by Wishes Diva
So many times I hear guests that are visiting Animal Kingdom ask out loud, “What is there to do in this park?” Or say things like “There aren’t a lot of rides here!” As someone who loves Animal Kingdom and would mark it as one of my favorite places to visit on Disney property, that hurts me a little on the inside. I love visiting Animal Kingdom for many reasons- the main one being that I love going to the zoo! To me, Animal Kingdom is basically a giant, awesome zoo with some rides and shows thrown in! The park is even complete with two good sized walking trails for animal viewing, one in Africa and the other in Asia. In Africa you can find the Pangani Trail and in Asia there is the Maharajah Jungle Trek. In my opinion these are two gems of Animal Kingdom.
Pangani Trail- Africa
The entrance to this trail is located near the exit of the Kilimanjaro Safari. This is a good trail to see in the morning. In planning your morning, my tip would be to do the Kilimanjaro Safari first thing and then do this directly afterward! The earlier in the day, the more you will see the animals moving around! As you enter the trail be sure to pick up a trail guide to help you identify all the animals you will see!
Animals along the first leg of this trail include: Colobus Monkeys, Okapi, Yellow-backed Duiker and Cranes. After the first leg, you will enter a research building complete with insects, amphibians, reptiles and even some Naked Mole Rats! After this you enter the aviary area where there are many different species of birds along with some river aquarium viewing as well. Keeping with the aquarium theme, as you leave the aviary you will enter the hippo viewing area. Here you can see these African river dwellers up close and personal!
The last two stops on this trail are my two favorite! Entering the next area you will have the chance to see zebra grazing along with dik-diks and gerenuks. Also in this enclosure are the meerkats! Yes, Timon and his buddies are here running around, and digging their tunnels for everyone to see! If you move over to the right you will have the best view of the meerkat habitat.
Last but certainly not least are the Gorillas. There are a few different areas that you can view these amazing creatures. The first you will come up on is a glass encased viewing area. Usually in this spot you will see some of the larger gorillas (and often the silverback male) lounging around or eating. If you view here for a little while you may see some younger gorillas running and playing too! After you have viewed through the glass, continue on the path around to the other side of the enclosure. Here on the right you will see the same family group as you did behind the glass. On the left hand side is a group of bachelor gorillas as well!
Overall this trail could take 15 or 50 minutes. It all depends on how quickly your group will want to move through. For the zoo lover in me, I can easily spend an hour wandering through here.
Maharajah Jungle Trek- Asia
The entrance to this trail is located past the Kali River Rapids entrance in Asia. My tip would be to come straight here after finishing the Kilimanjaro Safari and Pangani Trail. As I stated before, the earlier in the morning, the more you will see the animals moving around. This trail includes multiple tiger enclosures that you won’t want to miss!
As you enter, to the left you will see Malayan Tapir and the resident Komodo Dragon.
Continue up and around the corner and you will have the chance to get up close to a few different species of bats. This building includes Fruit Bats including the Malayan Flying Fox. As you continue along the trail you will come to the first chance to see the Asian tigers. Usually I have better luck viewing them further down along the trail in between the ruin walls. Often times the tigers will sleep along the walls down in this area so be sure to look in all of the corners! As you walk a little further there is a third chance to see the tigers on the right as you cross the bridge. The last time we went, we were fortunate to see two different species of Asian tigers in the exhibits. Be sure to ask the Cast Member about which tigers they currently have and what their schedule is for being on exhibit!
On the left side of the bridge you will see elds deer and blackbuck grazing in the field along with some birds. As you continue on the path there is a small window viewing area that shows further back in the tiger enclosure. I have gotten some great pictures of the majestic animals in this area, so be patient! The last time we even caught a tiger playing with its bone! After the tigers there is another aviary area with many species of birds to look at. (Be sure to pick up a guide for identification!) As you exit the bird area, you will be right back where you started near Kali River Rapids.
This trail could also take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, depending on your pace. Be sure to spend some time at the tiger exhibit, even if they look to be sleeping. You never know when they may get up and play!
Both of these trails are a unique experience! Very rarely do you get the chance to see these animals, even at a local zoo! Every time I visit Animal Kingdom, I make it a point to visit these areas. I have found that going first thing in the morning can be very helpful in seeing the animals up and moving around. It is very easy to get through both of these if you have your FastPass+ already planned!
My tips for planning your FastPass+ would be to get Kilimanjaro Safari as early in the morning as possible. Then space it out so Expedition Everest is later in the morning, leaving enough time in between for these trails!
(And don’t miss the great viewing area for the Tree of Life as you walk from Pangani to Maharajah!)