Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a unique park, so having a little bit of extra knowledge before you step foot in the huge wilderness will make things more enjoyable.
When you look at a park map of the Animal Kingdom, there are a few distinctly ‘Disney’ features. Firstly, the Tree of Life is the ‘Weenie’ (or ‘Park Icon’) and is in the center (or the ‘Hub’) of the park. From the Hub, you can get to the other lands for extra adventures. If you ever get lost, just go towards the Tree of Life and you’ll be fine.
There are a few options for tours, including the VIP Tour, Wild Africa Trek, and Backstage Tales. All have their own place in your itinerary, depending on your level of interest, budget and time allotment. Tours within the Walt Disney World are hidden gems and can add incredible value to your vacation!
Most folks just walk to the main entrance and dread the lines…but did you know there’s a secret entrance? All you have to do it go through the gift shop at the Rainforest Cafe and you’ll come to a set of turnstiles. Not only do you get the opportunity to shop for some crocodile tees, but you can also avoid some lines.
Single Rider Line
Expedition Everest has a Single Rider Line, which is not only the home of some cool Himalayan artifacts but also allows you to keep your time at a premium by beating the standby line!
The weather in the Animal Kingdom ranges from 5-10 degrees hotter than any other park due to the abundance of trees, which helps with adding humidity. This means that you should always be hydrated. Bring an empty water bottle with you and stop at as many quick service locations as possible to fill up. You can also grab free ice water from Starbucks, although you’ll usually have to stand in the line with everyone else (but at least it’s air conditioned;))
Quick Service and Table Service options are scattered throughout the park in the various lands. Keep in mind that some of the best dining options are just a short bus ride away. The Animal Kingdom Lodge is one of our favorite spots for quality experiences, without the stress of lineups. Inside the park, however, doing your research is important due to the style of food that your party enjoys.
The attractions in the Animal Kingdom aren’t the main reason why you go to the park, which is a huge contrast than Hollywood Studios or even the Magic Kingdom. It’s one of the only parks where you can go the entire day exploring and taking in the atmosphere! That being said, the experiences that are there are worth planning around. Kilimanjaro Safari’s, Expedition Everest and Dinosaur are at the top, with Kali River Rapids and the Festival of the Lion King following right behind.
Rare characters are abundant, so for fans of the meet and greet experiences…be happy! Guests are able to regularly meet Pocahontas, Meeko, Terk, Baloo, King Louie, Tarzan, Dug, Jiminy Cricket, The Fab 5, Goofy & Donald (in explorer outfits) and much more! Make sure you pick up a park guide to let you know about the times (and always show up 5-10 minutes before).
Did you ever see the original marketing for the Animal Kingdom on Youtube? Well, it focused on how this theme park is so much more than a typical trip to your local wildlife park. In fact, they coined the term “Nahtazu” (sound it out…you’ll get it).
The Animal Kingdom is so much more than a zoo. Not only will you get to see animals in their native habitat, but there are learning opportunities galore. Rafiki’s Planet Watch, Kilimanjaro Safaris and Flights of Wonder all come from the evolution of the original theme.
Tree of Life
Numbers are great, the Tree of Life stands 145 feet tall and over 300 detailed animal carvings throughout the structure. The main reason why the Tree of Life is so iconic is the background story and how it’s used today. The root system is actually home to ‘It’s Tough to be a Bug,’ a hidden gem with 4D interactions with 3D technology. It’s also home to a nighttime spectacular called “Tree of Life Awakenings, which involves mapping technology bringing the tree to life every 10 minutes from dusk to park close.