While I love all of the Disney World theme parks, I might just love Animal Kingdom best. Some feel that this park is only a “half day” park and often skip going to this park in favor of the others. Being an extreme animal lover, I can’t think of anything I would rather do than admire and learn more about them. Oh, and the awesome rides don’t hurt! While Pandora – The World of Avatar may be taking center stage right now, we want to focus in on some of the hidden gems. Here are 6 things you may not know about unless you really look… or read this list!
6. Dawa Bar
If you walk by the Dawa bar located in the Harambe part of Africa, you might hear the sounds of dishes being done, clanking around and the voices of students. The story goes that the landlady wants to collect rent from those pesky students! Apparently, they are looking for their money in some strange hiding places! Aside from that little bit of Disney magic, the Dawa bar offers some of the stronger libations on Disney property. To some, that is a hidden gem!
5. Hidden Entrance
If you get to Animal Kingdom and find yourself in a very long line, head into the Rainforest Café. If you go to the rear entrance behind the gift shop, you’ll probably save yourself some time! I know that some of you are very angry that I gave away your secret!
4. Conservation Station
Located at Rafiki’s Planet Watch, this is often an overlooked part of Animal Kingdom. One reason is that most people miss the train ride that takes you to this back area of Animal Kingdom. If you go early in the morning, conservation station usually has veterinarians working on animals. You can view anything from a checkup to actual surgery. There is usually a cast member walking around with an animal that you can touch or pose for a picture with. I have interacted with a hawk and baby alligator! There is also a petting zoo where you can play with goats, sheep, donkey and more! They even allow you to brush the animals!
When you are enjoying the sights and sounds, you may miss some extra magic that the Imagineers have included. Dinosaur has 2 great examples of magic you would miss unless you are Disney obsessed. While you are coming down the stairs to get on the ride, notice the red, yellow and white pipes that run along the wall. They have chemical formulas on them. Don’t bother googling them, they are ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise which goes to show that Imagineers have quite the sense of humor! Just a hint to sit in the back row, you will get more motion back there! When you are on your way to get your Iguanodon, keep your eyes out for the long neck Saltasaurus, if you look behind the time rover, you’ll notice that the big bump you hit was actually the dino’s tail. Good thing he is a vegetarian!
If you are heading from Africa to Asia, there is an area where there are a lot of trees. Keep your eyes open and see if Divine, the stilt walker that is dressed to blend into the trees. She won’t speak to you and will not make eye contact or sign autographs, instead she’ll strike a pose if you take a picture with her. The first time I saw DiVine, I did not know she was there until others pointed her out! After finding DiVine, you’ll look for her every time! She has also appeared at the entrance of the park. She is serene and beautiful; I promise this is a hidden gem you do not want to miss!
1. The Tree of Life
The Tree of Life is not hidden, that is for sure! However, many do not get very close to the tree and admire it for the incredible work of art that it is. If you do not choose to go to the “It’s Tough to be a Bug” show, you may not realize that the walk into the show is the most beautiful queue in all of Disney! With approximately 320 animals carved in to the tree, this is an absolute must do. Make sure you find the chimpanzee! When the tree was being constructed, Jane Goodall was invited to watch. She asked where the chimpanzee was going to be and embarrassingly, they did not have one included. Michael Eisner told her to pick a place to put the chimp and she chose the entrance to the show so all could see him! It is incredibly detailed and looks just like David Greybeard, the famous first chimp she worked with. He even has his white beard, which makes him the only two toned animal on the tree! Don’t forget to visit the Tree of Life in the evening for Tree of Life Awakenings – a beautiful projections show with music on this gorgeous icon.