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by Beauty & the Beast Diva

Animal Kingdom has a bad reputation for being a “half day” park. It’s not. I will admit my first time at Animal Kingdom, as a sullen 14 year old, I agreed that it was horrible and thought that Disney had really made a mistake. This continued on for a while, but now it’s one of my favorite parks. Do not skip Animal Kingdom and do not make it a “pool day” park. Animal Kingdom is about exploration and that is EXACTLY what you should do! They have something for everyone to EXPLORE! Here are my top 5 reasons NOT to skip out on a full day at Animal Kingdom:
5. The Shopping: For some reason they have HUGE stores and they have a ton of attire and souvenirs you may not find anywhere else. They also have a large selection of Christmas decorations for some reason, and I always find cool ornaments for my tree. This is also the first place I saw the turkey leg shirts and dole whip shirts, which have grown ever so popular. My two favorite stores are immediately when you walk in, over the bridge, to the right AND there is a really cool store right in the middle of “Africa” that has lots of cool instruments and animal print everything!

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4. The Attractions: THEY HAVE AWESOME RIDES AND SHOWS! Dinosaur is the ultimate thrill ride, although I’ve never actually seen it because I sit in the fetal position and usually cry (big shout out to my brother-in-law who was on it once and it broke down and he had to WALK THROUGH THE DINOSAURS to get to the emergency exits). Ride Dinosaur in the morning when everyone else is running for Everest and the Safari. The safari is breathtaking! No matter how many times I ride it, it amazes me that something so grand was CREATED by Disney. Kali River Rapids is so cool if you like getting soaked! Expedition Everest. The best ride, ever, of all time. Rafiki’s Planet Watch- it’s like a behind the scenes tour of the safari that takes you to an area with an animal hospital, where you could watch them perform surgeries or small procedures on animals and ask assistants question and you can see the nutritionists weighing and measuring food for all the animals.Yup. They have nutritionists for their animals! There is a really sweet petting zoo for the kiddies or kids at heart and you can of course, meet Rafiki from the Lion King! Finding Nemo: The Musical is AWESOME. There is some serious talent in that show, BUT have you seen The Festival of the Lion King?! It is amazing! My father said it’s not only the best show he’s ever seen in Disney, but it’s the best show he has ever seen. There are no words to describe it, it is truly amazing. I’ve never seen Flights of Wonder because I HATE birds, but I’m told it’s pretty great too. =) And this is my plea to Disney- PLEASE bring back the Jammin’ Jungle Parade! Finally, there is Divine. She is found between Africa and Asia, adorned in vines and leaves and on stilts, she blends in with the thick brush found all over Animal Kingdom. She blends in so well, you may not even notice her until she moves. Her performances last about 20 minutes, if you want to check her out ask a cast member when you can see her but be sure to keep a look out, she’s tough to find!

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3. The Food: Oh. Em. Gee. The. Food. Please see my article on Yak and Yeti, if you haven’t read it yet and The Tusker House. Oh how I love the Tusker House, a buffet where you can experience the colorful flavors of Africa, with a little Mediterranean and Indian flare. There are so many different flavors to experience for breakfast, lunch or dinner- all with a character meet and greet! Also, the counter service breakfasts in Africa- the cinnamon rolls and elephant ears both are HUGE and delish!

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2. The Character Meet and Greets: On top of your favorite characters being clad in their safari attire, you can see characters that you won’t see anywhere else. You will meet Tarzan, Baloo, Flik, King Louie, Pocahontas, Dug and Russell. You will rarely see these characters anywhere else. In my experience, the waits to meet characters seem a bit shorter at Animal Kingdom than any other park.

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1. The Landscape: Okay so the uneven pathways and overall size of the park don’t make this the BEST park for walking, BUT there are many beautiful and shady locations within the park to sit and relax. You can put your feet up and enjoy the lush landscape and soothing music pumped through the park. You can easily take your mid-day break somewhere within the park and return, ready for action an hour or two later after relaxing somewhere in the shade with your feet up.
These are just a few reasons I LOVE Animal Kingdom. Plan on a full day here! See what they have to offer, get there early and SUBMERGE yourself in the park. It is so fun to pretend you are in Africa or Asia! Learn. Explore. And Enjoy all Animal Kingdom has to offer you!