Being from Southern California, the world famous San Diego Zoo and San Diego Safari Park are what I continually compare other ‘zoo’ parks too … and usually they falter. Animal Kingdom, however, has captured my attention. It’s influence of real wildlife combined with amusement attractions is harmonious and pays great homage to Walt’s original idea of having the Jungle Cruise showcase real wildlife. Imagine how that would be.
Animal Kingdom is the youngest of Disney World’s parks, opening in 1998 it has evolved somewhat since I first visited in the late 90’s. Although, I admit, I missed the fantastical adventure of chasing poachers in the original Kilimanjaro Safari … I do appreciate Disney’s shift to conservation and wildlife care. The expedition moves around Harambe Wildlife Preserve, a 110-acre stretch of land devoted to animals and their ‘somewhat’ natural habitats. We saw giraffes, elephants, crocodiles, zebras, hippopotamuses, a number of deer-like creatures and an ostrich intent on nesting on the ‘curb’ of the rugged roadway.
Another main thrill for us was Expedition Everest, a Tibetan-style roller coaster hurling its way through the Himalayas … all the while being chased by a Yeti. It doesn’t get anymore thrilling than that!
We had a great time exploring Animal Kingdom.
The entrance to Animal Kingdom was caught well with Allie’s ‘start of the day’ instagram!
The Tree of Life stands massively tall in the center of Animal Kingdom. More than 300 animal carvings appear in her trunk, root system and branches.
We are here … and ready for the day!
Group selfie … shadows of the family!
Kilimanjaro Safaris was our first stop. This attraction has evolved through the years, but it’s still an exciting trip through the Harambe Wildlife Preserve.
We lucked out on getting the last row of seats for our expedition. Not only did we have great views from either side, but we had non-obstructed views from the rear, as well.
Many of the animals were surprisingly up close and personal during our expedition.
Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain is a highlight of Animal Kingdom, offering death-defying drops and backwards riding thrills through the Himalayas.
We are about to enter our train … look how naively happy we are right now. Clearly we don’t know we are about to be holding on for dear life!
I was Mike Wazowski’d by Jacob! Yet, here is proof we have survived another journey on Expedition Everest.
It’s a Yeti! The myths and legends are true.
Rod and I were able to travel Everest again … this time together.
Brights lights and a ginormous dinosaur are what brings on these faces!
Dinosaur is another favorite attraction, as we travelled back in time to bring home a dinosaur … all the while being pelted with apocalyptic meteors. Disneyland fans will find this ride familiar … its track is non-other than that of Indiana Jones!
DinoLand USA is a kitschy carnivalesque tribute to the 50’s … with dinosaurs. It’s fun and houses rides for the smaller kids. Don’t discount Primeval Whirl … its innocent twirls pack a punch.
The Pangani Forest Exploration Trail begins in Africa and meanders through exhibits housing hippos, fish, gorillas and birds.
The trail is beautiful and cleverly done … I didn’t realize I had entered an aviary? Disney’s attention to hidden boundaries is incredible.
Into the mist!
Rod’s photo of mine and Jacob’s selfie … with an Okapi in the background … turned out a lot better than the selfie itself!
The Maharajah Jungle Trek begins in Asia and has always been one of my favorite trails. Here is where we found the tigers, bats, tapirs, some deer and birds. I didn’t think I would like the Bat House … but, actually it’s really cool.
The worn-down, ornate look of the walls that enclose part of the trail really lends itself to the atmosphere. Here we are walking into the viewing area for the tigers. It was later in the day and there wasn’t much activity. I guess the tigers find it tranquil here, too.
By far the best water fountain area ever built. This little oasis sits in the middle of the Maharajah Jungle Trek trail and is a great spot to hydrate and take photos.
Final Group Selfie in the Jungle Trek … we enjoyed taking a walk on the wild side in Animal Kingdom!
We each took photos and videos on our iPhones during this trip. I have gathered all the footage together to create this trip journal of our adventure … offering everyone’s point of view. Hope you enjoy our trek!
Next up: Epcot ~ Future World!