A day in Animal Kingdom with littles
Animal Kingdom Park, the largest and newest gate at Walt Disney World opened its doors on April 22nd, 1998. It consists of six lands, Rafiki’s Planet Watch, Discovery Island, DinoLand U.S.A, Asia, Africa and Pandora. My family often spends several days in Animal Kingdom Park, enjoying the beauty of the parks design, wandering the numerous paths through Discovery Island and enjoying the detectible food throughout the lands! The park boasts rare character meet and greets such as Pocahontas, Timone, Tarzan, Baloo and King Louie, as well as Doug and Russel. Its also home to Expedition Everest: Legend of the Hidden Mountain, Flight of Passage, and Dinosaur! Some of Walt Disney Worlds best thrill rides.
Of all the Walt Disney World Parks Animal Kingdom is where my family has had the BEST of our “Best Days Ever”. I think this park is so underrated, and often I hear “There is not much to do there.” “Its just a giant zoo” “I think we only need a half day.” And boy, oh boy, could that not be further from the truth! Journey along with us on a typical day at Animal Kingdom for my family of four (Me, Hubby our 1 and 4-year-old.)
Most Animal Kingdom days for us begin in the Harabe Market, a place full of festive music and dancing. My son and I can watch the Tam Tam Drummers in Harabe for hours. The smiles, vibrant dancing and enchanting music draw us in time and time again!
After we dance, we typically move along to the spectacular Broadway style show, Festival of the Lion King. This stage show awes us every time we see it! With it gorgeous costumes and stunning acrobatics we are captivated by each and every time. It fun and energetic score leaves us in the best mood, ready to conquer the rest of the day!
Then it is usually time to eat and we head over to the Tusker House. This buffet meal consists of different African and American inspired dishes. My favorite are the carved meats, and spiced potatoes. The Jungle Juice is also delicious, and the kids typically drink the house dry of it. During your meal, Mickey, Goofy, Donald, and Daisy visit. We have had some of the best character interactions here, by far. And the unique safari wardrobe the characters are adorned in really seal the deal!
With full bellies we often embark on our safari adventure at Kilimonjaro Safari. A unique truck ride through the parks simulated safari. On this ride my kids have been feet from rhino and giraffe as well as several other animals. The truck moves slowly, and the drivers are extremely knowledgeable about the animals you are encountering. It’s a hit for my littles every time.
With the Safari complete, we typically head out of Africa and move toward Asia. Here there is an amazing array of musicians, food and our favorite, the monkeys! The park décor is breathtaking with mosaics, painted buildings and flags hanging from the trees. It is home to the mountainous Expedition Everest: Legend of the Hidden Mountain coaster, and Kali River Rapids as well.
We often stop for a frozen lemonade for the kids, and margarita for us at the Thirsty River Bar and Treck Snacks. The margaritas are divine! We enjoy our treats and watch the adorable monkeys swinging on their rope vines above us in their unique open air habitat.
On to DinoLand U.S.A and my son’s favorite attraction in all of Walt Disney World, The Boneyard. The Boneyard is a large park in DinoLand U.S.A full of slides, climbing apparatuses, a water play area, tunnels and a large sandbox for excavating dinosaur bones! My kids run and play in here for hours. Often to the point of complete exhaustion! It’s a great reprieve for Daddy and I, as we sit back relax and enjoy watching the kids play. The area is covered from the sun, and large fans blow the air in all directions, making it a very comfortable space to relax and get a much-needed break from the heat.
Once the kids have completed their exploration of the Boneyard we head out to Donalds DinoBash and see my family’s favorite pal, Donald Duck. The Dino Bash is a party thrown by Donald Duck and his family of feathered friends to celebrate his ancestral heritage! This new attraction made its debut this past summer and has been a huge hit. The photo sets for the Dino Bash are all so adorable from Launchpad McQuack’s hanger to Scrooges tent of treasures the photo ops are endless. Donald himself is dressed in the most adorable Dinosaur adorned safari costume. The kids get a kick out of the silly costumes Chip and Dale wear, which are large onesie style dinosaur costumes!
After a spin on the triceratops spin, an adorable Dumbo style ride featuring flying green Triceratops, it’s time for popcorn and lemonades from Dino Diner. While we enjoy the Adult versions, Bacardi is added to frozen minute made lemonade – yummy!, the kids enjoy the traditional non spiked version. A few carnival games later we are ready to head over the bridge back to Asia for dinner. But before we do we always must stop by the outpost in Discovery Island and get our photo with Mickey and Minnie. This is the only spot in all of Walt Disney World that you can get a photo with Mickey and Minnie together. I use this location to do our annual Walt Disney World photo of the kids. I have them back to when my oldest son was 18 months. It makes for a wonderful yearly souvenir and tradition.
Dinner is typically at the Yak and Yeti in Asia, where we feast on large plates of Asian fusion flare. From the Ahi Tuna Nachos appetizer for two to the delectable Dragon Roll, there is not an item on this menu we have ordered and not fallen in love with. The Lo-Mein bowls are plentiful, and the Lo-Mein sauce they make is perfection. The Sushi is made well with the freshest ingredients and the Korean Beef is truly out of this world. We have never left this restaurant not full to the brim with food. Its just that good. We are typically rolled out.
The restaurant is also a prime location for dining prior to the exquisite show Rivers of Light, which is typically how we end our day at the park. The show with its awing water displays and floating stained-glass animals is truly breathtaking. The Lotus flowers blooming, shooting water and them becoming a blaze are true sight to behold. My children love the outdoor theatre and how the show takes place in the middle of the water. The true beauty of the park comes out at night as the trees twinkle with lights, and the images of animals around the world are projected on the water. This coupled with the floating lanterns and musical score make this show a truly unique experience my family must enjoy each trip.
I hope the next time you are in Animal Kingdom Park you can find the beauty and draw my family does, as it truly is a most magical place.