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Disney's Animal Kingdom

It's Not a Zoo!

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Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom.
Testa Images/Moment/Getty Images
Commercials come and go, and for the most part, they are little more than an annoyance that interrupts our favorite television programs. However, one comes along every now and again that catches my attention and I actually look forward to the interruption.

One such commercial ran regularly for several months. What made it captivating? For one thing, it had catchy music – a good beat – and the words were not hard... actually, it had only one. The scenes that flash before your eyes look exciting and fun – it makes you want to be right there... right now.

What did it advertise? A Florida attraction – Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Cleverly the Disney people have put together the essence of their newest theme park because the one word that is sung to the African beat is "nót-ä-zû" – and they were right – Disney’s Animal Kingdom is NOT A ZOO!

From the moment you step into Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you realize this is not your typical theme park, nor is it your typical zoo. Walk through the entrance and the lush landscape of The Oasis provides the gateway to the adventures that await guests. It is a natural place of flowering glades and tumbling waterfalls. Guests are free to explore several lush paths that lead to natural animal habitats of miniature deer, brilliant macaws, an anteater, iguanas and tree kangaroos.

Once you’ve passed The Oasis, you will come to a bridge spanning a peaceful river. The bridge leads to Discovery Island, which is at the center of Animal Kingdom. The park is laid out in a classic hub-and-spoke Disney style with the hub being Discovery Island connecting a series of "lands."

These "lands" offer guests opportunities to discover not just animals, but many adventures designed to educate and entertain. More than 1,700 animals representing 250 different species make their home at Animal Kingdom, yet you won’t see many behind bars here. Instead you can explore the spacious habitats of the wild animals by taking a safari. Guests also can be whisked on a wild ride aboard 12-seat rafts down the Kali River Rapids, dig for fossils in DinoLand U.S.A., watch stage shows like The Lion King, and much more!

Live bands, "Streetmosphere" characters, and other moving entertainment add to the non-stop fun at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Guests to Animal Kingdom won’t want to miss Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade. It not only features many favorite Disney characters dressed in safari gear and cruising in jazzed-up jalopies, but it is truly an adventure in sight and sound.

Of course, guests will find plenty of shopping and favorite eateries including the Rainforest Cafe at the main entrance, Flame Tree Barbecue, Pizzafari, Restaurantosaurus and the Tusker House Restaurant.

I was definitely skeptical when Disney announced this venture, but clearly they have not only won the accreditation of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, they have won over this guide.

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