By Darlin’ Diva History: This attraction opened with Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park in April, 1998 and was originally called Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail. The name lasted a mere three months before being changed to Pangani Forest Exploration Trail. Honestly, the gorillas are incredible, but there’s a lot more to be seen and experienced in this exhibit, so the re-naming was a good idea.
TIP: Hit this trail early. It’s located in Animal Kingdom’s Africa section right next to the exit for Kilimanjaro Safari and gets crowded quickly. You do not have to ride the safari to enter the trail. Look for the sign next to the Harambe Railroad Station.
Time needed: This trail is a self-guided exploration of less than half a mile. Allow 30 minutes (or more if you love animals). Even if there’s a crowd, be patient and try different viewing locations so you don’t miss a thing.
Why you should try it: This is a must see for animal lovers of all ages. The highlight (for me) is the Western Lowland Gorilla exhibit. Disney went all out with the African exploration theme along this entire trail down to the smallest detail. Even the dense African vegetation adds to the experience.
TIP: Be still, quiet and non-threatening when viewing the gorillas. They’ll be more inclined to stay nearby and let you watch (and photograph) to your heart’s content.
There are also naked mole rats (man, those things are freaky!), hippos (with an underwater viewing area), meerkats (I could watch those babies all day), duiker (a kind of antelope) and okapi (totally interesting relative of the giraffe with cool leg stripes).
Along the way, stop in the Research Center (mole rat exhibit is here) for a peek at some pretty cool snakes, lizards, and tarantulas. See Colobus monkeys at the Animal Rehabilitation Center.
Now, unless you’ve seen Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds one too many times, you’ve got to check out the aviary! It is choc full of some incredible bird species and they’re right there – almost close enough to touch!
TIP: Pick up a bird spotting guide and if you can find all the pictured species.
The best part? There are even more excellent things to see than I’ve mentioned in this review! Next time you’re headed to the Animal Kingdom, add the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail to your touring plan and you’ll see all these amazing animals for yourself. While you’re there, tell the gorillas I said, “Hi”.