Disney’s Animal Kingdom is one of those theme parks that I just like to walk around and take in all of the beauty and details, and I am sure that was the Imagineers’ goal when the designed the park. As the newest of the Florida parks, the attention to detail is amazing, particularly in the Africa section of the park. It feels like he have stepped into an actual African village with the architecture, the props and details (like the signs and power lines), and the sounds. Here are 8 of my favorite things about Africa in Disney’s Animal Kingdom park:
8. Henna Tattoos
Henna tattoos are a fun and temporary way to get a little bit of an interactive cultural experience. At Walt Disney World you can get a henna tattoo in Morocco in Epcot, or in Africa at the Animal Kingdom. The artists are located just outside of Mombasa Marketplace and the offer a lot of very pretty designs from large & elaborate to small & discreet. In the notebook it will tell you what the design means to help you select, and they even have some designs with Mickey incorporated. I had a tattoo done here with some friends and it was such a fun experience that lasted through our vacation and we still had it as a reminder for a few days after we returned home.
7. Musical Entertainment
As you might expect in an African Village, you will find some vibrant musical entertainment in Harambe. There are a few performers that appear throughout the day (check your times guide), and I love the energy it adds to the setting. Burudika creates a street party where you are invited to dance along to the music. The Tam Tam Drummers of Harambe present the beat of the Congo in the Village. Plus, if you’re looking for an amazing Broadway-style musical, be sure to see Festival of the Lion King located behind Tusker House.
6. Animal Carvings
I love to find unique and special souvenir items for my vacations. When we have had vacations that focused on the Animal Kingdom—like when we did the Wild Africa Trek or the Caring for Giants Elephant tour I looked for something to commemorate that experience. Around the Mombasa Marketplace you can find African imports like masks and carved wooden animals. I love these beautiful pieces and they make great reminders of your vacation. I brought home an elephant to remember our Caring for Giants experience.
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5. Tusker House
Tusker House is one of my favorite meals across property, and it is definitely my favorite “Fab 5” character meal. Here Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Mickey Mouse & Goofy greet diners wearing their Safari Gear. The character interaction is really great, but the food may be even better. I like this meal for breakfast, lunch or dinner, but if you have very picky eaters breakfast may be safer. The buffet includes some basic foods that will please any guest, but you will also find African inspired dishes. All of it is fresh, well prepared and delicious. The restaurant itself is also a great space, it feels like an outside marketplace where the buffet is set up with various rooms surrounding it. The details continue throughout with signage about safaris, conservation and other props that make it an immersive experience.
4. The Tours
I have loved every guided tour I have taken at Walt Disney World. But I think some of my favorites have been those in the Animal Kingdom. The guided tours here meet in Africa’s Harambe Village to begin. The Wild Africa Trek takes you on a walking and riding tour through the savanna where you get a chance to learn more about the animals and enjoy a wonderful snack in a hut overlooking the savanna. It is a little pricey, but I highly recommend it as it is an excellent experience. Animal Kingdom also offers a couple of tours that are extremely affordable and give you a chance to get a behind the scenes look at how they care for their animals, and learn about those animals in their natural habitat. Caring for Giants looks at the Animal Kingdom’s Elephant herd. We experienced this tour last year and loved it—we learned about the elephants from an animal specialist and from a cultural representative from Zimbabwe, all while overlooking the elephants on safari. And they have recently added an Up Close with Rhinos Tour that I would love to try.
Animal Kingdom is one of my favorite places to eat, and I love the options offered at the open air Harambe Market. This is a quick service location and the hours vary, it sometimes closes early depending on crowd levels. You can use mobile ordering here. Food offerings include Gyros, Bowls, and Sausage on Naan. There are lots of specialty type drink options including non-alcoholic choices like my favorite Frozen Flamingo: delicious non-alcoholic frozen concoction with flavors of Strawberry and Passion Fruit. Beers include craft breweries and some cocktails are offered here. The ample outside seating includes several covered options. As you dine you can take in all of the details from the signage around, and watch the train from the Conservation Station go by.
2. Dawa Bar
The Dawa Bar located just outside the Tusker House restaurant is a popular stop. It features covered open air seating, so it is a nice place to take a break from the sun or from a rain storm. Most of the live entertainment takes place just outside, so it is a fun place to grab a drink and listen to the music. The offer a wine menu, beer on tap or bottled, specialty beers, and several African or Safari themed cocktails. Ngumu Jungle Juice is a popular choice: Snow Leopard Vodka, Bols Peach Schnapps and Tusker’s famous Jungle Juice.
1. Kilimanjaro Safaris
To me, Kilimanjaro Safaris is the signature attraction for Disney’s Animal Kingdom park. This is what it is all about: the animals. Learning about their natural environment (even if this one was painstakingly recreated by Imagineers), their habits, and conservation are the most important parts of Animal Kingdom’s mission. On Kilimanjaro Safaris you have a cast member driving and talking to you about everything you are seeing on the savanna. Every trip is different as you will see different animals, have a different guide, and experience different things like a lion roaring, a baby giraffe, or a rhino blocking the road. I like to ride it more than once if I can and I’m never disappointed. My favorite time to ride it is just about sunset, and I’ve been known to google the sunset time for my date before I make my FastPasses. Kilimanjaro Safaris is my favorite thing about Animal Kingdom’s Africa.
What are your favorite things in Africa?