In the Park Update: Disney’s Animal Kingdom

In the Park Update: Disney’s Animal Kingdom

We have a big update from Disney’s Animal Kingdom today, including an entire video of the new, Rivers of Light: We Are One. Let’s get to it!

Park Entrance & Oasis

Lots of construction in the front part of the tram area. That’s good news in that currently only one tram can be in the front loop of the tram path. That often holds up other trams from getting in and slows up the whole process. I assume these changes are to remediate that problem.

Parking Construction. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

It’s the summer of celebrating all things Lion King, and you can certainly tell from all the bunting around the entrance.

Lion King Banners. Photo by J. Jeff Kober

Here’s a photo opportunity if you haven’t taken advantage of it.

Lion King Photo Kiosk. Photo by J. Jeff Kober

And here’s more bunting, if you haven’t seen a sign already.

Lion King Banners. Photo by J. Jeff Kober

I always try to capture some animal experience while visiting the park. After all, it’s Animal Kingdom. Here are some wonderful fowl enjoying the small ponds.

Oasis fowl. Photo by J. Jeff Kober

New Holiday Touches to Disney’s Animal Kingdom

While there have been decorations and even a festive tree in front during the Christmas holidays, Disney’s Animal Kingdom has been several notches below the other parks in recent years. Happy to say that this year the park will be adding a number of features–and in each of the lands (when’s the last time you saw holiday decorations in Tomorrowland).

It will begin when you cross the bridge to Discovery Island, here guests will find themselves in the midst of a celebration of winter, hand-crafted by the eclectic community of artists who make the island their home. The village will be filled with sparkling white holiday decorations. Colorful, animal-inspired luminaries will line the rooftops, and wireframe lanterns in the shape of beautiful birds will be found perched throughout the area. And during the day, Discovery Island will spring to life with a holiday gathering of winter animals, realized in the form of life-size, artisan-sculpted puppets. Reindeer, foxes, polar bears, penguins and more will interact with guests, accompanied by serenading musicians as they create a playful atmosphere of festive fun.

Holidays on Discovery Island. Image by Disney.

As day becomes night, the rooftop luminaries and bird lanterns all around Discovery Island will bring a nighttime glow to the entire village. At the center of everything, the Tree of Life awakens with a series of wintry tales, complemented by a familiar and heartwarming holiday-inspired musical score. Between awakening moments, the Tree of Life will continue to shimmer and sparkle throughout the night, alive with the magic of nature and the spirit of the holidays.

Holiday night time in Discovery Island. Image by Disney.

Over in Dinoland, U.S.A., all the Disney character friends gathered for Donald’s Dino-Bash! will get into the spirit with colorful holiday decorations in the style of Donald Duck and each of his pals. And at night, you’re invited to gather ‘round Truck-O-Saurus for the Holiday Hoopla Dance Party with Chip ‘n Dale and plenty of interactive fun and games.

If Daisy’s outfit looks this good year around, imagine what the holidays might bring. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

In Asia, the residents of Anandapur will decorate the theatre district in celebration of Diwali, the holiday festival of lights in India. Glowing flowers, lanterns and more will illuminate the square between Anandapur Theater and the waterfront stage, home to authentic cultural performances.

Recently new lights were added to Amandupar. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

The village of Harambe in Africa will welcome visitors with a unique holiday presentation, blending the inspiration and style of western traditions with the colors and textiles of authentic African celebrations. The various groups appearing throughout Harambe introduce holiday-inspired enhancements, including costume additions and new music, to their performances. The holiday fun will continue inside Tusker House for dining with Disney friends, where Mickey and his pals spread holiday cheer throughout the meal.

The holiday spirit will even reaches Pandora–The World of Avatar,   where the ex-pats living and working on the moon of Pandora bring a little Christmastime fun to their alien home, with a display at Pongu Pongu of kitschy holiday décor, combining vintage pieces from Earth with items handcrafted from materials indigenous to Pandora.


A couple bits and pieces from all around Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

I love the otters. It’s one of my favorite exhibits in the park. But it’s been “under rehab” for several months. There’s new signage.

New Otter Signage. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

There’s new features like a water slide, which I don’t remember from before. But there’s no otters. Perhaps because it’s the end of the day, they have been brought indoors. My understanding is that there were some baby otters born, but that they kept sneaking out of the exhibit. That’s a big part of what has led to the remodeling.

Otter exhibit. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Another part of the remodeling has been the addition of this building, which may provide night covering/protection for the otters, but I think its primary purpose is a home to the kangaroos next door.

New animal enclosure. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Right now there is a little remodeling going on where the chimpanzees are. The water has been drained.

Water drained at chimpanzee enclosure. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

I thought I would feature a food & beverage location in each of our visits. This one struck me as a cute kiosk that is really tucked away.

Dino Diner. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Do you like Totchos at Toy Story Land? Well guess what, you can find them here, along with chili cheese dogs and churros. It’s a cute little trailer. Not big on the seating area around it.

Here’s something I really love. I don’t smoke, but I empathize with the need smokers have. But that said, since smoking stations were allocated a number of years ago, some of the best spots were taken up as smoking stations. Now with the changes that banned smoking throughout the parks, this lovely space just outside of Africa, is now smoke free, and a wonderful place to visit.

Walkway getaway. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

I love the shade, and how the water flows past the bridge. It’s a beautiful out of the way place.

Small stream and brook. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Dusk Turns to Nighttime

It’s dusk and Harambe Market is closed. The multi-kiosk food court doesn’t seem to be working. It does better mid-day as guests are heading off of Kilimanjaro Safaris. But this out of the way venue has food that is interesting to some, while not at all appealing to others. We might question, whose idea was it to make it outdoors–especially on hot and humid Florida days.

Harambe Market. Note the fences up for remodeling. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

I’m not a big fan of Rafiki’s Planet Watch. But I love the train. I look forward to the re-opening in August.

Entrance to the train station for Rafiki’s Planet Watch. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

However, what is open, and still quite popular at this time of day is Tamu Tamu Refreshments.

Tamu Tamu Eats & Refreshments Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Tied to Lion King is this little ice cream cookie sandwich. It was pretty good, and welcoming on a hot day.

Celebrating The Lion King with ice cream cookie sandwiches. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Next to Festival of the Lion King we see construction. It is rumored to become the fourth Club 33 location. Strange location, especially constructed behind a restroom. We’ll see.

New construction near Festival of the Lion King. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

It’s getting darker as we head into Pandora–World of Avatar. What a great time to be in this part of the park. It’s so beautiful.

Pandora–World of Avatar. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

While both coasts will have a Galaxy’s Edge, only one resort has Pandora. This place is truly unique.

Exotic foliage. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Nightfall occurs and we head to see the new Rivers of Light: We Are One. Check out the show, here.

My opinion of this show is mixed. There’s a lot to like. The music is really solid. The fountains and animal floats are beautiful–so much better than Illuminations at Epcot. But who are we kidding. This is no World of Color, nor does it create the emotion one gets when they see that nighttime spectacular at Disney California Adventure. The enormous water screen is improved with the brighter Disney animation., but much wind still makes it difficult to see legibly.

If I had one thought about “We Are One” its that there is no depiction of “we”. All we see is animals, we don’t see humans, yet the song continually returns to the theme of “we”. An earlier version had beautifully costumed individuals on ship. They were deleted. Even better was the Jungle Book version which had a couple dozen dancers. Their floats were simple, but their involvement really brought the experience to life. I think that kind of addition is what is missing.

Well, that’s it at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Stay tuned as we will be showcasing Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland this week!

J. Jeff Kober

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