Friday, April 13, 2012

Appreciating Disney's Animal Kingdom

When Animal Kingdom first opened in 1998, I did not appreciate what this park had to offer.  Now it has two of my top ten favorite things to do in Walt Disney and having a child who loves animals, I have an entirely new appreciation for all that this park has to offer.  Walt Disney had a passion for animals, even wanting to put live animals in the Jungle Cruise.  They never worked out.  Luckily, Walt's love of animals was never forgotten and is now represented in Disney's Animal Kingdom.  It is a park that is entertaining, educational and brings attention to conservation efforts.

There are two attractions in the Africa section.  As soon as you enter Africa, guests are strolling through the African Village of Harambe and heading toward the Harambe Wildlife Preserve, where you can experience an African safari in an open-air jeep.  As you exit Kilimanjaro Safaris, the entrance to the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail is straight ahead.  If you want to get even closer to the animals, as of 2010 a Wild Africa Trek has been added to list of Disney magic you can experience for an extra cost.

Kilimanjaro Safaris is an attraction that has gone through story line changes over the years.  When originally opened, it had a story line of capturing poachers and saving Big Red, and even had wardens aboard the jeeps.  Today, the focus of the attraction is more on the animals along the safari with the poacher story line taking a back seat.  For me, I actually enjoy just listening to details about the animals.  I wouldn't be bothered if the story line were dropped completely.  Though I have never been to Africa and experienced a true African safari, I can say that I feel like this is just what it must be like.  As you make your way around the Harambe Wildlife Preserve in your jeep, you observe animals in habitats that Disney created to replicate their habitats in Africa.

The Pangani Forest Exploration Trail is one of the places where I really have learned to take my time through the park.  There are so many amazing displays, but there is one spot I could spend a lot of time just watching, and that is the Gorilla Research area. There are a few types of gorillas, but the silverbacks are amaing to observe. It is hard to imagine how big they actual are until you watch them interact with each other and their surroundings.

I no longer consider Disney's Animal Kingdom a half day park. We take at least an entire day to take everything in, talk to cast members about all the types of animals and enjoy all that it has to offer.  It is an amazing way for the Walt Disney Company to bring Walt's love of animals to life.

1 comment:

JenniferLissak said...

I love DAK, too - it's my husbands fave.. too many people underestimate it!  My favorite trivia about the park is that the Rapids were originally supposed to have the live animals right next to it - specifically the tigers (they're right across the path).. they were planning all of it until someone pointed out that Tigers like water... so they had to move them away!