Vay Kay in the Sunshine State Part 2: Animal Kingdom

Posted on December 19, 2008

Would you believe that it’s been nearly a month since I spent that blissful week in Orlando? I’d been meaning to write about it sooner, but with so many interesting books and other topics over the past month, somehow it’s been all too easy to get sidetracked. But better late than never, eh? Without further ado, I present the second part of my Florida vacation. In keeping with our wild animals theme, we decided to visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom next:

I remember when that eagerly-anticipated park was “under construction” – more than ten years ago! I must be getting old…in any event, Animal Kingdom is an interesting fusion of a zoo and a traditional theme park, with a heavy emphasis on conservation. Unlike Sea World, the animals are pretty much left to their own devices, and it’s up to park viewers to pay attention if they want a glimpse of the animals:

Silverback Gorilla

I might compare my life over the last few months to that of those Silverback Gorillas’ – laying about, looking for food, and looking surly at passerby, thinking about whatever it is gorillas think about. Very majestic animals, and quite gentle, despite their immense size.

The most fun part of the trip had to be the Kilimanjaro Safaris. The wait time was excruciating (lessed somewhat by having a FastPass), but it was so worth it – a ride through the animal reserve, getting to see animals in their natural habitat. Well, as natural as Kissimmee, Florida gets:

Elephant Herd - Kilimanjaro Safari

Being a theme park, the shops, restaurants and other buildings have a distinctly African flavor. The goal, I suppose, is to make you think you’ve stepped into an issue of National Geographic:

And of course, plenty of cast members to add local flavor:

Animal Kingdom’s a fun place – plenty of interesting critters to see, and a setting to excite the imagination. However, winter isn’t the best season to take it all in. It was a balmy 70 degrees, yes, but with a very early sunset of 4:45 PM, there was a bit of a rush to see everything before the sun went down.

Of course, what would any Disney park be without a parade or two?

Even if you’ve been to your local zoo a hundred times, you should give it a shot if you find yourself in the area. It’s one of those few destinations in tourist town Orlando that will actually leave you feeling a bit closer to the earth. Now if you’ll excuse me, I hear “Circle of Life” playing in the background…

» Filed Under Photography, Travel

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