Do you see up there on the logo-living animals, an extinct animal and smack in the middle-a mythical animal.

Along with Asian and African animals and dinosaurs, the Kingdom was supposed to have mythical creatures as well in an area called Beastly Kingdom. A whole section was to be devoted to dragons, unicorns and sea monsters squee! Due to budget cuts, it was turned into Camp Minnie Mickey, a character meet and greet section with some dragon features-a fountain, a cave that shot flame and some armor. This was a HUGE letdown for me and I was a little whiney about it. Animals I can see in any zoo or natural history museum? As an attraction? To appease me (and I am sure this is the only reason) they have decided to scrap Camp Minnie Mickey and build Pandora where Beastly Kingdom should have been. While no Earth-based cryptozoology is involved, it will recreate the world of Pandora from the movie Avatar. Plans include tons of bioluminescent plants, which I can appeciate. Rides will include a boat ride that will showcase the plants and animals of the moon (Pandora is a moon, not talking about our own moon) and a simulator ride where you learn to ride a mountain banshee. It's no Loch Ness, but I can get behind it. They are also working on a nighttime show featuring mist, lanterns, music and lighting.
And no fireworks, which I will really like!

If they would add a mangrove swamp and house dinoflageates like we swam with in the waters off of Cayman, I would go just to do that every night for a solid month.

They started work this year (January 2014) forcing me to plan yet another Disney trip in 2018. The horror.
Besides, all the Imagineers went to Universal and most of the planned attractions for the Beastly Kingdom are now part of the Harry Potter world. So I guess I can go there if I really need to.
When I told the kids about Avatar Land (as I have been calling it, not sure if that's official or just me) they were soooooo excited, Chandler nearly fell over. I was surprised because we saw the movie once on opening weekend, though it was in 3-D. Then I realized. Oh, Avatar. Aang and Korra and Soka.
Now I feel a little sad that I still don't get to ride a giant flying bison with 6 legs.
Not as sad as they were!

Despite my initial concerns about missing the mythology, Animal Kingdom took top spot as my favorite park on the first visit. I loved the plants and animals, the trails, the Tree of Life is amazing and of course the rides are all fun. The park itself is huge, each themed section has so many details from the country it represents-colors, symbols, art, tons of tiny details, foods, drinks, smells and of course cast members from those countries. It helped, I am sure, that we visited in December when it was not sweltering or very crowded. And that plants from other countries strike a chord in me. I really liked the Jacksonville Zoo for the same reason. If I worked anywhere in Disney, it would be Animal Kingdom. We have played the 'never come back' game in which we just stay in Orlando and all work for the Mouse. Matt would play drums in the giant kangaroo in the parade, Jake would feed the big animals, Chan would work in the nursery with Ben and they would squeal their way through their work day for sheer joy of baby animals.

Future Matt?


ANIMAL KINGDOM MAP (opens in new tab)
Our visits to the park