They say that you should always be prepared for it to rain at Walt Disney World – for us the rain came the morning we planned on touring Animal Kingdom with a toddler. And oh boy did it ever rain. We were only operating with two ponchos, so this is what we decided was the best set up:
Honestly when we got to AK we just wanted to leave – but by the time Jess and M had gotten out of Mickey and Minnie’s Adventure Post the rain had slowed. So we found some shelter, ate lunch, and the sun came out. I’m glad we didn’t leave as Animal Kingdom definitely became M’s second favorite park – though I love the nerd stuff at Epcot it is a little above a three year old’s head, even precocious ones!
Like I did with Epcot, I’ll evaluate the various attractions we visited via the mind of a toddler and via the mind of a toddler in an adult’s body (aka me). I should point out, we had only planned on going to Animal Kingdom for one day but M enjoyed it so much it warranted a second visit. First, here are some random observations about Animal Kingdom:
- Since a lot of the attractions are shows, you have to kind of plan around those times
- Animal Kingdom definitely came in second in terms of food variety, including a lot of African/Indian influences that aren’t present throughout the rest of the parks
- Mount Kilimanjaro looks huge – that Disney visual Jedi-mind trickery in action
- I think the safari definitely can warrant a second visit since you’ll get a second chance to see the animals you missed
- Dinosaur gave me my best jump scare in years
To the attractions!
Meet Favorite Disney Pals at Adventurer’s Outpost
Meet Disney characters in adventure themed gear
Adult take: Disney really does a great (slash diabolically efficient) job of switching up all their different character meet and greets. They all feel different enough that you want to go to all of them. The benefit of this one? Taking a pic with both Mickey and Minnie together. Plus cool outfits
Toddler take: Mickey? Check. Minnie? Check. Pens for autographs? Check. A++
A twenty minute tour through Disney’s very own animal park – the highlight of the Animal Kingdom
Adult take: Jess – “Wow, I feel like I actually learned something.” While I take offense on Epcot’s behalf for that statement, the guides were pretty knowledgeable about the animals and did a great job spotting the wildlife and pointing it out. I’m not sure if it’s because it had just rained but we saw what felt like a lot of the animals out and about on our ride(s) which really helped.
Note: Stroller parking is in the middle of the queue, not at the beginning.
Toddler take: M immediately went back on for a second ride (thankfully the wait was only ten minutes). She had as great a time searching for and spotting the animals as any three year old would.
A large children’s play area with climbing, slides, and more!
Adult take: If your kids have energy to burn, this is the place to take them. Of course, if they are younger, you might burn a bunch of energy chasing them around, but it will tire them out for sure. Lots of fun stuff in here.
Toddler take: This is the kind of place little kids can kill tons of time at. My recommendation? Leave one parent, go ride Dinosaur which is a stone’s throw away, and then switch off. There’s so much to explore a kid can just get lost in here – in the good way!
Yet another Disney aerial carousel
Adult take: Seen one aerial carousel, seen them all. You can pitch back and forth if you are trying not to get too bored riding your 7th of these – I just like to sit back and enjoy the view.
Toddler take: What? It flies and goes in a circle and I can use a joystick to make things go up and down?! In for two.
Festival of the Lion King
Amazing rendition of songs from the movie with dancing and acrobatics
Adult take: Enjoyed this one thoroughly. At a half hour, it was a bit long, but you can’t go wrong with the song selection (all the Lion King hits). The acrobatics are great, the show is entertaining and funny, and the final music mashup is spot on. That’s without getting into how good the floats and sets look.
Toddler take: Probably ten minutes too long for any kid who hasn’t seen the movie. My three year old just doesn’t have the attention span to sustain this kind of show. She was into it for the first twenty minutes but spent the last ten asking when it’d be over.
Flights of Wonder
Showcasing free flying birds of all species
Adult take: I missed this one but Jess said it was pretty informative. I am pretty sure I saw a flock of…something flying overhead on its way to the show though. Pretty cool.
Toddler take: See above, this is probably too long. The birds are cool but if your kid isn’t into birds you might want to wait until they are older.
Go back in time on this ride to capture a real life dinosaur – what could go wrong?
Adult take: I went into this ride knowing nothing and expecting nothing – and it was great. The premise was completely silly (go back in time to get a dinosaur), but the ride was a lot of fun with a ton of jolts and dinosaur animatronics rivaling Jurassic Park at Universal. Loud, exciting, and one of my favorite jump scares in ages (even though I knew it was coming!)
Toddler take: M was too short for this, but I don’t think I would have taken her regardless. It is dark and loud and the stuff nightmares are made of.
Despite the rain, Animal Kingdom was well designed to keep our toddler engaged. The wildlife was great and the food was unique to the parks. I’m glad we didn’t listen to the people who were down on the park before we left. Solid family fun.
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