Disney's Animal Kingdom
|Animal Kingdom Attractions||Rafiki's Planet Watch|
Animal Kingdom Overview
by Pete Werner Founder, Webmaster
Update 5/21/12: James Cameron has revealed that "Avatar Land" will include a ride that simulates flight. This is the first specific detail of the project that has been announced.
The popular film AVATAR will be coming to life at Disney's Animal Kingdom in 2015. Disney Parks' newest venture will happen in cooperation with James Cameron's Lightstorm Entertainment and Fox Filmed Entertainment.
Lightstorm Entertainment and Walt Disney Imagineers will work together to bring the fantasy world to the parks, as construction on the first AVATAR-themed land will begin by 2013. The project is currently in the design phase. Disney says "Animal Kingdom is a great fit for this project because it was created to give guests the opportunity to experience the worlds of animals and nature - real and mythical - in new ways. Disney's Animal Kingdom also celebrates adventure, living in harmony with nature and environmental stewardship - themes that are deeply rooted in the story of AVATAR."
There are currently two sequels to the film being planned, so the AVATAR world will only have more opportunities to grow as more characters and stories are developed.
On April 22, 1998 Disney unleashed its newest theme park on the world in the form of Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Whatever you do, don't call it a zoo (they get touchy about that word around Animal Kingdom).
This newest venture marked a departure from what Disney had been turning out in the way of theme parks for many years. Any park banking its success on "edutainment" was bound to have issues, and Disney knew it. Epcot proved it was effectively kryptonite for children, and Disney was challenged to make sure that Animal Kingdom didn't suffer the same fate. In spite of some of its early preachiness (and some unfair press about animal care at the park)- Disney's Animal Kingdom opened to generally good reviews.
At a cost of nearly $1 Billion to complete, Animal Kingdom was an expensive theme park. In fact, one of the planned 'lands' for Animal Kingdom was eventually cut from development due to cost overruns in the budget. The never realized land was to be called the "Beastly Kingdom" and feature a myriad of rides themed around mythical creatures. The Imagineers who were laid off when the plans were scrapped, were eventually hired by Universal Orlando to build the Dragon Challenge coaster for Islands of Adventure - arguably one of the best roller coasters in North America. Oops.
Tip: If you are planning on taking pictures on the Safari, try to get a seat on the end of the row. That way you won't have peoples' heads in your pictures. Plan on riding it twice to get the animals on each side of the truck.
Animal Kingdom's 500 acres are home to some 1700 animals representing 250 different species throughout the park. A ride on the Kilimanjaro Safari will give you a chance to see many of them as they take you through the African Savannah (though the jeeps you ride in will rarely slow down long enough to allow you a good picture. This has led us to refer to this attraction as the "Kilimanjaro 500"). If you do want a chance to get better pictures, Animal Kingdom offers the Wild Africa Trek, a tour that gives you up-close views of the animals, sends you on a rope bridge over hippos and crocodiles and lunch in a private safari camp on the savannah. Of course, this is Disney, so these "extras" will come at a cost.
As the Park's perennial Icon, the Tree of Life is truly a work of art in the best Disney tradition. At 145 ft, this 14 story artificial tree has the images of more than 300 animals hand-carved into its trunk. The base of the Tree of Life is home to the 3D film "It's Tough to be a Bug". On your way to see the show, you will invariably encounter those holding up the line to stare at each and every one of the animals on the tree. Feel free to push those people to the ground and keep going :)
A good portion of Animal Kingdom's growth came with the opening of Asia in 1999. The Maharaja Jungle Trek - which is a walking tour that features bats, komodo dragons, bats, deer, birds, did I mention bats? The 'bat cage' is just plain creepy, and if you have an aversion to bats the way I do, you'll find this part of the walking tour uncomfortable. The second notable attraction in Asia is Kali River Rapids. If you have trouble finding it, just look for the people going on the water ride wearing big yellow ponchos (to this day I can't figure out why you'd go on a water ride wearing a poncho - isn't it just easier not to ride if you don't want to get wet?). As water rides go, Kali River Rapids is okay - like most attractions these days it's a bit too short, and keeping with Animal Kingdom's general preachiness, you learn about the evils of deforestation while riding on machinery and materials that will still be trying to biodegrade in 500 years. Gotta love irony.
The newest Animal Kingdom attraction to grace the landscape in Asia is the incredible Expedition Everest. Opened on April 7, 2006 - the attraction features a two way track system that takes guests forward, then backward when attacked by the mythical yeti that guards the "forbidden mountain". While technically a roller coaster, it's a roller coaster of the Big Thunder Mountain variety - which means it's family friendly. I don't do well on coasters at all, and I enjoyed this one thoroughly.
There are also some unique dining experiences at Animal Kingdom. The Flame Tree Barbecue remains one of my steady favorites. The St. Louis Ribs or smoked 1/2 chicken are both excellent. While the Rainforest Cafe at Animal Kingdom falls under the category of "unique", it unfortunately seems to avoid consistency like the plague. This restaurant is a very 'hit or miss' experience.
Flame Tree BBQ [Discussion] [Menu]Some advice.... In an effort to keep the animals on a strict schedule, Animal Kingdom normally closes earlier then the other Disney theme parks. Arriving first thing in the morning is usually recommended during peak season. Kilimanjaro Safari and Expedition Everest get long lines very quickly, so be sure to hit those first, or at least get fast passes early in the day.
Rainforest Cafe [Discussion] [Menus]
It should also be warned that Animal Kingdom is, for some unknown reason, the hottest place on the face of the earth. The park is suspiciously devoid of shade, and while I'm all for authenticity in theming - it really doesn't need to be "Africa hot". If you can, avoid this park during the summer season - it's just an unpleasant experience. If you have to go when it's hot - HAVE A PLAN (and lots of water). The layout of Animal Kingdom is such that you're often forced to back track in order to navigate the park. This adds a lot of walking to the list of things to be aware of before going. A good pair of comfortable shoes will be your best friend at Animal Kingdom. You should also be sure to adjust your expectations to get the most out of this park. Most of what you will experience here will have a general message of conservation. While that's a good thing, and worthy of support - some arrive expecting a more traditional theme park experience and are invariably disappointed. It's important to appreciate Animal Kingdom for what it is - do that, and you'll have a very enjoyable time in this very unique park.
- Animal Kingdom Animals
- Dinoland USA
- Expedition Everest Photos
- estival of the Lion King
- Jammin Jungle Parade
- Tree of Life
Click Here for a No-Obligation Disney Vacation Quote
from Dreams Unlimited Travel
- Blog - Starbucks opens at the Magic Kingdom!
- Menu updated for the reopening of the Main Street Bakery - The Main Street Bakery is re-opening as the park's first Starbucks location.
- VIDEO: DIS Unplugged - 7in7: Polynesian - 06/11/13 - For more episodes of The DIS Unplugged visit http://www.disunplugged.com/
- VIDEO: DIS Unplugged - 7in7: Contemporary - 06/11/13 - For more episodes of The DIS Unplugged visit http://www.disunplugged.com/
- Annual passholders can save up to 35% when booking a room by June 19 - Annual passholders can save up to 35% when booking a Room Only reservation at select Walt Disney World hotels. Discount is valid for travel between 6/4/13 - 8/15/13.
- VIDEO: Disney's All Star Music Resort - Visit http://www.wdwinfo.com/disney-resorts/all-star-music-resort/ for more information on Disney's All Star Music Resort.
- Raglan Road Irish Pub plans Great Irish Hooley Festival - "Hooley" is Irish slang for party or celebration. There will be six top Irish bands playing traditional and rock tunes, as well as food, drink and dancing.
- Blog - Monsters University Homecoming at Disney's Hollywood Studios
- Details on 4th of July at Walt Disney World - Fireworks specials will be held at Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot.
- Limited Time Magic: The Lone Ranger, Graduation Ear Hats and Independence Week - An extended sneak peek of The Lone Ranger will be shown, graduation ear hats are available and there will be a special fireworks show for the week leading up to 4th of July!
- Reservations for Dining Experiences at Food & Wine Festival open August 13 - Phone lines open bright and early at 7:00am EST for guests to make reservations for the Dining Experiences at Epcot's Food & Wine Festival.
- Blog - The Heat is On - Tips for Staying Cool in the Theme Parks
- Blog - Wilderness Explorers at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
- Registration for the Princess 1/2 Marathon opens today - This race is held in February and celebrates women's health and fitness.
- Walt Disney World annual passholders save on water park admission all summer! - All summer long, Annual Passholders can save $4 on adult tickets and $3 off child tickets to Disney's Typhoon Lagoon and Disney's Blizzard Beach water parks.
- L'Artisan des Glaces opens in France pavilion - L'Artisan des Glaces, the new Artisan Ice Cream and Sorbet shop, has opened in the former location of the pavilion's bakery.
- VIDEO: Disney's Coronado Springs Resort Overview - Visit http://www.wdwinfo.com/wdwinfo/resorts/csprings.htm for more information on Disney's Coronado Springs Resort.
- VIDEO: Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground Overview - Visit http://www.wdwinfo.com/ for more information on the Cabins at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground.
- Epcot's Sounds Like Summer concert series begins tomorrow - The Sounds Like Summer Concert Series features some of the greatest tribute bands rockin' to U2, The Bee Gees, Bon Jovi and many more during select nights from June 9 - July 27.
- Limited Time Magic: Celebrate Homecoming with Monsters University - Celebrate Monsters University Homecoming each evening at Disney's Hollywood Studios! A DJ, the "Monster of Scaremonies," will play music and lead activities for the crowd.
- VIDEO: How To Cookout With The DIS Team - Visit http://www.disunplugged.com for more episodes of the DIS Unplugged.
- Car Masters Weekend coming up June 15-16 - There will be meet and greets with Lightning, Mater and Finn McMissile; 150 classic cars; autograph sessions with Chip Foose; exclusive merchandise; a Cars movie marathon and more!
- New interactive pirate game opens at Magic Kingdom - A Pirate's Adventure: Treasures of the Seven Seas is an interactive game in which guests will use pirate maps and "magic talismans" as they compete to become members of Captain Jack's pirate crew.
- VIDEO: Disney Park Bench - Aulani - Main Entrance - With our "Disney Park Bench" series, we're giving you a 5-minute break to relax with the sights and sounds of Aulani.
- Blog - Expo Dream Store & Silent Auction Return to Disney’s D23 Expo
- End Zone Food Court at All-Star Sports closed 8/4 - 12/20/2013 - End Zone Food Court will be closed 8/4/2013 - 12/20/2013. There will be transportation from the porte cochere to All Star Music or All Star Movies to dine in the Intermission Food Court or World Premier Food Court. The Arcade will be closed 8/4/2013 - 12/20/2013. It is being used as a temporary Food Court with "Grab & Go" items.
- Limited Time Magic: The Citizens of Main Street perform a summer trolley show - The Citizens of Main Street U.S.A. are celebrating summer with an old-fashioned trolley show.
- South African Winemakers Tour to be held at Jiko - Tables in Wonderland presents the South African Winemakers Tour on June 13.
- Annual Passholders receive a gift pack when booking Adventures by Disney - When Walt Disney World and Disneyland Annual Passholders book a 2014 Adventures by Disney vacation by 8/23/13, they will receive a special ABD gift pack!
- Price increase for Walt Disney World tickets - Pricing has been updated for all Walt Disney World ticket options.
- Blog - A Rainbow of Colorful Merchandise at Walt Disney World
- VIDEO: Disney Park Bench - Aulani - Aulani Lagoon Path - With our "Disney Park Bench" series, we're giving you a 5-minute break to relax with the sights and sounds of Aulani.
- VIDEO: Disney Park Bench - Aulani - Lobby - With our "Disney Park Bench" series, we're giving you a 5-minute break to relax with the sights and sounds of Aulani.
- 7 in 7 Blogs: All Star Music Resort - This week we feature Disney’s All Star Music and Disney’s All Star Sports Resort as part of our Seven Disney World Resorts in Seven Days.
- DIS Unplugged Podcast – 05/28/13 – Orlando Show - In this week’s show, Pete, Dustin, Shaun and Craig record the News, Housekeeping, & Rapidfire segment from a Grand Villa at Disney’s Aulani Resort & Spa! As part of our “7 in 7: Seven Disney World Resorts in Seven Days”, we discuss Disney’s All Star Music and Disney’s All Star Sports Resort. All this and more in this week’s edition of The DIS Unplugged!
- Blog - Monsters University Merchandise Scares Up Fun at Disney Parks
- VIDEO: Disney Park Bench - Aulani - Aulani Beach Sunset - With our "Disney Park Bench" series, we're giving you a 5-minute break to relax with the sights and sounds of Aulani.
- VIDEO: Disney Park Bench - Aulani - Aulani Lagoon Walking Path - With our "Disney Park Bench" series, we're giving you a 5-minute break to relax with the sights and sounds of Aulani.
- VIDEO: Disney Park Bench - Aulani - Aulani Beach - With our "Disney Park Bench" series, we're giving you a 5-minute break to relax with the sights and sounds of Aulani.
- Limited Time Magic: Monstrous Summer wake-up call and Celebrate the Magic summer edition - Have Mike Wazowski wake you up in the morning so you can head out to the parks to enjoy the summer edition of Celebrate the Magic.
- Blog - A Monstrous 24-Hour "All-Nighter" at Magic Kingdom
- VIDEO: DIS Unplugged - Live From Aulani - 05/21/13 - Follow along with us as we go beyond the parks!
- Blog - 7 in 7: Art of Animation Resort
- VIDEO: Disney Beyond The Parks - Producing the Aulani Live Show - Visit http://www.wdwinfo.com/beyondtheparks/#hawaii to view the full DIS Unplugged show from Aulani in Hawaii. For the latest updates on our trip to Aulani and Hawaii, visit http://new.livestream.com/TheDIS/aulani Join the DIS Team as we explore Disney beyond the parks, starting with Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa in Hawaii!
- Follow along as the DIS goes... Beyond The Parks!! - Members of the DIS Unplugged podcast team are headed to Disney's Aulani Resort, sailing on an Alaskan Disney cruise and taking an Adventures by Disney Backstage Magic trip!
- Blog - Help! A Walt Disney World Vet’s First Time at Disneyland – Part 5
- Livestream coverage of Star Wars Weekends events - Photos and video of Star Wars Weekends at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
- Schedule of artists for the Eat to the Beat concerts - As with all Disney events, themed entertainment is part of the festivities. Visitors to the Food and Wine Festival can "Eat to the Beat!"
- Festival of the Masters dates released for November 2013 - This art festival will be held at Downtown Disney November 8-10, 2013.
- Blog - FIRST LOOK: Disney's MyMagic+ MagicBand - The DIS got a first look at Disney's new MagicBands which are part of their MyMagic+ rollout! Take a look at the photos of the MagicBand and a brief review of what we thought about wearing them...
- Blog - Summer Dooney & Bourke Release Update
- VIDEO: Disney Park Bench - Disney's Hollywood Studios - Sunset Boulevard - With our "Disney Park Bench" series, we're giving you a 5-minute break to relax with the sights and sounds of Walt Disney World.
- Free admission to Blizzard Beach for Annual Passholders today! - Today, May 16, Annual Passholders will get complimentary admission to Disney's Blizzard Beach Water Park after 2:00 pm. Complimentary refreshments and giveaways will take place at Lottawatta Lodge.
- Blog - Moving the Needle at the Orlando Theme Parks
- VIDEO: Disney Park Bench - Magic Kingdom - Crystal Palace - With our "Disney Park Bench" series, we're giving you a 5-minute break to relax with the sights and sounds of Walt Disney World.
- Adventurers Outpost meet and greet location opens at Animal Kingdom - The new indoor meet and greet location for Mickey and Minnie is now open in Discovery Island.
- November 2013 Disney World park hours added
- Details released for 2013 Epcot Food and Wine Festival - A Scotland marketplace will be added. Dates for the Party for the Senses, as well as a partial schedule for the Eat to the Beat concerts also released.
- California Grill to debut new beverage menu
- SeaWorld pays first quarterly dividend
- SeaWorld presents Summer Nights celebration
- New sail dates added for the Disney Magic
- Rumor: Star Wars Land coming to Disney's Hollywood Studios?
- Disney plans maintenance for their reservation systems
- Changes to sail dates for the Disney Magic
- Disney Cruise Line holds first AquaDucky fundraiser
- Price increase for SeaWorld Orlando
- Hiring event planned for SeaWorld's Orlando parks
Today's Theme Park Hours
Epcot Future World:
Epcot World Showcase:
|9:00 - 11:00
9:00 - 9:00
11:00 - 9:00
9:00 - 10:00
9:00 - 8:00
9:00 - 8:00
9:00 - 8:00
Extra Magic Hour Evening: Epcot FW