Na’vi River Journey as well as Avatar Flight of Passage (which regularly tops Disney’s best rides list) and you have the recipe for a perfect theme park visit!
If you consider yourself a Disney foodie than Animal Kingdom is a fantastic place to go. It’s home to my favorite Character Dining, Table Service and Quick Service spots! You can’t go wrong with any of these awesome selections:
- Tiffins restaurant The globetrotting menu at Tiffins is absolutely divine. You’ll find everything from Charred Octopus and Spice Chickpea Falafel to our favorite bread service ever. Other highlights include the Tamarind-braised Short Rib, Shrimp and Grits and Surf and Turf.
- Tusker House This lively Harambe marketplace eatery is a must for fans of character dining. Guests are served a plentiful family-style menu for breakfast, lunch or dinner while Safari Donald and his Disney friends make the rounds!
- Yak & Yeti – A fan favorite, here you’ll find Pan Asian Cuisine like sweet and sour chicken, ahi tuna nachos, pork pot stickers and Kobe beef burgers. You’ll also find a wide range of vegetarian options and dining rooms brimming with Southeast Asian artifacts!
- Satu’li Canteen – This Pandora quick service spot is pretty darn cool with both indoor and outdoor spaces to take in the out-of-this-world surroundings. Here you’ll find a fast-casual menu with highlights that include Cheeseburger Steamed Bao Buns, Chili-Spiced Crispy Tofu Bowl and a Blueberry Cream Cheese Mousse that is divine!
Exotic Animals in the Wild
I would be remiss if I didn’t include the awesome animals you’ll find at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park. It is what sets this park apart from the pack. You’ll feel like you’re in the middle of an African savanna with Kilimanjaro Safaris, will be able to see Gorillas up close and personal on the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail and Tigers as you wind the paths of the Maharajah Jungle Trek. Each of the animal-focused exhibits at Animal Kingdom are exquisitely done with wide expansive areas for animals to roam in surroundings reminiscent of home.
Amazing Stage Shows
Animal Kingdom has always been home to my favorite Disney stage show – Festival of the Lion King. This Broadway caliber show features many of your favorite songs from the film, acrobatics, animatronics, special effects and so much more! You’ll definitely leave with “Hakuna Matata” as your new mantra!
In addition, guests traveling later this year may have the chance to check out the updated Finding Nemo production. Its closed at the moment for a revamp and is sure to come back bigger and better than ever.
Another often overlooked show that I wanted to mention is UP! A Great Bird Adventure where you join Pixar Pals Russell and Dug as they introduce you to some of the theme parks incredible feathered friends. This show never fails to impress!
Tree of Life
Towering over the entire theme park is the stunning Tree of Life. During the day, you can stroll around Discovery Island seeing how many intricate carvings you can see at the base of the tree and even head into the tree to see another awesome show “It’s Tough to Be a Bug.” In the evenings, the Tree also takes on new life with a couple of light shows that are simply breathtaking.
Tree of Life Awakenings takes place at 8:15 pm nightly and starts with a flurry of fireflies which serve as the precursor to a light show that features bold colors an animated imagery. Whether its love blossoming between two hummingbirds or a deer journeying through the forest, the vignettes shown in this dazzling presentation are positively magical!
Awesome Music For Around the World
When many people think of global acts at Walt Disney World its usually the World Showcase at EPCOT that comes to mind. But, don’t overlook the incredible performances at Animal Kingdom that will have you dancing in the streets.
In Asia, Chakranadi is there to play traditional Indian music, while Kora Kora Tinga Tinga brings the energy to Harambe Marketplace in Africa. Speaking of Harambe, you definitely do not want to miss the incredible performances from the Tam Tam Drummers who will have you grooving to the beat. The Viva Gaia Street Brand also brings the music of the Caribbean to Discovery Island with several performances daily!
High octane thrills
I don’t know of many zoos where guests can ride up to the top of Mount Everest before fleeing backwards after an epic encounter with a yeti; or where you can take to some rough Asian waterways like in Kali River Rapids. You can even go back in time with some encounters of the Dinosaur kind on the DINOSAUR! dark ride!
Its attractions like those above that give guests the best of both worlds. You never feel like you’re missing out on that incredible Disney experience with amazing attractions while experiencing nature in new and exciting ways!
I could go on for days about all of the things that I love about Animal Kingdom but hopefully these eight will entice you to give it a visit during your next Disney getaway. You can also fully immerse yourself in the magic with a stay at the equally awesome Animal Kingdom Lodge! Fill out my form below for your FREE, no-obligation quote!
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