We decided long before we left that Animal Kingdom would probably be Drake’s favorite park, and thus decided to allocate two days for it so we could take everything in and not feel rushed. Animal Kingdom is my favorite park as well and I love that I get to share my love of animals with my son.
This was my list for Drake at Animal Kingdom:
Kilimanjaro Safaris – The number one thing at Disney that I wanted to take Drake on above all else was the Kilimanjaro Safari. I figured that Drake would love this one as it would bring him up close to so many of his favorite animals like elephants, rhinos, crocodiles, zebras, hippos, ostriches, giraffes, etc. On arrival we immediately went to Fast pass this ride and got so lucky in getting a slot within 10 minutes of our arrival. We hurried our way over and then talked up all the animals to Drake. I honestly don’t know who was more excited when we got on board the ride — Drake or all the adults anticipating his excitement. I personally love this ride as well and could ride it all day. It was certainly a highlight of the trip for everyone.
Kali River Rapids – As one of Animal Kingdom’s few rides we fast passed this one for later in the day because you really can get soaked. There are lockers nearby that you can store your stuff thankfully. I was a little nervous about whether Drake would want to ride this one as he hates getting water in his face (he wears a visor for bathtime… that’s how much he hates it). Before we got on I showed him a video of people getting soaked and that seemed to put him off, so we decided to skip this one after that.
Finding Nemo the Musical – Following Drake’s love of Nemo, I knew this was going to be a must see show. Drake was very impatient during the wait before the show started that I thought I would have to escort him out, but as soon as the show started he was rapt. The show combines live actors with puppetry figures and larger than life sets that truly make you feel like you are in the ocean. The story line follows the movie very closely but adds in some fun songs as well. Juliet sadly was not behaving well and I took her outside missing most of the show, but what little I saw was truly remarkable. Mr. Chocolate said Drake loved every moment as he watched intently the entire time without a peep. At the end when the bubbles came floating down, Drake & Juliet were both thrilled.
The Festival of the Lion King – Unlike Nemo which was new to me, Mr. Chocolate and I have both seen the Lion King show in past visits and enjoyed it thoroughly. Sadly this is one attraction we never made to in 2 days of visiting Animal Kingdom. We were never able to get the timing right. I think Drake would have liked this one too so hopefully when we make it back to Disney in a few years he will be able to catch it then.
Flights of Wonder – Flights of Wonder is a new live show featuring an array of birds from roosters and crows to a bald eagle. The birds fly overhead and some even perform a few tricks while the hosts educate the audience on the birds abilities and talents. We arrived a little late and were stuck farther in the back, so I think Drake couldn’t see as well and lost interest over time. He did really like when one bird flew right over him, and at the end I was able to take him up front to get a closer look at some of the birds on display which he really enjoyed.
Watching the birds
It’s Tough to Be a Bug – Like most boys Drake loves bugs, so I knew he would get a kick out of this show. Sadly the show was being renovated during our visit and not open to the public.
Maharajah Jungle Trek – This is one of two walking trails in Animal Kingdom that allow you to see tigers, bats, etc. The trail is self guided with some way points to stop and look in at the animals. Drake was very keen on seeing the tiger and moved through this quickly to find her. I have to say the styling of the trail was really beautiful and looked almost authentic. As we walked through the trail it almost felt like we were really in Asia and the scenery really added to the experience.
It really felt like you were in another place walking through
Pangani Forest Exploration Trail – The other walking trail that featured gorillas, hippos, etc. It was nice to be able to leisurely walk through the trails, taking our time to admire all the scenery and information laid out at each check point. Drake really loved the bird guide they had and wanted to find all the birds as we walked. That took up a lot of his focus and time as we made our way through the trail. he Maharajah Trail is prettier, but seeing the hippo close up was very neat as well.
Obsessed with the bird guide
TriceraTop Spin– This ride is part of DinoLand which is a small side part of Animal Kingdom. The big rides in this area Dinosaur & Primeval Whirl were too large for Drake (Dinosaur can be really scary and dark & Primeval has a height requirement of 48 inches), but I knew we had to visit it to ride the Triceratops. Drake loves spinning rides and what better way to segue into Dumbo the next day than to ride this one first. Juliet even enjoyed mashing the buttons as we flew.
The Boneyard – There is large play area in DinoLand called the Boneyard for little kids. It has ramps, bridges and climbing ropes, and is a nice place for kids to burn off some energy and for parents to take a little rest. We let Drake scamper around a little while we refilled water bottles, changed Juliet, and cooled down a little in the shade.
Rafiki’s Planet Watch – If you take a small train near the Safari, you will be taken to Rafiki’s Planet Watch which is a small separate area that contains a petting zoo as well as the research area of the Animal Kingdom. The building has an array of smaller tank creatures as well as some surgical procedures being done on the animals in care at the Animal Kingdom. There are also some characters including Rifiki naturally, and Chip & Dale. For such a small area of Animal Kingdom, Drake really enjoyed this area and we spent close to two hours one day there.
Waiting for the train
Meeting Rafiki & Chip & Dale
Wilderness Explorers – While not an attraction per say, the Wilderness Explorers of UP fame (think Russell), exist now in Animal Kingdom. There are little Wilderness Explorer stations around the park where you can pick up a guidebook chock full of all kinds of information on animals and nature tips, and then walk around searching for posts all around the park where you can collect badges (stickers; 31 in total) and place them inside your book. Drake loved the Wilderness Guide and was enraptured at looking them. While we didn’t collect the full 31 badges, we did get quite a handful. I think next time we go and he is older, this might be a really fun activity to do as well as a great souvenir to take home.
Drake didn’t want a picture with Doug & Russell
Studying to be a Wilderness Explorer
Wilderness Explorer Post- Flamingo Badge
Even though we went 2 days, we still didn’t manage to see everything at Animal Kingdom. But this was Drake’s favorite park and he still talks about the animals he got to see.