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Photo TR: Disney's Animal Kingdom


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I celebrated my birthday with friends and family at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Why? Well, partially because I thought it was a park that everyone involved would like. But also because I wanted to see if Expedition Everest and Yak & Yeti’s made it seem like more of a complete park to me.

 

The short answer is: Yes, they do. And yet, the place is still a bit of a mixed bag, with some areas being chock full of amazing theming, while others are simply beyond lame.

 

Still, the park has its charms, and I enjoyed spending my birthday here.

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But we can't end on that note. So let's get back to the park for one final shot of Animal Kingdom awesomeness!

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And, outside, a petting zoo. So, basically, the whole thing is an attempt to turn their backstage area into its own “land.” (Since, you know, they had to build it all anyway.)

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Inside, there's stuff like this.

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...whatever the hell this is.

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Once off the Backstage Express, you walk along this uninteresting trail to....

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Now, maybe it's just me. But I would think that a train ride at an animal park could be built in such a way as to look at some animals or something.

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And the final section of AK (not counting Camp Mini Mickey, because I don't) is Rafiki’s Planet Watch. And you have to take this train to get to it.

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"I saw that, Henry."

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"Hey baby. I've got a tree branch."

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The ride exits into the Pagani Forest Exploration Trail.

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Fake baby elephant. No, I'm not trying to be funny. The safari ride actually has one fake animal in it.

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I'm thinking the rhino has the right-of-way here.

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Lions. Sleeping.

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Here's a nice shot of my mom's watch.

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Looks pretty safari-ish.

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One of these ops on this "ride" told me that they can do 4500 people per hour when running full out. I don't have any reason to doubt her. After all, I passed three employees whose entire jobs seemed to be wrangling strollers. :OP

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Thoroughly wetted, we head for Kilimanjaro Safari. (And yes, Misty is wearing my button. I got sick of being wished a happy birthday by about noon. :OP)

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Kali is actually my second favorite rapids ever, behind Popeye & Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges.

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And that's a drop. Good luck there, Steve.

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Kali is themed to hard-to-spot tiger likenesses and clear cutting. Yet is somehow still really cool.

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Uh oh, Little Boo doesn't look too happy.

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I don't know these people, but I'm going to call them Margie, Jessica, Little Boo, and Steve.

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Ride op geek out time: See that boat on the right? It sits in its own little cul de sac, unaffected by the rest of the ride, waiting for guests who need extra time for loading and unloading (due to disability, say), and it is the greatest thing ever.

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Kali River Rapids' queue.

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Monkey Island. And, uh-oh, my RapidsNerd sense is tingling!

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See? A tiger. The sign out front now feels entirely justified.

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I like this sign, but I have no idea why it's trying to rhyme.

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Good stuff. Pot stickers, fried rice, and shrimp lo mien.

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Matthias presents me with an appropriately nerdy birthday gift. :O)

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Time for lunch. I tend to favor full-service establishments when I'm at a park. I still can't believe that AK originally opened without one.

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Oh god, we're dorks.

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...and this is where you come out.

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Where the track ends.

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One interesting thing about Animal Kingdom is how the horizon is slanted. I'm not sure how they did that, but it's pretty cool.

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The transfer track. I'm not sure why I like this picture, but I do. :OP

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The load and unload stations. I liked the ride much more this visit. Perhaps it's broken in some. Or maybe I'd just lowered my expectations.

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The queue. I had only been on the ride once, and my first impression was that it just kind of cruised around a lot.

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Everest beckons.

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So it's performers running around with fish puppets on sticks. At first, I thought I was supposed to ignore the performers, but then they would hand their fish off to someone else and burst into song.

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I'm not much of a show guy, but my friend Matthias anted me to see the awesome cool weirdness that is Nemo.

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TriceraTop Spin and the world's tackiest gift shop (but it's on purpose, so I guess that makes it okay).

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Yes, you're at Disney.

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It's still fun, though.

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Primeval Whirl is a standard spin mouse with a few whirligigs tacked onto it.

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I’ll be honest, if this area had been created by some poor, family run park to cover for the fact that they couldn’t afford to spend much theming, I’d probably congratulate them on it.

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But I don't know whether to be happy or sad for all the WDW-patrons who have no idea how much better Indy is.

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It's a good ride, for what it is.

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Heading right, we enter Dinoland and encounter the first of the park's big attractions, Dinosaur (formerly known as “Countdown To Extinction”).

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The Tree of Life is the park's icon, and houses the "It's Tough To Be A Bug" 4-D show beneath it.

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Looks pretty darned good from here.

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The birthday boy with my spoils (including free admission).

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The entrance sets a nice tone.

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I’ll be honest, if this area had been created by some poor, family run park to cover for the fact that they couldn’t afford to spend much theming, I’d probably congratulate them on it.

 

Well thats kinnda exactly the story behind the theming.

A year ago, when i was still working at Epcot, i was able to take a Tour on Animal Kingdom and they explained us all the story.

 

The story says that a group of camping kids found a dinosaur bone exactly where the bone yard is located, Then a group of scientist bought the land to make reserch and opened the dinoinstitute. all the land they bougth is on one side of the road (yes there is a road there). The other part of the land was owned by chester and hester, and they saw that the scientist where making money with all the dino stuff, so they wanted to get some money from the tourist and they build that "road fair" style fair.

 

So there is a story behind that "cheap" look.

 

Before the tour I also tought it wasnt a very nice themed part of the park, but now i think its a very funny story and I just like dinoland as much as the rest of the park.

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So there is a story behind that "cheap" look.

 

Before the tour I also tought it wasnt a very nice themed part of the park, but now i think its a very funny story and I just like dinoland as much as the rest of the park.

 

Also, Chester and Hester's has lots of detail on the backstory inside their former gas-station. You'll find a series of Newspaper Articles (framed on the walls) that explain the origin of Dinoland, including when the bones were first found, when the Dino Institute moved in, and other stuff.

 

I still think the "look, it's suppose to be tacky!" is just a cop-out excuse to theming. They can blend both the tacky-look with actual theming.

 

Great TR by the way!

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Before the tour I also tought it wasnt a very nice themed part of the park, but now i think its a very funny story and I just like dinoland as much as the rest of the park.

 

Okay, I'm going to be kind of an ass here, so I apologize in advance. But it kind of sounds like you're saying that you agreed that the Chester & Hester theming was bad until Disney told you it wasn't.

 

So, yes, there is a nice cheap story to back it all up. And, yes, it's very clever. And, yeah, I actually do kind of enjoy the area for what it is--and maybe ultimately that's all that really matters. But it's still weak. And if this kind of thing is relevant to you, I'm pretty sure that Walt would not approve.

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Nice trip report, I really miss working at Animal Kingdom.

 

I was never much of a fan of kali Rapids, I mean its got some really cool effects and the drop is fun but after the drop is just kinda floats back to the station back to the station and doesnt really do anything, could have been much more entertaining.

 

4500 per hour on the safaris sounds a little high but not too far off, I was under the impression that it could handle around 4000, but if ya think about it the safari jeep is probably the largest ride vehicle anywhere seating around 40 people or so and dispatches 2 jeeps every 3 minutes or so, double a coaster's dispatch, I'd think 4000 ish is pretty realistic. I guess the parks flagship attraction better be able to handle those kind of numbers or you get into a mess of a que line like Toy Story Mania and Rock N Roller Coaster and Soarin.

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Looks like you had a great birthday! I actually love Dinosaur and don't care what anyone else thinks of it. Dinoland USA however is another story, that area is horrible.

I also have a BnL shirt! Only one person in my school has said something about it. Great movie.

Thanks for posting this PTR of my second favorite park at The World!

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You were very brave sporting your camera on the rapids! Did you do anything to protect it from the possible soakings? Great shots! I probably do not need to even say that anymore though. Because a PTR by Erik = great shots! This is the one park I have not spent any time in. When we went, we didn't even get to spend more than half a day there. My son ended up getting a high fever so we cut that day early. That was the year that EE was being built. If I visit any disney parks while down in July, this will be it. Thanks for posting, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

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You were very brave sporting your camera on the rapids! Did you do anything to protect it from the possible soakings?

 

Yeah...it's a waterproof camera! Olympus Tough 6000 at Amazon.com

 

Great shots! I probably do not need to even say that anymore though. Because a Photo TR by Erik = great shots!

 

You're too kind. Thank you.

 

This is the one park I have not spent any time in. When we went, we didn't even get to spend more than half a day there.

 

That had always kind of been my experience there, too. That's why I was keen on spending the whole day there (and SeaWorld, too). I guess that approach also made some of these Orlando parks a bit more "fresh" to me, even though I am pretty familiar with them all (having lived in O-town for a while).

 

Thanks again for the kind words! (And for those keeping track, this park was actually visited the day before SeaWorld, so I was only halfway to figuring out the camera at this point. )

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Hmm, this post makes me kind of glad I didn't set aside a whole day for Animal Kingdom. It's a great park but you're right some of it just isn't 'Walt Disney standard'.

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To quote a wise wise man, fellow Epcot Center enthusiast, and railroad enthusiast...

 

Tissues! Stat!

 

This one of a few shout outs today that really made my day. Many thanks!

 

Even without KRR, a great TR, and with a Steam Donkey bonus!

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I don't know these people, but I'm going to call them Margie, Jessica, Little Boo, and Steve.

I loved this caption.

 

Another great job of "exposing" a park that doesn't get as much attention as it probably should. I'm just as guilty of that though, I guess. Up until my last visit there, it was a hit and run park because I was just all too anxious to get back to the MK or Epcot. But when you actually have the time to relax a bit and take it all in, the intricate details of the place (minus the obvious exception) really impress.

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Very nice Erik. More pictures added to the Park Index!

 

Hooray!

 

One last (short) set of photos to wrap up the day.

 

Since Animal Kingdom closed at a rather early 5:00pm, we headed over to Downtown Disney to check out its new restaurant, T-Rex Cafe.

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"Chocolate Extinction" (Hey, come on, it was my birthday! :OP)

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We dined in the ice age room.

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I enjoyed it, but of course you're paying for the atmosphere more so than the food.

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It's rather like the Rainforest Cafe--maybe too much so.

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Misty representing.

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Looks like you had a great birthday! I actually love Dinosaur and don't care what anyone else thinks of it.

 

I went to Animal Kingdom years ago - and my first (and only!) impression of Dinosaur was that it was about the best ride I'd ever been on. I absolutely loved it for having a really clever mix of thrills, theming and pretty animatronics. It was about the only ride I've ever remembered getting a spontaneous round of applause from people who didn't know each other at the end of the ride!

 

Alas I haven't been back and no doubt Indiana Jones is better, but it still has a soft spot in my heart!

 

Dinoland USA however is another story, that area is horrible.

 

Fortunately it wasn't there all those years ago, but from the photos I think this pretty much goes without saying. They can say it's themed around the story they gave it - but in reality it has to be about finding an excuse to build some very cheaply themed attractions.

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^ I thought I was going mad there for a moment but I've realised that I'm talking about "Chester and Hester's Dino-Rama", which is just a part of Dinoland and was added in 2002 rather than the whole of Dinoland! My mistake. I can't really remember the Dinoland theming from the time to be honest.

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Looks like you had an enjoyable birthday at DAK. It's too bad you missed the best part, Festival of the Lion! Haha.

 

And I LOVE the T-Rex Cafe. Their flatbread appetizer is amazing! I just had dinner there tonight!

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