The Animal Kingdom at Disney World in Orlando, Florida is both a theme park and a living habitat for numerous exotic animals.
There are many informative and entertaining tours and attractions.
You will learn about these animals and what is involved in their care and the conservation of their environment.
But let me tell you, the Animal Kingdom is no zoo! After all, this IS Disney World! There are state of the art thrill rides, wonderful shows, Broadway-style live entertainment, and a fantastic parade featuring many familiar Disney characters.
The architecture and landscaping of Disney's Animal Kingdom is spectacular. The imagineers really went all out in recreating the ambiance of such places like Africa and Asia. Add the lush vegetation and foliage and you truly feel like you are in an exotic locale.
The park is absolutely huge - five times the size of the Magic Kingdom! But I feel that you can see everything in just one day. Much of the park’s space is devoted to the habitat requirement of the animals who live there.
While it is totally feasible to see everything in one day, you do need to do some planning before hand. Many of the shows have a set schedule. If at all possible, get a copy of the show schedule and plan your day accordingly. You should be able to see it all by dinner time!
My family usually visits the AK on the fourth day of our week-long vacation, after the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and MGM. We each enjoy different things about the Animal Kingdom. Being an engineer, I love the atmosphere and awesome details the imagineers have incorporated into to the architecture. My husband likes the thrill rides. And the boys love Kilimanjaro Safaris, Dinoland, Kali River Rapids, and the wonderful music of Harambe! We all feel like we are on an adventure or at a Summer Camp!
Getting to and from the park is easy. The only form of Disney World Transportation for the AK is the BUS. Be sure to know the location of the pick-up location for your resort or destination when you leave the park for the day.
Let’s explore Disney’s Animal Kingdom!
The layout of the Animal Kingdom is similar to that of the Magic Kingdom. It is shaped like a wheel with a central hub around which different lands are arranged and accessed by bridges.
The park is divided into five themed areas centered around Discovery Island and the Tree of Life. Upon entering the park, you find yourself immersed in a thick, dense jungle. This area is called the Oasis. There are many animals to see here.
After leisurely wandering through the Oasis, you emerge facing a bridge that leads to Discovery Island and the towering, iconic Tree of Life. After Discovery Island, the remaining themed areas are Camp Minnie-Mickey, Africa, Rafiki's Planet Watch, Asia, and Dinoland U.S.A.
Be sure to stop at Guest Relations just inside the park entrance to pick up the all-important Park Map and Showtime Schedule. You can also make ticket upgrades, find out where you can meet the characters, or pick up some Disney Dollars or a Birthday Button. The Cast Members at Guest Relations can also help with any questions or other concerns you have. This is also the location of the Lost and Found.
Some other important locations at the Disney Animal Kingdom:
|Guest Relations||just inside the Main Entrance|
|Camera Center||Garden Gate Gifts and other shops|
|Baby Care Center||Discovery Island near Creature Comforts|
|First Aid||Discovery Island near Creature Comforts|
|Lockers||just inside the Main Entrance|
|ATM||at the entrance to the park|
|Package Pickup||Garden Gate Gifts|
|Stroller Rental||Garden Gate Gifts|
|Wheel Chair Rental||Garden Gate Gifts|
The Animal Kingdom is open daily throughout the year. Park Hours are usually from 9:00 am until one hour after dusk. However, the hours may change according to the season. There are also Extra Magic Hours. This is when the park opens early or remains open late on certain days during the week. Guests staying at one of the Disney Resorts can take advantage of these extra hours.
There is a daily parade featuring many of your favorite Disney characters. Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade has very upbeat music that will really get your toes tapping! The characters ride in regular and human-powered vehicles and are accompanied by cool puppets and people on stilts. The parade caravan makes its way from Africa, around Discovery Island, through Asia, and back to Africa. Any spot along the way is a good viewing location.
The Animal Kingdom dining options include table-service, counter-service and snack stands. Character Dining is also available at certain meals and locations. As always, reservations (ADRs) are strongly recommended for table-service or Character Meals.
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