The Animal Kingdom
I have to admit, out of all of the Walt Disney parks, I was the least excited for the Animal Kingdom. In fact, if Kerri and Mike hadn’t wanted to go, I probably would never visited this park at all. I am not a huge animal person. I like cats, and big cats like lions and tigers. Other animals can be cute, sometimes….but that is where the fanfare ends for me. I really don’t see what all the fuss is about over dogs, especially. I know this is all going to get me in trouble with you animal-lovin blog readers, but I am aim to tell the truth here! In terms of animal parks and kingdoms and what have you, I figured, you’ve seen one zoo, you’ve seen them all, right? Elephants, monkeys, lions, tigers, oh my, done, and few zoos impress me since having been to the San Diego Zoo.
HOWEVER, you can get back on your couch and put the pitchfork down, because I am proud to say that I was actually VERY surprised at the amount of fun and enjoyment I had at the Animal Kingdom! I did actually really enjoy myself! The park is not that big, and needs some more rides, or animals, or just more, but I still actually had a surprisingly good time!!
Most of the parks are really widespread, but you can see in different directions and get an idea of the lay of the land. The same is not true for the Animal Kingdom. It is modeled to look like a jungle, and when you walk in you cannot see anything above the trees, so you have no idea which way you are going towards what. The first ride we went on was the 4-D ride ‘A Bug’s Life’ which was so cute and really fun for both adults and kids. Then we saw the Tree of Life at the center of the park, and it was so beautiful! I remember seeing them building this Tree on tv, and to see it up close was really amazing. The tree has animals carved into the entire trunk, and it really is a magnificent sight.
There are not many rides in the Animal Kingdom, so we wanted to hit up the only big roller coaster, Everest, before it got too crowded. Everest is the other huge sight in this park, the mountain is gigantic! As you walk towards it, you walk through Africa and Asia, and the park is designed to look like the area that you are in. On our way to Everest, the park starts to look like Tibet, with freedom flags hanging around and fake back-packer store fronts. They tried to keep it authentic looking and the result is very cute.
The Everest roller coaster is definitely one of the best in all of Disney. The concept of the ride is that you are going up Mount Everest in a roller coaster, looking for a Yeti who they believe is on the loose. When you are walking through the line there is ‘Yeti memorabilia’, it is really cute! The ride is insane, you go upside down, backwards, forwards, in the dark. It is exhilarating! All of us loved this ride tremendously!
We also took a trail that leads through some zoo-like exhibits, we saw migratory birds, a few monkeys who were mostly all sleeping, and gorillas. I forgot how much I LOVE gorillas. I would have to include them in my very short list of favorite animals. They are so cool! It freaks me out how similar they are to humans. I could probably watch them all day.
We had a bit of a hard time at the Animal Kingdom, however. My ankles were sore from the amount of strollers that were run into them. When I was standing patiently behind a woman with a child, waiting to take her spot so I could see the gorillas, a guy with a stroller tried to tell both of us to move out of the way so he could fit his stroller in there. Then she turned around and said “In a minute I will be moving and you can come take my spot here.” Hey, lady, and guy with the stupid stroller, I paid to be here too! I get that this is your toddler’s first time seeing this park, but actually, it’s my first time too. I get that raising children is extremely difficult to do, and that it probably takes an incredible amount of time and effort to bring a child to Disney World, I get it. But, you had that kid, not me! I deserve my two minutes at the gorilla exhibit, too. You should be just as patient with the single folks!
There is apparently some awesome Dinosaur Land at the Animal Kingdom, but the main attraction is a Dinosaur ride that was closed while we were there, and the rest of the DinoLand was actually a sort of carnival? Living in New Jersey we have seen enough of those, which left our last stop to be the Kilamanjaro Safari. The line for the safari was incredibly long, so of course, we fast-passed it! The safari was really cool, and I was really glad we went on it. You go on an actually jeep-safari in the Animal Kingdom, and the schtick is that your jeep is chasing away the poachers, but seeing all of these animals in the meantime. You go through some water and ride dangerously over a rickety bridge. It was fun! We saw all kinds of animals, gazelles, hippos, rhinos, wart hog, a singular sleeping lion, a singular sleeping cheetah, an adorable baby elephant, the list goes on!
I am really glad that my friends wanted to go to this park, because I would have totally missed out on awesome experiences like the safari and the Everest ride! The Animal Kingdom ended up being a great time, but the whole park is really small, we did all of that in about 4 hours, and you could probably circle the entire park in about fifteen minutes!