Gathering Near the Tree of Life at Animal Kingdom,jpgEven before one reaches the entrance gates to Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom, the morning air is permeated with the distant sounds emitted by a variety of animals and birds. Beyond the turnstiles, one is greeted by the brightness of scarlet ibis and colorful macaws around a tiny tree park called the Oasis. After clearing this momentary obstruction, however, visitors encounter the most captivating visual experience in the Animal Kingdom…………The Tree!

Unless dead or mummified, every person stops immediately in their tracks and stares in awe at the magnificent “Tree of Life,” which is the centerpiece of this marvelous creation known as the Animal Kingdom. This man-made tree that serves as a symbol of the richness and diversity of animal life on Earth stands 140 feet tall. Carved in its roots, trunk, and branches are the images of more than 325 animals, birds, and fishes. It is truly breathtaking to behold!

Hippos at Animal KingdomIf one follows the road to the right of the Tree, several gift shops and eating places will be passed before crossing another bridge where a secondary trail to the right leads to the Maharajah Jungle Trek and the Kali River Rapids. The excitement and wetness of the rapids is a treat for the kids, but the beauty and authenticity of the jungle trek is inspiring. It allows voyeurs to explore the Anandapur Royal Forest and hunting lodge complete with giant fruit bats, Kamodo dragons, tapirs, tigers, and numerous colorful Asian birds without fear of harm.

A Lion at Animal KngdomThe main path passes an entertaining spectacle involving birds of prey, and leads visitors into the African village of Harambe. This authentic-looking area has lions, hippos, rhinos, elephants, birds, wart hogs, and numerous species of African antelopes that can be seen at close range. It is a spectacle of African landscape and animal life. Also, the Pangani Forest, which means “place of enchantment,” has ever-active, naked mole rats, diverse African birds, underwater views of hippos, and a fascinating colony of gorillas.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park is home to a colossal new adventure, “Expedition Everest.” This thrilling journey through the treacherous Himalayas features hair-pin turns, high speeds, and a massive 80-foot drop. The mountain’s guardian, the mysterious Yeti, however, stalks every rider who dares to enter his realm, and that really makes this an adventure to remember!

In the Holiday tradition, children might enjoy seeing Flik and Hopper from Disney’s movie, “A Bug’s Life.” From the show, “It’s Tough to be a Bug,” kids can enjoy “a creepy, crawly bug-eyed adventure” that makes a mountain of laughs out of an anthill of friendly insects. Mickey has also invited his pals to join him in a jungle parade that celebrates the season. Thrill to the sights and sounds of the holiday season, and enjoy the carolers who perform throughout the day in Camp Minnie-Mickey and the Oasis. Also, youngsters should visit Santa Goofy’s Wild Wonderland.

Newer shows include: Disney·Pixar’s “Finding Nemo”. Kids can watch their favorite characters come to life on stage with amazing puppetry and original music. They can also ride off into the savannah in an open-air safari vehicle for a thrilling animal-filled African expedition, or jump into a time rover and zoom back 65 million years to come face-to-face with dinosaurs as they try to rescue one of these prehistoric beasts. One can join the “Circle of Life” and be surrounded by the pageantry, spectacle, magic, and humor of “The Lion King” in a dazzling, 30-minute, big-as-Broadway, live musical.

Other attractions, rides, shops, and eateries within the complex of the Animal Kingdom are too prolific to mention without starting a tour book. Nevertheless, even the most skeptical person will leave this Walt Disney attraction with a smile. The Walt Disney World Animal Kingdom is truly a masterpiece of nature and a gift for all who visit during the Holiday Season!

For more information, tickets, or reservations, contact: Guest Information at: (407) 939-6244, Vacation Package Bookings at: (407) 939-7675, Resort Room-only Bookings at: (407) 939-7429, or Tickets at: (407) 939-1289.

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