Randal ranked Disney’s Animal Kingdom as the top park out of the three that we visited. I have to say it’s one of the best theme parks next to Magic Kingdom that I have ever visited. They set the bar very high here with this park. You are completely immersed almost instantly upon entering the park through pathways lush with vegetation.
Unlike Hollywood Studios the theme is clearly evident throughout the park, it does not veer off on an unmarked tangent or path. There is a clear and identifiable focal point of the park as soon as you enter.
The Tree of Life is at the center of the park from there signs to other continents are clearly labeled. Even still the app came in handy to navigate the park as much of the park is surrounded by lush vegetation there are also many huts so things can seem somewhat hidden and camouflaged. As you go down the main paved pathway to the Tree Of Life a familiar scene of cast members available to take photos and there are many families, groups, couples etc trying to get their photo ops close up as well as within clear frame of the tree. We were lucky to get a few shots. We were also greeted by an exotic bird show/ exhibit. Lots of tropical birds flew in all at once. They were exotic and some of the most beautiful and unique bird species that I have ever seen. The funniest thing was hearing how they actually have fly aways that end up in other parts of Florida!
From there we headed to see the Lion King show at the theater. En route we passed a baby care station which I noted and then we could hear live music mostly drums. Once in eye sight as well as earshot we could see a live band, a quartet set in front of congo drums. The tempo upbeat and set the tone complimenting the setting of the village perfectly. The Lion King show was great, the music and the dancing all very well done. The costumes and props all very colorful. The animal puppets all larger than life as they move in synch to the music.
Next, we headed to the safari. There is lots of wild life present in the safari, elephants, zebras, giraffes, crocodiles and so many others. The preserve is very well maintained, almost undisturbed and seemingly natural habitat. The animals roam free but don’t approach the vehicles, and seem unbothered.
My only complaint about the park is that the Harambe Market closes too early! We went to go to other attractions and decided to eat later in the afternoon only to find it closed. I was so bummed I really wanted to try the Karubi Ribs, a gyro and Black Eyed pea salad. The foodie in me was totally deflated. With that said, plan to go and eat early! On the day that we attended the park, this little market area closed sharply at 4:00 pm. They definitely pack it up as early as 3:30 to 3:45 so that it shuttered and chained off by 4:00 pm. Why does it close so early? I couldn’t tell you. The village market is walk up style and has a generous amount of wooden bench /picnic style bench and umbrella seating. The scenery is very authentic to the feel of a real African Village.
We ended up having a late lunch close enough to dinner time while in Pandora at…Satu’li Canteen. After eating bad most of the week we all ate light with salads and noodle bowls. The kids opted for tofu, Randal had the Chili Garlic Shrimp bowl. I had the chicken and beef bowl with rich leafy green vegetable salad with quinoa. The beef was very tender. The chicken had a rich grilled flavor. I was shocked but they loved the tofu bowls! Randal let me have a taste of his shrimp which was very good with a small kick of heat. I definitely recommend this spot for vegetarians or those seeking healthier eating options.
Pandora is GENIUS! The workings of this land within the park are nothing short of genius and miraculous. The islands that seemingly float and make you look as if you are indeed in Pandora. The vegetation is so lush and the fountain that glows in front of the giant canopy like tree is GORGEOUS. Avatar Flight of Passage is AMAZING. You MUST ride if you attend this park. Plan to go early as the que/line is very long. The technology is amazing, I think it’s safe to say it’s 4D. You can really feel the drops, spirals, sharp twists, turns and jolts. It feels very real!
So many warnings before you get on this ride! Including a warning about weight, ability to straddle the seat, back problems, fear of heights, high blood pressure, the list goes on and on.
I do have a fear of heights, I couldn’t tell you how high up you actually are but if you do fear heights you will feel it as SOON as those air gates go up and you can feel the cool air and the LARGER than IMAX size screen light up. My stomach was doing leaps and somersaults and elevator drops. You can feel the open air as you see/ adjust to your surroundings FULLY immersed into Pandora and it gets VERY (‘virtually’) real FAST as you feel not only the open air but a seemingly free fall over a ledge as you take flight from what feels to be hundreds of feet in the air. You can feel the air sprays from water splashing, you can feel the breathing in and out of the banshee. My favorite part was gliding against this ENORMOUS wave as a whale tail crashes against the water. There is not much information about the construction of this attraction aside from vague shots of stadium style seating. I sincerely do not recommend this ride for children under 8 years of age, for a number of reasons including that they must ride alone. My daughter just turned 9, she was WIDE eyed and gripped the bars of the seat for dear life, she was scared and didn’t care to ride with her father the second time for rider swap but she enjoyed it. It’s definitely well worth the wait you will not regret it. Get fast passes if you can; I highly recommend it. This is an attraction better planned for the very beginning of your day at the park or the end due to extreme wait times.
As for Disney’s Animal Kingdom this park will not disappoint. There is plenty to see and do for a full day trip.
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