Disney's Animal Kingdom
Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a park dedicated to the natural wonder and exotic wildlife of the earth. It’s one of the most immersive parks, with breathtaking landscaping and elaborate details. It’s also Disney’s most realistic park. Here when you visit the lands of Africa and Asia you are presented with a realistic view, complete with crumbling architecture and dirt around the edges. Disney World Animal Kingdom is truly one of a kind. A high-tech fusion of zoo and theme park, it is most appreciated by those who have time to spare. A large part of the allure is in the storylines of each land, which are thoroughly developed and apparent in every detail. This park has its share of high thrills as well as quiet areas in which to contemplate. As such it is perfect for the entire family. It is primarily an outdoor park and some areas lack shade, so be sure to dress accordingly.
Listed below is a park map from Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Visitors enter the park through the Oasis and into Discovery Island, the center of the park.
Overview of Lands
Animal Kingdom’s themes are wildlife and conservation, and its icon is the Tree of Life. This breathtakingly detailed icon is easily visible throughout the park. Animal Kingdom is divided into several individually themed lands: the Oasis, Africa, Camp Minnie-Mickey, Asia, Discovery Island, Rafiki’s Planet Watch, and Dinoland USA.
The Oasis is the entrance to the park, stretching from the gates to the Tree of Life. It serves as a transitional area, where wildlife lurks in every direction and a network of paths beckon you further into the jungle.
- Oasis Exhibits – Exotic animals from around the world can be found throughout the Oasis.
- The entrance of Animal Kingdom is usually full of characters. You’ll often find Chip and Dale, Donald Duck, Goofy, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto and Stanley and other characters. The characters change around throughout the day so ask a Cast Member when to find them.
- Wes Palm, the talking palm tree might just strike a conversation with you as you enter the park.
- Many guests rush through this area and miss a lot of the detail and wildlife. Take your time, remain quiet, and your chance of spotting animals will be greatly increased.
This is the main hub to which all other areas of the park connect.
- It’s Tough to Be a Bug – In this 3-D theater attraction Hopper from A Bug’s Life teaches guests a lesson on how they mistreat insects.
Quick service (Fast food)
- Flame Tree BBQ
- Turkey Leg Cart
- Island Mercantile – The biggest store in Animal Kingdom sells a vast array of merchandise including apparel and souvenirs.
- Creature Comforts – Princess collection merchandise including toys, costumes and trinkets.
- Disney Outfitters – The main clothing store at Animal Kingdom that sells mens and womens apparel.
- Beastly Bazaar – Disney keepsakes such as mugs, snowglobes and porcelain figures.
- Village Beatniks – Percussion group that performs some exciting rhythms.
- Inkas Wasi – Folk music and dance from South America.
- Tropicals – Steel drum band from the Caribbean.
- Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet and Winnie-the-Pooh are found at the Character Landing near the entrance of Dinoland USA
- Flik and Atta are usually found across from the Creature Comforts shop near one of It’s Tough to Be a Bug entrances.
- Lilo and Stitch can be found across from Pizzafari
- The Tree of Life contains over 300 carvings of animals, see if you can spot them all.
This area is themed, appropriately enough, as an African village named Harambe. The detailed city street ends at the entrance of Kilimanjaro Safaris, which is the signature attraction of the park.
- Kilimanjaro Safaris – A true life safari with real animals from Africa including giraffes, zebras, lions, elephants, rhinos and hippos.
- Pangani Forest Exploration Trail – On this walk through the African jungle you’ll find gorillas, naked mole rats, hippos and exotic birds.
- Wildlife Express to Rafiki’s Planet Watch – Transportation to Rafiki’s Planet Watch as well as a look behind-the-scenes of Kilmanjaro Safaris.
Quick service (Fast food)
- Tusker House Restaurant
- Tamu Tamu Refreshments
- Fruit Cart
- Mombasa Traders – Imports from Africa.
- Karuka Acrobats – High energy acrobatics from Kenya.
- Tam Tam’s of Congo – Colorful pagentry and folk dance from West Africa.
- Mor Thiam – African percussionist.
- Baloo and King Louie from the Jungle Book
- Ride Kilimanjaro Safaris either early in the morning or late in the evening. There are dozens of animals to see, but most are inactive during the warm afternoons. Just before a thunderstorm, the animals often stampede, but be cautious with this as the Safari jeeps are open and should the rain begin during your tour, you will get soaked.
- You might consider watching the afternoon parade here in Africa, because the parade starts in this area and closes off traffic the line for Kilimanjaro Safaris is a lot shorter after the parade is over. If you get in line immediately after the parade sometimes you can walk right on!
The theme of this area is a summer camp featuring your favorite Disney characters. There are no rides in this area but there are two live shows and character greeting areas.
- There are no attractions in Camp Minnie-Mickey
- Festival of the Lion King – This popular show combines song, dance, and Cirque du Soleil-style acrobatics.
- Pocahontas and Her Forest Friends – Pocahontas shows the audience some fascinating creatures of the forest.
- Lion King Cart – Selling Lion King plush and souvenirs.
Quick service (Fast food)
- Cookie Cabin – Cookies and snacks. Open seasonally
- Character Trails feature Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Winnie-the-Pooh, Eeyore, Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox and Brer Bear.
- The lines for characters get incredibly long following the Festival of the Lion King performances.
Themed as the mystical Kingdom of Anandapur (which means delight), this Asian village is highly detailed and quite beautiful.
- Kali River Rapids – A white water rapids adventure through the jungles of Asia.
- Maharajah Jungle Trek – These temple ruins are the home of komodo dragons, fruit bats, tigers and exotic birds.
- Expedition Everest – Thrilling roller coaster ride through the Himalayas, including an encounter with the infamous yeti.
- Flights of Wonder – This show combines humor and education facts regarding endagered birds.
- DiVine – What seems like a vine growing in the jungle is actually a live performer in an elaborate costume.
Quick service (Fast food)
- Yak and Yeti – Opening 2007
- Tea Stand – Selling an big selection of hot teas and sweet pastries.
- Drinkwallah – Bottled soda and frozen beverages.
- Ice Cream Truck – Ornate truck selling soft serve ice cream cones.
- Anadapur Gifts – Asian imports and Animal Kingdom souvenirs
- Expedition Everest Store – Apparel and souvenirs themed around Expedition Everest.
- There are no characters regularly found in Asia.
- Be sure to get a Fast Pass for Expedition Everest early in the day. It is extremely popular and Fast Passes often go quickly. There is a single riders line as well, and if you don’t mind splitting up your party this line can save you time.
- The Maharaja Jungle Trek is easily passed, but should not be missed. This elaborate exhibit features stunning architectures and up close encounters with some amazing animals.
Rafiki’s Planet Watch:
The theme of this area is animal care and conservation. Accessible only by Wildlife Train, it allows a backstage look at everything from animal housing to veterinary medicine.
- Affection Section – Petting zoo
- Conservation Station – Exhibits about mans impact on the environment, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at the park.
- Habitat Habit – Small displays highlighting what humans can do in their own backyard to help animals.
- Gi-tar Dan – Folk singer performs favorite children songs about animals.
- Rafiki from the Lion King and Stanley from Playhouse Disney.
- Affection Section, the petting zoo, is quite popular with children and adults alike. The animals are well socialized and enjoy being around people.
- Veterinary procedures, viewable through a glass wall and narrated by an exceptionally knowledgeable Cast Member, generally take place in the mornings.
- The enormous wall mural at the entrance holds literally dozens of Hidden Mickeys. Spend some time searching for them, many are quite interestingly done.
The story goes that a paleontologist found a dinosaur bone in the middle of a Florida swamp near a small gas station. Quickly the land was bought up and became the Dino Institute. Excited by all the new tourist traffic in the area the owners of the gas station, Chester and Hester, decided to build a small amusement park to compete with the high tech museum next door. In Dinoland USA guests can explore both the Dino Institute and Chester and Hester’s Dino-Rama.
- DINOSAUR! – Guests board time rovers and take a white-knuckle journey back in time to the age of the ferocious reptiles.
- The Boneyard – This elaborate playground is themed as a paleontological dig.
- TriceraTop Spin – Spinning ride where guests can control the up and down motion.
- Primeval Whirl – Thrilling roller coasters with cars that spin independently as they travel around the track.
Quick service (Fast food)
- Restaurantosaurus – McDonald’s menu including hamburgers and french fries.
- Dino Diner
- Petrifries – McDonald’s fries and other snacks.
- Chester and Hesters – Disney toys and games including a large selection of souvenirs under ten dollars.
- Dino Institute – DINOSAUR merchandise including toys and apparel.
- Finding Nemo: The Musical Cart – Finding Nemo plush toys and apparel and the soundtrack of the musical show.
- Finding Nemo – The Musical – An original musical production with elaborate puppetry and high production values.
- Smear, Splat & Dip – Wacky group of painters wreak havoc on Dino-Rama.
- Carnie and Connie, the carnotaurus dinosaurs are sometimes found roaming through Dino-Rama
- Chester and Hester can sometimes be found in Dino-Rama
- Dinosaur combines a track ride with a full motion simulator in a high speed race to save a dinosaur and get out before the asteroid impact. It is dark, fast, and may frighten children.
- Primeval Whirl, though it appears to be a kiddie ride, is actually a very thrilling spinning “wild mouse” style roller coaster. It is a must-do for any coaster enthusiast.
Mickey’s Jammin Jungle Parade is a fantastic parade where you can see Mickey and his friends travel the street around Discovery Island in safari vehicles. The parade route starts in Africa before going around Discovery Island where the Tree of Life is located. Have a seat anywhere along the parade route, but get there at least twenty minutes early to get the best seats. If you miss the parade, don’t worry because it has to circle around the Tree of Life and goes through Africa a second time on the way back.
Please check the Times Guide for the performance time.
There currently are not fireworks at the Animal Kingdom because of the animals, but visit one of the other parks on your Park Hopper pass for a fantastic display.
While Animal Kingdom has the reputation with many guests as only being a half-day park, there are certainly enough attractions and shows to keep you entertained for an entire day. If you’re only interested in rides, you can tour the highlights of Animal Kingdom in about four hours.
Must sees at Animal Kingdom
Everything at Animal Kingdom is great, but here are the must see attractions at Animal Kingdom:
- Maharajah Jungle Trek – Stroll through the temple ruins where you will see animals of all sorts like komodo dragons, tigers, tapirs, bats and exotic birds.
- Tree of Life – View this great 14 story tree that includes a tapestry of over 325 animals.
- It’s Tough to be a Bug – Inside the trunk of The Tree of Life is a 430-seat auditorium featuring an eight-minute, animated 3-D movie augmented by some surprising “4-D” effects. It’s a bug’s-eye view of the trials and tribulations of their multi-legged world.
- Kilimanjaro Safaris – The Kilimanjaro Safaris has something for everyone: beautiful landscapes, majestic, free-roaming animals, and a thrilling adventure. It is everything you may expect from a trip to Africa, and a whole lot more.
- Expedition Everest – This thrilling roller coaster is one of the best in Walt Disney World and features some great special effects and some fun surprises.
FASTPASS is a free service that enables guests to avoid waiting in some of the longest lines. To get a FASTPASS, simply go to the entrance of the attraction you wish to visit. You will see a sign labeled “FASTPASS Distribution” and machines that you place your ticket into. The machine gives you a FASTPASS, a ticket with a time labeled on it in which you can visit the attraction and avoid the line. Essentially, what FASTPASS does is save your place in line while you have the opportunity to visit other rides and attractions. You are limited in the amount of FASTPASS tickets you can hold at one time, so check the FASTPASS for the time in which you can obtain your next one.
Some FASTPASS attractions get longer lines than others, meaning that some FASTPASS tickets are worth more than others. Here is the order of attractions starting with the most valuable:
- Expedition Everest (120 minute wait on busy days)
- Kilmanjaro Safaris (90 minute wait on busy days)
- Kali River Rapids (90 minute wait on busy days)
- Primeval Whirl (60 minute wait on busy days)
- Dinosaur (50 minute wait on busy days)
- It’s Tough to be a Bug (15 minute wait on busy days)
Animal Kingdom Trivia
- Biggest Ever – Disney’s Animal Kingdom encompasses 500 acres, the company’s biggest theme park. The centerpiece is The Tree of Life, 14 stories high and 50 feet wide at its trunk. On opening day, there were more than 1,000 live animals.
- Animal Kingdom opened on April 22, 1998
Hidden Mickeys in Animal Kingdom
Hidden Mickeys are the hidden Mickey ear and face, usually shadowed, which are fun to find throughout the park. They will often look similar to this when seen throughout the parks oOo. Look for extras on your own or ask a Cast Member to see if they will share the secret of the Hidden Mickey.
Some of the Hidden Mickey’s that can be seen at Animal Kingdom are:
There is a hidden Mickey on the main path around the park by one the restrooms. It is located right outside of the women’s restroom that is past the Pizzafari. There is a frog statue with a number of circles and curves carved into it. One is clearly a Mickey.
When you go on the Discovery Riverboats in the Safari Village, Discovery Island. On the 2nd bridge that you go through. On the right-handed side (the bridge going to Camp Minnie-Mickey) is a Mickey head with fancy borders around imprinted on a big log.
On the bridge to Camp Minnie Mickey there are a bunch of totem poles, if you look at the pole farthest to your left there is a sculpture of a shark on it with 2 Mickey heads on the shark pretty easy to see and no other similar shapes on any of the other totem poles.