Home » 24 Intriguing Hidden Secrets at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

24 Intriguing Hidden Secrets at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the youngest of Walt Disney World’s four theme parks. Like the others, it is packed with small details created by Disney’s Imagineers.

Perhaps more than any other Disney park, Disney’s Animal Kingdom is one where guests can benefit from slowing down and taking a closer look at their surroundings, rather than simply running from one ride to another. Not only are there a host of wild animals on show (many of which are ignored by most visitors), but there are also a plethora of authentic theming touches in every area and attraction. Next time you’re at the park, keep a look out for these 24 “hidden secrets” – and let us know of any we’ve missed or that have been removed!

24. Attention to detail


In Africa, take a look at the walkways. The leaf prints and mud cracks were created using a mold – with Imagineers going as far as making casts of patches of mud. The cracks were widened using pressurised water jets.

23. Hit the road


Check out the highway sign in Dinoland, USA (located between the restrooms and Primeval Whirl). It reads “Route 498” – a reference to the park’s opening day in April 1998. There’s a parked truck with a license plate that calls out the park’s opening day as well. 

22. The lost Beastly Kingdom

Disney's Animal Kingdom logo Signs for Disneys Animal Kingdom feature a dragon among the animals at the bottom. This was a reference to Beastly Kingdom, a land based on mythical creatures that was to be part of the park’s original line-up. As costs overran, it was bumped back to a second phase, and eventually dropped altogether. You can read all about it here.

21. The prayer trees


In Asia, take a look at the trees. Many are draped with scarves that commemorate lost lost loved ones.

20. Blown on the breeze


Also in Asia’s Anandapur township, have a look at the various prayer flags. Several types have been used, including the traditional Lung ta, which are in square or rectangular shapes attached to a long string. These promote peace, compassion, strength and wisdom. The mantras written on the prayer flags are blown by the wind to spread these gifts.

19. Hidden formulae


In the loading area for Dinosaur, check out the pipes overhead. These are red, yellow and white – and each is marked with a chemical formula. Let’s investigate further: The red pipe is marked with Lycopersicon lycopericum (a misspelling of Lycopersicon lycopersicum – better known as the common tomato), C6H12O6 (the formula for a number of sugars), CH3COOH (acetic acid or vinegar), C6H12O6 (another sugar), NaCl (sodium chloride, or salt) and Allium cepa (the common onion). What do these ingredients make up? That’s right – tomato ketchup. The yellow pipe is marked with CH3COOH (vinegar), H2O (water), Brassica juncea (a species of mustard plant), NaCl (salt), Curcuma longa (turmeric) and Allium sativum (garlic). Yep, it’s mustard. The white pipe is marked with Glycine soja (wild soybean), Ovae (a reference to egg yolks), CH3COOH (vinegar), H2O (water), NaCl (salt), C6H12O6 (sugar) and Citrus limon (lemon). It’s mayonnaise!

18. The drink server


Take a look at the Drinkwallah outlet in Asia. The term refers to a seller or deliverer of drinks, and the snack location serves up drinks, chips and fruit. Inside, you’ll find authentic items such as bottles of coke imported from south-east Asia and posters of local celebrities. A hood is stamped with “Anandapur Sheet Metal Co.”, and a bulletin board features notes from hikers and climbers en route to Serka Zong (the village that hosts Expedition Everest). Outside, you’ll find a delivery bicycle, a sign that marks the Drinkwallah’s private residence and two boats docked for his use.

17. It’s tough…

It's Tough to be a Bug!

Image: Loren Javier, Flickr

When the announcer on It’s Tough to be a Bugsays “will all honorary bugs remain seated while all the lice, bed bugs, maggots and cockroaches exit first,” look at the exit signs on the left. You’ll see firefly-style creatures lighting up the signs as they depart.

16. Mr Panika’s office


As you pass through the intricately-detailed Mr Paniki’s office in the Kali River Rapids queue line, look out for a host of old appliances such as a telephone, typewriter, answering machine and cameras. Listen out for a radio announcement as you pass through.

15. Authentic memorabilia


The queue line for Expedition Everest is intricately detailed – so detailed, in fact, that it probably deserves its own “hidden secrets” article. Many of the items in the queue are authentic, with climbing gear being taken from the base of Mount Everest and computers and ladders being purchased from Nepalese stores.

14. The Disco Yeti

Disco Yeti

Image © Disney

It’s not a secret to Disney experts, but some guests will be unaware that the Yeti animatronic that is sighted on Expedition Everest was originally much more advanced in his movements. A few months after the ride opened, the concrete foundation on which the Yeti stands cracked, and his full range of movements was put to an end. Instead, a disco-style strobe light now flashes behind him to give the impression that he is moving.

13. An extra soaking


You’re liable to get pretty drenched if you ride Kali River Rapids. You can at least share the sensation with other riders, though, by heading to the bridge over the final stretch. This causes the elephant statues to spray water on passing rafts and their occupants.

12. DiVine



It’s easy to miss DiVine, a talented street stilt walker who is totally covered in foliage and therefore blends in perfectly with the park’s dense flora. She can usually be found on the pathway between Africa and Asia.

11. The bulletin board


The bulletin board close to the dig site in The Boneyard features a host of photographs and messages. Among them is a crayon drawing of Dinoland as it was in 1998, when the park first opened (notice that Dinosaur is labelled by its old name, Countdown to Extinction).

10. A cousin of the T-Rex


Image: Nobu Tamura

Surprisingly, the Tyrannosaurus Rex does not feature in Dinosaur. However, one of its relatives, Alioramus, can be seen feeding on a lizard.

9. An unusual hybrid


Image © Disney

In the dig area of The Boneyard, one of the fossils resembles a cross between a triceratops, a tyrannosaurus rex and a woolly mammoth.

8. A tribute to a creator

Wildlife Express train

Image © Disney

Imagineer Bob Harpur is referenced in the Wildlife Express Train. One of the ride’s locomotives is named R. Baba Harpoor.

7. Another language

Kilimanjaro Safaris

Image © Disney

In the queue line for Kilimanjaro Safaris, the names of the animals are given in both English and Swahili.

6. Unique pagodas


The Flame Tree Barbecue features a host of pagodas to provide shade for diners. Each is themed around a different combination of predator and prey, such as anteaters and ants and owls and rabbits. Painting on the ceilings of each pagoda match the theme. Appropriately, the tables are decorated by the prey, with the chairs showing the predators.

5. Right side up



There are four dining rooms in the Pizzafari restaurant, with one being dubbed the Upside Down room. One of the animals in the mural is facing right side up – see if you can spot it.

4. Steaming along

Expedition Everest

Image © Disney

Take a close look at Expedition Everest’s trains. They are themed after aging steam-powered tea trains.

3. The Boneyard sign


Image © Disney

Have a closer look at the sign for The Boneyard. It’s a replica of a Stegosaurus’ shoulder blade.

2. A hand-made tree



The iconic Tree of Life is topped with more than 103,000 leaves, each of which was individually placed. There are more than 300 animals carved into the tree.

1. Recycling an oil rig

Tree of Life

Image © Disney

The base of the Tree of Life had to be very strong in order to withstand the hurricanes that regularly hit Florida. To provide the necessary strength, an old oil rig was installed as the base skeleton for the tree’s trunk.