Animal Kingdom Observations: September 21, 2013

by on September 23, 2013 22 Comments

Filed under: Observations, Walt Disney World (FL)

When I first started with Touring Plans I was surprised to hear the least popular park on the blog is Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  I say that because any given day if you ask me what my favorite park is I will either answer Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom depending on my mood.  I find that Animal Kingdom is consistently different and I have the opportunity to take beautiful photos, making it a park I visit quite frequently!  The below photos were all taken this morning.  (Believe me – it would look way better if I was pulling out old photos!! :))  Let’s get on with our visit to Animal Kingdom!The Adventure Begins!

It was beautiful this morning.  When I parked my car at 8:30am the thermometer said it was only 72 degrees outside.  With the 90+ degree weather we’ve had for the last few months this felt amazing!  As I walked in I noticed that the large bus sign had been removed and replaced with sandwich board signs advertising the new Downtown Disney bus route.IMG_3340

Continuing on to bag check you can see the first sign that crowds were low and it was going to be a great day:


After this we made our way up to the turnstiles and waited for the park opening at 8:45am.  It opened at 8:45am right on the dot and we headed towards the Kilimanjaro Safari, of course stopping for the obligatory Tree Of Life photo.


Along our route to the Safari we checked in on the progress of the new Festival of the Lion King theater.  It is coming along:


I can’t wait to see this new theater open!  Before riding the Safari we, of course, stopped to pick up fastpasses since we knew we would want to ride again.  We had decided early this wasn’t going to be a roller coaster day so using fastpasses for an extra safari was an easy choice.


And then we were off for the standby line of what I think is my favorite ride in all of Walt Disney World!  Here are the animals that I was able to get great photos of while on the ride.  We saw many more than are actually featured here:



Black Rhino

Black Rhino

Giraffes (look at the baby!!)

Giraffes (look at the baby!!)

Bull Elephant

Bull Elephant


White Rhino







This is why we always head straight for the Safari in the morning!  The animals are all wake and roaming.  Going even an hour later during the warmer months can mean that you miss lots of them.  After the ride we had some time to kill before our fastpass window opened so we headed over to the Pangani Forest Trail.  Again here are the animals that were feeling photogenic!

Colobus Monkey

Colobus Monkey










Male Gorilla

Notes on these photos – that is the laziest Meerkat I’ve ever seen.  While it was still performing its “lookout duties” it was doing so from the equivalent of a La-Z-Boy.  Also, apparently Gorillas eat off of frisbees?  When we reached the end of the trail it was 10am and time to cash in our fastpasses.  I noticed it had gotten warmer and had a feeling this one wouldn’t be as good as our first ride.  Taking a look at the photos below you can see I was right.


A bloat of hippos


Ankole Cattle that had been blocking the road


Male Lion


Hot, Tired White Rhinos

I included the photo of the Rhinos because I found this is what most of the animals were doing by 10:30am!  Our earlier safari was much better but I didn’t want to give up just yet so we headed over to the Maharajah Jungle Trek hoping to catch a few animals before they escaped the heat.  As you can see from the photo below this didn’t quite work out as I had hoped!


The only animals I found that were still out were the birds:


At this point we decided that if it was too hot for the animals it was too hot for us!  We took the the log way out and hopped on Dinosaur once with a 10 minute wait.  As we headed toward the exit I snapped a quick photo of the wait times.  At 11am the longest line was 20 minutes:

IMG_3600   IMG_3603

One last note on our way out was that there are no longer turnstiles to exit Animal Kingdom!  There was just a big gate manned by a single cast member.  I stopped to ask if this was permanent and it sounds like they will be fully converted to Magic Bands very soon and no longer require a turnstile to exit.


I hope you enjoyed this morning tour of Animal Kingdom!  In just a couple hours you can see so much at this very unique park.  I hope you will take some time to go wild at Animal Kingdom on your next visit.  It’s a jungle out there! 😀











Posted on September 23, 2013

22 Responses to “Animal Kingdom Observations: September 21, 2013”

  • This reminds me:
    I have always thought that getting on the Safari ride first thing in the morning is best since the animals are more active.However, a friend mentioned to me that since we are going in January, that I may want to hit the safari a little later, since it will be warmer and the animals are less likely to be very active on a cool morning. Your thoughts?

    • We hit it first thing this past January and all of the animals were out and about.

    • It seems like first thing in the morning is always a good bet in my experience. I’m sure Disney has put out their morning meals and they will go to collect them no matter the weather. I got on the safari all the time and it seems like the animals really like the same weather we do with one exception. The BEST safari you will ever go on is in the rain (as long as it isn’t too cold). While other folks are running from the summer storms I grab my rain gear and head to AK. I’ve even caught the elephants bathing in their little lake!

  • We were there Saturday too! Did the safari first thing; a giraffe was extra close to our truck. We love AK!

    • We had to hold for several minutes because there was a rhino jam!! 😉 The white rhinos were extra active this last Saturday! You never know what you are going to get with AK – that is why I love it!

  • Fantastic Photos! I especially like the shot of the bongo. The birds are always the hardest things to identify, but i think that the bird with the brown body feathers, white neck, and black feathers on the top of its head is an African Jacana, here’s a photo from Flickr of one of the bird guides that helped me with that,

    and the small bright bird near the woven nest is, appropriately enough, an African Weaver Bird or Golden Weaver (Ploceus subaureus) to compare:

    • Thanks, Brian!! I had the thought that I should have taken a photo of one of those guides. 🙂 Thanks also for the kind words! The Bongo shot is my fave too!

  • oh and from my own photos, the bird from the Asia bird House is a Green winged Dove ( Chalcophaps indicia )

    • Awwww – I didn’t see this or I would have done one comment but I couldn’t not respond!! Look at that chubby bird! Everyone – click that link!! 🙂

  • Great post – I really love these observational posts. What a great time of year to visit if you can!

  • This is awesome because I am going back and forth whether my family should purchase wdw park hoppers to hop from AK after motning animal viewing to epcot for lunch…thinking yes?

    • Hey Rebecca – everyone is different but I would never miss a morning at AK if I had the choice. 🙂 I hope that helps. I know you’ll have a great trip!

  • Love that the lions are actually awake!! Seems every time I go on the ride, they are doing what they do best–sleeping!

    • I’m not a complete expert – but it seems it depends on what “set” of lions they have on. I believe this is the youngest group and the most active. Looking at my photos I think this is the only group I’ve been able to catch awake!

  • The same thing happened to us at Hollywood Studios on Saturday with the exit. There were no turnstiles any more and just a castmember watching the exit.

    • Hey Chad! Oh we are getting ever so close to Magic Bands!! I don’t know if I’m excited about the system but I’m ready to try something new with an open mind! 🙂

  • This is great — nice pictures and good commentary! We’re going in early December (and haven’t been in 14 years!) and Animal Kingdom is definitely a must-do for us — it was barely open last time we were there. Can’t wait — thanks!!

    • Thank you, Tonya! You will be very impressed. I remember when AK opened it was barely a half day park for us. (I think the parks go through life cycles. The Studios was that way when it opened too… and now it is back to a half day, LOL!) Take some time to just walk around and enjoy the park – it really has the best theming of them all!