One of my favourite parts about visiting Orlando is Animal Kingdom. Disney made a zoo, and it’s fantastic. If you could envision a zoo with natural habitats where the animals are happy, broadway attractions, a midway and a roller coaster, you would sum up this theme park. I love going to zoos, and this one is so far, my favourite.
The theme park celebrated its 15th anniversary yesterday, and coinciding with Earth Day, I wanted to share my photos and tips on visiting this Disney park.
One of my top tips for visiting Animal Kingdom is to head straight to the African pavilion and get on a Kilimanjaro safari as soon as you can. Sometimes, the park has extra magic hours and opens an hour early if you’re a guest staying in the Walt Disney World resort. Going early ensures that the animals are up and about, before it gets too hot and humid and the lions hide in their cage. Sometimes I do the safari in the evening too, and each time is a unique experience.
This visit was by far the best safari I’ve been on. Giraffes were at arm’s reach, and a rhino decided to walk along with our Jeep safari vehicle. I love how there isn’t a track and you get to feel as if you’re actually in the Serengeti on an adventure.
The park also has many pavilions filled with gorillas, antelope, small rodents, and my favourite… tigers. Look at that one taking a big yawn!
While I’m not a ride person, this park doesn’t disappoint with one of the top rides in the Disneyworld resort – Expedition Everest. Apparently it’s a mine cart gone astray, gets attacked by an abominable snowman/Yeti, then you go backwards in the dark.
If you’re a baby like me, or a child under 12, you can still have fun in the adorable dinosaur-themed midway, Dino-Rama. I wish there wasn’t a height restriction on some of those rides…
I love how the park also has some of the best shows in the Disneyworld resort. The Festival of the Lion King is like an off-broadway acrobatics show, and I love how charming the Finding Nemo Musical is. And yes, there’s a musical…
On my visit, I wore a blazer from Urban Planet (similar here), a floral jumpsuit from Zara (similar here) floral flats from Forever 21, a LOVE belt from Forever 21, and the Coach Legacy Penny in Ultraviolet.
At the heart of the park is the Tree of Life on Discovery Island. The tree has hundreds of carved animals, and inside, you can catch It’s Tough to Be a Bug – a 4D movie that will leave you squirming. Literally… if you don’t like bugs, don’t go.
In front of the tree, I made friends with the characters from Up. The dog was very friendly…
Not too many people take the train out of Africa to Rafiki’s Planet Watch, but it’s worth the visit.
Kids can get up close and personal with snakes and rats, but I love seeing the veterinarians and conservationists at this outpost. Sometimes, you can see procedures being performed on the zoo animals through the glass, but you can always catch researchers and zoo keepers working on keeping the animals healthy. I love the focus on education, but I always wish that I’ll get the chance to see a tiger get its teeth cleaned.
If you don’t like petting snakes, there’s also a petting zoo outside with a couple alpacas (gasp!) and teacup piggies.
Of course, a theme park wouldn’t be complete without food… my advice is to forgo the tourist traps of Rainforest Cafe and Yak & Yeti and head straight for the Flame Tree Barbecue near Discovery Island.
There, you’ll find mouth-watering ribs with sides of beans and corn on the cob. They even sell wine at this location. Take that Magic Kingdom! Seeing a parade while slightly inebriated makes it so much more fun, trust me.
If you want a quick snack, pick up a pretzel in the fictional village of Harambe in the Africa area.
Finding Minute Maid soft frozen Strawberry Lemonade is very elusive… the carts wander about but it is the most delicious treat on a hot Florida day.
I love how the park paid a rich attention to detail… complete with Indian-style buses and capuchin monkeys lazing about and throwing food at guests.
Did you know that Animal Kingdom is the largest Disney theme park in the world, built on 500 acres of land? I’m excited to see how the zoo will develop and incorporate Avatar Land, which is taking over the Camp Minnie-Mickey area. Ages ago, there was a Pocahontas sing-a-long, complete with LIVE trained racoons, possums and squirrels that would dance and perform tricks with Pocahontas. Growing up, she was my favourite, so I was absolutely heartbroken when they got rid of the best show several years ago.
I always enjoy visiting this wildlife park, which definitely fulfills Walt Disney’s philosophy of animal conservation.
PS The winner of the Mint tote giveaway is… Marissa Poon! Congrats.