Overlooked Attractions at Animal Kingdom
Walt Disney World Attractions Reviewby Cheryl Pendry, PassPorter Featured Columnist
Last modified 12-28-2012
In the final part of this series on some of Walt Disney World's overlooked attractions, it's the turn of Disney's Animal Kingdom. (Check out Part One, Part Two, and Part Three!)
Animal Kingdom - Tree of Life
A close-up of some of the amazing sculptures on the Tree of Life.
I often find, judging by the comments I read from others, that this is the most underrated of all four parks at Walt Disney World, which is such a shame, as there’s so much to see, and do here. Perhaps that’s part of the problem.
The attractions also aren’t always that easy to find, with many people oblivious to what’s just a few feet away from them. That starts with the Oasis, which people tend to rush past, but spend a few minutes here and you’ll be rewarded with animal sightings, something that then continues as you move into Discovery Island.
It’s not just real-life animals you can find here. We’ve had endless fun, trying to see how may animal carvings we can see on the Tree of Life, and every time we visit the park, we find new ones, always wondering how on earth we failed to see them before. Around the Tree of Life are various Discovery Island Trails, and we’ve loved venturing out along them, often the only ones within eyesight. It’s very rare you get the feeling of being alone at a Disney park, but you can here!
The most isolated attraction here is Rafiki’s Planet Watch, which requires a separate train journey to access it. As a result, it’s something that many people never find, and I must admit that we have to make a specific point of going there, as it’s all too easy to forget about it. That’s a huge shame, as it is a real treat there, particularly the peek at the park's animal operations. It’s a fascinating glimpse into what must be one of the most amazing jobs to have at any Disney theme park in the world. However, because of its location, it does eat a huge chunk of any day at Animal Kingdom, which is why I think it’s so easy for us to skip.
Something else that I see so many people skip, despite its location at the exit of Kilimanjaro Safaris, is the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail. Although its starring act is the beautiful gorillas, there is just so much to see here that I'm disheartened when I see people walk past it. They have no idea what they’re missing!
Its sister attraction, Maharajah Jungle Trek in Asia, also suffers the same fate, with thrill-seekers making a beeline for Kali River Rapids. However, the animals you see here could easily occupy you for an hour, and it’s a great opportunity to slow down your touring and just take it easy. As well as the animals, the theming is just beautiful. The attraction really does transport you to a completely different land.
Of the three shows at Animal Kingdom, Flights of Wonder is perhaps the most often overlooked. Yet again, as with so many things at Disney, when you do experience it, it’s so much better than you remember. Just like so many of Epcot’s attractions, this blends education and entertainment beautifully, with you learning about the birds without you even realizing it. If you’re a photographer, like me, as with so much of the rest of this park, you’ll be in your element here.
Disney's Animal Kingdom - Maharajah Jungle Trek
Some of the wonderful theming through the Maharajah Jungle Trek.
Another beauty of Animal Kingdom is the strolling entertainers that you find there – another similarity to Epcot. My personal favorite is the beautiful, enigmatic, and unbelievable DiVine. There’s something very special about watching her, if you can spot her of course, as that can be exceptionally hard, especially when she’s in the undergrowth. After all, she is a vine! I always feel a twinge of disappointment if we can’t find her when we visit, as she really does make our day.
As I mentioned at the start of this article, a lot of the attraction of Animal Kingdom is the setting of this park, and that is something you’ll notice as you stroll around. Take time, perhaps here more than anywhere else, to look around, both up, and down, to ensure you don’t miss anything, from the playful monkeys outside Kali River Rapids, to the beautiful views across the many waterways, or the glimpses of the Tree of Life. Also, take time to talk to the cast members, as they may have interesting things to share with you. We can't count the times we’ve found them wandering around with critters in their hands, and it’s amazing how much you can learn from talking to them.
The often-overlooked sights are the real beauty of this park, and something you miss at your peril. It’s all too easy to leave here without fully appreciating Animal Kingdom. To do that takes time, and sadly that’s something we don’t always have enough of when we’re at Disney.
Updated 12-28-2012 - Article #884
by PassPorter Travel Press, an imprint of MediaMarx, Inc.
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