Disney not your thing? Forced into a trip by your family/partner/friends? Give Animal Kingdom and Epcot a shot. Mickey and the movies are less in-your-face in these two parks, and there’s no shortage of fun activities. Trust me.
Animal Kingdom is basically a theme park/zoo hybrid, in the best possible way. Where else can you find an animal reserve right next to some of the best thrill rides Disney has to offer? There’s even a 30 minute version of “The Lion King” musical that’s part-Broadway, part-circus, all-entertaining.
Let’s go meet Barney!
Check out the cute kid clinging onto his dad! The adults seem only mildly amused.
Animal Kingdom is divided into a few sections like “Asia”, “Africa”, “Discovery Island”, and so forth. “Dino-Rama” is part of “DinoLand U.S.A.”, and home to one of my favourite roller coasters, Primeval Whirl. The coolest part is that it could easily be a stand-alone amusement park, an old-school one with a dinosaur theme. Apart from my Mickey ears, you wouldn’t even know that it’s Disney World!
Of course, if you do want the Disney magic, you don’t have to look far. I can’t emphasise enough the amazing convenience of Dining Plans and Character meals. Here at the Tusker House Restaurant in “Africa”, you don’t have to worry about missing Goofy or Daisy while you’re at the buffet spread, as the cast members will give you ample prep time.
TIP: Grab a FASTPASS just before lunch, and you should be able to waltz into the attraction after enjoying your meal!
While planning for the trip, I read that the trails would be jam-packed with tourists ambling at a snail’s pace. We were so lucky that it wasn’t like that for us. Sure, there were other people, but it wasn’t so bad that all you could see were humans.
In the aviary, Edwin descended into trigger-happy madness. I’d turn around to see him half-hidden by tree branches, photographing some bird minding its own business. “Gotta collect them all!” he said. Right.
If I never get the chance to go on a real African safari, this might just be enough. We managed to get good seats on the 32-seater vehicle, and the driver would stop whenever possible for us to take pictures. The more dangerous animals are separated from the tourists by almost-invisible barriers. These barriers also ensure that the lions don’t eat the zebras when the rangers aren’t looking.
Other animals get to roam about freely. We were actually interrupted by an ostrich crossing the road. The driver had to make an unplanned stop and we sat there in amusement while the ostrich took one look at us and strutted off like a boss.
The Tree of Life is to Animal Kingdom what Cinderella Castle is to Magic Kingdom. About 325 carved animals make up the surface of the tree! TouringPlans.com describes it beautifully:
“The Tree of Life, apart from its size, is quite a work of art. Although from afar it’s certainly magnificent and imposing, it’s not until you examine the tree at close range that you truly appreciate its rich detail. What appears to be ancient gnarled bark is, in fact, hundreds of carvings depicting all manner of wildlife, each integrated seamlessly into the trunk, roots, and limbs of the tree. A stunning symbol of the interdependence of all living things. The Tree of Life is the most visually compelling structure to be found in any Disney park.”
The 3D show “It’s Tough to be a Bug!” is housed within the Tree of Life. WARNING: This will be scary for small kids unless they’re into bugs. This will also be a little scary for adults who don’t like bugs.
Since fireworks and wild animals don’t go together, Animal Kingdom closes relatively early. TIP: You might want to consider having dinner at Downtown Disney, where there are shops and attractions galore!
The lobster mac and cheese at Crossroads at House of Blues was THE BOMB.
The shop I was most excited to visit was Goofy’s Candy Company. Mainly because of…
Picture from DisneyFoodBlog.com
This, ladies and gentlemen, is the “Create Your Own Treat” awesomeness that you can purchase using Dining Plan credits. (You can use cash too, but I stand by the plan.)
I picked Mickey Krispy Rice Treat + Dark Chocolate Dip + Reese’s Pieces + Dark Chocolate Drizzle, and the result is THIS:
This baby was so big it took me several sittings to finish. In fact, it even travelled to New York with us!
All this talk is making me hungry! I’m off to have dinner now. Ciao!