out of all four theme parks, The Animal Kingdom is my least favourite. the first time visiting Animal Kingdom was in 2007 (chaeli and doug’s first time to disney world ever) and leading up to it, i was excited. i hadn’t been back to disney world since my teen days and this fourth and last theme park was created not long after that last trip of my youth.
as it turned out, i felt it was more like a glorified zoo. once you’ve been to many great zoos, including our one in toronto, it just felt like another zoo, though with the branding of mickey ears here and there. still, if i was a resident of florida with an annual pass, i could see myself enjoying The Animal Kingdom from time to time. while i felt it lacked the same amount of magic as the other theme park attractions held, the design is still beautiful and some of the shows were qute amazing.
back in 2009, we actually decided to skip it but because chaeli couldn’t remember much from when she first went just shy of 4 years old, we decided to head back and take advantage of one of the character dining experiences with our free dining plan.
our first character dining was a safari brunch buffet at The Tusker House where we met up with Donald and friends (only Minnie was not there but we found her later at Camp Minnie-Mickey). the food was mediocre but out of all the table service type restaurants, this was the only one that was just so-so. and even then, it was still pretty good.
the only ride we went on was the Kilimanjaro Safaris Expedition which was, in my opinion, the best way to see some of the animals. we were lucky, too. with the weather being on the cool side, they were up and about. every stop we made proved fruitful and our guide was happy to have no issues with hiding or missing animals.
there are a few more rides in The Animal Kingdom, of course, but a couple were too scary for chaeli and the others were nothing that pressing. we spent the rest of the time checking out a couple of shows – It’s Tough to be a Bug, an interactive 4D show mixed with animatronics, and The Festival of the Lion King, which was fantastic! chaeli loved the acrobats using the trapeze and trampoline. i loved the music – the performers were outstanding.
we skipped the different trails (each viewing the diverse continental areas of the world) since we did those long trails the first time. we did, however, hit Rafiki’s Planet Watch because we remembered how much chaeli loved brushing the goats at Affection Station.
plus, what day would be complete if she didn’t get to hold elephant poop? luckily, it had been ‘petrified’ and glazed over.