My family went to Disney World just once when my brother and I were younger. Back then, Animal Kingdom had just opened, and we only had time/money for 2 parks, so we stuck to the ever popular Magic Kingdom and Epcot. This was my first trip to Animal Kingdom. My dad wanted to make it special for me, since we had limited time, so he went ahead a few days prior and scoped out the place for attractions he thought I’d enjoy.
First stop was the Kilimanjaro Safari, which is an open air ride in a vehicle with a real driver through a park made to look like East Africa. Picture a ride through a zoo, but without the obviously defined boundaries, and more up close and personal, with a knowledgable and funny guide. If you want to see more animals, go in morning when the majority of the animals are the most active. The one exception are the elephants – if you’re whole objective is to see elephants, try later in the day.
After the Kilimanjaro Safari, we caught the next showing of Festival of the Lion King, which features live performers, as well as a few animatronics. The performers get the crowd involved and energized. Overall, it’s a lot of fun for all ages and my dad and I both had a great time.
Following lunch and a ride on the Wildlife Express Train (which turned out to be more of a kids attraction), we headed for the main roller coaster of Animal Kingdom – Expedition: Everest. The line was long, but we never got bored. In the first part of the line, it looks like you weaving through an old temple, and in the second part, there’s a room with all kinds of articles and “evidence” of Yeti siting and attacks. As a matter of fact, the whole ride centers on the Yeti. Exhibition: Everest was one of my favorite rides in all four parks. I love roller coasters, and this one had everything – I couldn’t stop screaming the entire time!
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the focal point of Animal Kingdom – the Tree of Life in the middle of Discovery Island. The outside of the giant tree is sculpted with designs of various animals, and the closer you get, the more detail you can see. Underneath the Tree is the attraction A Bug’s Life, based on the movie and in 3-D. Even if the attraction doesn’t seem like your kind of thing, it’s worth going, just to see the tree up close and all the detail that extends even to its roots.