My family and I visited Walt Disney World in November. It was our first trip there and I must admit, it was so much more than I had expected. I had visions of Cinderella’s castle, the classic Dumbo ride, princesses and Mickey & Minnie Mouse. What I didn’t realize was just how big Disney World is. Not only is it large in size (as big as the city of Ottawa) but it also includes Four, very unique Theme Parks; Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios & Epcot.
Since there is so much to see and experience in each theme park, I would highly recommend visiting Disney World for more than three days. To help you plan your visit and make the best of your time there, I’ll recap some of our favourite rides and attractions from each park. You can also check out THIS POST for additional tips and information (about FastPass and more) to make the best of your Disney World experience.
In this post, I will focus on the top five highlights from Animal Kingdom. You will need at last a full day here to explore the park and walk the trails that lead you to a variety of exotic animals.
Animal Kingdom is divided into six areas: Oasis, Discovery Island, Africa, Rafiki’s planet watch, Asia and Dinoland U.S.A.
1. Kilimanjaro Safari (Africa) – this is not your typical “zoo” ride. Board the open air safari bus that takes you on a 22 minute ride through an African savanna. The bus operator will slow down and point out where all of the animals are. You will “ooh” and “aah” at every turn when you witness the majestic lions, baby elephants, the gentle giraffes and more. This was my husbands favourite part of the whole trip.
2. Festival of the Lion King (Africa) – Remember the Lion King? I do! It’s a classic Disney movie from when I was growing up. This show really took me back as I found myself singing along. Luckily, my voice was drowned out by the performers. There is lots of audience interaction and the costumes and acrobatics are spectacular. It’s a great show for the whole family, regardless of age.
3. Dinosaur (Dinoland U.S.A) – this ride is pretty unique and takes place inside a dark hall. Take a time machine back to prehistoric time to help save a dinosaur from extinction. I took my five year old with me and while he bravely said he loved the ride, he did have his eyes closed most of the time. While I would highly recommend it, it’s probably more suited for older kids who don’t scare easily. Even I let out a little screech when the last dinosaur came towards us.
Other highlights at Dinoland that are more suited for younger kids include the Vineyard playground and the TriceraTop Spin ride that my two year old son, Ryan and I went on.
4. The Tree of Life (Discovery Island) – not only does the Tree of Life offer a stunning backdrop to your pictures, but you can literally stare at it forever trying to find the animals engraved in it. I recommend viewing it from the back side (in Africa) as well as the front side (on Discovery Island).
5. Character meal (Africa) – while we didn’t dine here, I know that one of the main attractions for families with younger kids are meeting their favourite Disney characters. You can do so, while enjoying a meal, at Donald’s Dining Safari at Husker House which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Donald will greet you at the door and inside you will find Goofy, Daisy Duck and Mickey Mouse. Character dining is extremely popular so make sure to book well in advance (anywhere between 6 to 3 months prior to your visit) to ensure you receive your date, time and meal of choice. If your plans change, you can always cancel your reservations 48 hours in advance of your date without penalty.
What are some of your favourite rides or attractions at Animal Kingdom?