Many years ago when Disney’s Animal Kingdom (or DAK for efficiency’s sake) first opened, I didn’t love it. I adore animals and you’d think my outlook would’ve better. But it wasn’t. However, as often with first impressions – my opinion has altered since my first look. I found my liking of DAK increased with each visit. It’s such a beautiful park; the landscaping is exotic. When I was working on the Disney College Program, I used to roam around the park on my days off to check out the plants and animals.
I certainly no longer find the park dull, as evidenced by my hearty “Can’t Miss” list. There are shows, attractions, stunning animals, and tasty treats everywhere. What’s not to like about that?
Below is the Walt Disney World Blog 2015 Disney’s Animal Kingdom Can’t Miss List. As always, there will be an asterisk next to “super favorites,” or things we often do more than once.
(by area) Oasis, Discovery Island, Africa, Asia, Dinoland USA
The Oasis Exhibits* – These are just pathways around the front of the park, but they have some really beautiful plants, awesome birds and animals. Take time to enjoy these instead of power-walking past as you hurry to squeeze in one more attraction. (I might be speaking from experience…)
It’s Tough to be a Bug * – This 3D show will have you feeling bug sized. The queue usually isn’t too long either so it makes a great midday attraction.
Discovery Island Trails – Like the Oasis Exhibits.
Flame Tree BBQ * – Many kinds of BBQ are available here. YUM, YUM, YUM. The food is delicious and there’s a great seating area off to the side making this is one of our favorite lunch (or dinner!) Quick Service options. Bonus – try the Safari Amber beer, specially brewed for Disney World.
Festival of the Lion King –This charming 30 minute show brings The Lion King story to life with singing, dancing, and exciting acrobatics. Kiddos will love the interactive elements. The monkeys are our favorite park!
Kilimajaro Safaris ** –This unique attraction takes you onto Disney Animal Kingdom’s Harambe Wildlife Preserve. As you bump along in an open-air vehicle you’ll see a variety of African wildlife. The animals are free roaming so what you see varies with each safari. There are over 34 species roaming the savannah such as lions, hippos, elephants, zebra, rhino, giraffe, okapi, ostrich, etc. **SPECIAL TIP** Visit the safari early in the morning or late in the evening for cooler temps and potentially more animal sightings.
Pangani Forest Exploration Trail –A beautiful walking trail where you’ll encounter flora and fauna. You can get an amazing, close up view of gorillas here.
Maharajah Jungle Trek * –This trail exposes guests to Asian wildlife. Get a close up view of a variety of animals that includes many species of birds, tigers, and fruit bats!
Kali River Rapids – To be honest I haven’t ridden this ride in several years. This raft ride is full of twists, turns, dips, and of course – water. I remember it being a lot of fun. So why haven’t I been in a while? You can get very wet. Maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll get soaked. I don’t liked to be soaked and left to dry out with my clothes sticking to me as I roam the park. Perhaps this makes me a party pooper. I do think husband and I are going to give it a go on our next trip. Soaking wet or not – I bet we’ll have fun.
Expedition Everest ** –Oh dear readers, how do I express in words how I love this coaster? I adore every detail from the museum style queue, to the trainlike coaster, to the Yeti himself. This ride is a thrill and I tackle it as many times as I can.
Finding Nemo – This Broadway style show tells the Finding Nemo story. It’s fun and gorgeous. The sets and costumes are really striking. The show lasts 40 minutes and it’s a nice opportunity to cool off, rest, and be entertained while you do so!
Primeval Whirl * – This colorful ride is a mild roller coaster with round cars that spin. It will leave you giggling – I guarantee it.
DINOSAUR –Hop into a time rover and travel back in time to hang out with dinosaurs during an impending meteor strike. Yikes! This ride is dark with some really cool animatronic dinosaurs. Could be scarey for young kiddos.
Today my friends, is a gift. I mean, all days we have on this earth are gifts, but today is a snow day! As a teacher, a day where school is cancelled and you get a few precious hours at home to catch up on life, is wonderful. So here I am with my little diet coke and my happy place Mickey straw.
I always find myself looking at a huge gap in my posts wondering how it got to be so long since my last check in. The school year certainly proves to be the biggest time thief, but recently I have had another task at hand. My brother is getting married in April and I’ve been working on making invitations for their wedding. Those got sent out over the weekend and so now I have a rare extra bit of free time. Speaking of weddings, my gorgeous cousin got married over the weekend too. Yay! Her new husband booked their honeymoon at Disney World as a surprise, and that’s where they currently are. Eek! And I’m so happy for them! I know that right now as I’m typing up this post with frozen sidewalks outside my window, I know that they are having a blast in the pleasant 65 degree WDW weather. (I might also be a teensy bit jealous.)
Knowing we are Disney World fiends, my cousin called for some tips on her upcoming honeymoon. She only found out about the trip a couple weeks before their big day and she wanted to plan to get the most of her time. She raised some great questions, mostly about dining. But I ended up writing her an email about a few things she might want to pack and what attractions are on our “can’t miss” list. Dining and attractions are big topics, so let’s tuck them away for another day. But, what to pack? That’s doable.
Packing smartly for Walt Disney World can make a significant difference in the quality of your trip. If you’ve never been before, or like my cousin you haven’t been since you were little and mom did your packing, you may not realize everything you may need.
Clothes – OK, obviously you need clothes. Check the weather before you go to determine what kind of temps you’ll be facing. Pack enough clothes to be able to change once a day. This is especially true if you’re going in the summer. It’s hot and you will sweat. There is nothing better than going back to your hotel to shower and get fresh clothes on after a particularly hot day in the parks before dinner. Or in the afternoon after a swim at your hotel pool. Or whatever it may be. If you’re not going in the summer, pack clothes you can layer. The temperatures can fluctuate day by day, and mornings can be cool while afternoons heat up. Don’t forget your favorite Disney gear while you’re choosing your clothes!
Shoes – Now, you may be tempted to save suitcase room and minimize your shoe count, especially if you’re flying. Luggage rates don’t seem to be dropping. BUT MAKE ROOM because shoes are key. Walt Disney World is huge, and you will walk miles, most likely daily, when there. And you will stand, and stand some more. I like to pack a pair or two of nice flip flops that have support (like Rainbows, Merrills, or Oluai Ohanas), and a of pair of sneakers. Three pairs of shoes may sound excessive, but I’ve found that switching shoes every day or two will save your feet from aching as much.
Swimsuit – Disney has awesome pools and water parks. Hubs and I tend to swim almost every day so I bring two suits for both of us so we can alternate.
Sunglasses/Hat – Protect your eyes and face from the sun. I don’t tend to wear a hat, but both Hubs and my Dad do.
Ziplock Bags – Bring a few sandwich, quart, and gallon ziplock bags. They just come in handy. They’re great for your toiletries, or to make an ice pack, or to keep a wet swimsuit isolated. (Many a time on our last day I’ve just had to squeeze in one more dip in the pool. Then I’m faced with a wet swimsuit to put in my suitcase. Gallon bag to the rescue!) Our family also tends to pack a garbage bag or two for dirty clothes. A pop-up hamper like the ones for college dorms are also great for that task.
First Aid Kit – Make your own or grab a pre-made version. I suggest including band-aids, neosporin, benadryl, Ib preufin (or other favorite headache medicine), your choice remedy for upset stomach, and rubbing alcohol.
Gold Bond Powder – As we’ve established, Disney World includes lots of walking and sweating. This helps keep chafing down. I’ve also heard Body Glide is great.
Sunscreen – This may seem like a no brainer, Florida sun = need for sunscreen. But it’s easy to get distracted at Disney World as you go in and out of attractions and forget about it. Trust us, it’s needed. In fact, I got lightly burnt in Magic Kingdom a couple of days before my wedding. Thanks be for aloe. That’s not a bad item to toss into your bag either.
Ponchos – Rain is a very likely happening on your trip to WDW. January – April tends to have 2-3 inches per month. May – just shy of 4 inches. June is typically the rainiest month with over 7 inches on average. July – September average about 6 inches per month. During October – December the average drops back down to 2-3 inches a month. Rain, especially in the summer is brief. It clouds up, pours, then steams away. Having a poncho to whip out will keep you dry and let you move on with your day mostly uninterrupted. I hate getting wet and then drying out slowly as I walk around the park. You will find very cute Mickey ponchos in many, many shops in Walt Disney World. We have ones that we bought years ago and that go with us on our trips. If you don’t own any, you can pick them up before your trip at Target, or somewhere similar for a better price.
H2O – Water can be life saving at WDW, especially in summertime. Are there water fountains all over Disney World? Yup. But I’m not going to lie, the water is gross. It does not taste good – at all. A bottle of water in the parks can cost $3-4. Buying a case of bottled water before you go will allow you to save substantially. We usually take two large bottles into the park with us every time we go to a park. I have not tried these, but I have read that the Brita Sport Water Filter Bottles are great. Many people have used them in the parks and claim they nip the nasty taste of the WDW water. I think we may try these on our June trip.
Snacks – As with water, bringing your own snacks into the parks can save you lots of cash. Disney allows you to bring food and drink into the park. They do not allow glass, alcoholic beverages, or coolers however. Remember is hot so you don’t want to bring something that can spoil or melt.
Adult Beverages – A cold beer in the afternoon before a dip in the pool is mighty refreshing. Bringing your own alcohol can be another money-saver.
Cameras and Tech Gadgets – I am usually manning my video camera in the parks while Hubs usually has a camera for pics. We both also tend to use our cell phones for photos. Make sure you’ve got all of the corresponding cords and chargers!
Magic Bands – Once customized on My Disney Experience these are usually shipped to you about a month before your trip. Don’t forget ’em!
Park Bag – Make sure to bring along a small backpack or your other favorite bag to take into the parks. In our park bag we always have our camera gear for the day, water, sunscreen, a snack or two, ponchos, and a mini first aid kit.
Hubs is ready with Shades and a Camera.
OK, now I’m really ready to go! Obviously I didn’t include things for kids in here as we don’t have any of those yet. However, I have heard that Tide Pens/wipes, sippy cups, change for the penny press machines, and glow bracelets/necklaces are great additions for little dudes.