Tree of Life

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.



Walking across the bridge that goes over the Kali River Rapids. Does not activate the two pink elephants that squirt water at the riders. There are actually two buttons on the bridge. One for each pink elephant. When someone pushes the button the pink elephant that the button is connected to then squirts water at the riders. Best of all it cost nothing to push the button.It is also fun catching some unsuspecting riders off guard thinking they are safe. Then all of a sudden they get squirted by the pink elephant.

The showers near Dawa Bar no longer exist as they were taken down during the recent renovation/construction of the bar and the new Festival of the Lion King Theater area.

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