Animal Kingdom From A to Z (Part 2)

I left off with my A-Z look at Animal Kingdom with a stop at the Gorilla Research Camp. This time we’ll swoop into letter H:

 

Hanging with the Giant Fruit Bats

I don’t really care for bats. I’m not afraid of them (unless one gets in my house), but I just don’t find them all that appealing. Until … I go to Animal Kingdom.

The bats are part of the Maharajah Jungle Trek, which is in the Asian- themed land, the Kingdom of Anandapur. As you walk along the Jungle Trek you come to an enclosure where at first your eyes lead the mind to believe that you are completely separate from the bats, but if you look carefully, there is no caging, wiring, or screening. You do not need to worry. Just take in their size (an almost 6- foot wingspan on their paper-thin wings) and watch them sleep, eat, and hang in the vines trying to stay cool. For some reason I especially like this area when it rains or they turn on the sprinkler system that they have. The bats look particularly beautiful, yes, beautiful, to me when their wings are slightly wet.

There are often research assistants here as well, ready to help with any questions you may have about the bats.

If bats just aren’t your thing, there is a bypass to skip this section and move on to the tigers.

I Spy –Finding Hidden Mickeys

Now that it’s common knowledge that Hidden Mickeys are out there, we all see them here and there. But I think Animal Kingdom is a great place to look for them because the park offers so many self-guided opportunities like The Oasis, Maharajah Jungle Trek, and Pangani Forest. You have as much time as you like to look for Mickey.

I also think Rafiki’s Planet Watch and Conservation Station are  great places to look. There seem to be a lot that I can find and I’m not an expert  seeker!

Have a long wait between shows for Nemo or Lion King? Keep your eye on those bubbles or the stadium seating.  You never know where Mickey will pop up!

Jiko

I am not an adventurous eater. But I am adventurous when it comes to trying new Disney adventures. That can sometimes lead to a bit of a conflict.  In the case of Jiko, I believe I’m up to the challenge.

I haven’t yet been there, but on anticipation alone I feel comfortable putting it on my list. Jiko means “a cooking place” in Swahili. I most look forward to seeing the back wall as it has been described to me to change like the sunset. It sounds like a beautiful setting for an unbelievable dining experience.

But let’s face it, we’re there for the food. I’m going to stretch my picky habits and try a little African-style fare. I may not be up for Wild Boar but I think I’ll start with Taste of Africa (dips and assorted breads). Safe with just a touch of adventure.

One of Jiko’s most well-known entrees was the Oak-Grilled Fillet Mignon with Macaroni and Cheese. In 2010 the menu changed and the filet is now served with Fingerling potatoes. I have heard you can request the Mac and Cheese. Both sound good to me!

Usually desert is tough for me- I’m so full I can’t do it justice. It seems like the menu has been in flux a bit lately but I’m sure there will be something there I can at least try- especially if it’s chocolate!

The worst part about writing this in January is having to wait until July to find out about Jiko myself!

Remember you can find the menu for Jiko at http://www.themouseforless.com/tripplanning/menus/wdw/jiko.shtml

Kali River Rapids

Giant inter-tube rides where a group of people move together down a rapids and get wet is great fun. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom there is also excellent theming and a bit of education thrown in as well.

We ride down the Chakranadi River, which is Sanskrit for “river that flows in a circle” and as we enjoy our splashed-filled ride we see and hear the destruction of logging companies around us. We see the environment eroded and burned away. We wonder what might have been.

All of this is happening quickly while you are having a blast. It’s not until you get off dripping wet, that just for a second you realize you’re part of the problem. We’re why they clear cut.  The lumber gets used by us every day. It doesn’t ruin the ride. It does however usually make me give a donation to the Disney Conservation Fund.

Laughing (In Spite of Myself) at It’s Tough to Be A Bug

This is one of the attractions I don’t want to like, but do. I’m not a big fan of A Bug’s Life characters (hence the title, I suppose), the 3-D glasses aren’t a favorite of mine, and I know all the gags that are coming.

So why is it on my favorite list? Because everyone (including children who are old enough not to be frightened by mildly scary things) should experience it once. You won’t forget it. I guarantee that something will be memorable enough that you’ll still talk about it, at least in passing, years later.  (We still try and figure out some of Disney’s secrets on that one, although they can keep their stinkbug secret.)

Maharajah Jungle Trek

What I most appreciate about the self-guided tours at Animal Kingdom is that you can be in the park on a very busy day and yet areas like this remain quite peaceful. It’s a great place to go and recharge when the crowds start to get to you.

I enjoy looking at the plant life as much as the animals. Trees, shrubs, flowers, grasses: all of it; even the mosses have a relaxing beauty to them.

But I know in this Indian jungle palace, the real stars are the animals. The gibbons, tapir, Komodo Dragon, and giant fruit bats all lead up to the real attraction- the tigers. Many people stop at the first viewing point but there are several along the way and many are often prime spots for watching a tiger taking a walk, catching a snooze, or even going for a swim. I always have to remind myself at this point that I am still in Central Florida. Look around. It won’t look like it.

Maharajah Jungle Trek

What I most appreciate about the self-guided tours at Animal Kingdom is that you can be in the park on a very busy day and yet areas like this remain quite peaceful. It’s a great place to go and recharge when the crowds start to get to you.

I enjoy looking at the plant life as much as the animals. Trees, shrubs, flowers, grasses: all of it; even the mosses have a relaxing beauty to them.

But I know in this Indian jungle palace, the real stars are the animals. The gibbons, tapir, Komodo Dragon, and giant fruit bats all lead up to the real attraction- the tigers. Many people stop at the first viewing point but there are several along the way and many are often prime spots for watching a tiger taking a walk, catching a snooze, or even going for a swim. I always have to remind myself at this point that I am still in Central Florida. Look around. It won’t look like it.

After the tigers are some Elds Deer, which are endangered species, and some Blackbuck Antelope. You’ll notice their twisted horns. You’ll also notice several different birds. In the bird sanctuary, be sure to use a color guide to identify some of the birds. Last summer I could have sworn I found 100 of the same kind and none of the rest. Maybe you’ll be a better bird watcher than me!

Next time we’ll look at singing clownfish and the wild tree in the center of it all.

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