Under pains and penalties of perjury, I solemnly swear to tell you the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. The truth starts here: Every Disney park has its critics. Animal Kingdom being no exception, you may not know what to believe unless you’ve already been. Read on to put these common lies about Animal Kingdom to rest.
1. It’s a Half-Day Park
One of the most common bellyaches about Animal Kingdom is that it is a “halfday park”. The problem with this beastly accusation is threefold. First, days at Animal Kingdom really are shorter. Closing as early as 5:00 PM allows staff the time needed to care for the park’s many animal residents. Second, those who speed through Animal Kingdom are likely to overlook one of its greatest assets: shows. With performances running throughout the day, The Festival of the Lion King, Flights of Wonder, and Finding Nemo The Musical, are worthy investments of your time and convenient to fit into your schedule. The last bogus piece of the half-day argument is the general mindset: that a theme park must be seen as quickly as possible. Animal Kingdom is a theme park in the truest sense: it demands an appreciation for details and the ability to peruse its many exhibits and trails in a leisurely fashion.
2. There are No Good Rides
Of this park’s rides, it’s fair to say that quality precedes quantity. The most thrilling attractions include Expedition Everest: a roller coaster with a few surprises; Kali River Rapids: a rafting adventure to rival any water park attraction; and Dinosaur: a time-traveling quest to escape extinction. Each of these could be too intense for little ones, so smaller thrill seekers and their entire families will appreciate Kilimanjaro Safaris. This timeless excursion marries the park’s main theme of wildlife conservation with just enough excitement for any visitor. Plus, the animal stars of the attraction ensure that no two rides are ever alike.
3. There are No Good Dining Options
Animal Kingdom is a theme park in the truest sense: every detail must be loyal to the park’s overall motif. This philosophy includes food, and exotic options await you inside the park’s boundaries. At Tusker House Restaurant, you’ll find buffet dining with an African twist all day. The fresh, Asian cuisine of Yak and Yeti is a park favorite for lunch and dinner, so reservations are highly encouraged. The new Harambe Market now offers several window service options such as the Boerewors Sausage Fried in Curried Corn Batter (i.e., corn dog) and SpiceRubbed Karubi Ribs. These items are instant classics, and they’re sizable enough to compete with the wellknown turkey leg. One of my favorite Disney treats is a refreshing Green Honey Ginseng iced tea from Royal Anandapur Tea Company. With a whisper of honey flavor and plenty of ice, this beverage is a perfect match for the Florida heat.
4. It’s Small
This claim is just plain false! Believe it or not, Animal Kingdom is the largest park on Walt Disney World property. At over 500 acres, most of the space is dedicated to the park’s animal residents. However, there is plenty of room for man and beast to coexist. Our suggestion for maximizing your visit: Explore each trail, exhibit, and habitat with the understanding that our wild friends like to take advantage of every square inch so you may have to look carefully!
5. It’s Just a Zoo
While Animal Kingdom has much in common with a zoo, it would be unfair to compare your typical city zoo to Disney’s own version. Sure, there’s a petting zoo, lush animal exhibits, and the park even supplements Disney’s Conservation Fund with its many dutiful efforts to educate the public. As noted above however, the park itself is gargantuan: about 5 times the size of some of the country’s
￼most famous zoos. Dining, live shows, and attractions with the signature Disney touch push this venue above and beyond zoolevel entertainment, and the immersive atmosphere helps you to buy into that Disney magic.
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6. There’s Too Much Construction
Currently, Animal Kingdom is receiving quite the facelift. With a projected opening of Pandora The World of AVATAR in 2017, you can expect to live with a little extra tarp and noise in the park for the next few years. For those who believe that lie #1 is true, this is certainly positive news! New attractions are coming, and construction is part of the payoff.
7. It’s Always Crowded
Just as animals tend to become most active at certain times of day, patrons like to fill the parks during peak times. Animal Kingdom is often fabulously crowdfree in the mornings, since guests must arrive by either personal vehicle or bus. Planning to arrive early in the morning will avail to you linefree attractions and great views of the waking wildlife.
8. It’s Too Far Away
It’s true that Animal Kingdom requires a longer commute from most Disney properties than the other three parks at Walt Disney World, but if you’re arriving by car, the difference will be a matter of minutes. In addition, the All Star, Coronado, and Animal Kingdom Lodge Resorts are all closer to Animal Kingdom than they are to the other parks!
Don’t be deterred by the naysayers: Animal Kingdom is the perfect park for both lollygaggers and the excitable. Akin to Epcot in its international flair and copious opportunities to stop and smell the roses, chillseekers will be happy to explore its grounds casually. Thrillseekers will love the unpredictable nature of the many fauna, and they’ll have little reason to poopoo the park’s exceptional attractions. If you’re lucky enough to still feel skeptical, the only cure may be a visit to see it all for yourself.
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