Review by: Webmaster | Last update: 26-Jan-2005 | Based on 1 visit in 03/04
The newest of the Disney parks in Orlando, Animal Kingdom is a themed land of animals and adventures. The park includes several adventures like the Kilimanjaro Safaris and the Maharajah Jungle Trek, as well as many explorations, and a handful of rides.
Just like in traditional Disney style the park is divided into several themed lands. As you enter the park you find yourself in a lush tropical garden filled with exotic animals, this area is called the Oasis. As you leave this area you cross the Discovery River which forms a large circle around the next area, Discovery Island.
Discovery Island is home to the 14-storey tall Tree of Life, which includes a swirling tapestry of over 325 images, and has become the park's signature landmark. From here you can venture out into the other realms of the park, such as Africa, Asia, Camp Minnie-Mickey, and DinoLand U.S.A.
Africa features several shops and restaurants housed inside an authentic African village, as well as the popular Kilimanjaro Safaris, which takes riders on an open-air expedition through an African savannah filled with wildlife. Guests can also catch a train to Rafiki's Planet Watch where they can take a behind-the-scenes look at how the park cares for its animals.
In Asia, guests stroll through the mystical realms of Southeast Asia, where they can view yet more animals, as well as take a white-water raft ride on the Kali River Rapids. Asia is the newest area of the park, and will be home to the Expedition Everest roller coaster that is currently under construction.
DinoLand U.S.A takes guest back in time to the prehistoric age where they enjoy a whole land themed around Dinosaurs. Top attractions in this area include Primeval Whirl - a spinning Wild Mouse, and Dinosaur - an indoor moving simulator ride though a dinosaur infested land. Finally, Camp Minnie-Mickey is set in an Adirondack mountain retreat and features two family shows and several character greeting trails.
Throughout the park, there are various lushly landscaped trails each featuring a variety of animal inhabitants specific to the area of the park the trail is located in. For instance, in Asia you can stroll through the Maharajah Jungle Trek and encounter exotic animals such as Komodo dragons and tigers.
I arrived at the park at 10.50 to find a large crowd of people at the park entrance, and with only a handful of turnstiles open and about one security guard checking bags per every four lines; there was a serious understaffing issue. As I had limited time to spend in the park, my first port of call was DinoLand USA to ride Primeval Whirl. The theming in DinoLand was quite unique and looked like a cross between the Flintstones and a traditional amusement park boardwalk. It was bright and colorful, but the paving looked too untidy due to all of the cracks. This was probably an intentional part of the theming, but for me it made that area of the park look a little dilapidated.
The best attraction in this area (and for me the entire park) is Dinosaur. This is an enclosed ride in almost complete darkness that travels around a track through a pre-historic set. The ride is similar to the Amazing Adventures of Spiderman at Islands of Adventure, but without the 3D and obviously without Spiderman. The ride is fun and full of surprises including many Dinosaurs jumping out at you, and near misses with meteors and such.
Next I strolled into Asia which was nicely themed and landscaped, as was Africa. One thing I did notice was that some of the paths were a bit narrow in places, and it was easy to get stuck behind a crowd of people. In fact, I got so tired of walking that after an hour and half in the park I decided to leave. In that time I did not see one animal, admittedly I didn't take any of the trails, or do the safari or train ride, but I still expected to see something, other than a few birds in cages near the entrance of the park.
To enjoy the park at its best you really need to spend a full day there, but to do so I think you must have an interest in animals and be prepared for lots of walking. I know I didn't spend long in the park, but in the time I spent there, I encountered nothing to make me want to stay longer or go back. Personally, I think Busch Gardens Tampa has a lot more to offer in terms of rides and animals, and I think the day would be best spent there.