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Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Our adventures in Disney World- Animal Kingdom

Our adventures in Animal Kingdom

It is tough to say which park I enjoyed the most on our summer holiday at Walt Disney World but the most beautiful park I felt was Animal Kingdom. Having travelled in Asia previously I was blown away with the attention to detail in both the Asia and Africa areas of the park. Talk about photogenic! I would turn around with my camera and the view in every direction was stunning.

View over to Asia
View over to 'Asia'

Over two days we did all attractions in the park at least once except the UP bird show which was repeatedly cancelled due to the threat of lightening.  From entering the park on our first day the kids were engaged by cast members carrying small displays with interesting mini beasts and exhibits. They soon came across the Wilderness Explorer sign up hut and took their pledge and got their books. This was another excellent way to engage the kids throughout the day as they completed tasks throughout the parks and earned stickers for their books. There were a lot of challenges to complete so by day two the kids were not so keen to continue and didn't finish their books but I loved the concept and the way that the kids were engaged in learning about the environment throughout.

Our adventures in Animal Kingdom
Making their Wilderness Explorers' promise

As we arrived quite early we were able to get fun magic shots taken in front of the very amazing Tree of Life without the crowds around. The Tree of Life was an attraction in itself in my eyes as I could spend all day looking at it and still see new creatures in its trunk. It was a truly beautiful concept, I struggle sometimes with Disney's use of 'fake trees' especially in a world where real trees are so valuable but I see the tree of life as almost a large monument to the environment. We abandoned our 'Touring Plan' very early on as we noticed that at park opening the Kali River Rapids had a fantastic 5 minute queue so went straight there. In a way it was a shame not to queue as the surroundings in the queue for this ride are such a treat! Like a trek through an Indian village, this ride is is beautifully and intricately themed. I was lucky that I didn't get very wet on the rapids unlike some of the others in my family. It was so hot that everyone dried off quickly. We rode the Kali River Rapids once on each of our two visits to the parks. The kids also enjoyed soaking people on the ride by controlling the water shoots from the bridge.

Our adventures in Animal Kingdom
Controlling the water from the bridge...
We then headed to Pandora, the world of Avatar. This area is quite different to other parts of the parks as it is so beautiful and natural looking but is a completely fictional world based on the Avatar film. It is beautiful to look at but very busy which made it harder to enjoy all the scenery. We came across the Pandora drummers and the kids joined them with large maracas and other instruments. It was a beautiful, haunting sound that echoed around the area.

Our adventures in Animal Kingdom
Pandora drummers

This made the atmosphere perfect for our first fast pass, Navi River Journey.  This gentle indoor boat ride through dark scenes showed the beauty of the imagined Pandora landscape. This was created through a mixture of models, animated and digitally produced creatures and scenery. It is only possible to book a fastpass for one of the Avatar rides each day so on our second visit we went on the much anticipated Flights of Passage! Have been quite scared on Soarin I did wonder how I would cope, I really wondered how my 7 year old son would cope but didn't need to worry! The ride involves each person sitting on a seat which is similar to that of a motorbike. It is possible to hold the hand of the person next to you but you are very restricted when in the seat as they do rise in a bank in the air when it is possible to see exactly how many other people are there too, that in itself is quite spectacular although my husband didn't even notice! The seat itself only moves around a bit during the ride but that combined with wind and water effects make it quite spectacular, I really enjoyed it and found, because it was computer generated rather than 'real' footage it was easier for me to cope with that Soarin. My daughter kept her eyes shut all the way through, however, but my son, wow, he was really at home riding that dragon!

Our adventures in Animal Kingdom
View over to 'Africa'

Our adventures in Animal Kingdom
Entertainers in 'Africa'

Animal Kingdom hosts a wide range of beautifully presented opportunities to view animals. This includes the walk through 'Gorilla Falls' area and the popular Kilimanjaro Safari, which we all did together and then on our second day my son and I took the safari again as our final attraction. We saw a wide range of animals which were described in the commentary from our guide. The natural setting is beautiful and the animals clearly have more space than in a zoo during the day whilst in the safari park lands. The lions were particularly beautiful and photogenic!

Our adventures in Animal Kingdom
Duffy on safari...

Our adventures in Animal Kingdom
Lion on the Kilimanjaro Safari

We were able to see the night time accommodation where the animals stay overnight on the train trip over to the Rafiki's Planet Watch area. In this area my son and I met Rafiki and we explored the environmental exhibits and saw the animal hospital. Doc McStuffins gave Safari Duffy bear a very funny check over and my daughter groomed the goats in the petting zoo.

Our adventures in Animal Kingdom
Duffy has a check up!

Our adventures in Animal Kingdom
Grooming the goats at Rafiki's Planet Watch

My favourite animal area was one we visited on day two, the Maharajah Jungle Trek was an opportunity to see monkeys, deer and tigers against a backdrop the 'ruins' painted with stunning Hindu Gods, this really evoked my trip to India.

Our adventures in Animal Kingdom
Maharajah Jungle Trek- can you spot the tiger?

When I think back to all we did at Animal Kingdom we certainly packed it in, despite stormy weather both days. We saw Pocahontas, Dug and Russell and the funny Bugs Life 3d film. We saw the wonderfully colourful Festival of the Lion King show on day one and the slickly produced Nemo musical on day two. On day one we braved Everest using baby swap as there was no way my 7 year old would ride it. This has to be the best 'thrill' ride I have ever been on, I was so nervous watching my daughter and Keith ride it and seeing the carriages drop down the hill time after time but when I finally got the courage to go on I laughed all the way through! It was truly thrilling and I really felt I had conquered Everest!
Our adventures in Animal Kingdom
Duffy strikes a pose!

We chose to shelter from the storm by meeting Mickey and Minnie in their Safari gear, this was one of my favourite meet and greets and we also met characters in safari outfits at our character buffet lunch at Tusker House- who knew that Mickey and Minnie would own two different styles of safari outfit!!!
Our adventures in Animal Kingdom
Daisy at Tusker House lunch

Across both days we tackled the very different part of the park which is known as Dinoland USA. Most of the rides in this area evoked the fairground alongside the very silly Dinosaur ride which was about my son's limit as it did a lot of bouncing around in the dark, we rode this twice- once with and once without fastpass. We found all the rides in Animal Kingdom were pretty much a walk on in the evenings except the Pandora rides. On the second trip to Animal Kingdom the kids loved the Boneyard, a fantastic outdoor softplay style area where Pluto was also hanging out and having fun with the kids! We met some of the characters including Launchpad McQuack and Chip and Dale in their Dinosaur Onesies. My daughter declared these as the cutest characters she had ever met and wanted her own meet and greet with them. We ended up with a record 27 photos on the photopass from that one meeting!
Our adventures in Animal Kingdom
Group hug!

At the end of our first day at Animal Kingdom we watched the Animal Kingdom night time show, Rivers of Light. I preferred this over the other two lake shows- Illuminations at Epcot and Fantasmic at Hollywood Studios as I thought it was very beautiful watching the boats and animals illuminated on the lake, the whole thing had a clarity which I felt the other shows lacked. A perfect end to a day in what I have concluded was my probably my favourite park at Walt Disney World.
Our adventures in Animal Kingdom
Rivers of Light










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