You might not know it by name, but if you’ve been to Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom, you’ve walked through the Oasis. It starts at the entrance to the park, and leads to the Tree of Life and other areas of the park. But not so fast! Many guests speed through this area en route to their destination, but the Oasis is a destination unto itself. It’s a beautiful, serene area full of jungle foliage and amazing animal exhibits – not to mention dining adventures, merchandise and our favorite WDW street performer of all time. Here are some things that deserve your attention the next time you’re in the Oasis.
1. Garden Gate Gifts
If you arrive at Animal Kingdom and realize you’ve forgotten your camera, or want to grab some snacks for the kids to munch on throughout the day, Walt Disney World has you covered. While the Oasis is mostly about creating a lush, animal-filled environment for guests as soon as they enter the park, it also features a shop where you can pick up anything you may need to enjoy your day in the park – or where you can stop for a last-minute souvenir on the way out! It’s called Garden Gate Gifts, and you’ll find photo albums and camera paraphernalia, gifts, and sweets and snacks here.
Bird lovers, take note! You’ll have the chance to spot a variety of different macaw species in the Oasis at Animal Kingdom. Our all-time fave is the hyacinth macaw, with its vibrant blue feathers. But you may also spot the military macaw (primarily green, with bold blue, yellow and red feathers) and the scarlet macaw (bright red, with blue and yellow on its wings). You might hear these beauties before you see them, but once you spot them, they’re the perfect splash of tropical color in the lush vegetation.
3. Jungle Details
While you’re looking up at the macaws, don’t forget to also look down! Throughout the Oasis at Animal Kingdom, you’ll find various animal prints on the pathways beneath your feet, as well as imprints of plant life. We love the atmosphere here, and we’re sure you will too! You can wander along walkways through rock openings and gaze at waterfalls and ponds amid leafy jungle plants, and make sure you take note of the beautiful faux-bamboo fencing and lanterns, which beautifully complement the area’s tropical vibe.
Guests normally encounter DiVine between Africa and Asia, but she can sometimes also be found in the Oasis. You’ll know you’ve found her if you see a tree move out of the corner of your eye! DiVine is a wonderfully talented stilt performer who is completely decked out as foliage, so that she blends in with the rainforest environment of Animal Kingdom. You can ask a cast member when she’ll be performing – or just keep an eye out for a crowd of awed spectators captivated by a living, breathing, moving tree!
5. Reeves’ Muntjac
While you may not have heard of this species before, you may just have mistaken one for a dog! The Reeves’ muntjac is a small species of deer hailing from China that would be fairly unremarkable except for one thing: when it’s alarmed, it lets out a bark that is reminiscent of a dog. These vocal animals are also aptly known as “barking deer”, although some people say their sound is actually more like a scream, and more similar to a fox’s sound than a bark. Why don’t you be the judge?
6. Cast Members Await
Wondering if those termite mounds you see are real? Want to know what makes flamingoes pink? Well, you’re in luck! There are cast members on hand throughout Animal Kingdom’s Oasis to answer any and all guest questions about the creatures and features found here. Sometimes, they even have creatures with them so you can get an even closer look! (By the way, the termite mounds are synthetic and sometimes hide water feeders for feathered friends, and flamingoes are pink because of the shrimp they eat.)
7. Rainforest Café
The perfect addition to your day at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom, a meal at Rainforest Café is a true expedition! This restaurant is located at the entrance to the park, where the Oasis begins, and it’s an immersive dining experience perfect for the animal lover in all of us. You’ll eat amid a tropical jungle complete with animatronic animals, whose movements and sounds will make you feel like you’re deep in the rainforest. There’s a monkey swinging on a vine, a baby elephant with its mom, giant flapping butterflies, and even a crocodile. And don’t forget the regularly scheduled thunderstorm! We also love the enormous aquarium full of beautifully colored tropical fish, as well as the gift shop on site. You can book your dining expedition at Rainforest Café for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
8. Giant Anteater
We had never seen the giant anteater in the Oasis before our last Walt Disney World trip, because it’s so elusive. Luckily, we arrived on a day when it was feeling active! We watched this massive, surreal-looking creature walk with surprising speed around its habitat, completely ignoring the pumpkin that had been put there for it. There’s no other animal like it in Disney’s Animal Kingdom or, for that matter, anywhere else! So keep your eyes peeled when you’re wandering through the exhibits here – you never know what you’ll encounter.