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Destination Disney: Animal Kingdom


This week’s theme for Heidi’s Destination Disney Carnival is Animal Kingdom.  Be sure to visit her blog for even more Animal Kingdom tips! 

My children love animals, so visiting the themed areas of the Animal Kingdom at Disney World to see some of 300+ species of animals is a real treat for my children!  After we pass through the the bag check point at Animal Kingdom and into the Palm Courtyard, our family looks around to see if one of Disney’s “unheralded treasures”, as named by Mike Scopa from All Ears Net, has come out to play with the children. This treasure comes “alive” in the form of a mobile palm tree, named Wes Palm. Conversing with Wes is very entertaining as he loves to surprise guests and give them a good laugh. I hear Wes Palm has a cousin named Pipa, who is a recycling can that may be found at Conservation Station. Pick up a Times Guide when entering the park to see their specific entertainment times or see their entertainment schedule a week or so before your vacation by visiting Steve Soares’s website.  


Meandering through the verdant and peaceful Oasis toward Discovery Island sets the tone for our special day. Past the Oasis stands the Tree of Life; be sure to visit this tree up close so you can see the hundreds of animal carvings that make up the bark of this tree. The intricate carvings on this imagineer-made, bonsai-inspired tree are gorgeous!


Our family likes to travel over to the village of Harambe for an open-sided vehicle tour of an African safari, Disney-style. Once seated in the safari vehicle, we look at the animal charts mounted to the vehicle that offer animal pictures with names for easy identification of the animals we may see on this savanna. Our close-up encounters with these exotic animals are amazing! After experiencing this attraction, it is easy to understand why this park is “nahtazu”, which is pronounced—not a zoo. Oh, by the way, be sure to watch out for poachers and help protect Little Red while on the safari!


My husband and I like to visit the Yeti living in the Asia section. To accomplish this we take advantage of Disney’s Rider Switch Pass where we take turns riding Expedition Everest and watching our girls. The benefit we receive is that only one of us is required to wait in the regular line. This person receives the Rider Switch Pass during their regular wait and the other redeems this pass later for minimal waiting time spent prior to their boarding the attraction. Expedition Everest is a smooth runaway train, roller coaster ride, that moves us, Himalayan trekkers, from our base camp forward and backward through Disney’s “forbidden mountain” as we try to reach Mount Everest. While we are in Asia we check our Times Guide to see when to best view the interesting Flights of Wonder avian show held at the Caravan Stage.


We also use the Times Guide to pick a show time to see Finding Nemo – the Musical which has large Dory, Marlin and Nemo puppets that dance and frolic around the animated stage with help from special actors who expertly maneuver them through their scenes. We love this show’s unique music and watching these skilled performers.  The eye-popping colorful sights and the performance of the Cast Members found here are spectacular! Another must-see show we pick a time to see is the Festival of the Lion King. This high-energy show brings huge animatronic animals out to play with talented and beautifully costumed performers, there is so much to see here! Many acrobats with interesting props and visuals entertain us to the music from The Lion King. I notice something new here each time I see the show. We sit toward the front of the bleachers to maximize the chance for our children to be picked by a performer to join the musical micro-parade that occurs toward the end of this show.


In Dinoland U.S.A., we are greeted by the giant and friendly-looking Cementasaurus on our way to TriceraTop Spin. We usually take turns digging around the Boneyard with our girls while my hubby and I use the Rider Swap feature to ride the time traveling Dinosaur attraction. We bring our girls to visit Disney’s oldest “Cast” Member, Dino-Sue, which is a reproduction of a 67 million year old, nearly complete T-rex fossil remains. We walk through Cretaceous Trail admiring the cycad plants and dinosaur sculptures.  Primeval Whirl, a unique rotating roller coaster with fun dips and tight curves, is also found near this area.


We take the walking tours offered through the ancient ruins of Anandapur Royal Forest of Southeast Asia’s Maharajah Jungle Trek and through Africa’s Pangani Forest Exploration trail for close-up encounters with lots of animals indigenous to these individual areas. The tigers on the Jungle Trek are especially incredible!  After these walks we cool off with a wild raft ride through the wet Kali River Rapids on the Chakranadi River in the Asian rain forest. It is humbling to see the impact of rain forest deforestation here.


Our Disney character-loving daughters wouldn’t dream of leaving this park without visiting the Safari-outfitted characters waiting for them over at Camp Minnie-Mickey. There are several trails you can take to meet up with your children’s best friends. Throughout the day they remain on the lookout for the Kids’ Discovery Club locations which offer them little adventures with Cast Members.  They are also searching for the vine girl who is another one of Disney’s unheralded treasures.  The first time we saw her we didn’t know she had the lovely name, DiVine, or even that she was human.  But, when we realized there was a real girl intertwined with all of that foliage, we were astonished at how well she truly personifies a vine by flowing like a growing vine or being stationary.  When walking around Animal Kingdom, if you see some foliage in the path, inspect it closer to see if you can find any human eyes among the leaves.  If you can, it is the extremely talented DiVine, and it just became your lucky day!  You really have to see her to believe it!


We ride the Wildlife Express Trail to Conservation Station to acquire valuable knowledge from the exhibits about conservation efforts, and possibly meet Rafikki, Jiminy Cricket and Pipa. Children love the Affection Section where they will encounter lots of friendly animals. They can pick up some tips on how to help animals at Habitat! Habit!  Conservation Station and their entire visit to this park will help them learn how to take their animal enthusiasm home and make a difference there.  Enjoy your next tour of Animal Kingdom, its WILD! 

Visit Heidi’s Destination Disney Carnival at her blog for even more Animal Kingdom stories.



August 25, 2008 Posted by | Disney | Leave a comment