Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Animal Kingdom: The Best Themed Park of the Walt Disney World Resort

Walt Disney's Animal Kingdom is, in a way, the outcast of the four parks that make up the Walt Disney World Resort. It has the shortest hours, the least amount of attractions and is the newest of the four, thus giving it the most to prove. Being young, it's without that "legacy" the others can brag about.

But what it lacks in attractions, hours, and age, it makes up for in theming. The other three parks are okay when it comes to theming: Epcot with its World Showcase, Hollywood Studios with its Sunset Boulevard and the Magic Kingdom with just about ever land within its boundaries. But nothing can really compare to what imagineer Joe Rohde did with Walt Disney Worlds largest park, square-acreage-wise.

Being the newest park has its advantages, which is clearly seen in the detail of almost every square foot in the park. Walking up to the entrance gate, if you look down, you will notice the pattern of a tree. Walking through the gates and onto Discovery Island, you'll notice the hidden animal exhibits that hint to new guests at what they are about to experience. Then, once on Discovery Island, you'll notice the gigantic Tree of Life, which with its sheer size is impressive from a distance, but with its intricately detailed roots, is even more impressive from close up.

Go through the queues of Expedition Everest and Kali River Rapids in Asia, and you'll be wowed with the amazing features that surround you and set up the story you'll fully experience once on board the attraction.

Expedition Everest takes you through what feels like a classic Nepalise courtyard, then takes you through what  a small, home made-feeling museum dedicated to the Yeti you're about to encounter. With its sculptures, displays, artifacts and interactive features such as the bells that can be heard ringing throughout the queue, the whole experience perfectly frames the main feature of the roller coaster and almost outshines the brief ride you're about to experience.

Almost the same thing can be said about Kali River Rapids. The queue is amazing, with its different areas setting up the whole story behind the ride. With it's fallen, Asian themed statues at the forefront of the queue, accompanied by the sound of chainsaws roaring in the distance, the clash of history and destruction theme is set up. Then you walk through its gorgeously themed queue, with a big statue of an cat greeting you, looking to be thousands of years old. There are the Bollywood posters, the old plates, the colorful chandeliers, the cobra fountain and the carpeted ceilings.

The amazing theming of the Tree of Life
Walk around Asia and you'll see the roads, marked with bicycle tracks, the boats packed, ready to sail down the river to trade. The Quick Service food stations meant to look like authentic huts or mobile vendor and are splendid.

Head over to Africa and all the shops and restaurants are housed in what looks to be an authentic African village. And unlike Frontierland and Adventureland in the Magic Kingdom, that's all you can see. There's nothing to distract from the story the imagnineers created for you.

And of course there's the Tree of Life. With it's hundreds of animals cleverly carved into the roots and trunk of the enormous tree, it epitomizes amazing theming.

With all this, one of the aforementioned faults of Disney's Animal Kingdom is really one of its strengths: its young age. It was built in a more modern age, with more resources available, and thus it feels like a newer, better, more shiny thing.

Next time, when you're walking around Dinoland, Africa, Asia or Discovery island, take a couple of minutes to observe the excellent theming of Walt Disney's World's youngest parks, and appreciate the most well themed, and possibly most "Disney" of the parks at Disney World.

1 comment:

  1. You know, I'm really starting to deeply appreciate this blog of yours haha. Thanks for taking me to the Disney parks I probably won't be able to see until many more years from now. :) You always have some great pictures too!