By Molly Elias
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Hollywood Studios: http://www.disneydining.com/top-ten-must-dos-hollywood-studios-edition/
I realize that Animal Kingdom is fairly sparse when it comes to physical rides, but that doesn’t mean this park should be cast aside. Animal Kingdom is magical in its own right and is fascinating if you take the time to explore it.
10. Visit Conservation Station: I’ll admit that this is not the most thrilling, adventurous attraction on this list, but it is worth a walk through. Conservation Station is a great learning experience for everyone. From the petting zoo to the veterinary viewing area, there are lots to explore and discover. What makes it truly special is its dedication to the preservation of animal safety and prosperity, which is one of the most important aspects of the Park.
9. Eat at Flame Tree Barbeque: I put this restaurant on the list much less for food than for the atmosphere. After a long morning of walking around the park, I love to stop in for a pulled pork sandwich and sit in one of the gazebos by the water to watch the turtles. It’s a wonderful sanctuary from the craziness of the day.
8. Watch Flights of Wonder: This attraction is one of a kind and fun and funny and educational. The show is held in a small theater near Yak and Yeti and has an interesting set specifically catered for the birds of the show. You will follow Guano Joe or Jane in their journey of overcoming their F.OB.-fear of birds. In the show, the audience is introduced to many different species of birds and educated in things specific to that bird, like one who can sing 7 songs or play fetch with a dollar bill. This is a great show for learning new things about creatures you thought you knew pretty well and also for conservation pertaining to those birds.
7. See Finding Nemo: It’s a big, blue world! This stunning theatrical show follows the story that we all know and love, but brings it to life. The show is admittedly a little cheesy, but the costumes are what make it for me. They are truly stunning. The style resembles that of the Lion King costuming on Broadway. It’s a fun show for the whole family. Plus a 40-minute break in the air conditioning doesn’t hurt either.
6. Eat at the Tusker House: Animal Kingdom’s most popular restaurant is arguably Yak and Yeti, but I have a different favorite. The Tusker House is right in the middle of Harambe marketplace and is a wonderful dining experience. The cuisine is authentic African and its buffet layout keeps the delicious coming. It’s super fun to try new foods and be kind of adventurous. Breakfast and lunch are character dining, which is very fun but not for everyone, so dinner is not. Another great thing about this restaurant is its décor. Decorated to look like a safari office and a marketplace, it really feels genuine. Take a minute between courses to look up and admire the incredible details.
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5. Do the Animal Treks: The Maharajah Jungle Trek and Pangani Forest Exploration Trail are so special. Hidden within Animal Kingdom, these trails take you away and into the heart of Asia and Africa. The treks introduce its guests to tigers and gorillas and bats, oh my. They’re a great way to leisurely explore some truly beautiful areas and animals.
4. Explore: There is so much to look at in Animal Kingdom, but most of it is not immediately apparent. There are so many back paths and hidden treasures to explore all over the park. I love finding little spots to sit and relax in the quiet and shade. My dad’s favorite is the giant tortoise secreted off the beaten path. We also love to sit and watch the otters play in their enclosure. Some of the more obvious gems are the Tree of Life and all the animals on its trunk. There is so much to see in this park if you stop to look for it.
3. Watch the Festival of the Lion King: I love this show! I’m a sucker for anything Broadway related, so this show fits the bill. Newly renovated, this show tells the story of the Lion King from the perspective of Timon, Pumba, Simba and their friends who take on the persona of each of the main characters. The Festival showcases great singers, unbelievable acrobatics, amazing costuming and beautiful choreography. This show has it all-enough for everyone to be impressed and entertained.
2. Climb Everest: This is one of Disney’s most epic rollercoasters. As the tallest mountain in all of Florida, Everest is definitely an adventure. This ride is incredibly fast with several trip-altering surprises. It’s very special simply because it is Animal Kingdom’s only real rollercoaster. But the details of the decor and story make it great. Even the queue is something to look at. The entire area of Everest is unique and has the brilliant feel of a backpacker’s camp amidst Tibetan-style temples and structures. From the prayer flags to the stone statues, the whole area fully immerses its guest.
1. Embark Kilimanjaro Safari: This is my number one must do for Animal Kingdom. Kilimanjaro Safari has gone through many changes over the years (Wilson!) but it is still a fantastic addition to the park. The safari is the heart of Animal Kingdom for me and beautifully shows the soul of the park in just a few minutes. Disney has done an amazing job at catering the savanna to the animal’s needs and making the space seem authentic. On your safari, your guide also tells you about conservation and unique facts about all of the Harambe residents. This is a wonderful opportunity to truly capture the feel of Animal Kingdom.
Visit Animal Kingdom Lodge: Animal Kingdom is amazing all by itself, but its resort is just as great, in my opinion. The lodge is absolutely gorgeous and even has its own savanna. Not to mention the amazing restaurants!
Harambe Nights: I have never done this, so I couldn’t justify putting it on my list, but this just looks and sounds absolutely amazing. Who doesn’t want more Lion King? This party of a night is a magical theatric and culinary experience.