We entered Animal Kingdom to the sound of drummers playing. One of my favorite things about Animal Kingdom is all of the street performers!
We headed straight for Kilimanjaro Safaris, since the wait was fairly short (about 25 minutes, compared to 2+ hours last time we were there, over Spring Break!). I had heard so many great things about the safaris, but ours wasn't the best. Honestly, I think our driver might've been new (she was a bit awkward & we could never tell if she was joking or serious) & I was also seated in the middle, next to a man who kept answering his phone, which dampened the experience & also led to poor photos. So maybe next time will be better. We did see several animals, & learned a few fun facts along the way.
First, I really really really wanted to see DiVine, one of the performers in Animal Kingdom. From what I've read, she is only out for about two hours each day, & doesn't have a designated area to be in. My sisters had spotted her a bit earlier in the day, so I was determined to find her. I asked one of the PhotoPass photographers if she was still out, & he said she might be out for a few more minutes, but on the other side of the park, near a gift shop. So we walked. & walked. & walked. & there was no DiVine. We did manage to get a Tree of Life photo, though.
We finally gave up & decided to find a drink Laker wanted to try. But the restaurant I had read was serving it, wasn't serving it. & so we walked some more. At this point, the crowds had grown, & we were hot & tired. We decided to just grab Pizzafari instead of searching for more authentic food. So Laker grabbed a flatbread pizza & I got some pasta. It was nice to sit in the air conditioning for a bit. One cool thing in Animal Kingdom is that there are no lids or plastic straws, because they want to avoid waste that could harm the animals.
After lunch, I went to meet Tarzan. This was a really odd meet. There was no PhotoPass photographer. Also, Tarzan was super awkward. Instead of seeming like he was new to the human world & learning things, he just kind of seemed like a dumb surfer dude. He kept asking if I got bananas for my birthday. Also, I always wondered how all of the Tarzans were so tan (& why, for that matter, because Tarzan isn't super tan in the movie), but after seeing him up close, I see that he is actually painted that orange-ish tan color. I mostly just felt kind of uncomfortable, but the pictures turned out well. Very Tarzan-y.
Flik was a little better. His weird ant backside was funny, & Laker actually agreed to be in the photo with me!
We went to DinoLand USA next, & rode the TriceraTop Spin (basically the Dumbo ride, but with dinosaurs instead of elephants, & it can tilt a little). It was cute, & Laker had some fun with my camera.
Rafiki's Planet Watch was actually my favorite section of Animal Kingdom that we visited. Since I can't ride many of the rides in this park, it had mostly involved a lot of walking up to that point. But I loved learning about all of Disney's conservation efforts on Rafiki's Planet Watch.
We went by the vet station, which is neat to see. We got to watch the vets working on a large bird's foot. The bird had some swelling & developed a condition, & we were told this was from putting too much weight on one foot. The bird had been in & out of the vet station for the condition.
Other windows showed us different labs & stations where scientists were doing research towards animal health & conservation. There were videos, posters, & presentations about different efforts. I got to pet a snake (a boa), which is one of many animals that are at the Animal Kingdom park. Animal Kingdom is actually the largest of the four Disney World parks, simply because they have so much space for the animals. There are signs everywhere on Rafiki's island, teaching you how to make butterfly gardens, or bat homes, & other simple things you can do anywhere that protect animals & wildlife.
We met Rafiki, & he was a lot of fun to watch. He would just plop down on the floor with the kids, & when Laker & I got up to the front, he kept tickling our necks & poking us to make us laugh. The family after us had two toddlers, both dressed in Lion King attire. One was very small, no more than two years old, & had a little Simba hat on. Rafiki got down on the floor, cross-legged. She just crawled in his lap, & he cradled her in his arms. It was the most precious thing.
We headed back to the main park area, taking some photos of the park theming & listening to another street performer, before loading the bus a little before 4:30 to head to Epcot.