Disney's Animal Kingdom

Elephants viewed from Kilimanjaro Safaris ride at Disney's Animal Kingdom
Elephants viewed from Kilimanjaro Safaris ride at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the newest Disney theme park in Florida and is already giving the other Florida animal theme parks like Busch Gardens and Silver Springs a run for their money.

It opened in 1998 and is the biggest Disney park by far; it is five times the size of the Magic Kingdom, covering some 500 acres though a lot of this is taken up by the safari tour.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is home to over 200 different animal species set in realistic habitats

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is designed to look like a safari park and is landscaped with over 100,000 trees and 4 million plants. Because of the nature of wild animals it is not a park to be rushed. To get the most enjoyment from Disney’s Animal Kingdom you should take your time and relax and just watch the animals interacting in their own environment.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is divided into a number of main “lands” spread around the central Discovery Island like the spokes of a wheel:

  • Oasis - a leafy oasis of exotic animals, just inside the park entrance near the Rainforest Cafe
  • Discovery Island - cannot be missed because of the giant Tree of Life, also home to the It’s Tough to be a Bug! 3-D show based on the Disney/Pixar classic animation.
  • Africa - experience a wildlife safari with Kilimanjaro Safaris or explore the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail
  • Rafiki’s Planet Watch - only accessible by the Wildlife Express Train and home to the Conservation Station
  • Asia - take a white water raft ride down the Kali River Rapids and explore jungle paths on the Maharajah Jungle Trek. The “Expedition Everest - Legend of the Forbidden Mountain” roller coaster ride that opened in April 2006
  • Dinoland U.S.A. - fun for the whole family where kids can play in The Boneyard or take a spin on the Primeval Whirl roller coaster
  • Pandora - The World of Avatar is due to open in 2017 and will offer an immersive adventure based on the Avatar film

Camp Minnie Mouse used to be home to the Festival of the Lion King stage show and meet and greet Mickey, Minnie and friends. It closed to make way for Pandora - The World of Avatar and the Festival of the Lion King moved to Africa.

Because of the safety of the wild animals there are no evening firework displays at Disney’s Animal Kingdom but like the other parks there was an afternoon parade that ran from Africa, past Asia and across Discovery Island before making its way back to Africa. It was closed in 2014 to make way for the new Pandora attraction.

Animal Kingdom at Night

Animal Kingdom has always been the least busy of the four Disney theme parks in Walt Disney World and is seen by many as a ‘half day’ attraction, not helped by the early closing and lack of evening entertainment.

To help try and address this, Disney have introduced a range of new night-time entertainments.

There is to be a new “Rivers of Light” show on Discovery River featuring live music, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery and live performers on Discovery Island. It was originally planned to open in April 2016 but technical difficulties delayed the opening and it now looks like in might finally open in December.

The Kilimanjaro Safaris ride has been extended to offer Sunset Kilimanjaro Safaris in the evenings after dark. Two new species, African wild dogs and hyenas, can be seen for the first time.

Disney has also introduced a separately ticketed Harambe Nights show and party.

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