Fans of The Lion Guard, a new Disney Junior television series, have something to roar about at Animal Kingdom. Through early April 2016, little ones (and their family and friends) can go on a scavenger hunt type adventure throughout the park to find Kion, son of Simba, and his wildlife protecting friends.
Pick up a map at a participating merchandise location and get familiar with the Lion Guard characters and their special traits. This interactive activity exercises kids’ map skills as they search for character statues throughout the park. They also learn cool animal facts, like how keen eyesight helps birds hunt or how fast a cheetah can run, and even some Swahili phrases.
Once you find all the members of the Lion Guard, head to Rafiki’s Planet Watch to find Rafiki, take the Lion Guard Pledge, and become inducted as a defender of the Pride Lands!
FL Science Standards: [animal traits] SC.K.L.14.3, SC.5.L.17.1
Next Gen Science Standards: [animal traits] 1-LS1-1, 1-LS1-2, 4-LS1-1
FL Social Studies Standards: [map skills] SS.K.G.1.1, SS.K.G.1.2, SS.K.G.1.4, SS.1.G.1.2, SS.1.G.1.4, SS.2.G.1.1, SS.3.G.1.2, SS.4.G.1.4
P21 Skills: Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
This attraction, located inside the Tree of Life on Discovery Island, is a totally immersive experience that seeks to teach audiences about some of the world’s most interesting bugs. It’s part 3D film, part animatronic show, and part sensory sensation.
As you can imagine, there’s a lot to learn at this attraction, and it all starts in the queue. Incidentally, visiting It’s Tough to be a Bug! gets you amazing and up-close views of the Tree of Life. As you enter the lobby under the tree, you’ll see posters advertising the Tree of Life Repertory Theatre’s past productions. These funny posters also include some neat bug facts, so look around and find as many as you can.
During the show, you’ll learn even more about insects and spiders that have neat features that help them survive in their habitats. Disney Imagineers actually worked with a top Smithsonian entomologist to develop the show and make sure they had all the facts right. You may even come away with a better appreciation for bugs and how they help our environment.
It’s worth noting that this attraction may be scary for young kids or those with a fear of insects or spiders. Some of the visuals or effects can be loud and intense at times. But it’s a great educational opportunity for anyone interested to learn more about bugs in the world.
FL Sunshine State Science Standards:
SC.K.L.14.3, SC.4.L.17.4, SC.5.L.17.1
There are lots of animal viewing areas in Animal Kingdom park. And some are better marked than others on the guide maps. There are a few hidden gems in DinoLand U.S.A.
If you make your way toward Restaurantosaurus, look around the small island of greenery you’ll pass. The guide maps do show that this area has an American Crocodile, and it’s pretty spectacular to see up close. But keep going! You may also spot an Asian Brown Tortoise or some large Abdim Storks.
Placards will teach you all about where each animal comes from, their diet and habits, and what makes them special to our planet. Keep your eyes peeled for even more interesting animals throughout the park.
FL Sunshine State Science Standards:
SC.K.L.14.3, SC.1.L.17.1, SC.2.L.17.1, SC.2.L.17.2, SC.5.L.17.1
If you have a dinosaur fan in your group, you’ve got to check out DinoLand U.S.A. at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Make your way to the DINOSAUR attraction and spend a few minutes in the queue area to see a replica of a pretty famous dino.
Dino-Sue is a replica of the most complete fossil skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex ever found. The skeleton at Animal Kingdom is finely detailed and measures the same 40 feet long as the real thing. You can read information posted nearby about how the original T-Rex skeleton was found and named Sue, after the fossil hunter who found it. You can learn where Sue was found and where she is now.
Standing next to Dino-Sue is truly amazing. The outside queue area for DINOSAUR isn’t really used any more, so you could miss Dino-Sue if you aren’t looking for her. And be on the lookout for even more hidden dinosaurs throughout the queue.
Kilimanjaro Safaris is one of Walt Disney World’s most popular attractions. It’s a pretty amazing experience and fun for all ages. Board an open-air safari truck and get out your cameras to observe and learn about African animals in natural habitats. The 18-minute tour takes you through the Disney-created Harambe Wildlife Reserve, and promises lots of animal sightings.
The learning begins in the queue. Placards throughout the line match African animals and their Swahili names, or give fast facts about the animals. Did you know that Simba means “lion” in Swahili? There is also a short video that plays as you get closer to the loading dock. The video introduces us to the warden of the Harambe Wildlife Reserve, and teaches more about animal behavior and factors that are threatening those animals in the wild.
During the safari you can use overhead animal spotting guides to help you identify the animals that you see in the Reserve. But be sure to listen to your safari guide as well. He or she will help point out the animals and is sure to share lots of information about them. On our last safari, we learned quite a few new things. For instance, cheetahs are the only big cats that purr!
Kilimanjaro Safaris is a great educational attraction and a must-do for animal lovers. The ride is always different because you never know which animals you’ll spot! FastPass+ is usually recommended for this attraction during busy seasons.
FL Sunshine State Science Standards:
SC.K.L.14.3, SC.1.L.14.1, SC.1.L.17.1, SC.2.L.17.2, SC.4.L.17.4, SC.5.L.17.1
We continue our Bookstore Series, pointing out where to buy books, both educational and for leisure, around Walt Disney World.
The Serka Zong Bazaar is located just outside of Expedition Everest. If you dare to take the train ride up Mount Everest, you conveniently end up exiting right into the Bazaar. This is actually a great gift shop. Of course you can find all manner of fun yeti plush and Disney-themed merchandise. But you can also purchase unique handcrafted gifts and accessories from Nepal that helps support local artisans there.
Be sure to check out the corner that is dedicated to books. You’ll find good reads, both fiction and nonfiction, for adults and children. Adult books include some fascinating and inspirational first-hand accounts from Everest climbers. Kids’ books include terrific National Geographic picture books, titles about saving snow leopards, and even a classic Choose Your Own Adventure!
The collection here is definitely one you won’t find in other parks, so check it out.
Opportunities for learning about animals and their habitats abound at Animal Kingdom park. To help identify the many animals you may encounter during your visit, Animal Guides are available wherever you pick up park guide maps.
These guides point out all the animals you may possibly see, organized by land. There are over 100 species listed! The animals that have a highlighted icon are supported specifically by the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund. You, too, can contribute to the Fund at Guest Relations and at merchandise and select dining locations. During your next visit, pick up an Animal Guide and challenge yourself to find as many animals listed as possible.