Disney on a Budget, Part 4: Animal Kingdom

Wow! It has been a month since our last Disney post. Life got busy. Schedules got hectic. Disney blogging fell down the priority list. Do not worry, though. We are settling into our new routines and Disney should be making a more consistent return. The last time I wrote, it was about the benefits and drawbacks to the various lodging methods we have used on our Disney experiences. These next few posts will cover some of the highlights of each park we went to throughout our stay.

This week’s post is about Animal Kingdom. We have visited this park on each of our trips to Florida with the kids. They love it. They think it is a huge, fun filled zoo with rides. And for the most part, it is. There are lots of things to see and do. As our girls have gotten older, things we see and do have changed. Gone are the days of The Boneyard play area in Dino-Land. We have now moved into rides like Everest.

Everest

Yes, Everest was finally tackled by the Team Made Family. The entire family. Mom saw only what she could through tightly clenched eyes. The older girls screamed and smiled. The youngest member of the family giggled uncontrollably while sitting next to me in the front car of the ride. It was a bit unnerving.  I sat there grinning and wondering how I got here in life. But that thought is nothing new.

The kids enjoyed the ride, but their all time favorite ride is the Kilimanjaro Safari. This is a 20 minute experience in a covered truck. There are more than ample opportunities to see a multitude of wildlife in recreated habitat for them. The habitat is very well done, and many of the animals are close enough to touch (although Disney is very clear that the animals are to be observed, not touched). There are many, many wonderful opportunities for photographs as well.

DIscovery Island

Another thing that is fun to see is the Tree of Life on Discovery Island. It is a large tree with more pictures carved into it than you can ever count. It is a fascinating tree to look at when sitting and taking a break or eating a meal. Discovery Island itself is also a fun area to explore. There are several places to sit, eat, and play. There are no major animal exhibits or rides on the island, so it tends to be a slightly less crowded area in the middle of the park.

The rest of Animal Kingdom contains many fun villages themed to match the animals around them. Several of them have small interactive areas for kids. All of areas seem to have places to grab a quick bite of food, including some sit down restaurants as well. It seems that most locations have a ride or something similar. There are also many well-placed lookouts and observation decks to view the animals in their habitats.

ak drums

This trip we spent a portion of a day exploring Animal Kingdom. On previous trips we have spent at least a day each trip in the park. Since we were familiar with Animal Kingdom, we did not feel we needed as much time this trip. For a first visit, I would recommend planning a full day in order to see it all. There are many things to see and do and it is more spread out that the other Disney parks. It is much more shaded that the other Disney parks, which makes it a good place to be on a hot, sunny day. The crowds also tend to be thinner at Animal Kingdom than other Disney parks.

Animal Kingdom is unlike the other Disney parks. They spent much more time making it look authentically wild instead of authentically Disney. While Disney is grand, a break from the uptempo, cheery music is a nice change in the middle of your Disney experience.

Have you been to Animal Kingdom? What was your favorite thing to see or do?