At Disney's Animal Kingdom, of course, the focus of the park would be on animals. (I mean, it's in the name, right?) There are lots of places where you can take in some of the animal exhibits. You can take the train ride back to Rafiki's Planet Watch and see surgery happen, or you can see animals in a naturalistic habitat on Kilimanjaro Safaris, but did you know there are actually two really great self-guided trails with which you can explore and learn about some of Earth's marvelous creatures...the Pangani Forest and the Maharajah Jungle Trek.
My favorite of these two is the Maharajah Jungle Trek because I think it allows you to get the chance to experience more exotic animals. Though, of course, with the exotic label also comes the "some people are scared" label. (More on that later.) The trek, which is located in the Asia section of the park includes lots of animals, however there are three major ones that guests mostly think of. (I think anyway.)
When you enter the pathway to go down the Maharajah Jungle Trek, you will immediately be enveloped by trees and plants that help set the mood. You are actually on a jungle trek.
You will quickly come upon your first animal along the trail, which is the Komodo Dragon. You may need to search, but you will usually find the Komodo Dragon on the rocks or sunning. (Though sometimes they can be hiding in the shade.)
You will then cross over a a bridge towards the second section, and the one that people are likely terrified of, the bats. These are harmless fruit bats, but if you truly are scared, never fear! You don't have to bypass this attraction completely. Instead, you can just bypass the bat section without so much as seeing them.
For those brave enough to enter the "bat house", you will enter via a door which allows you to get much closer to the bats. The area also features some learning exhibits. The bats can be seen hanging on a line, upside down. They are actually quite large but are extremely cute! (Yep, I said bats and cute in the same sentence.) Most of the time they will be sleeping, but if you catch them awake, make sure you marvel at their huge wing-span. Disney claims on the walls that they look like winged foxes, and I think they are right.
Next, (or if you decided to bypass the bats) you'll come upon the most popular section of the Maharajah Jungle Trek, the tigers. To me, the tiger section is also the most beautiful section of the attraction. There are paintings and "ruins" all around. The Disney Detail just astounds.
The tigers are just like my house cats....lazy. You will most often catch them sleeping. However, occasionally you may see them playing. If you catch them awake, you truly see what beautiful animals they are.
Further along the trail though you will end up seeing deer grazing, or a Banteng. The attraction ends with a bird exhibit, where guests can grab a guide and go bird watching. Make sure to look up and down, as you never know where you'll find birds. For those who enjoy bird watching, I don't think you can get any better than doing it here.
Throughout the exhibit, you'll find Cast Members stationed everywhere. If you have any questions about any of the animals you see, make sure you ask them. They are full of information and would be more than happy to help educate you on the animals of the trek.
Overall, the Maharajah Jungle Trek really is a wonderful zoological exhibit, featuring lots of different animals and incredible theming. The thing I like about this trek is that I think it (better than the Pangani) transports you to the story this attraction is trying to tell. (For the full story on that, check out this post from Jambo Everyone. Really, for more details about Disney's Animal Kingdom, check out their site.)
I do wish that there were a few more exotic animals that could be found along the pathway, but as it is now, there's still plenty to experience.
If you enjoy learning about and seeing unique animals that aren't going to be necessarily found at your local zoo, this is the trek for you.
What are your thoughts? Do you enjoy the Maharajah Jungle Trek? Think Pangani is better? Let me know your thoughts about this attraction in the comments section or on the Facebook page.
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