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The 10 Best Places at Walt Disney World to Visit if You Love Animals

8. Animal Kingdom Lodge

Animal Kingdom Lodge giraffe

Image: Sam Stockton, Flickr (license)

We would be absolutely remiss if we didn’t mention one of Disney’s most charming refuges for both animals and animal-lovers—Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Truly, Disney knocked it out of the park with this spectacular resort. A short walk from the entrance to the other side of the lobby is all it takes to get a view of the resort’s resident giraffes, ostriches, cranes, impalas, and more… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

The resort is home to four distinct savannahs throughout the resort. Savannah view rooms are the best way to see the animals, but you can also get some great views from the Sanaa restaurant, the resort walkways, and various locations throughout the second story. Whether you’re staying at the Lodge or just visiting for snacks at Mara, take your time at Animal Kingdom Lodge, and you never know what you’ll see!

9. Behind the scenes tours at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Epcot

Baby mandrill with mama at Kilimanjaro Safari

Image: Disney

We already mentioned the “Dolphins in Depth” behind the scenes tour, but it isn’t the only way to get up, close, and personal with Disney’s resident wildlife. Disney offers a number of upcharge experiences where guests can experience Disney’s Animal Kingdom and the Seas in behind the scenes tours.

The Seas offers an Aqua Tour snorkeling experience where guests get in the water in The Seas’ massive Caribbean Coral Reef. For Scuba-certified guests, they also offer the Dive Quest program, a three-hour experience where guests can spend 40 minutes diving amongst the wildlife.

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, guests can learn more about how the park cares for their biggest residents in Caring for Giants. Guests looking for an intimate evening experience can partake in the extensive Savor the Savannah dining experience, and visitors looking for a closer look at the Savannah’s residents will love the Wild Africa Trek and night-vision aided Starlight Safari.

10. The Disney Wilderness Preserve

red crowned crane at Disney Wilderness Preserve

Image: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Flickr (license)

This one is one of Disney’s best kept secrets, and the reason most guests never see it is that it technically is no longer on Disney property.

The Disney Wilderness Preserve, managed by the Nature Conservancy, is 11,500 acres of protected Florida wetlands set aside by the Walt Disney Company for nature conservation. Originally, the company had lands on the Walt Disney World property that were protected for this purpose—guests could even visit them on tours with The Disney Institute—but over the course of the last decade, Disney’s continue growth has bled over into these areas. To ensure the company’s commitment to conservation, they purchased this expansive stretch of wetlands which has continued to increase over the years.

The Preserve is located about a 40-minute drive from Walt Disney World, but if you have the means to visit, it is well-worth the effort. It is truly one of the most peaceful places anywhere in the vicinity of the Kissimmee and is home to over 1000 different species of plants and animals, including a wide range of Florida cranes, eagles, woodpeckers, tortoises, bats, fox squirrels, and even Florida panthers. Visitors can tour by car or hike extensive trails (be sure and follow the preserve’s guidelines for hikers and come well prepared with plenty of water and good shoes). If you love nature and have the means to sneak away from Walt Disney World proper, you won’t want to miss this hidden gem.

What is your favorite place in Walt Disney World to see animals?

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