Animal Kingdom Africa is the section where the animals of Disney's Animal Kingdom can be found and observed in their "natural" habitats. It is the largest section of the park and, as soon as you cross the bridge from Discovery Island, you are transported to the village of Harambe.
Even though the village of Harambe is a make believe village, the architecture of the buildings and the landscaping is all authentic to those that can found in real villages on the continent. Disney spent years researching and observing the real Africa. The village of Harambe is based on a actual coastal town in east Africa.
Harambe is a busy place with several shopping areas and dining spots. Both the merchandise in the shops and the food in the restaurants are inspired by that found in a real African village.
Animal Kingdom Africa Kilimanjaro Safaris
What is a visit to Africa without the real adventure of going on a safari? Disney has provided the opportunity to observe free roaming wild animals that are in their own natural environment or habitat without the inconvenience of having to travel half way across the world.
Kilimanjaro Safari is a 18 minute guided tour through the savannah on an all terrain bus/vehicle. The driver of the bus, your tour guide, points out the various types of animals roaming around in the savannah as you as you pass by them on the tour.
Animal identification posters are located on the seat backs to help you identify the animals when you see them. Our kids like to see who can find the animal on the poster and identify it before the guide tells the group the name of the animal. Some of the animals that we usually see are zebras, elephants, gazelle, hippos, and even a lion or two.
Just when you start to enjoy your tour of the savannah, Disney throws in a little unexpected adventure. The guide announces that a group of ivory poachers have been spotted in the area hunting for elephants. But never fear, the bad guys are caught, the elephants are safe and your safari adventure is over.
I suggest that you visit this attraction more than once if possible. That way you will have another opportunity to see some different animals that you may not have seen on your first trip around the savanna.
The safari lets you see many types of animals all in one place. The safari has a twist in the story that adds to the adventure.
I like to find animals on the safari then identify them with the ID cards before my brother and sister can name them.
Animal Kingdom Africa Pangani Forest Exploration
Many people either overlook this self guided exploration trail in Animal Kingdom Africa or opt not to spend time there because they are in too much of a hurry to get to the trill rides. Our family usually skips this trail too, but last year my husband and I decided to enjoy it without the kids. We took a quick trip to Disney by ourselves so that we could spend time doing some of the things that the children do not ever want to do.
Anyway, we took the time to walk The Pangani Forest Exploration Trail to see what it had to offer. I enjoyed it so much that my husband said that I was behaving like a child who had never been to the zoo before. I was in awe of all the different and unusual animals like the naked mole rat. Until Kim Possible, I never knew such a critter existed. My kids and husband are big Rufus fans so I enjoyed seeing what a naked mole rat actually looked like.
The trail is divided into several different sections. The Endangered Animal Rehabilitation Center usually has a good view of some black-and-white Colobus monkeys and a type of antelope called yellow-backed duikers. The next area is the Research Center. This is where the naked mole rats are housed. The center also has a collection of preserved butterflies, skulls, scorpions and even tarantulas.
Back outside you enter an aviary. This is a screened in area for exotic birds. Look high up into the trees and down low on the ground and you could possibly see over two dozen different types of birds. Want to see some hippos playing in the water? Stop at the observation tank to get an underwater view of them playing.
Walk on a bit farther and look out over the savannah at the Timon or meerkat exhibit. Then cross over the suspension bridge to get to the gorillas viewing areas. You might have to wait to see the gorillas because they sometimes hide out of site. Stick around a while if you have the time, it is worth the wait to see these beautiful creatures.
The Pangani Trail offers an unhurried opportunity to view some animals that you usually do not get to see on a visit to your city zoo. When we were finished walking the trail, my husband asked me why we had not ever done so before. And as if on cue, a child behind us asked his parents in a rather whiny voice, "Now can we go do some of the fun stuff?" That child's question to his parents about summed up my answer to my husband. Some kids just do not like the slow pace of walking the trail. The excitement factor isn't there for most children, but it was for me.
Dining in Animal Kingdom Africa
Tusker House Restaurant - The Tusker House is an all-you-can-eat buffet that offers African inspired dishes as well as American favorites at lunch and dinner. The Tusker House offers a character breakfast with Donald Duck and friends daily that is otherwise known as Donald's Safari Breakfast.
Dawa Bar - This bar offers up cold beer, liquor and specialty drinks.
Kusafiri Coffee Shop and Bakery - This is a good place to find fresh baked breakfast pastries, fresh fruit and coffee.
Harambe Fruit Market - This fresh fruit snack stand is located next to the entrance to Kilimanjaro Safariin Animal Kingdom Africa. They also serve soft pretzels.
Tamu Tamu Refreshments - This is a great place to grab a quick snack or a light lunch. They offer a good variety of sandwiches and salads, along with burgers and shakes.
Shopping in Animal Kingdom Africa
Duka la Filimu - Just like the name suggests, this shop sells film and all your other photographic needs.
Mombasa Marketplace - This shop resembles an African marketplace that sells African pottery, instruments and masks. You can also find toys and clothes here.
Disney for Dads Alert! - Dads, I have two words for you: Dawa Bar. Let the kids ride Kali River Rapids (technically in Asia, but its entrance / exit goes right by here) and get soaked, while you enjoy an African Tusker Beer or Safari Amber, brewed just for Disney, and stay "dry".
Back in the Day - I remember reading how large the animal preserve was (Kilimanjaro Safaris) when the park first opened. I'm still impresssed with what Disney has been able to do. It's not just a zoo.
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