Discovery Island is the heart of Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom. It’s always been an inspiring place, but with Animal Kingdom’s night-time hours, the Tree of Life Awakenings show, and the LED lighting added to the leaves on the tree, it has become an even more magical place. Here are 8 things we love about Discovery Island.
1. Animal Carvings
The highlight of the Tree of Life is its magnificent animal carvings, and you’ll get up close and personal with all of them on Discovery Island. There are over 300 living and extinct animals carved in the branches and roots of the tree. There’s even a path that leads right up to it, which means you can get close enough to touch this masterpiece. You’ll see why it took a team of international artisans a year and a half to complete the Tree of Life. And you may even discover a Hidden Mickey along the way!
2. Meet Animal Friends
Along with the carved animals hidden in the Tree of Life, guests can actually encounter real-life animals on the Discovery Island Trail. Wander among the lush vegetation, and imagine you’re deep in the rainforest. You’ll see animals that are perfectly at home here, like green-winged macaws, capybaras, Galapagos tortoises, storks, African porcupines, flamingos, lemurs, vultures, otters and red kangaroos, among others. Bonus – the Discovery Island Trail is completely accessible, so all guests are free to enjoy!
3. It’s Tough to Be a Bug
If getting up close and personal with your favorite Tree of Life carvings isn’t enough, you can even venture inside the tree itself. There’s a theatre inside the root system where the short multimedia show “It’s Tough to be a Bug” is held. It’s the perfect escape from the heat of a Florida summer day, and it’s full of endearing insect characters from the Disney animated film. There are a couple of 4D effects that will definitely surprise you!
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4. Flame Tree Barbecue
This is one of our favorite quick-service venues in all of Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom. Chances are you’ll smell this guest favorite before you see it! You’ll find a variety of BBQ meats offered here, from chicken to ribs. And not to worry, veggiesaurs – there’s a refreshing watermelon salad, jalapeno cornbread and baked beans just for you. You’ll also find beer and wine to accompany your impromptu BBQ – and we dare you not to get addicted to Flame Tree Barbecue’s famous BBQ sauce!
5. Memorable Macaws
Who doesn’t love the brilliantly colored macaw? You’ll find all 6 shades of them at Winged Encounters – The Kingdom Takes Flight. You never know when a show will start, so make sure you keep your eyes peeled all day. You won’t want to miss the stunning spectacle the macaws create as they soar around Discovery Island! And of course, you can learn some fascinating facts about this beautiful bird from cast member experts during the show.
6. Meet Safari Minnie and Mickey
If you have little ones (or even not-so-little ones!) in your party, you won’t want to miss Adventurers Outpost on Discovery Island. Here, you’ll find Safari Minnie and Safari Mickey dressed in their finest expedition outfits. Guests can check out the famous pair’s souvenirs and photos from their globe-trotting adventures. And of course, you’ll have a chance to meet Safari Minnie and Mickey yourself! Don’t forget to pose for a photo with them.
7. Tiffins and Nomad’s Lounge
If you’re looking for a unique and satisfying dining experience, look no further than the table service restaurant Tiffins, or the neighboring Nomad’s Lounge. In both locations, you’ll find a variety of delightful dishes from across the globe, beautifully displayed. We also love the ambiance here – Tiffins features a travel theme with magnificent global artwork featuring animals from various continents. Walk next door to Nomad Lounge, and pick a waterside table to enjoy the rainforest foliage of Discovery Island in all its glory. We can’t imagine a better view for any meal in Animal Kingdom!
If you’re looking for unique Animal Kingdom gift items, there are plenty of options in Walt Disney World’s Discovery Island. Head to Discovery Trading Company to find merchandise starring your favorite Disney characters. Its sister store, Riverside Depot, also has character apparel and more. Try the Island Mercantile and other vibrant bazaar shops to get your fill of candy, toys, clothing and other memorabilia. And while you’re there, revel in the beautiful Balinese-style architecture – Disney Imagineers have thought of every detail!