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Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Expedition Everest at Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park, FLTravelLife.com
Expedition Everest © WDW

Park Picks:

Expedition Everest is the tallest landmark in Disney’s Animal Kingdom park. Ride the roller coaster through the Himalayan Mountains and into the darkness of the caverns searching for the Yedi. (Insider tip: Wait for a seat in the first or second carts, which offer bird’s-eye views of Animal Kingdom.) Fans of water rides line up for the Kali River Rapids, a white water adventure that spins and bobs with the current, passing stone ruins, gushing waterfalls and jungle foliage before it reaches a 20-foot slope with splashing waters. One of the best shows in Disney World is here: Festival of the Lion King. Giant-size puppets— an elephant, warthog, giraffe and lion—get the show started. Music, costumes and acrobats tell the story of Simba the lion cub who would be king. A memorable ballet dance to Elton John’s “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” will warm your heart.

Where to Eat:

Dine Pan-Asian at the Yak & Yeti Restaurant. Relax in the Nepal-inspired dining room with heavy wooden furnishings and Oriental rugs. Tropical fruit rum cocktails like the Shanghai Express take the edge off an intense day in the park. Dishes worth ordering include the Thai chili chicken wings, pork pot stickers and Malaysian seafood curry. For something more child-friendly visit Pizzafari. The menu at this colorful quick-serve restaurant, with chameleons decorating the walls, features cheese, pepperoni or veggie pizzas, Caesar salads and kid favorites like mac ’n’ cheese and PBJ sandwiches.

Where to stay:

Splurge and stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge—you won’t regret it. The rooms at the resort face the savannah where live animals roam. A guide in your room identifies the antelope, zebra, giraffe and various birds viewed from your balcony. Daily feedings guarantee that you’ll see almost every species that lives here. In a special viewing area off the lobby, native-African guides answer questions regarding the animals and their countries of origin. A nearby outdoor fire pit is a great place to gather after dark. Be sure to eat at least one meal in the resort restaurant Boma ,where African flavors fill the buffet, including grains, root vegetables and braised meats typical of an African diet.

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