At just over 500 acres of land, Animal Kingdom is easily the largest Disney park in the world. With all of that space, there are bound to be a few secrets hidden throughout the park in the midst of the architecture, the plant-life and of course, the animals. 7 uniquely themed lands provide so much to see and experience that every time you visit Animal Kingdom, you can discover something new. With the park being home to over 2,000 animals across 300 species, tons of attractions and restaurants, there will always be new secrets to discover. To get you started, here are 5 secrets in Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World.
5. The Secret Entrance
The first secret arrives before you’ve even entered the park, or more specifically, exactly as you enter the park. For guests who like to arrive at rope drop, there is a second entrance to the park located through the Rainforest Cafe. Simply enter the Rainforest Cafe and head through the gift shop to the outdoor courtyard. There, Cast Members greet you at the second entrance to Animal Kingdom. Since it’s a smaller entrance, it won’t save you much time if there is a line of guests, but typically first thing in the morning, the majority of guests will try to enter through the regular entrance, which leaves you with a potential opportunity to squeeze through the second entrance ahead of the crowd.
4. Expedition Everest
Standing at 199 feet tall (since Federal Aviation Authority rules require anything 200 feet tall to have a flashing red light on top), Expedition Everest still holds the record for the most expensive roller coaster ever built at $100 million. This is due to the fact that the mountain was constructed around the coaster (and the yeti) with about 10,000 tons of concrete.
Speaking of the yeti, the 25-foot Audio-Animatronic was equipped with actuators to swing his gigantic arm at your passing train, but due to cracking in the concrete support underneath him, he remains motionless while strobe lights give the impression of movement. The train in Expedition Everest goes forwards and backwards and does so with the help of rotating tracks that flip upside down to reveal a track moving in a new direction.
3. Hidden Codes
The Imagineers working on the Animal Kingdom park and attractions have added some hidden magic into the signs around the park. For example, the Boneyard sign in Dinoland U.S.A. is in the shape of a Stegosaurus bone. The Route 498 sign refers to the opening of the park in April 1998. One of the more unusual hidden codes in the park can be found along the red, yellow and white pipes running along the loading area for DINOSAUR. Chemical formulae and names are printed on each pipe and are the actual chemical names for Ketchup, Mustard and Mayonnaise.
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2. Kilimanjaro Safari
As the largest Disney attraction (at a whopping 110 acres), this savannah houses 24 different species of African wildlife. There are sculpted landscapes including plants that you would find in the African savannah, as well as some concrete Baobab trees and termite mounds. While it might seem as though the animals are free to roam, certain predators are kept separate from the other animals and guests using cleverly landscaped areas that create a large gap while maintaining the appearance of being much closer.
To encourage shy animals to wander in the open, food is typically hidden in strategic places (such as rocks, in trees or hollowed out logs) to keep the animals entertained in their pursuit of their meals while making them more accessible to guests. Different species of animals have been trained to respond to the sound of a whistle, a click, drum, horn, bell or even duck calls, which signal that they can return to their nighttime accommodations. If you’ve ever wondered why the lions will happily lounge around on their rock formation, the secret lies in comfort. Chilled air is piped through holes in the rock, which encourages the lions to stay in the most photo-friendly location. Since lions sleep for many hours during the day, the chilled air rock formation gives them a perfect place to take a cat nap.
1. Tree of Life
At the heart of Animal Kingdom, the Tree of Life houses all sorts of secrets. From the over 300 animals carved into the trunk of the tree, to the 7,000 branches which hold over 100,000 fake leaves. The Discovery Island trails which surround the tree are a perfect place to get up close to spot the different carvings. Inside the tree lies an oil rig flipped upside down, which was used as the base and trunk of the tree given it’s immense strength and ability to withstand the force of a hurricane.
What are your favorite Animal Kingdom Secrets? Let us know in the comments!