Animal Kingdom is one of the four theme parks at Walt Disney World Resort, Florida. It opened on April 22, 1998 and covers more than 500 acres of land in the 300,000 acres that is Disney World. The theme park goes beyond the concept of a zoo - it has a large collection of of around 1700 animals from 250 kinds of species. You will be seeing a lot of them when you take the ride on the African Savannah in the Kilmanjaro Safari.
Animal Kingdom‘s icon is the towering Tree of Life, an artificial tree with over 300 hand-carved animals in its trunk. Standing 145 feet tall, it is a work of art and a home of entertainment where the 3-D film, "It’s Tough to be a Bug" is housed on the base of the tree.
Animal Kingdom is the largest of all four Disney World theme parks, larger than the Magic Kingdom, MGM Studios, or Epcot Center, as well as larger than any of the Disney theme parks in the world.
The addition of "Asia" in 1999, a new area in Animal Kingdom, spurted the theme park’s growth. One of the things you shouldn’t miss here is the Maharaja Jungle Trek, a walking tour where you’ll find bats in bat cages, komodo dragons, birds, and deer. Another must see is the Kali River Rapids, which includes a water ride where you will be required to wear big yellow "ponchos". While riding, you will be learning about the evils deforestation.
One of the newest attractions in "Asia," is the Expedition Everest, which opened April 2006. It’s a family-friendly roller coaster that has a two way track system that takes the riders forward and backward. It’s very enjoyable to youngsters, as well as for older people.
"Dinoland USA" is another area in Animal Kingdom where you’ll find one of the best rides in Disney World, called "Dinosaur" (formerly the Countdown to Extinction). It utilizes a similar system to the Indiana Jones attraction at Disneyland. This is a very fast and a bit jerky ride that can get rough - it is not advisable for those with back problems or heart conditions.
There are numerous dining options at the Animal Kingdom. One example is the Flame Tree Barbecue, a constant crowd favorite. Another good restaurant is The Rainforest Café, a full table service venue that has waterfalls, sound effects, lush paintings, occasional "thunderstorms", and animatronic animals that spring to life. You can likewise visit Dinoland USA for the Restarauntosaurus, a Disney themed fast food and McDonald’s concession.
The other three theme parks in Disney World are Magic Kingdom, MGM Studios, and Epcot Center. Each park has its own theme, own unique charm, and own set of attractions. Magic Kingdom is where storybook fairytales come alive. MGM Studios is where you can relive Classic Hollywood and pop culture. Epcot Center is where you can explore the possibilities of science and technology. In Animal Kingdom, the theme is centered on animal conservation, as envisioned by Walt Disney himself.
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