Disney World is associated with a variety of stereotypes - immersive rides, plenty of characters strutting their stuff, and a focus on theme-park extravagance.
Animal Kingdom, in my opinion, is the most un-Disney Disney experience you could have.
I say this because of the organic, natural theme. There are no 'magic' gimmicks here. There's not princess to come around and sign your autograph book. There's a focus on the product, and that product is nature and animals.
Many people may review this as just a zoo, but I stress it is a zoo done in the way that only Disney could. That's what makes it the Disney experience - the attention to detail is impeccable.
From the minute you walk into Animal Kingdom, you are greeted with lush greenery and stone paths. The walkway will lead you to very distinct areas of the park. Most memorable is Asia, where it looks as if you're winding through Buddhist temples and run-down streets. Africa will captivate you, as well, with its clay-like buildings and sandy grounds. No other 'zoo' takes the effort to literally transform the landscape in order to tailor your experience.
An important note - Animal Kingdom is HUGE! Unless you're a speed walker, there is no way you can see the whole park in one day. If I'm not mistaken, it's about three times the size of Magic Kingdom, so do yourself a favor and split the park between two days. If you have someone in your party who needs assistance walking, plan accordingly - it's the park with the roughest terrain.
Animal Kingdom is also the park that will close the earliest - usually around 5 or 6 o'clock. The morning crowds are by far the heaviest, but the park is deserted after 2 or 3pm.
While you're there, check out Expedition Everest, my favorite coaster of all time. It's not the wildest of rides, but the experience is completely immersive. Use the single riders line if you're not afraid of splitting up your party - the wait time is WAY less. Kilimanjaro Safari is amazing you if you want a bird's-eye view of the animals. And Dinoland USA is great for the kiddies - the rides are fun, and the carnival theme will have you smiling.
Just a zoo, you say? I think not. Disney's Animal Kingdom is more like it.
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