View Full Version : The Beauty of Animal Kingdom

02-20-2014, 01:35 PM
Back in '99, my DW & I took our first trip to Walt Disney World. As a couple of "newbs," we asked others with experience what to do and what not to do.

"Get ADRs. Skip Animal Kingdom," were the most common replies.

We did both. In 2000, we stayed on property for an extended stay and managed one visit to AK. Both of us were underwhelmed, as we were searching for more Magic Kingdom-like attractions.

However, as the years passed and we've had children, this park has grown to be one of our favorites. For starters, both of our children LOVE it here, so that's a big plus. But there's so much more. Animal Kingdom is so full of hidden gems that I don't think you can find them all in a full day. There are hidden trails, unusual and beautiful foliage, waterfalls, and streams throughout. The attention to detail is simply amazing.

I'm a contractor, so I notice things the other people may not. For instance, the pathway in Africa is designed to look like rutted mud, with roots growing out. You have no idea how difficult a procedure that is to achieve that look. My wife is tired of hearing me rave about the concrete work.

Same with Chester & Hester's ground. It looks like decaying asphalt. But it's not. It's actually colored concrete distressed to appear to be crumbling. That is amazing concrete work. (You can't have asphalt walkways in the Florida sun.)

The other day, while I was missing my favorite vacation spot, I searched some YouTube videos to get my "fix." One poster, who is probably my favorite, did an amazing walk through AK that nearly moved me to tears. The poster had such detail; found paths I've never seen.

The poster captured the gorillas playing for several minutes. There was this amazing video of the hippo "swimming" around as it passed right past the viewing window. (I know, hippos don't actually swim. They walk on the bottom.) There were several minutes of a tiger, playing around. And the flora and fauna were exploding on screen. (I really wish I know what camera was used.)

I was wondering how many others have had this transformation regarding AK. How many gave it a cursory look in the past, only to now realize how great a park it is? On our next trip, at least two trips there planned. Your thoughts are very welcome.

02-20-2014, 02:33 PM
I could go on and on about how much I love Animal Kingdom and when I see someone like you truly grasp it I get so happy!
It may be because I worked in Animal Kingdom but because I did I learned so much about the hidden gems of the park and I still find new ones every time I visit and I haven't worked there in many years.
I love how each store around the tree of life have their own little animal story and how pizzafari has a theme to each room.
The hidden mickeys are awesome in this park as well and I'm a huge hidden Mickey fan. This park holds my favorites.
The animals themselves always bring something different for each trip as well. My son and I experienced an emu at AKL spinning around like a ballerina. It was the funniest and best thing we have seen and he still talks about it years later. Of course the fact that I had an opportunity to walk in that park day after day also allowed me to have opportunities to see the animals do many different things...but it is all just amazing.
I love the concrete work throughout the park as well. Every detail is just simply amazing.

02-20-2014, 02:44 PM
Joannelet, you mentioned Pizzafari. My wife and I noticed a similarity between its artwork and that of the Disney Junior cartoon Tinga Tinga Tales, which are based on Tanzanian artwork and folk tales.

Just more in-depth detail.

02-20-2014, 04:01 PM
Absolutely. Expedition Everest is what helped change my mind. It is not just because I want to go to AK to ride it, but it is what turned my attention to the park. AK used to be our "skip" park when we got 3 day passes. But since it has to be in our vacation. When EE was built we had to go and check it out. It was AWESOME. But, everyone already knows that. Because we were now going to spend time here due to EE we began to venture and explore the rest of the parks. The decor, the animal paths, AK is so cool. Its so unique and impressive it blows my mind. The theme is everywhere is never fails to impress me. I thank EE for getting me to AK more often and opening up my eyes.

02-20-2014, 04:21 PM
This park is one of the most beautiful parks in the "World". The attention to detail is incredible. You may want to take the Wild by Design tour. It gets into the art and architecture of the park and the historical significance.

02-20-2014, 05:22 PM
I heard all the "tips" about skipping Animal Kingdom, when we took our kids on our first family vacation to WDW. But we went anyway. And we loved it. It has always been my 2nd favorite park (after MK). I Never understood the negativity about it. I Guess a lot of folks were in too much of a hurry to notice all the "layers" of AK.

02-20-2014, 05:52 PM
I agree; I've never really understood the negativity about Animal Kingdom. I've loved it from the get-go.

02-20-2014, 06:02 PM
Me, me, me!!! After children it just opened up a new world for me. I even posted a similar thread a couple of months ago!!

It quickly becoming my favorite park! I love to take each child individually some days so we can really spend one on one time exploring.

I kind of want to go by myself as well and really take time along the trails and such!

Middle of the Map
02-20-2014, 09:53 PM
It's a wonderful park for just strolling around and decompressing after MK. I never miss an opportunity to go there.

Glad you love it as much as so many of us do.

02-21-2014, 03:44 AM
I've always loved Animal Kingdom right from my first visit. The attention to detail is fantastic. :thumbsup:

02-21-2014, 02:40 PM
On our first trip, we went there only once. For the full day of course, but just that day. On our second trip we went there once, and the park hopped to hit the Safari and Flame Tree. Third trip, we did a whole day AND about 3 hours before we went to the airport. By our fourth trip, AK became a 2 day park, and will stay that way forever. With the additions of Everest and Nemo, this park has become a great place to have a lot of fun.

02-25-2014, 09:33 AM
I've been defending AK for years on here. It is a fantastic park, IF you love details. If you are just looking for rides and entertainment, but couldn't care less about the immersion, then yeah, there isn't much there....even though what IS there is also fantastic. Every other park has attractions that we would just as soon skip, or that I haven't bothered with for years (Country Bears, Tomorrowland Speedway), but every attraction in Animal Kingdom, and every show, is really, really well done.

What amazes me (besides the concrete work) is that they had to basically GROW the park. And it is always growing, as the inhabitants EAT the park. Also, I lived in Guatemala for two years...and not in the modern parts. The jungle, the rural towns in the coast. Walking through Harambe takes me back to Guatemala, with the exception that Harambe is much cleaner.

02-25-2014, 11:58 AM
I love it !! AK is my favorite park and it was my kids first park at Disney. We would've done MK but we were meeting my sister and her family and that's where they were.....that was 3,000 years ago and it just keeps getting better n better. For me it's the amount of detail put into a simple sidewalk. There are places that remind me of being overseas. I was stationed in the Philippines for over two years and for me, the Dawa Bar, Tusker House area looks just like Angeles City. Too bad Mt. Pinatubo erupted and ran us out early !! :thumbsup:

02-25-2014, 12:09 PM
We've loved AK ever since our first visit back in October of 1998. We love taking it slow, and soaking up everything AK has to offer.

I can spend an hour just watching the gorillas! We've gotten some amazing photographs of them over the years. It kills me when I see people scooting through and barely taking a look.

Just this past December our truck was stopped on the safari for over 5 minutes because all of the giraffes decided to have a pow wow in front of us on the road. It was AWESOME, and we go incredible pics of them. I was in my glory!

The trails, the architecture, every little detail... if you don't slow down and truly enjoy the park, you'll never notice them.

02-25-2014, 01:40 PM
I just love coming back and reading each new reply to this [as I've already replied].

I really have to take a day and go by myself soon so I can REALLY enjoy it. My kids do awesome there. They love it. But they won't always stop and read every little thing. I really want to take time to explore Rafiki's Planet Watch. Usually we just "window browse".

And take in some of the entertainment. My boys aren't much for stopping very long to listen to some music.

02-25-2014, 02:39 PM
And take in some of the entertainment. My boys aren't much for stopping very long to listen to some music.

*sigh* I do really miss the Village Beatniks. They were a fun street performing group. Oh well.

02-25-2014, 03:16 PM
In recent months, Animal Kingdom has finally been getting the respect it has always deserved. I'm happy to read so many positive and happy comments about Animal Kingdom.

I agree with what has been said so far, and more.

I've been a regular WDW vacationer since 1976, often with family and/or friends, and frequently solo. I'm a Disney park fan and an animal lover, so the thought of not visiting a Disney park with animals never entered my mind. Remember when the tag line for Animal Kingdom was "Notazo"? Our 1998 WDW trip was a month after the park opened. On the day we planned to go to Animal Kingdom, we were disappointed, but not in the way you think. We were at our CBR bus stop at approx. 10:00 waiting for the bus. When the bus came, the driver had a message for anyone planning to visit Animal Kingdom. The park was filled to capacity and no one else, including WDW resort guests, would be admitted until later in the day when park guests began leaving. We were both disappointed and happy at the same time. Disappointed because we had to wait a bit longer to see the new park and happy because so many people were just as excited to see the park as we were. We finally visited Animal Kingdom two days later; we spent the day from opening to closing and loved it so much we went back for another day. Over the years, we've typically spent 2 to 3 days at Animal Kingdom during every WDW vacation. We've been fans of this park since it opened.

I'm not a contractor, so I'm looking at the design and details through non-technical eyes. Over the years, I've appreciated and been amazed by the attention to details that is everywhere in the park. On every visit I discover something new.

The realistic paths that Mr Peetrie mentioned have been responsible for many sore muscles, but it never stopped us from enjoying Animal Kingdom. For many years, my Mother used a wheelchair to get around WDW and I was usually the "chair navigator" :) Trying to push her wheelchair on some of the paths in Animal Kingdom was really difficult, but I survived with the help of Aleve.

The architecture is so amazing with such authentic details you really feel as if you've been transported to lands far and far away.

The tree of life is amazing; I still haven't identified every animal carved on the tree, but the adventure will continue in May.

I can go on and on about the foliage, animals, etc., etc., but I'll just say I agree with everything that has already been said.. And don't forget the fantastic live entertainment.

The CS locations, expecially Pizzafari and Restaurantosaurus have been the sites of many happy memories over the years.

I've also spend many solo days at Animal Kingdom, and I have a feeling that I'm not the only one who enjoys leisurely strolling through this park and trying to identify the sounds. It's magical, especially later in the day when it starts getting dark. I miss the days of evening EMHs; when it's dark, walking around Animal Kingdom is really a mysterious adventure.

02-25-2014, 05:00 PM
It's definitely one of my favorite places to go. I love the exotic beauty and eye for detail. I remember we went to AK one morning a few years ago, very early, and it was misty and a little cool out, and it was so tranquil and magical. I love all of the pathways and hidden beauty. The design and detail is incredible. Great post!

02-26-2014, 08:23 AM
Remember when the tag line for Animal Kingdom was "Notazo"?

Loved it when the tag line was "Nahtazu" because the park really ISN'T a zoo. Yes, it has a big zoological presence, but there is so much more. You get glimpses of the cultures of parts of Africa and Asia. Joe Rhode and the Disney Imaginearing team did their homework and brought us a stunning theme park.