Touring Disney's Animal Kingdom
Disney's Animal Kingdom, the newest jewel in the Walt Disney
World crown, is a blend of nature and adventure packaged with all of the
exotic atmosphere that the Imagineers could muster. The park is
visually astounding. The entire environment of the park envelopes
you into the wild jungles, savannas, and rainforests of the world.
The park is laid out somewhat like the Magic Kingdom, but
only loosely so. There is an entryway (analogous to "Main Street
USA") called the Oasis. This area is a lush jungle environment
with plants and rock formations scattered about. There are
several species of small animals and birds on display in very natural
looking enclosures (you don't realize, in fact, that the creatures are
"caged" because they're not...they're simply inhibited from
leaving their habitats.) The large, obviously man-made (odd that
they didn't do a better job of making it look natural) waterfall to the
left is the backside of the Rainforest Cafe. You can enter
the restaurant from the plaza side or the park side. As you make
your way beyond the Oasis, you end up on Discovery Island (formerly Safari
Village), a group of buildings and attractions arranged roughly in a half-circle
around the Tree of Life. Radiating away from Discovery Island clockwise
from the left most is Camp Minnie-Mickey (a character greeting and show
area), Africa, Asia, and Dinoland USA.
I suggest that you tackle Animal Kingdom very carefully.
Keep the following ideas in mind as you plan your time in the park:
When you arrive at Animal Kingdom on show day, get a
copy of the park brochure. The map will be worth it's weight
in gold until you get your bearings down...and the brochure also includes
a daily show schedule that you'll find valuable.
Take a good look at the map in the visitor's guide...and
keep it handy as you walk about. You'll find that the it's much
harder to find your way around the park with a "hub" that
is designed to not look symmetrical. There are many winding
paths that can take you far from your intended destination if you're
Unlike the Magic Kingdom or Disneyland, Animal Kingdom
is not laid out with access from one "land" or realm to
another. The only way to get from Dinoland USA to Asia is to
walk through Safari Village. The only way to get from Camp Minnie-Mickey
to Africa is through Safari Village. It tends to make getting
from one place to another a bit tedious.
Since the park is so physically huge, you'll want to
minimize walking...and crossing and re-crossing your path as you cris-cross
from one side of the park to another should be avoided if at all possible.
I recommend that you focus your initial efforts on the
scheduled shows about the park. During the day, when a
gap opens up in the show schedule, you can fill in with the other
attractions in the park.
I also recommend that you hold off on visiting Kilimanjaro
Safaris until the end of the day. All reports indicate that
the animals are much more active in the evening than they are during
the morning or afternoon hours.
The other continuously loading attractions, Countdown
to Extinction, It's Tough to be a Bug, Kali River Rapids, and so on
can be enjoyed whenever you're in the neighborhood...and the queue
The Wildlife Express to Rifiki's Planet Watch, Rifiki's
Planet Watch itself, and the exploration trails are definitely worth
visiting, but I would plan on enjoying them either early in the day
or toward the end. The size of the crowds that form in these
areas at the back of the park peak during the mid-afternoon hours.
No matter if you plan to see and do everything in the park,
or simply to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and wonderful horticulture of
this park, you won't go away disappointed.
Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide