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Hidden Details of Animal Kingdom

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There are many reasons why the Disney Parks stand apart from other theme parks around the world, but one of the biggest has to be Disney’s incredible attention to detail. You can see the extra mile in the form of details just about everywhere on Disney property, from attractions to parade costumes to resorts to transportation to even the bathrooms! Personally, I love the details. They are not only appealing to the eye and fun to find, but almost always meaningful to the history of an attraction or to the story the Imagineers are trying to tell. For today’s post, let’s take a look at the hidden details of Animal Kingdom!

Expedition Everest Height Measurement
Expedition Everest Height Measurement

Over at Asia’s Expedition Everest, be sure to notice the special height measurement for young riders. Only at Disney would the measurement be a giant, wooden Yeti foot! I’ve always thought that Expedition Everest has one of the most clever, detailed themed queues, and this fun detail just proves it!

Inside of the Dinosaur attraction, look up to see red, white, and yellow pipes running through the queue. Chemical combinations are printed on those pipes, which isn’t anything special, unless you realize the combinations are actually the chemical names for ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard! Weird, right?

Animal Kingdom Harambe Sign - A Glass Slipper Vacation
Animal Kingdom’s Harambe Village

Animal Kingdom’s Africa is meant to look and feel as if you have just walked into a real African village called Harambe. Disney Imagineers really went to new heights with the details here, as Harambe appears lived-in and authentic with thatched roofs, posters for the village’s Harambe Wildlife Preserve, handpainted signs on the sides of local businesses, and so much more. This particular sign welcoming you into Harambe features ads of the village’s establishments, and the lights above it are even rusted to show age.

Maharajah Jungle Trek in the park’s Asia section is a self-guided tour through lush forests and crumbling ruins to check out fruit bats, Gibbons, tigers, and dozens upon dozens of birds in the aviary. While the wildlife is the main draw, guests may not realize their surroundings, which are the ruins of an old palace. The story is that nature has overtaken civilization, and the overgrown walls and faded murals are details which truly add to the underlying story of this corner of the park.

Expedition Everest
Expedition Everest

This next detail may be hard to see, but is definitely fun to note. While riding Kilimanjaro Safaris, pay special attention to the Flamingo Island. It’s in the shape of a Mickey head!

When approaching Expedition Everest, you will begin to see colorful flags strung overhead from building to building and all around the attraction’s area. Why? The real Mount Everest is located in the Himalayas where colorful prayer flags can be seen almost everywhere. It’s another detail Imagineers added to make Expedition Everest even more realistic. Also, if you notice some old, faded prayer flags during your visit to Animal Kingdom, don’t be thinking that Disney has let things slide. In fact, tradition states that real prayer flags are left hanging no matter how old and tattered they get, so Disney does the same!

Animal Kingdom Sign - A Glass Slipper Vacation
Animal Kingdom Sign

Over in the Africa section of the park, take a seat at  Tusker House‘s covered, outdoor seating area. As you sit, listen closely. You may hear someone working in the kitchen, clanging pots and pans and sweeping up. It’s a recording, but it’s fun to listen for and is sure to get a reaction from the kids.

Have you ever noticed Animal Kingdom’s sign? Does anything look strange to you? If you’re wondering why there’s a dragon, you’re not alone. You see, Animal Kingdom was originally intended to have a section dedicated to mythical animals. While that idea was scrapped, the sign and logo was not and is still being used today.

Expedition Everest Sign
Expedition Everest Sign

One of my favorite details at Animal Kingdom is an amusing sign found right when you exit Expedition Everest’s ride vehicle and move into the gift shop. If you don’t already know, a crampon is a device that hikers and climbers wear on their boots when taking on icy or snowy terrain. Since you have just returned from the frigid peaks of Everest when disembarking the Expedition Everest train, it’s only reasonable for the store to request you remove your hiking gear before you browse!

So these are a just a few of the many hidden details to be discovered at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Which of these have you found? Do you have a favorite?

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Savannah Sanders

Savannah has been visiting Disney World since she was a year old and has gone back almost every year since. In the real world, she teaches high school history and government and enjoys writing about all things Disney. Savannah can be reached on Twitter @DisneyParkSavvy.

2 thoughts on “Hidden Details of Animal Kingdom

  • The ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise makes more sense when you know that the original sponsor of the Dinosaur ride (then called Countdown To Extinction) was McDonalds.

    • Aha! That makes much more sense – I thought it was because dino mean was kind of bland and flavorless (like chicken, or maybe foam rubber and latex) without condiments 🙂

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