The Traveling Gals at Opening Night of Disney’s Animal Kingdom After Dark
When we booked our Memorial Day weekend at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge last year, we had no idea how much extra magic we were in for! All three of us gals arrived just in time for opening night of Disney’s Animal Kingdom AFTER DARK! In the first phase of the massive expansion happening at Animal Kingdom, the park is now open until 11 p.m. with a spectacular nighttime transformation. It is always so exciting to see everything you have read about come alive Disney style!
Our first stop was the evening safari on Kilimanjaro Safaris. We were able to get Fastpasses so our wait time was only about 5 minutes. We had a very entertaining safari guide so the trek started out just right. Being on the savannah in the dark is such a different experience than during the day. It was not quite dark when we arrived, but just after sunset so there was a beautiful, dusky glow. Disney added very unobtrusive lighting that allowed for great viewing. The animals were so incredibly active after sunset. It was like an entirely different safari than the daytime (which we also love!). Some of the hippos were out of the water walking around, the baby rhino was actually running with its mother. The cheetahs were awake and alert, the lion and lionesses were wide awake and actually walking around! It was such a thrilling sight. For us gals who go on the safari regularly, this was almost like going on a new safari encounter all together.
After the safari, we did not have a plan except to wander and enjoy the park at night but we were in for another treat! The Jungle Book: Alive with Magic had a surprise opening one day earlier than the official start date and we were able to walk in and see the very first performance! The new outdoor theater is magnificent. We felt like we were sitting right smack dab in the middle of southeast Asia. Fellow travelers will really appreciate the attention to detail and the ability to capture the overall “feel”. The 20 minute show had wonderful music and the Jungle Book felt perfect in the Asian land of the Animal Kingdom. The performance was a little difficult to see due to the positioning of the floating stages on the water and the wonderful performers who lined the aisles were very difficult to see because of the low lighting. All in all, we had a great time and it is worth experiencing, but we cannot wait for Rivers of Light!
As if all this wasn’t enough, the Tree of Life was magnificently lighted, highlighting the animals in a way that made them seem to come alive visible from all directions. When approaching the exit to the park, there are 5 different 4 minute shows randomly throughout the night projected on the Tree of Life. There is no schedule and no particular order of these shows that are announced by the blowing of a horn that sounds like a digeridoo! The show and the music is expressive and visually stunning in the way that Disney does best.
To cap off our fantastic evening, we returned to our temporary home at the Animal Kingdom Lodge to several giraffes hanging out on the Savannah outside our room. We forgot we were in Florida and momentarily thought we were on our dream safari adventure in South Africa!