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Walt Disney's Animal Kingdom
Following our trips to Epcot and the Magic Kingdom it was now the turn of Disney's Animal Kingdom. This park is the largest of all four theme parks on the resorts in Orlando.
As the park closes at 5.30pm we decided to get there early to give our selves maximum time to see as much of the park as possible before closing time.
We caught the first coach from the hotel at 7.30am and after a few pick ups at other hotels we were at the park in about 30 minutes, ready for the day ahead.
We made into the park and grabbed a breakfast at the Rain Forest cafe, which we hoped would keep us going for the full day, then off we headed (armed with our park guide and map) into the park for another exiting adventure.
The video below gives a brief insight into Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Like all the Disney parks, Animal Kingdom is divided into different sections, these are:
- Discovery Island
- Camp Minnie Mickey
- Rafiki's Planet Watch
- Dinoland, U.S.A
This is the area in which everyone enters the theme park. This section is set in a tropical landscape, with a backdrop of lush green trees and shrubs. As you expect this is the place to grab all your essentials and info for the day ahead from the information centre.
Oasis also has a selection of animals including:
- African Spoonbills
- Giant Ant-eater
- Two Toed Sloth
- A wide variety of exotic birds
This is the central hub of the park and most other sections can be accessed directly from this point. The stand out feature of Discovery island is a huge baobob tree called the 'Tree of Life'. We were told this tree has over 300 animal carvings in the trunk. It is certainly an impressive sight.
Animals in the Discovery island section include many different types of birds such as:
This section includes two restaurants as well as a large gift shop. There is also an a 4D film show here called 'It's tough to be a bug' which is based on the Disney Pixar film 'It's a Bugs Life'.
Camp Minnie - Mickey
This section has a summer camp theme and gives you the opportunity to grab some photos and autographs of famous Disney characters such as:
- Pooh Bear
- Chip & Dale
We didn't spend a great deal of time here, we grabbed what autographs we could and quickly moved on to Africa.
At last we arrive in Africa and for us this is where the exitement begins. Africa is set in the fictional village of 'Harambe' which we we informed means 'Come Together'. Shortly after we arrived here, we were treated to a traditional African song and dance show, in which several of the visitors were asked to partake.
However we were keen to get to the Kilimanjaro Safaris ride. There was quite a long queue, however we didn't have to wait too long before we were on our way. The driver kept us informed about what animals we were about to see, in fact you actually feel like your on a real safari in Africa as you travel through all types of terrain.
There are all kinds of African animals here including:
- Nile Crocodiles
and many more. A good tip is to head for this ride as early as possible, as many animals seek cover in the heat of the day and you may end up being disappointed.
Also in the Africa section is Rafiki's Planet watch. Here you can hop on the train and head off to learn all about animal conservation. There are a couple of trains that run to this section and waiting time is usually about 10 minutes.
Upon exiting Africa the next main themed land you arrive at is Asia. This section has two of the parks most thrilling rides.
- Expedition Everest - This is a rollercoaster ride set in a Himalyas - Everest theme. You will chug slowly to the top of the mountain, before reaching break nech speeds on the decent. Watch out for the Yeti on this ride.
- Kali River Rapids - This fast moving ride takes place in a raft on the fast moving rapids and deals with habitat destruction caused by illeagal logging. If you're not keen on getting wet bring some waterproofs. (See video below)
The other major attraction in Asia is the Maharajah Jungle Trek where you can see animals such as komodo dragons, pythons, tapirs, bats and of course bengal tigers.
Kali River Rapids
Finally there is an aviary known as Flights of Wonder with all kinds of exotic birds. This is a great place to take a break from the humdrum of the park and also get out of the hot sun for a short while and cool off a little.
For us the final themed land was Dinoland U.S.A., which had (you guessed it) a prehistoric and dinosaur theme. This was actually one of our favourite lands in the park. Quite close to the entrance of this section is replica of the skeleton of 'Sue' who is the largest T-Rex ever discovered.
Rides and attractions in this section included:
- Triceratops Spin - This is a spinner type ride that has a small lever in front of you to control wether you go up or down. This ride is similar to the Dumbo ride in the Fantasyland section of the Magic Kingdom. This ride was a favourite of ours and I lost count of the times we went on it.
- Dinosaur - based on the Disney film of the same name, Dinosaur is a ride that travels through a time tunnel, sometimes in darkness, it features many types of dinosaur. The ride is quick and bumpy at times and can be a little scary, as you would expect.
- The Boneyard - This is basically and education playground for kids to explore. There are rope ladders, slides and tunnels and kids can become budding Archaeologists as they dig for the remains of a wooly mammoth.