If there is one thing that Walt Disney World is, it is fun for ALL the family.
Walt Disney World is a champion of family time with four theme parks and two water parks, each with unique theming and attractions, plus dining shopping and entertainment experiences, there really is something for everyone at Walt Disney World and I have already shared my thoughts on Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.
My kids love discovering all about the natural world around them, so were really excited about visiting Animal Kingdom.
Hubby, on the other hand, was more excited about visiting Pandora: The World of Avatar.
Animal Kingdom’s 500 acres are home to some 1700 animals representing 250 different species throughout the park and with the exception of the Pandora area, seemed a lot quieter than the other three parks.
As with my last two posts, it is recommended that if you are staying in a Walt Disney Hotel, get to the parks during their Magic Hours as it’s the best chance to get on the rides queue free, however, with Pandora being so new and with all the fastpass+ tickets booked weeks in advance, you were always going to queue for Pandora: Flight of Passage and Hubby waited a staggering 210 minutes to ride it. (Thankfully parent swap passes were available so I got to ride too).
Whilst he queued for this ride, the kids and I enjoyed the Na’Vi River ride which had a much more reasonable 15 minute queue and then headed off to explore the rest of the park.
With Pandora being so busy we almost had the rest of the park to ourselves and found ourselves amidst dinosaurs and digging for fossils in the Boneyard with Donald Duck.
With the rest of Disney being so full on, the Boneyard made a relaxing change which allowed the kids to climb atop rocks, cross rickety rope bridges, roam mysterious caves and hurl themselves down twisting slides.
Opposite the Boneyard was a funfair themed area called Dino-Rama with games to play, the Primeval Whirl rollercoaster and the Triceratop Spin. Sadly Sebby was 2cm too short to ride Dinosaur, a moving simulator ride but we had fun nonetheless.
By now, Hubby had re-joined us and it was time to see what the rest of the park had to offer and take advantage of our photo pass.
A definite highlight of Animal Kingdom is a ride on the Kilimanjaro Safari which gives you a chance to see many of the parks resident animals as they drive you through the African Savannah.
I envisaged a Longleat style safari but it was so much better. It honestly felt as if we were in the African Savannah seeing animals in their natural habitat in the Harambe Wildlife Reserve.
The tour guide had bat like vision and managed to spot and point out animals that I would have missed, stopping so we could get a good photograph.
I love elephants so it was a real treat to see them wandering around and watching a hippo swimming underwater was fascinating.
I think the animals are so used to seeing the jeeps trundle around the track that they just carry on with whatever they are doing and don’t bat an eyelid.
The safari takes around 20 minutes and we then boarded the Wildlife Express train to get a sneak peek of some of the behind the scenes wildlife areas before heading into Rafiki’s Planet Watch, home to fun exhibits dedicated to animal conservation and a petting area for the kids.
The kids were given some challenges to complete which allowed them to earn wildlife badges, just like Russell from the film Up!!
Sadly we missed our photo opportunity with Rafiki but we did manage to find Russell.
Another of our highlights from Animal Kingdom were the shows and thanks to the Festival of the Lion King, I have a family of new fans.
Festival of the Lion King is a kaleidoscope of colour with giant puppets, acrobats, spirited dancers, regal stilt walkers and brilliant singers, all in imaginative costumes with ornate beads, feathers and fringe and of course Simba, Timon and Pumbaa. You will be expected to join in too!
Another amazing show was Finding Nemo – the Musical, 40-minute show features original songs that bring the big, blue world to life, along with extraordinary puppets and vibrant sets that plunge you right into the depths of Nemo’s fin-tastic terrain.
We stopped to have lunch under the Tree of Life, which celebrated all living creatures, making this the iconic centrepiece the symbol of Disney’s Animal Kingdom park.
Inside the Tree of Life root system is where It’s Tough to be a Bug! is performed. This 8-minute, 3D movie and multimedia show stars Flik and Hopper from the Disney•Pixar film A Bug’s Life—along with a supporting cast of insects and arachnids who provide a surprising glimpse into the animal kingdom. It is a great show, but beware of some unexpected surprises!
For adrenalin junkies there is Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain rollercoaster which not only goes forwards, but sends you hurtling backwards to avoid ‘missing track’, the Kali River Rapids, Dinosaur and Pandora: Flight of the Avatar.
All four main Disney Parks have evening entertainment and Animal Kingdom certainly doesn’t disappoint. As you are waiting for the main show to begin, the Tree of Life awakens and watch in awe as animal spirits light up the whole of the tree.
The main show is the Rivers of Light, a brilliant fusion of water, sound and light and quite unlike anything I’ve experienced before!
With projections on fountains, boats, floating flowers and animals, it was a truly stunning show.
It is also worth noting that Pandora: World of Avatar has Disney Magic Hours at nightime too and is well worth a visit to see it in all its bio-luminescent glory in the dark too.
Disclaimer: This post is in partnership with Walt Disney World and Mumsnet. I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity and all opinions here are my own.