By Lisa Green
A visit to Animal Kingdom just wouldn’t be complete for me without a walk along both of the two fantastic animal trails there. These trails boast a wide array of exhibits that allow guests unforgettable opportunities for some close-up animal viewing in gorgeous, highly detailed settings. The trail in Animal Kingdom’s Africa section is the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail. The trail in Asia is called the Maharajah Jungle Trek – that’s the one I want to talk about today.
The trail’s backstory sets the mood and an impressive (spectacular, unbelievable, insert favorite-adjective-of-wonder here) number of amazing Disney details make a visit to the Maharajah’s jungle into a mysterious, magical experience. As I tend to like to do, allow me to give you…
Five Great Things about the Maharajah Jungle Trek
From the Walt Disney World web site, “Venture into the mystical Anandapur Royal Forest, a tropical paradise of trees, ruins and wild animals. Legend has it the area was at one time the hunting ground of wealthy maharajahs; today, it exists as a preserve that you can explore.”
1. Komodo Dragon – Yep, a giant lizard! What else do you need? Seeing this guy is like looking at a living dinosaur and Komodo Dragons are the largest living lizards on earth. As he sits there with his tongue darting in and out to “smell” the air while basking in the sun, it’s incredible to think about the fact that Komodo Dragons are venomous and capable of taking down large prey. An adult Komodo Dragon can consume up to 80% of its own body weight in a single meal! Go here for some other cool Komodo Dragon fun facts.
2. Rodrigues Fruit Bats and Malayan Flying Foxes – The way this section of the trail is designed is genius! The bats are on display (sleepily hanging around) in a wide-open viewing area – which makes it seem as if there is absolutely nothing separating you from the bats! Those Flying Foxes are enormous and so cool! (Read all about them here.) I like to imagine what it would be like if the sun set and they got to go free all night – Those huge bats with their leathery wings flying overhead would be quite a scary sight! Hands down, this is one of my all time favorite exhibits.
3. Asian Tigers – Usually we get here too late to see the tigers doing anything besides napping, but they’re huge and beautiful to see – even if they are asleep. Because windows are used in this area instead of bars, it seems as if you could practically reach out and pet one of these big cats! Even snoozing, they’re amazing.
4. The Aviary and Birdhouses – I never know which gets more of my attention in the aviary – the colorful and unusual birds- or the equally beautiful bird houses. Spotting guides help visitors identify a variety of different bird species and the Asian bird houses located every few feet throughout the aviary are as beautiful as the birds! If you’re afraid of birds, this probably isn’t the best place for you…especially since they’re kind of friendly and will walk right up to you sometimes when you’re not paying attention and make you jump. Not that I’d know from personal experience or anything. I’m not afraid of birds at all.
5. The Ruins – I know, weird that I’m such an animal lover and I’ve named decaying walls as one of the five best things about the Maharajah’s jungle, but it’s true. And I make it a point to be honest with you here at the Living a Disney Life blog. So….in all honesty – you won’t find a better example of the wonder and genius, the unique artestry of Disney imagineering than among the ruins of Anandapur.
Because of the location of the Maharajah Jungle Trek, this trail is almost always less crowded than the Pangani Forest trail. There are also plenty of Hidden Mickey’s to find along the way! We try to hit this trail in the morning before the day heats up too much. Our touring plan at Animal Kingdom usually starts with Expedition Everest, then Kilimanjaro Safari, then the Pangani Forest Nature Trail, and finally the Maharajah Jungle Trek.
Do you enjoy the trails at Animal Kingdom? Which is your favorite? What animals do you find the most fascinating?