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Animal Kingdom

Disney's Animal Kingdom is the newest of all the Disney Theme Parks. It's Disney's answer to the animals at Busch Gardens, but done with typical Disney style.

The park is split into 5 areas which are quite different, but with a distinctive animal theme. It can be covered quite easily in a day, but you'll need to start early to have the best chance of seeing the animals before they retire from the heat.

Although queues aren't generally long in this park, you can still take advantage of the free Disney Fast Pass system which allows you to get a ticket which is printed with a time for you to return to the ride to join the express line which saves queueing for too long. You can only have one Fast Pass running at a time, but once the time has expired, you can get another one, so if you're careful with your planning you can avoid queueing all day.

Africa - Start here with Kilimanjaro Safari. You'll take a jeep ride on safari where you can see lions, giraffes, zebras, elephants, rhinos & baboons up close. In true Disney tradition there is a twist when you have to divert to catch some elephant poachers! - Great fun but it's best to go early first thing when the queues are less and there are likely to be more animals about.

On your way back, call in at Rafiki's Planet Watch and take a train journey arround some of the backstage areas of the park before visiting the interactive educational exhibits. Unless you are really into animals and conservation, you won't want to spend too long here. From here, head next door to Asia.

Asia - The big attraction here is Kali River Rapids. This is part scenic journey, part adventure ride and lots of water. This is a white water raft ride (seats about 12) through some amazing scenery, and they use special effects to sort of tell a story along the way. Be warned that you could get soaked on this ride as one seat passes directly under a water fall. As it depends which way the raft is orientated as you approach the waterfall, you can't predict who is going to get drenched, so mind any camera equipment and other valuables don't get wet. If you are the unfortunate one who gets wet, don't worry though because at the end of the ride you pass under a bridge where other holiday makers will be standing with water cannons to squirt anyone who still looks dry.

As you come off Kali River Rapids, try and catch the Flights of Wonder show which is an animal show involving various of our feathered friends.

Discovery Island - In the centre is the famous tree of life. Kids love seeing how many different animals they can find carved into the trunk and root system, and if you look very carefully you'll find the original mouse who started it all. Passing down into the root system of the tree you'll come to the theatre where they show the Bugs Life 3D Movie (although 4D might be more accurate as the film interacts with the audience through the use of special effects). It's a great film and lots of fun, but if your little ones are afraid of spiders there is one point in the film they may not like.

Camp Minnie/Mickey - This is a really good place for the kids to meet the Disney characters and get autographs and take pictures with their heros. There are always several hanging arround here to meet and greet the guests, and they have special areas for taking great photos.

There are also two very different shows here. Pocahonis & her forrest friends is an outdoor show using trained animals to tell a simple story, whilst The Festival of the Lion King has all the acrobatics, music, dance and special effects of a nusical extravagansa. If you only have time to see one, go for the Lion King.

Dinoland USA - The main ride here is Dinosaur!, A high speed ride (much of it in the dark) with loud noises and special effects in which you travel back in time to rescue the last dinosaur from extinction. Watch out at the end of the ride for a surprise!

The boneyard - is a children's adventure playground which is loosely based on an archialogical dig. The kids do seem to love it, and it gives the adults a welcome break for a few minutes.

Primeval Whirl - this looks more tame than it actually is. It's a waltzer mounted on a roller coaster track so that you spin round at the same time as travelling along and being hurled up and down. Although it isn't a particularly extretme ride, the combination of a roller coaster and the spinning motion can have unwelcome side effects

For details of opening times and special event's, visit the theme park web site by clicking on the logo at the top of the page.


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