The Animal Kingdom park at Walt Disney World is the largest man-made wildlife park anywhere in the world. It is also the world’s largest theme park by area and is home to some of the best wildlife care facilities on the planet. This sprawling facility is dominated by two immense reserve areas featuring animals from Africa and Asia. The Animal Kingdom is the most visited zoo and seventh most visited theme park in the world.
Walt Disney World began as a dream by world-famous entertainment mogul Walt Disney in 1959, and came to fruition in 1971 with the opening of its first park, the Magic Kingdom. After expanding into two other theme parks, WDW added a fourth, the Animal Kingdom, in 1998. As a Disney park, the Animal Kingdom became an overnight success, and within a year was the world’s most popular zoo in terms of visitors. Along with Busch Gardens in nearby Tampa, it is considered one of the two best combination theme park-zoos anywhere.
The Animal Kingdom is broken out into six themed areas, four of which showcase odds and ends wildlife from around the world. The premier areas are Asia and Africa. The Asia section is a recreation of a large wilderness area that might be found in Northern India. Most wildlife is observed along a jungle trail, the highlight of which is the immense tiger exhibit and large family of Bengal Tigers. The Africa section is home to a huge recreation of the savannah of Kenya, requiring a half-hour long off-road safari. There is also an extensive consveration exhibit geared towards younger children.
The Animal Kingdom park is located close to the center of Walt Disney World, approximately fifteen miles southwest of Orlando. It is open year-round. Hours vary both daily and seasonally. The cost of admission is $95.00 (much less expensive as part of a combo ticket). Web: http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/destinations/animal-kingdom (official website).