Disney’s Animal Kingdom, part of Walt Disney World, is Disney’s newest theme park, having opened in 1998, is still in it’s infancy. With the addition of Expedition Everest in Asia, it is starting to feel like a full scale theme park. Part zoo, part theme park, many of the attractions and rides center around the wildlife of the park. While many people do not really like the park, I honestly feel that Animal Kingdom is the most beautiful of all the Disney parks, and one of my favorites. Just spend a few minutes walking around and checking out the details in everything from the sidewalks to the Tree of Life, just amazing.
#10: Maharajah Jungle Trek – This could have just as easily been the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, both are very nice, but I really like the Majarajah trek and the great viewing areas to see the Asian Tigers. It really looks like they have taken over an abandoned Asian ruin. While technically not a ride, this is one of the attractions that makes Animal Kingdom special.
#9: The Boneyard - Ok, ok, in reality, Animal Kingdom really only has 8 attraction worthy of the top 10, so I had to stretch a bit here. The boneyard is a play area for kids, but I do love that it is inventive, and keeps kids interested for quite some time. It is completely self enclosed, only one exit, so adults can send their kids in to play while they relax on a bench, I call that a win-win.
#8: Primeval Whirl – A family style roller-coaster, which makes it fun. Think Wild-Mouse, but with a free spinning car that seats 4. While in itself it isn’t a great ride, the fact that you can ride with your family or friends and watch them close up makes this a fun ride. While I hope Disney decides to just get rid of Chester and Hester’s Dino-Rama, this ride at least has some redeeming qualities.
#7: Finding Nemo – The Musical – Disney’s newest stage show, Nemo is a Broadway style show, complete with singing, dancing and super sized fish. In a similar style to the Lion King Broadway show, humans are on stage with “puppets”. The actors sing, dance and act as part of the puppet. It is a fun, lively show, and held inside with full air conditioning, which makes it great during the summer hours. I just love Mr. Ray on his bike, makes me smile each time I see the show.
#6: It’s Tough to be a Bug – A special look at the life of bugs, based on Pixar’s Bug’s Life move. A 4-D adventure, full of special effects, jokes and plenty of bugs, this show is fun for the entire family. Part of the experience is walking through the roots of the Tree of Life, being able to see close up the fantastic artistry used to make the tree. The theater is inside the base of the Tree, it really feels like you are at home with the bugs. Warning, this ride may be scary to little kids, it is dark, and loud in places, and again, full of bugs of all sorts.
#5: Kali River Rapids – Take a ride down the Chakranadi River in Asia. A round boat will take you and 7 friends on an adventure filled with white water rafting and plenty of water. Similar to Grizzly River Rapids in California Adventure (which is better, in my opinion), Kali is a fun ride, especially on a hot summer day. Just be warned, you will get wet, maybe even soaked to the bone. Don’t be a baby and wear a poncho, getting wet is half the fun.
#4: DINOSAUR – Originally named “Countdown to Extinction”, it was renamed after the mediocre Disney movie, Dinosaur. The ride takes you back in time to the Cretaceous era, in search for the illusive Iguanadon, which just happens to be star of the movie. DINOSAUR is a dark ride, with plenty of movement and scares, so be careful with little kids, they may be tall enough, but it can be scary (for adults too).
#3: Festival of the Lion King – A Broadway style stage show, but in the round, so the stage is in the middle, with seats all around the stage. The Festival of the Lion King features songs and characters from the movie, plus fantastic acrobatic “monkeys” that use trampolines and gymnastics to entertain. Great songs, great singers and a lot of fun, probably the best show in all of Disney World.
#2: Kilimanjaro Safaris - A fake safari through the savannas of Africa. Disney did a fantastic job of making this more than a safari ride, with interaction with park rangers and poachers. A great way to see some fantastic African animals up close, and a fun ride for everyone. Kilimanjaro Safari itself is bigger than any other Disney theme park, really a fantastic experience that you can ride several times a day and get a different set of animals each time.
#1: Expedition Everest - Kind of a no-brainer here. Everest is a roller coaster, but so much more. This ride is what makes Disney special, a great roller-coaster, but with wonderful special effects, a complete stop in the middle, several changes of direction and a ginormous Yeti. Once you ride Expedition Everest, it will be your favorite Disney ride.
Kind of strange reading through this list, but you realize how badly Animal Kingdom needs a few more E-Ticket rides to complete the park.