Thursday, September 17, 2009

Animal Kingdom (Walt Disney World)

This week I am featuring Animal Kingdom. This is a fabulous park. Keep in mind that this is largest (in total area) of all the parks and it has the shortest park hours.
This park is divided into 7 areas:
  • Oasis
  • Discovery Island® area
  • Camp Minnie-Mickey
  • Africa
  • Rafiki's Planet Watch® area
  • Asia
  • Dinoland, U.S.A.® area
We decided to tackle this park based on the rides we wanted to do and the wait times associated with those rides. For that reason we went directly to Asia, because it has both the Kali River Rapids and Expedition Everest. We decided to go on Kali River Rapids first for two reasons:
  1. The wait times can get REALLY long, even though they do offer a Fast Pass.
  2. The ride gets you WET and wanted time to dry off.
As a side note, this ride gets you REALLY WET. It turns out my daughter does not like to be wet. So, if you have a child that doesn’t like to get wet I would advise against this ride. My daughter complained for hours about being wet. We eventually had to purchase her a new shirt.

We then rode Expedition Everest. This is a GREAT roller coaster! It takes you through a track forward and backward. This attraction also has a fast pass. We got in line for the ride, as the wait was fairly short since we went their first and then we got Fast Passes for later in the day.

Note: Expedition Everest broke down later in the day. You may want to get there early to make sure you get to ride it!

To finish off Asia we went through the Maharajah Jungle Trek. This was a lot of fun! There are many types of animals and Disney staff around to answer questions. My daughter found the bat exhibit particularly interesting as there was some fruit hanging for them to eat. This is a great area for pictures!

Our next mission was to go on the Kilimanjaro Safari, so we went from Asia to Africa. The wait was not long for the Safari, so we hopped right inline. Be aware the last Safari ride goes out long before the park closes, so move this to the early part of your day so that you don’t miss out.

Note: I know I’ve said a couple of times “the wait wasn’t long” and you are probably wondering how I knew. So here is a little secret. The wait times for the ride are displayed that the beginning of the line. In addition, the times for which the Fast Passes are being distributed are also shown above the Fast Pass machines. We would always look at the wait time first to see if it was 30 minutes or less. We felt that 30 minutes was a reasonable wait time as even with Fast Passes the wait can be as much as 20 minutes. Plus if the wait time was short and the Fast Passes were in later in the day, we would have one of us got get Fast Passes while the others stood inline.

The Kilimanjaro Safari ride is lots of fun. The animals are just moving around freely and provide for some great photographic moments. In addition to the animals, Disney puts their own spin on it by making it feel like you are on a safari adventure, even with the inclusion of chasing some poachers. My daughter loved this ride and was really into “getting the bad guys”. This is a must ride during your visit to Animal Kingdom.

The additional attraction in Africa is Pangani Forest Exploration Trail. This is similar to the Maharajah Jungle Trek, as you are walking through an exhibit with a variety of animals. This particular attraction includes gorillas and hippos. Fun for all!!

After we finished in Africa we traveled to Rafiki's Planet Watch® area. You must travel there by train. So look for Wildlife Express Train from Africa. As you travel along the train you get to see some of the animals night time sleeping quarters and other behind the scenes goodies. Once you get to Rafiki’s Planet you must go to the Affection Section. This is a petting zoo and is great fun for kids of all ages. Have your camera ready and watch out for the goats. My mother set down her backpack and they began to rifle through it (see picture below).

There are some additional attractions in this area including Habitat Habit, which shows you all about cotton-top tamarins. This is an exciting and interesting exhibit. The final attraction is Conservation Station. Unfortunately, we missed out on this exhibit during our visit.

To continue our journey we headed back on the Wildlife Express Train to Africa, where we then proceeded to Dinoland U.S.A. Here we first acquired Fast Passes for the ride DINOSAUR. We then went on the Primeval Whirl ride. This is a lot of fun, but beware if you get motion sickness. I have this problem, and I had taken medicine before going to the park and I still was feeling a bit woozy once I got off the ride. We went back with our Fast Passes and rode DINOSAUR. This is a GREAT ride. Lots of fun with a little bit of thrill. Not too scary and just enough excitement to keep everyone laughing and screaming. This is a MUST RIDE in Animal Kingdom.

Dinoland also includes:

  • Cretaceous Trail
  • Finding Nemo - The Musical
  • Dino-Sue
  • Fossil Fun Game
  • The Boneyard
  • TriceraTop Spin

We did not ride these rides or view the attractions due to time restrictions. At the time, we had Fast Pass tickets for a second ride on Expedition Everest and had to head back to Asia. Unfortunately, when we got there the ride was broken, so we didn’t get to go again.

We finished off our day with in my opinion the best attraction in the park, It’s Tough to be a Bug. We visited this attraction at night, and the line was not long. In fact, we were basically able to ride it back to back, which my daughter loved because she loved this attraction. It is a 4-D “movie” with great “extra” effects. This is a must visit.

We ran out of time so that concluded our visit to Animal Kingdom. Unfortunately, we missed out on Camp Minnie-Mickey which included two shows (Festival of the Lion King and Pocahontas and Her Forest Friends) and a character greeting trail.

Because this park has shorter hours due to the animals, I would STRONGLY suggest if you have one extra day to spend it here in order to be able to enjoy the entire park.

Here are some links for Animal Kingdom:

Next week I will conclude this series with the final major park at WDW, Disney Hollywood Studios. Have a great remainder of the week!


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