To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.
-Steve Prefontaine
Make it simple, but significant.
- Don Draper

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Favorite Things: Disney's Animal Kingdom Attractions

I've procrastinated and put this one last because I expect it will be the hardest to write. The first time I visited DAK (December 1998) it wasn't even fully completed. Asia didn't exist. It was cold. The animals weren't really out at the Safari. I was disappointed. In 2001 when I went back to work for Disney I was told I'd be in Asia Attractions. At the time the only thing I could comfort myself with was the I wasn't working with food and I was in the park that closes the earliest. My oh my how my opinion changed. I feel so at home when I'm there. It is a truly beautiful park with so many places to explore. The story lines are so detailed, the decorations spot on. I think it doesn't get enough props because people just think it is a zoo. Well, as they say, "Disney's Animal Kingdom is many things, but one thing it's not... Nahtazu!"

  • Welcome! Here you'll find so many plants and exotic birds. Most people run right through, but if you do pause here and there you might find something you've never seen in person before.
  • My personal favorite is the babirusa, which means "Pig deer" in Indonesia. It is kind of one of those things that "only a mother could love" - and I really do love them. If you enter toward the right, you'll find them!
  • When you get through the beginning jungle feel look ahead and you'll see your first view of the Tree of Life!
  •  Ronda & Jessica - 2009
Discovery Island
  • This is the center hub of the park. The center showpiece is the park icon, the Tree of Life. Take some time to explore the pathways around the tree. You can find Galapagos Tortoise, Kangaroos, a HUGE catfish, and much more. It also gives you a closer look at the trunk of the tree. Everybody can have fun finding different animals carved into it! This park isn't about hurry hurry hurry. It is about slowing down and enjoying your surroundings. There is a lot to see, as it is actually the largest of the four theme parks!
  •  You can find Flick by the catfish!
  • It's Tough To Be A Bug! is a 3-D show located inside the Tree of Life.  Warning - some children do get frightened by it. Sitting closer to the screen will actually feel more intense in some portions, so you might want to sit in the middle/back area if you have smaller, skeptical children. It is a very cute show, but it has moments of surprise!
  •  Hopper. Did you see the Travel Channel show about DAK? If so, you saw my best friend talking about Hopper and his 70+ functions!
  • The major shopping ports are located here on either side of the Tree.
Camp Minnie-Mickey
  • Do you want to meet the characters? This is your spot! There are three character greeting trails where you can get photos and autographs.
  • Festival of the Lion King. I cannot stress this enough. GO SEE IT!! 100% Must-Do!! Remember how I said before that I hate show? I NEVER miss this one. I always get goose bumps. It is a-freaking-mazing. You'll want to get in line early because it is usually a full house. Singing. Dancing. Timon. Pumba. Simba. Stilt walkers. Fire. Tumble Monkeys. If you don't enjoy it then, well, what the heck is wrong with you??
  •  2009
  • This USED to be the big draw.... got that Africa? You're not top dog anymore. So there! (Oh no, we didn't have a rivalry at all. Nope!) Africa has a cool feel to it. Drummers, dancers, the full bar, shopping, character dining, it has a more party feel to it and does feel pretty crowded at times.
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris. This is another must-do in DAK. Every ride will be different since you are heading out to the animals. We're not talking animatronics here. These are legit lions, elephants, gazelles, giraffes, hippos, cheetahs .... and tons more. Have your camera ready because you really never know what will happen. I've been in a truck that is trapped because of a rhino blocking the path looking like it wants to charge. The animals seem to be more active in cooler weather - which bodes well for Princess weekend!
  • Pangani Forest Exploration Trail. Upon exiting the Safari head to your right and walk through the trail. You'll see real life meerkats, hippos, birds and .... gorillas! The gorillas are a major hit - especially with the little baby that is running around now. Such a cutie!
  • Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade. I know I've ignored parades, but this one is my favorite. It loops through the park, beginning and ending in Africa. I like it because the music is fun and it is a fast moving parade. I don't have time to get bored. And trust me, I've worked crowd control on this countless times ... and I still love it! I think you'll like it, too!
 Rafiki's Planet Watch
  • From Africa you can take a short train ride out to Rafiki's Planet Watch. Out there you'll find a petting zoo and be able to see where they actually do check ups and operate on the animals. You might even end up out there when an animals is being tended to!
 Dinoland U.S.A.
  • Chester and Hester's Dino-Rama. This is a carnival atmosphere. You will find your typical carnival games here.
  • Primeval Whirl. I am not a fan. I'd like it to go bye-bye and replaced with something better. Four people ride together in a roller coaster that whips you around in circles. I find it more comfortable if you have four people. If you are riding single you kind of get jostled around a bit. I'll be honest here ... it breaks down a lot and stops in bad weather. I don't generally ride this one, but that's just me.
  • Triceratop Spin. This is basically Dumbo - in dino form.
  • Dinosaur.  "It's fast. It's a blast. It's in the past!" "Definitely not our dino." A quote worth ride for sure! This attraction is in the dark a lot and has some loud moments. That's my warning for younger riders. I think it is really fun! The animatronics are amazing. I had the opportunity to walk the track with the lights on a few times and seeing them up close, you can really see the detail that Disney puts into its attractions!
  • Finding Nemo - the musical. I almost forgot this one. Okay, if you like Nemo you'll probably enjoy it. This doesn't wow me. Frankly I get freaked out by adults trying to have baby voice and seem really young. But it is a full blown show, and kind of long, with singing and dancing. The seagulls are my favorite part.
  • Namaste! Welcome to the most beautiful land in all of Disney's Animal Kingdom! When you visit Anandapur, do me a favor and just notice the attention to detail. Look at the ground you are walking on -- see the muddy tire tracks and foot prints? Look up at the power lines. Notice the advertisements beckoning you to visit Kali Rapids Expeditions. See that marble pavilion? It is brought over from India. See that wood? Yes, that is really from Southeast Asia. Please don't climb on the Tiger Tree. We respect it, it isn't for climbing. Take it all in. It is fabulous. It will always be my home!
  •  2002? 2003? Please stay off the tree!
  • Maharajah Jungle Trek is where you'll see animals that include the Komodo Dragon and tigers. Oh they are so pretty! And don't skip by the bat house with the Malaysian Flying Fox and Rodriguez Fruit Bats!
  •  2009
  • Flights of Wonder. This is a show about birds. Yeah - sounds lame, right? WRONG!! When I found out I'd be working here occasionally I wasn't happy. But it is actually a pretty cool show! A lucky guest or two will even make it on stage to be part of the show. I got to do it once and it was fun to be on the opposite end of things for a change! If you want to sit and rest, take a little visit to the Caravan Stage!
  •  2002/3 - those pants were HORRIBLE!
  • Kali River Rapids. Um, Best Ride in the entire universe??? Alright, I'm reaching here. Ooh wait -- Namaste, welcome to Kali Rapids Expeditions, the number one rafting company in Anandapur where you WILL get wet and possibly soaked! I miss that spiel. And that is the truth. You WILL get wet. There is no one "wet seat." It is a round raft that is not on a track. One wet seat might be the dry one next time. This is my home turf out of all the attractions. I was a trainer here for a few years before moving backstage to an office. It's a shorter ride, with one drop that looks scarier than it is. On a hot day this is a not-to-be-missed attraction!
  •  2001 with my girls, Moniq, Yuli and Eet
  •  2001 - before the river is a-flowin'
  • Expedition Everest. If you love coasters and themed attractions then you do not want to miss this one! Keep your eyes open for the Yeti and enjoy the amazing view you get for a few seconds at the beginning. This is a totally unique roller coaster and you really should ride it!! Even the queue, just like Kali's queue, is completely themed and great for not letting you get bored. These are probably the two best queues on property actually!  No bias at all from this Anandapurian, not at all!
  •  2009 with Jessica. Front row!!
  •  2008 with Mike, Greggy Pants & Little Brian
  • And don't miss the gibbons!! White-Cheeked and Saimang. You will most likely HEAR them before you even see them. I could go on at length about them, but I just want to stress this ... They are NOT monkeys. If you say "Look at the monkeys!" and you hear a girl say "they're NOT monkeys" then turn around ... it is probably me! They have pretty cool temples that they took over during their construction - but the storm left the temples in island form, so they are now they forever. (I love a good story line!) Occasionally the gibbons leave for a while, allowing young blond girls to climb on their temple! Oops!
  •  2003 - Rocking the waders at the Siamang temple!
I really hope you take a day or part of one to visit this park. It's not what people typically think of when they think Disney. I truly really do love it! Tell me how much you love it, too! If you go with me I'll give you an in-depth private tour - and VIP seats for Lion King. You know, just sayin'! 

That's it for My Favorite Things for the four parks. In case you missed any, check out the Magic Kingdom, Disney's Hollywood Studios and Epcot. And don't miss my random tips, suggestions about dining and ideas of things to do outside the parks!

This was photo heavy on Asia. That's because Asia is the BEST! I do take photos in all sections, but this is MY blog and I am obviously biased!  Coming up next, one final pre-Princess Disney post. This one will be the outtakes, if you will. Bloopers. Silly photos. Just a plain ol' photo blog! Less talking, more looking!


  1. I just have to say that I have been THOROUGHLY impressed with Dinosaur every time I have ridden it! What an awesome attraction!

  2. I. Love. Festival of the Lion King. I get a little teary eyed every time.

  3. You should be a travel agent with all this detailed information. Definitely will use this when we finally make it there!

  4. My favorite part of your Disney posts is ALWAYS the outfits in your pics! Love you, mean it.

  5. Reading all your posts makes me wish I had time to visit the parks this visit.

  6. I love the Lion King Festival!! I get goose bumps each time too!! I think the Tumble Monkeys are my fave!

    I really love this park - the safari, the Yeti, tigers, gorillas, elephants, all three dinosaur rides and Restaurantasaurus!! Although the best part about it is the name! :) All the details in this park are amazing.

  7. OK...never been to Dworld. Just Dland. I think i would get totally LOST there!!!

    I could rent out nathan to take your photo sometime :) Or you could have me do it . =D

  8. I finallllly went and saw Lion King for the first time this year. OMG it was amazing!!! Not sure why but people I know told me that they loved Nemo the best so I never even went over to LK. I found Nemo to be mehhh too. Def my new favorite show in the parks!

  9. All these posts totally make me want to visit FLorida now.

  10. New follower- linked to you from giraffy! Thank you so much for posting these goodies just in time for the Princess 1/2!

  11. Ok, I have to admit I've never been tempted to visit Animal Kingdom--but after reading this I totally want to go! You make it sound fab!


Thanks for reading my little blog, your comments rock my compression socks!! ºoº