ParkSpotting – Animal Kingdom Christmas, Wilderness Explorers Game and Rivers of Light Construction

in Theme Parks, Walt Disney World

Welcome back to another edition of ParkSpotting! Just before Christmas, I decided to take a trip to the land of the wild, Animal Kingdom. The Orlando weather had finally cooled down some so the morning was crisp and bright.

Walking around Animal Kingdom you can always spot hidden areas of old attractions. The Discovery River Boats closed down in 1999 but you can still see the old dock when you walk into Discovery Island.

Walking by the Wilderness Explorer game and never having tried it before I decided to try my hand at being an explorer.  Children and adults can try their hand at completing 30 different challenges to earn badge stickers for their Wilderness Explorer Handbook. Each challenge teaches you something fun about the animals and areas in the park.

Walking into Discovery Island the view of the Tree of Life is now joined by a bunch of construction walls. Something we will see a lot more of in the future as Animal Kingdom is in the middle of a huge reinvention with the addition of Avatarland and the new nighttime Rivers of Light show.

A look into the stores and you can quickly find many unique items for Animal Kingdom.

Walking into Asia I took a closer look at the Rivers of Light construction. Can’t wait for this show to get here and Animal Kingdom turning into a whole day park with nighttime entertainment.

So far Animal Kingdom is the only park without a Frozen presence but I did spot this suspicious sign.


Was a quite crowded day in the Kingdom but I also think it has something to do with the parks small pathways to make you feel this way.

Baloo and King Louie was out meeting and greeting with guests. The line was quite long so I decided to just take some sneaky pics of them when they were walking over to their meet and greet area.

The view from the queue to Baloo and King Louie is pretty amazing.

Make sure to always spend some time just studying the Tree of Life. Every time I do I spot a new animal carving in the tree.

Animal Kingdom has some of the most interesting and unique theme park food after Epcot. You can find plenty of ethnic and spicy food and also of course burgers.  For example, this cart was serving Samosa’s and Falafel Sandwiches.

The “Disney Side” campaign is now used to decorate construction walls, which is probably the most we will see of this promotion. At least the pictures are nice.

Animal Kingdom is the perfect place to find some cool Lion King merchandise. Simba is a popular little lion in the shops around the safari.

I love taking a walk thru The Pangani Forest Exploration Trail and seeing my favorite animals, the gorillas.

At the entrance we checked out one of the tasks for the Wilderness Explorer game and got one of our sticker badges. Collecting stickers is a fun activity for both young and old and something that add something extra to a day in the park.

Watching the gorillas at the Pangani Exploration Trail is one of my favorite things to do. There human-like behavior is so fascinating to watch and I can easily spend a half hour just at this exhibit. Even more fun is when the baby gorillas are out but unfortunately this day it was too cold outside.

Zebras are now out sharing a spot with the meerkats.

Next up I took a trip on Kilimanjaro Safaris, which is a not to miss attraction. This bumpy safari ride is still one of the parks most popular attractions and the best part is that every trip is always different.

As it was a chilly day in Orlando I had great luck spotting lots of animals up and about like the hippos and even a cheetah.

Of course the lions wasn’t very active as they sleep most of the day. In all my times visiting Animal Kingdom I think I have only seen them up and about twice.

The lively band in Africa had a huge crowd singing and dancing along. Live music is something Animal Kingdom really excels at and another thing that adds authenticity to the different areas of the park.

Decided to take a quick trip into Harambe and take a closer look at the new “Lion King” Harambe Theater. This area fits so much better for the musical show and has tons of more room.

Next up I had a FP+ for Expedition Everest, one of my favorite roller coasters on property. You can really beat the Forbidden Mountain in great theming.

This huge FP+ line met me at the attraction and it created a bit of a mess with tons of guests believing the long line was the stand by line.

As you can see the stand by line wasn’t bad at all for being early afternoon. Though Animal Kingdom can sometimes feel very crowded the attractions usually doesn’t have a bad wait.

From the hill up Expedition Everest you can get a good overview of the construction for the new lagoon show Rivers of Light.

Some new Yeti merchandise has shown up in recent months at Everest and I have to say it is quite adorable.

Spotted Dug and Russel on my way out of the parks. Around 4pm in the afternoon their line wasn’t bad at all, 10 minutes tops.

Had to make a quick little trip to the gift shops too on my way out. Lots of Christmas merchandise was filling the shelves. Likewise with the new WDW logo merchandise, which is quite unique and features some classic attractions and characters from the parks.

And that was all for this trip around Animal Kingdom, folks! Hope to see you next time for another ParkSpotting adventure.

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