Above is the ticket counter to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. This is the first of 2 blogs since we have so many pictures. In this blog I cover the park itself. I put all of the animals in the second part of the blog. Also we stayed off the property so I have no info about the hotels. But before we get started let’s go back to the start…
This is where the excitement gets started. A big smile crosses our faces once we see this sign.
A bit of perspective. My wife and I grew up on the west coast. Our natural destination for fun was Disneyland in Southern California. This was my second trip here and my wife’s first. At Disneyland you can see the park miles before you reach the gates. In Florida you don’t get to see the park until you are practically standing in it. After driving on the property for several minutes, this is the first real sign that you are at a Disney park.
Once you have paid $20 for standard parking and take the tram ride to the entrance you come to the first line of many for the day – the security line. Be prepared to open all backpacks, purses, and bags for careful inspection before entering the ticket area. It is also Christmas so the Christmas tree is up and decorated.
You can pay $35 for preferred parking but you do not get the tram ride and you end up walking more than the standard lot because they get no tram. Note that I consider the tram the first ride of the park.
Once you have successfully gone through security, THEN it is finally time to spend a lot of money on admission tickets. Just ignore that big hole in your pocket and go have FUN now!
For those that haven’t been there, the park is divided into four major areas and one minor one. The entrance is called the Oasis. Not sure why – just is. Since this is Florida everything is surrounded by waterways and bridges over those waterways.
The centerpiece to the park is Discovery Island. This is home to the iconic Tree of Life that most will recognize. It is worth looking over the tree at all of the animal carvings within it and around it. One of the things that surprised me was that the tree is not visible throughout the park. You can only see it in a small portion because of the size of the park. The 3 other major lands branch out from Discovery Island. There is Africa, Asia, and Dinoland USA.
This is a typical walkway through the park. This one leads to the Asia land. While this was not peak season and a Tuesday at that, there were times that it seemed crowded. There were many times when you could see rides that you would be waiting much longer in had it been a busy day. You will have much more fun and better value if you can plan your trip on “slow” days.
This is the Dinosaur ride in Dinoland USA of course. I would love to tell you all about it but it was broken when we were there. They said it may be open in a couple of weeks. They did have several dinosaur displays around that you can see in the gallery.
They do have other things to do in Dinoland. This is Dino-Rama which has a carnival atmosphere. There are carnival type games to win prizes along with a couple of wild rides. The games looked fun but I did not like the thought of carrying a big stuffed dinosaur around for the rest of the day.
Between Dinoland and Asia is the live show Nemo. This was really entertaining and relaxing as well. The show had wonderful puppetry and special effects. It keeps pretty true to the movie plot.
This is the iconic Mt Everest in Asia – home to the Expedition Everest ride. My wife did not want to go so it was up to me to be brave and take the challenge. As I approached the entrance the cast member told me about the single rider line around the corner. I was on the ride in 5 minutes with a family of 5. I sat with the Grandfather who was taking his grandchildren on the ride for the third time that day. I felt a little comfort in that these small kids were excited to ride it again but some anxiety that I have not.
YES, I made it. This was a very different rollercoaster ride than anything else I have ridden. I don’t want to give it away too much but it was a blast. If you like speed this is your ride. In hindsight I should have ridden it again but I’m getting older and it doesn’t take repetition to get me excited. I was just fine with one ride.
We skipped the water ride in Asia as it was not too hot out and we have ridden that type of ride before. Note that you do have to do some careful searching to find the entrance to most of these rides. they are hidden a bit within the décor that Disney sets.
The last of the lands to explore is Africa. Africa is all about animals so you can find out more in the second part of my blog. Above is a replica native hut display along the Wildlife Express Train ride. This train ride primarily takes you out to a petting zoo at Conservation Station. We declined the petting zoo. It is mostly geared towards children. The train ride itself is not very scenic other than the huts. Most of it is backstage pens where the animals are housed when needed.
This is a must go to place if you can possibly make it. It is expensive so I recommend doing a lot of homework including lodging, tickets, transportation, food, etc. Pick the time of year carefully as well. My suggestion is swallow the money before you go in and then just have a good time. I also suggest small groups. In my experiences and by watching others, it works best when there are few people to create issues. If not done right it can be a hardship with crying kids or whiny adults. Prepare, prepare, prepare, then have fun while in the park. That does not mean to plan every moment (unless that works for you) but have a basic plan in place to prevent everyone from wanting to do separate things and arguing. I had one rule – no arguing. It did not always work unfortunately but it can set the tone at least.
For more information and a start to planning here is the place to start: