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Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park Orlando, Florida

Disney's Animal Kingdom is the newest of the main Disney Parks, having first opened to the public in 1998, it is also the largest of the Disney Parks covering 500 acres. The park consists of seven themed lands all connected through the central fourteen story high Tree of Life. In addition to the attractions there are on site hotels including Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge.

As the name suggest the park is dedicated to wild life, with the seven lands each depicting the flora and fauna of that area. It would seem easy to suggest that Animal Kingdom and Busch Gardens are rivals, both offering similar attractions and animals for visitors to enjoy. But whilst Busch Gardens is a very good theme park in its own right, Disney's Animal Kingdom is in another league altogether, the sheer attention to detail and beauty of the place is at times breath-taking.

As you move around the lands take time to stop and look at the views, enjoy the detail and smaller exhibits that you might miss by rushing by. Africa and Asia can get quite crowded in the afternoon so make your way to these areas of the park as you arrive, perhaps grab some fast pass tickets for Exhibition Everest, Kilimanjaro Safaris Expedition or the Kali River Rapids before going off to take in a show or other rides.

Finding Nemo, the musical, is fantastic and colorful, a great show for all the family. Queues can form early but it is a big theatre and on all but the busiest of days you should be able to find a seat. The theatre is also air-conditioned for those days when the heat of the Savanna seems to be extremely realistic!

Exhibition Everest is a great roller coaster, with in true Disney fashion a few tricks in store, suitable for all riders and sure to raise the heart rate. If you are a nervous rider then maybe on this one give the front two seats a miss, who knows maybe the Yeti does live in Florida!

The ethos at Animal Kingdom is conservation with animals all around the park, take the time to walk all of the trails to see the Lions, Meer Cats, Great Apes and many of other creatures. Of course the big animal ride is the Kilimanjaro Safaris Expedition, an open sided bus ride around the vast wildlife reserve. Expect traditional Disney antics mixed with Elephants, Lions, Tigers, Zebra, Gazelles and all of the animals you would associate with an African Safari.

There are plenty of places to eat and drink with the food on offer in each land a reflection of local tastes.

Oasis

Discovery Island

The Tree of Life greets you as you arrive in the park and can be glimpsed from most of the other lands, with over 325 animals carved into its fourteen storey trunk and branches it makes a mesmerizing spectacle, see how many you can count.

Animal Kingdom Tree of Life

Camp Minnie-Mickey

If you are looking to top up your autograph books then head on past the Festival of the Lion King to find a meet and greet area for all your favorite characters.

Camp Mickey Minnie

Africa

Taking the Kilimanjaro Safaris bus tour is a must, don't leave the park until you have. Queues can be long so at busy times try to use a FastPass here. You will have to stow your bags in netting bins on the bus, so as you get ready to board make sure you have your camera at the ready for all those waiting animals.

Both the Maharajah Jungle Trek and the Pangani Forest Trail are well worth the time, you get up close and personal with the animals and through the excellent and knowledgeable staff get the chance to learn more about the animals and their habitats. Look out for pictorial nature guides available at the start of the trails, they are packed with information and great for the kids to see how many animals they can spot.

Rafiki's Planet Watch Area

Rafiki's Planet watch area is a mixture of conservation and kids petting zoo. The train runs regularly dropping you at the Conservation Station, so great insight and detail here on the Conservation work carried out by Disney both here in the park and in the wider community.

The Affection Section offers the chance for younger visitors to give Goats, Rabbits and other smaller animals a hug and stroke.

Asia

Only in Disney can you see Everest whilst standing in Africa! Ok so it might not be quite as tall as the real thing but the rollercoaster, Expedition Everest, is still mighty impressive. Switch backs, direction changes and high speed drops make this a great roller coaster, another one to consider for a FastPass; it also offers a single rider queue.

Animal Kingdom Everest

Dinoland, USA Area