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Old 12-28-2012, 10:20 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Feature Article: Overlooked Attractions at Animal Kingdom - Walt Disney World Attractions Review

Overlooked Attractions at Animal Kingdom - Walt Disney World Attractions Review
by Cheryl Pendry

In the final part of this series on some of Walt Disney World's overlooked attractions, it's the turn of Disney's Animal Kingdom. (Check out Part One, Part Two, and Part Three!) I often find, judging by the comments I read from others, that this is the most underrated of all four parks at Walt Disney World, which is such a shame, as there’s so much to see, and do here. Perhaps that’s part of the problem.

The attractions also aren’t always that easy to find, with many people oblivious to what’s just a few feet away from them. That starts with the Oasis, which people tend to rush past, but spend a few minutes here and you’ll be rewarded with animal sightings, something that then continues as you move into Discovery Island.

It’s not just real-life animals you can find here. We’ve had endless fun, trying to see how may animal carvings we can see on the Tree of Life, and every time we visit the park, we find new ones, always wondering how on earth we failed to see them before. Around the Tree of Life are various Discovery Island Trails, and we’ve loved venturing out along them, often the only ones within eyesight. It’s very rare you get the feeling of being alone at a Disney park, but you can here! The most isolated attraction here is Rafiki’s Planet Watch, which requires a separate train journey to access it. As a result, it’s something that many people never find, and I must admit that we have to make a specific point of going there, as it’s all too easy to forget about it. That’s a huge shame, as it is a real treat there, particularly the peek at the park's animal operations. It’s a fascinating glimpse into what must be one of the most amazing jobs to have at any Disney theme park in the world. However, because of its location, it does eat a huge chunk of any day at Animal Kingdom, which is why I think it’s so easy for us to skip.

Something else that I see so many people skip, despite its location at the exit of Kilimanjaro Safaris, is the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail. Although its starring act is the beautiful gorillas, there is just so much to see here that I'm disheartened when I see people walk past it. They have no idea what they’re missing!

Its sister attraction, Maharajah Jungle Trek in Asia, also suffers the same fate, with thrill-seekers making a beeline for Kali River Rapids. However, the animals you see here could easily occupy you for an hour, and it’s a great opportunity to slow down your touring and just take it easy. As well as the animals, the theming is just beautiful. The attraction really does transport you to a completely different land.

Of the three shows at Animal Kingdom, Flights of Wonder is perhaps the most often overlooked. Yet again, as with so many things at Disney, when you do experience it, it’s so much better than you remember. Just like so many of Epcot’s attractions, this blends education and entertainment beautifully, with you learning about the birds without you even realizing it. If you’re a photographer, like me, as with so much of the rest of this park, you’ll be in your element here.

Another beauty of Animal Kingdom is the strolling entertainers that you find there – another similarity to Epcot. My personal favorite is the beautiful, enigmatic, and unbelievable DiVine. There’s something very special about watching her, if you can spot her of course, as that can be exceptionally hard, especially when she’s in the undergrowth. After all, she is a vine! I always feel a twinge of disappointment if we can’t find her when we visit, as she really does make our day.

As I mentioned at the start of this article, a lot of the attraction of Animal Kingdom is the setting of this park, and that is something you’ll notice as you stroll around. Take time, perhaps here more than anywhere else, to look around, both up, and down, to ensure you don’t miss anything, from the playful monkeys outside Kali River Rapids, to the beautiful views across the many waterways, or the glimpses of the Tree of Life. Also, take time to talk to the cast members, as they may have interesting things to share with you. We can't count the times we’ve found them wandering around with critters in their hands, and it’s amazing how much you can learn from talking to them.

The often-overlooked sights are the real beauty of this park, and something you miss at your peril. It’s all too easy to leave here without fully appreciating Animal Kingdom. To do that takes time, and sadly that’s something we don’t always have enough of when we’re at Disney.

Added to PassPorter's Article Collection on 12-20-2012 03:12 PM

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Old 12-28-2012, 01:06 PM   #2 (permalink)
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If you really want to get into the details of the Animal Kingdom, I highly recommend "The Imagineer's Field Guide to Disney's Animal Kingdom at WDW" by Alex Wright. It's a little outdated but has all the original details of the park to help you make the most of your visit! It's a pocket size book that is easy to pack as well.
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Old 12-29-2012, 01:02 AM   #3 (permalink)
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My favorite park...

So many details within the park to discover. The different decorations on the several pavilions of Flame Tree BBQ, the different themed rooms at Pizzafari, Sculptures tucked away in the foliage, birds settling into the trees at dusk, the lighting after dark ...

The parade in Animal Kingdom is my favorite because it is so human scaled with touches of humor and opportunity to interact with the performers.
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Old 12-29-2012, 01:31 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Great article Cheryl. AK is one of our fav parks. We can spend 2 days here to do everything. We haven't been back on the train to Rafiki lately, so probably due for another visit.
We love the trails, and save them for later in the day when lines get too long for the attractions.
One of our fav things to do is to look for the baby gorilla, Lily, and to compare how much she's grown since our last visit! Her antics are adorable!
Love Flights of wonder too, but as people that go twice a year, we don't do this every visit. In fact, I'd like to see a new story line!
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Old 12-29-2012, 02:24 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Great Article, Cheryl!! AK is one of our favorite parks - and we had no idea about the animal operations there - will have to make sure we visit next time!!
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Old 12-29-2012, 03:18 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Overlooked AK

Animal Kingdom has become my second(a very close to World Showcase in Epcot being first) favorite park. If I don't get to the rides on the first day, it doesn't bother me one bit and that is why I allow two days for AK when we go. Even I didn't realize all the animals that are there(someone just did a trip report and I learned there are kangaroos in AK) Good excuse for another trip in the future-- I need to see the "roos"!!!!
I love AK just because it has what I call the "laid back" feel. You don't rush to get to the rides(some people do but not our family) and it's quieter.

Last edited by Pretty Kitty; 12-29-2012 at 03:21 PM..
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Old 12-29-2012, 08:04 PM   #7 (permalink)
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AK is my favorite park. Last trip, I struck up a conversation with a CM manning a t-shirt station in Asia and learned a bunch about Wyoming and the Dakotas. I also talked with a CM near the siamangs. I'm not ultra chatty with strangers, but it was very interesting. I missed the gorillas first trip, so I made sure we did that second trip. The tigers are always a must. Beautiful photo ops when you hit the trails. Still haven't seen the parade. It's on my to-do list for next trip.
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Old 12-30-2012, 09:38 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by rseaner View Post
If you really want to get into the details of the Animal Kingdom, I highly recommend "The Imagineer's Field Guide to Disney's Animal Kingdom at WDW" by Alex Wright. It's a little outdated but has all the original details of the park to help you make the most of your visit! It's a pocket size book that is easy to pack as well.
Hi and welcome to the boards!

Thanks for the recommendation - I'll check out.
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Old 12-30-2012, 09:39 AM   #9 (permalink)
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So many details within the park to discover. The different decorations on the several pavilions of Flame Tree BBQ, the different themed rooms at Pizzafari, Sculptures tucked away in the foliage, birds settling into the trees at dusk, the lighting after dark ...

The parade in Animal Kingdom is my favorite because it is so human scaled with touches of humor and opportunity to interact with the performers.
Just wanted to welcome you to the boards!
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Old 12-30-2012, 09:42 AM   #10 (permalink)
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One of our fav things to do is to look for the baby gorilla, Lily, and to compare how much she's grown since our last visit! Her antics are adorable!
I nearly died of shock when I saw her this time - I can't get over how much she'd grown!

Quote:
Love Flights of wonder too, but as people that go twice a year, we don't do this every visit. In fact, I'd like to see a new story line!
That would be nice to see, and might encourage more repeat visitors...
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Enjoying time with my donkey boy on our holiday visit to Disneyland Paris. The trip report for our Italy road trip is now complete, but the ones for our weekend away in Longleat and Stonehenge and our weekend away in Brussels are both continuing.

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Old 12-30-2012, 10:14 AM   #11 (permalink)
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I really enjoyed this series of articles - lots of "ooh we haven't done that for a while" moments. I've definitely got a few things jotted down for this summer's trip.
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