keys to the kingdom : animal kingdom

Pssst: Be sure to check out all of our updated tips, here.

Hey all you mouskaventurers!

Yes, this series has gotten the best of me.

It’s time for our next installment in our Keys to the Kingdom Series, here at The Handmade Home! It’s our second to last, actually, as we’ve now officially covered all of the parks in our little overview!

If you missed our introduction, and would like to read all about the deats of where to stay, food for thought, fast pass/rider swap 101, an overview of the magic kingdom, epcot, or hollywood studios, feel free to click on over and read all about it. This series is three moms’ takes on their vacationing experiences with Walt Disney World, and while we realize that novel upon novel upon novel could be written on this subject matter, our series is meant to serve as a nice, basic overview introduction for those of us who may be first timers, and wish to familiarize themselves with the basics… all while balancing the whole young family gig. So feel free to poke around, and check it out!

Cristin is back (has been an invaluable resource to us here at The Handmade Home) to dazzle us all with her know-how…With a few rogue rando thoughts in italics per me…So take it away, oh master park hopper…;}

Animal Kingdom.

Just like a scene out of the Lion King, the Animal Kingdom Park makes you feel like you are in the middle of an African plain surrounded by exotic wildlife and beautiful scenery. The newest of the four main parks in Disney World, this park is a perfect mix of a zoo, African Safari, and roller coaster theme park in one. If your little one isn’t completely into animals right now, no worries! There are plenty of other attractions at this park to keep them occupied.

Keeping in theme with the previous posts, we will use the same key as before and break it down attraction by attraction.

Here’s a little symbols key for this:

* means don’t miss it!

< means grab a fast pass for this attraction.

Occasional Italics: Ashley’s two cents with three small kids.

• *<Expedition Everest : Why not start with the biggest roller coaster in the park? This is a high speed roller coaster that isn’t to be taken lightly. Don’t get me wrong, it’s tons of fun, but it is also a bit intense in the scare department and a little harsh on the motion sickness scale. For me it’s a definitely ride once, but think twice before hopping on it back to back. And make sure your kids aren’t scared of major thrill rides, and….. the Yeti!!! Ash’s two cents: MOTY!

• *<Kilimanjaro Safaris : This one is a must for kids of all ages! Such a neat safari ride where you can see exotic animals such as Zebras and Giraffes up close and personal! Ash: Our kids 6+3+2 loved this. 

• *Festival of the Lion King : This attraction is a must do for my family each time we go to this park. This is an interactive show with elaborate props and characters based upon the movie. So much fun!

• *<Finding Nemo – the Musical : This show is without a doubt my favorite attraction in the park. Even if your child is a bit too big for this movie, please still take them to this show. This is a broadway-style show based on the movie including very elaborate costuming and super catchy songs. Don’t miss it!!!! Ash: very entertaining. But my kids got super impatient, so just be aware of what they will sit through. ;}

• Kali River Rapids : Are you in the mood to get wet? If not then I’d recommend staying away ;} This ride is much like the River Rapids rides you would find at a Six Flags. While you can’t deny the fun in it, you have to be prepared to get pretty stinking soaked.

• *It’s Tough to be a Bug : Such a precious 3D show based on A Bug’s Life. The line is usually not too long, so fast passes are usually not needed… however I would still check out the waiting times upon entering as this is another one you don’t want to miss. There are a couple of semi-scary parts where the bad bugs come in to play, but it’s really a cute show overall.

• Dinosaur : If your child scares easily, don’t do this one. It’s intense. And very bumpy. This happens to be one of my husband’s favorite rides because he loves dinosaurs and loves the thrill of one jumping out at every corner to scare you, but I don’t feel as though this one is child-friendly at all. Unless your kid is at least 8 or 9…. Ash: Starring Mrs. Huxtable and that guy from CSI Las Vegas. Funny stuff and one of my faves, as well. Aiden {6} notsomuch.

• Flights of Wonder : We usually skip this one as it is a 25 minute show on live birds. If you’re in to that sort of thing- great! If not, this one can be missed.


• Maharaja Jungle Trek: This is a self-guided walking tour where you will encounter animals such as tigers, wild bats, and a Komodo Dragon!

• *Primevil Whirl : This is a smaller scale ride located in the Carnival-themed area. My family always enjoys this one and it is a kid friendly one as well.

• The Boneyard : Does your little one like to dig in sand, or do they simply need a chance to run off some energy? Then try this play-area on for size. Ash: one of our fave stops-the kids didn’t want to leave this area!

• Fossil Fun Games : Typical Carnival style games all with a dinosaur theme. Ash: I believe these actually cost extra, so just a heads up when entering with eager beaver children. ;}

• Mickey’s Jammin Jungle Parade : Cute parade for this park. Fun for the little ones.

• Pangani Forest Exploration Trail : Another self-guided walking tour where you will find animals such as gorillas, hippos, and meerkats.

• Tricera Top Spin : A ride somewhat like the Dumbo ride in the Magic Kingdom. A fun for all ages ride! Ash: Malone’s fave : dinos + rotating calm = magic for a 2 y.o. Over and over and over and over and over and over…

• Wildlife Express Train: A fun train ride where you can once again expect to see some pretty cool animals!

• Affection Section : What animal themed park would be complete without a petting zoo? This one is no exception and houses the typical friendly domesticated animals.

• Conservation Station: A behind-the-scenes type look into the people that care for the animals within the park as well as some up close and personal time with some animals.

• Habitat Habit : An in-depth look at tiny cotton-top tamarins.

• The Oasis Exhibits : Tropical pathways where you might be surprised to find some Kangaroo, Anteaters, or even some sloths.

• Cretaceous Trail : A trail full of living plants and animals along with some interesting facts on those animals that roamed the earth 65 million years ago!

Thank you so much Cristin, for all of your insight. Hasn’t she been great, guys? We sincerely hope this little overview has been a help to any of you who are contemplating taking one of your first trips to the parks with your little ones! What are your fave parts of this park? Anything particular you recommend?

We’re wrapping up this series with a tips and tricks section next week, so stay tuned! It may be your fave post, yet! ;}

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Responses to keys to the kingdom : animal kingdom

  1. Trista says:

    I’ve enjoyed this series. I do have to say that I 100% disagree with you about “It’s Tough to be a Bug”. My family and I H-A-T-E that ride. I’m pregnant with my first child, and I haven’t been to Disney since I was in college.

    My little sister is 9 years younger than me, and she covered her eyes and sat in my parent’s lap the entire show. You get “stung” in the back by bees, you get shot in the face with a stink bug’s spray, beetles crawl under your seat, and I’m fairly certain that spiders or something try to grab your feet. I enjoyed Stitch’s ride in Magic Kingdom better than this. I guess everyone has different tastes.

    You’ve done great reviews, just wanted to throw in my two cents! Thanks for everything. I will definitely use all your insights when I plan my first trip with my little bean.

  2. Brandi says:

    Have the Tips and Tricks been posted yet?!

  3. Carly says:

    Hi! We are planning our trip to Disney and I am wondering if anyone has any thoughts about Sea World? I was there when I was in 2nd grade and again in high school but I’ve never been to the Animal Kingdom before. Would you suggest going to both….is one better than the other?? I want to make the most of our time and I am feeling slighly confused with the two.


  4. Karen Samples says:

    “Flights of Wonder” experience was wonderful. Not only different types of birds but Pocohantas and Grandmother Willow tree. Skunks,racoons,etc. scurry about on stage. You can get pretty close to the action. Our daughter loved it so much we came back with our family again later that day. Still fun. Get a seat close to really experience the wonder.

  5. You actually should sit through Flights of Wonder at least once. It’s really neat. They have the birds do tricks and they fly right over your heads. I thought it would be dumb, but it was what the kids talked about the most afterward.

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