a day at the animal kingdom

In today’s installment of my Florida trip report, we’ll be visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Our park of choice for Fri, 12/2.

I LOVED Animal Kingdom.

There will be a ridiculous amount of photos in this entry.

Like Hollywood Studios, this park doesn’t have a huge number of rides or attractions but there is such an INCREDIBLE level of theming and detail that it more than makes up for that deficit.

I pretty much walked around in a constant state of awe. Like with my jaw to the floor. It’s AH-MAY-ZING.



We made a beeline to Asia to hit Expedition Everest first thing in the morning.



I had a feeling I would LOVE this ride…



And I did! It’s a roller coaster but it doesn’t throw you around like some older coasters do. It’s a very smooth ride. The ride vehicles even go forward AND backward! So exhilarating. It catapulted to my Top 3 rides EVER (for the record – Space Mountain at Disneyland, Forbidden Journey at Wizarding World of Harry Potter and now Expedition Everest).



GAWD. THIS PARK. It’s just gorgeous.

We made our way to Dinoland to ride DINOSAUR.



Hated it. It uses the same ride vehicle and track layout as Indiana Jones at Disneyland but it is NOT nearly as fun or exciting. Not to mention that the “storyline” is also pretty lame. Oh well.

Each of the Disney parks has its own “icon” — and at Animal Kingdom, it’s the Tree of Life.



Again, so much detail. Look at the animal carvings on the bark!



We even found Simba as we were admiring the tree. 😉



Over in Africa, we experienced the Kilimanjaro Safaris where we toured the savanna to see various African animals.




The trip through the safari is aided by a guide who points out the animals as you approach them. And in between scouting for animals, they’re also keeping up with the ride’s storyline that has you trying to save a baby elephant from poachers. It’s pretty cheesy, I have to admit. But luckily, we had a really great guide who embraced the “cheese.” Heh.



I was amazed at how close we were to the animals.

The next land we visited was Camp Minnie Mickey (kind of a lazy name, or is it just me?) to watch The Festival of the Lion King, which is a 30-minute stage show featuring singing and dancing (it’s more of a variety show versus a retelling of the story).

It was entertaining but sadly, none of my pictures turned out. Too much movement!

Another reason for visiting Camp Minnie Mickey was that I wanted to see all the character Christmas trees. They’re sprinkled throughout the land — and they’re so cute! A few of my favorites included Minnie, Pluto and Chip & Dale…



Stitch, Pocahontas, Meeko, Mickey, Donald Duck, Goofy and a few other characters had trees as well.

While there, we also got to see…



Thumper and Chip & Dale! Love these guys. I REALLY wanted to get a picture taken with Thumper but I was feeling really awkward and self-conscious that day so I passed. UGH. I regret it.

After the fuzzy animals, we went to see real animals along the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail and Maharajah Jungle Trek.



By this point in the trip we’d been at WDW for 5 days and had gone the entire time without having some sort of Asian food or rice. Hey, we’re Filipino, rice is a thing! So luckily I had the foresight to book our lunch at Yak and Yeti, which serves Asian-inspired cuisine.



OH MAN. THE FOOD TOTALLY HIT THE SPOT.



We had rice with our meals! SO NOMMY. AND THE DESSERT! Skewers of fresh pineapple and cream cheese wontons drizzled with a honey vanilla glaze. INSANELY GOOD.

We walked off our lunch by exploring Asia. Seriously, this land is like candy for the eyes — it’s so visually interesting.



I mean, the detail on that truck! It’s just an ice cream stand!

I wanted to get another ride in on Expedition Everest so we headed in that direction. Like the rest of Asia, this ride is so gorgeous…



I can’t remember why we were posing like that. I think we were supposed to be scared. We just look crazy. LOL.

To cap off our time at the Animal Kingdom, we decided to take in a couple of shows. Flights of Wonder was an amazing show featuring exotic birds but sadly, Finding Nemo – The Musical was SUPER disappointing. And I’m pretty easy to please! The singing was fine but the acting made me cringe. It was so bad that I was actually happy when my boss started sending me text messages during the show. We took that opportunity to leave early so I could take care of some work. CRAZY, I KNOW.

We missed Rafiki’s Planet Watch (an area of the park with a petting zoo and a peek behind the scenes) and Kali River Rapids (no interest in getting drenched) but otherwise we covered the park pretty well. Looking back I would have loved to have another half day here. Hindsight and all that.

After leaving the park, we headed to the Animal Kingdom Lodge for dinner at their signature restaurant Jiko.

It was pretty dark in the restaurant but it was a refreshing change from the hustle and bustle of the park.

From start to finish, this was probably one of the best meals we had at WDW. The menu is inspired by African, Indian & Mediterranean cuisine so flavors are bold and unique. Everything was scrumptious.



Sharing a pic of our dessert because it’s my favorite part of any meal. 🙂 Here we had coconut bread pudding (front) and chocolate/coffee mousse (back).



And a parting shot of the lobby of the Lodge. I loved that all the parks and resorts were dressed up for the holidays. It was such a great time to visit!

AK Rides/Attractions Count:
Expedition Everest – 2
DINOSAUR – 1
Pangani Forest Exploration Trail – 1
Festival of the Lion King – 1
Kilimanjaro Safaris – 1
Maharajah Jungle Trek – 1
Flights of Wonder – 1
Primeval Whirl – 1
Finding Nemo: The Musical – left early

For more pics from our day at Animal Kingdom, check our Flickr here.