As some people know, I’m quite the introvert. So getting notice in the mail that I had been selected for jury duty was more than a little stressful. To unwind, we decided to take a trip to Animal Kingdom. Because it was Earth Day weekend, we knew the crowds would be fairly high in the day, so we opted for an evening stroll. It was just the relaxation that we all needed.

It never fails that when people arrive at Animal Kingdom, they rush through the first area you come to, the Oasis, but that is one of our favorite places to spend time. There’s a handful of exhibits with some fairly quiet and shy animals, but especially in the afternoons they come out. One who isn’t shy was this duck who was just plain sassy.

The muntjac deer in the Oasis often is hard to spot, but draws a lot of awws whenever it comes into view. We watched it for a few minutes as it ate some flower petals off of a leaf and then headed to the water for a drink.

Less cute to some people is the babirusa–the “deer pig”. The babirusa was hiding near the back of its enclosure today, but did make a token appearance.

I can’t pick a favorite park icon, but there is something that always takes my breath away about the Tree of Life. Now that it has been fully reopened with kangaroos and birds lounging in front and waterfalls all around, it is a work of art.

To the left of the Tree of Life, the flamingo wading pools are back. Who doesn’t love a flamboyance of flamingos?

In addition to looking at the real animals, we love spotting all the hidden animals carved into the Tree of Life. With the paths completely around the Tree now open again, we looked to see what all we could see. I don’t remember seeing the bear catching a salmon before


And it took a few minutes for everyone in the family to find the dolphin in this view (hint, look up).

We also spotted a beautiful bloom on a bird of paradise plant.

After wandering around the Tree of Life, our daughter had a request to go to the Boneyard for some play time. On the way, the Discovery Island Carnivale was in full swing.


Tempting as it was to stop for the whole set, we were on a mission to head to the Boneyard, which our daughter considers the best playground at Walt Disney World. Take a look at some of these slides!

Unlike a typical playground, there’s a lot for parents to look at while the kids are playing. I love looking at the different “projects” posted by the “interns” of the Dino Institute….

…and the notes left from the instructors.


It was getting late, and time for dinner. The adults wanted Flame Tree, and the kiddo wanted chicken nuggets. Thankfully, the kids’ meal at Restaurantasaurus comes in a plastic pail, which makes it easy to take to go. I love how kitchy the restaurant is, including the folding chairs, cooler, and “trash” on the roof out front.

On our way back to Flame Tree, we spotted a couple of abdim stork, who looked like they really wanted us to share our food. Sorry, no feeding the birds today!

The lotus flowers for Rivers of Light were getting ready to be moved into position. Going back to see the show is certainly on my list of things to do again.

As we approached Flame Tree, one of my favorite performers was in the middle of his set. Seriously, how can you not love someone playing the electric harp?

Truth told, we haven’t eaten at Flame Tree in quite a while. My husband and I both decided on a pork sandwich, and I looked to see what they could substitute for beans due to my allergy. I was able to go with the cornbread, which was pretty good, although making a very carb-heavy meal. I’m not sure if the portion sizes have decreased significantly since the last time we were there or if we were just that hungry, but after the meal I considered going back for seconds.

When it isn’t blistering hot or horribly humid out, Flame Tree has one of my favorite outdoor seating areas in all of Walt Disney World. Down by the water is very picturesque, especially at sunset.

It really is beautiful with all the attention to detail. Each of the pavilions has its own theme, with different lanterns and windsocks. There’s also the quiet reflecting pool tying it all together.

If you explore the area, there are a variety of sculptures and animal carvings hidden everywhere.

Because a majority of the people in the park were headed for Rivers of Light, we had the park practically to ourselves and just strolled around, enjoying the atmosphere as darkness settled on the park.

We grabbed a quick drink on the way out, and I bravely resisted the call of the special Earth Day cupcake. Well, that and I’m a cheapskate, and so the $6 cupcake was not THAT appealing.

If you have the time to just wander around, Animal Kingdom is the perfect park to take it easy for a few hours.

And if you’re curious on how jury duty went, I was not selected to serve on a jury, but did get to go through the voir dire process. On the way out, I got to see the amazing tapestry work that hang in the central rotunda of the Orange County courthouse. I especially liked the tourism one.

And yes, for a minute there I did think those giraffes were wearing mouse ears! Just proof positive that you can take the gal out of Disney, but you can’t take Disney out of the gal.

So no matter what you’re doing, even if it is jury duty, take some time this week to make it your own Best Week Ever. Oh, and Happy Birthday, Animal Kingdom. You just keep looking better every year!


Comments are closed.