Disney’s Animal Kingdom 101

Tree of Life at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is Walt Disney World’s youngest theme park. Opening on April 22, 1998, the park is dedicated to the ecosystem and the web of existence shared by all living creatures on the planet. The park features expansive lands showcasing over 1,500 animals from various regions of the world like Africa and Asia, a carnival-themed dinosaur play area, as well as one fictional alien planet from the film Avatar. The park’s most notable attractions are the Expedition Everest coaster, Kilimanjaro Safaris (giving guests a relatively up-close look at wild animals of the African Savannah in recreated habitats) and the thrilling Flights of Passage attraction located in Pandora: The World of Avatar. At the center of the park is the impressive and massive Tree of Life. This 14-story tall “sculpture” is adorned with carvings of over 300 animals that weave into the details of the tree.

Expedition Everest at Disney's Animal Kingdom

The Asia section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom gives guests a captivating look at the animals and countries of the East. Disney has given the area the title of the kingdom of Anandapur. This fictional kingdom is based on a combination of cultures and landmarks from countries like India, Thailand, and Mongolia. This is the home to the parks only rollercoaster, Expedition Everest, the wet and wild Kali River Rapids, as well as an in-depth walking tour at the Maharaja Jungle Trek.

Giraffe at Kilimanjaro Safari

Africa is the area of Disney’s Animal Kingdom that is themed to the cultures and animals of the African continent. Guests feel like they are walking down the dirt streets of rural villages while hearing the sounds of traditional music played by street performers. This section features one of the parks headliner attractions, Kilimanjaro Safaris. This tour is a winding truck ride through a recreation of the African Savannah featuring views of native African animals like lions, giraffes, and hippos. Other notable attractions in the land are the dazzling performance of The Festival of The Lion King and the relaxing and informative walking tours of the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trails.

Birds at the Tree of Life in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Discovery Island is the center of the park and the home to the Tree of Life. Here you’ll also find the 3-D attraction It’s Tough to be a Bug which is actually located in the base of the tree.

Dino-Rama at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Dinoland U.S.A. doesn’t seem to fit in as well with the theming of Disney’s Animal Kingdom as the rest of the lands, but that doesn’t phase the area’s biggest fans: kids. This section is a strange combination of dinosaurs and traveling roadside carnivals of the past. While Dinoland tends to skew towards younger guests with offerings like carnival games, and a Boneyard where kids can dig for fossils in a giant sandbox, there are a couple of rides as well like the Audio-Animatronic heavy Dinosaur. Recently the land received a new overlay with the addition of Donald’s Dino-Bash!, a celebration of Donald Duck’s discovery of his distant relation to the prehistoric creatures. This new inclusion features unique character experiences as well as an evening dance party.

Floating Mountains at Pandora the World of Avatar

Pandora The World of Avatar is the parks newest and most impressive addition. Since opening in 2017, guests have flocked to its amazing display of alien plants, and inhabitants native to the fictional planet featured in James Cameron’s science fiction film Avatar. Here you can virtually ride on the back of a banshee (a dragon-like creature from the film) or take a boat ride through the luscious alien jungles where the Na’vi live. The land features giant floating mountains with running waterfalls and expansive vines. Pandora really comes alive at night, when the entire land is lit up by bioluminescent plants and structures making this area one of the most magical evening experiences on property.

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Some Photos Courtesy Disney