Animal Kingdom is a part of Disney that exudes a different kind of Disney magic. There are animals you can’t see anywhere else in the United States, breath-taking vistas, lush vegetation—in addition to thrilling rides, spectacular entertainment and amazing cuisine! And nowhere inside Animal Kingdom are all of these things more accessible and amazing than in the Asia portion of the park. If you’ve never been to Animal Kingdom because you thought it was just Disney’s version of a zoo, you need to visit the next time you’re at Disney World. Here are nine reasons to make Asia your first stop inside Animal Kingdom. You’re going to love it!
9. Imagineers’ attention to detail
As you walk through Asia inside Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you become keenly aware that you are stepping into a world very different from ours here in the States. You walk through Asia and find yourself lost in the belief that you are actually traveling through a small Asian village. That’s because Imagineers spared no expense in making sure Guests feel immersed in rich Asian culture. They traveled to various parts of Asia and purchased artifacts to use in attractions. Imagineers also visited different villages in Asia to get a feel for what a small Asian village looks like, what it sounds like, what it feels like. The result—in part—is the beautiful Mt. Everest in the Expedition Everest attraction, a realistic-looking town, prayer flags draped across thoroughfares and a fictional village called Anandapur.
8. Maharajah Jungle Trek
During this self-guided tour through Southeast Asia, you’ll enter the fictional Anandapur Royal Forest. See gorgeous trees, ancient ruins and wild animals native to this region. You can even explore an aviary!
7. Kali River Rapids
This attraction is a thrilling whitewater raft ride that is fun for the whole family! In the queue, Guests walk through old stone ruins and even an old temple full of animal shrines and hand-painted murals. Aboard the large, 12-person circular rafts, you’ll take in the views of lush vegetation, gushing waterfalls, a geyser and, sadly, a jungle that has been partially destroyed by loggers. FastPass+ times are available for this exciting water ride.
6. Yak and Yeti Restaurant
At the base of Expedition Everest sits Yak and Yeti Restaurant, which serves Pan-Asian food in a home that has been transformed into a Nepalese-style eatery. It is decorated with Southeast Asian artifacts and serves a variety of dishes. Try the sweet-and-sour chicken, tuna nachos, egg rolls or pot stickers. There are even cheeseburgers and chicken tenders for the kids. Be sure to save room for dessert! How about mango pie or fried wontons with ice cream and fresh pineapple? Reservations are strongly recommended for this table-service restaurant. You can book dining reservations up to 180 days before your trip through the My Disney Experience app or by calling (407) WDW-DINE.
Within the fictional village of Anandapur inside Asia at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you can hear traditional Indian music by Chakranadi, a musical “dynamic duo” that plays the sitar and tabla. Check showtimes when you are in the park.
4. The animals
Asia is also home to some fascinating animals. Guests can observe animals native to that part of the world, including Asian tigers, gibbons, elds deer, Malayan flying fox, water buffalo and even a Komodo dragon.
3. Rivers of Light
The beautiful “Rivers of Light” nighttime spectacular is one of the best nighttime shows you can experience at Disney World. It takes place in the Discovery River lagoon, between Discovery Island and Expedition Everest. This amazing show makes use of water fountains, floating lanterns, live performances, fog, lasers, projections, mist screens and lotus flower floats to tell a story of life—both animal and human—and how they are intertwined. FastPass+ times are available for this show that usually takes place more than once each evening.
2. UP! A Great Bird Adventure Show
A new bird show has arrived to Animal Kingdom to replace the former Flights of Wonder bird show. This new show, UP! A Great Bird Adventure Show features all kinds of beautiful birds, plus Russell and Dug the Dog from Disney/PIXAR’s Up. Visit the Caravan Theater in Asia to see this one. Just be sure to check show times before arrival so you are sure to schedule a time slot into your Animal Kingdom day!
1. Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
Expedition Everest is one of the most popular Disney World attractions of all time. It opened to the public on April 7, 2006, and to this day, you still need a FastPass+ time to be sure you’ll get to experience this attraction. Legend says that a ferocious monster stands guard on the Forbidden Mountain, but even in the face of this potential danger, the Royal Anandapur Tea Company began shipping tea by rail years ago, and it did so via the Forbidden Mountain pass. The railroad closed, however, after several accidents occurred, and some believed they were the work of the Yeti monster. But the railway has since reopened, and tours of the Forbidden Mountain are being offered today by a local group of entrepreneurs. No one knows for sure whether the legend is true. Guests can board a train that will take them through the Forbidden Mountain pass, if they dare. Many come back to the loading area, saying they have indeed seen the Yeti, that he is massive at nearly 24 feet tall and that he has destroyed part of the track. Are you brave enough to find out for yourself?