“I don’t like formal gardens. I like wild nature. It’s just the wilderness instinct in me, I guess.”
- Walt Disney
Disney opened the Animal Kingdom on April 22, 1998. The park only cost about $800,000 and is situated on around 500 acres. This is the largest Disney theme park in the world. The Tree of Life is the parks Icon and was created by using an old oil Derek as its base. Many people think of the Animal Kingdom as a nontraditional zoo. For years, many people have considered this as a half day park. Not anymore now that the park is opened later and a new land just opened, Pandora. There will also be a new night time show added named, Rivers of light, as well.
Disney has been expanding Animal Kingdom with more entertainment to attract more visitors. Believe it or not, the buildings are shorter than the trees at this park. Imagineers wanted to create a park that feels authentic to the lands you are touring. Conservation is a goal and even has an area of the park dedicated to it. This nature / zoo / theme park is unique and will surely amaze your family.
As you enter the park, you will come to the Oasis. Here you will find some animals. It will lead you to the first bridge and onto an island. Discovery Island has the Tree of Life. Great photos are taken here. You can go either left or right from here. To the left is Africa. If you go right you come to another split in the road. Turn right again and you will tour DinoLand U.S.A. If you chose left you will head into Asia. Once in Asia you can turn left to go to Africa or right and ride the Expedition Everest ride. Continue that path and you will tour DinoLand.
There used to be a camp Minnie Mickey but has since closed for the construction of Pandora. This park has several great table service restaurants to choose from as well. You can even book a special Kilimajoro private tour, although expensive.
The Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo – the musical are Broadway quality and shouldn’t be missed.
There is another entrance to enter the Animal Kingdom through the Rain Forest Café if there is a huge line. Starbucks fans can buy a “You are here” collectible coffee mug at the AK.
When dinosaur opened as Countdown to Extinction, McDonalds sponsored the attraction. There are some hints of this if you look at the pipes above at the loading area. 1800 tons of steel was used to construct the mountain of Expedition Everest. Disney hired actual Zulu tribesmen to do the thatched roof at several locations in Africa area. It took 11 months for 13 Zulu men to install about 40,000 square feet of roof.
The Animal Kingdom is the only theme park inside of Disney World with restroom doors of the 4 theme parks. The reason is in the unlikely event of an animal escape, you have a shelter area until the animal is captured and contained.
Tiffins restaurant inside of the park has high reviews but expect to pay more than usual to eat at this restaurant. Satu li restaurant located in Pandora is the hidden gem in this park and shouldn’t be missed.