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Opening Magic Kingdom

Opening Magic Kingdom

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Rafiki's Planet Watch--Disney's Animal Kingdom

An often overlooked, dare I say attraction, at Disney's Animal Kingdom is Rafiki's Planet Watch. If you look at a park map, Rafiki's Planet Watch seems to be off in a distance, if on the map at all. And, I must admit, that while we have ridden the Wildlife Express Train to/from, we had yet to explore Rafiki's Planet Watch until our last trip.

To find the entrance to the train station that takes you to/from Rafiki's Planet Watch, head to Kilimanjaro Safari. Just before the entrance to the Safari, turn right. There you will find the entrance to the path that takes you to the train station. You will find, fittingly, a conductor standing at the entrance, as shown in the photo below.

After you go down the path, the train station will be revealed. Join the queue for the train, as it will be just a few minutes. Tip: If you can maneuver to sit in the middle car of the 5-6 car train, you will be first off and down the path at the destination.
Here comes the Wildlife Express Train. For our huge train fan, this is very exciting. When you sit on the train, it is not like sitting on any other train. I won't tell you more than that, so that you can be pleasantly surprised!

The train ride lasts about 10 minutes and you ride past some of the backstage areas for the safari animals. Did you know that it takes almost three hours to round up and take care of all the animals at Animal Kingdom after the park closes?

Upon exiting the train, move through the station and turn left. You will see the iconic Rafiki welcoming you to the Planet Watch. As the path goes down and to the right, you will come to your first animal interaction and viewing. A cast member will be on hand to answer questions.

Keep journeying on the path and you will come to the entrance to Rafiki's Planet Watch. Inside you will find bathrooms just to your right and then into the atrium area with plants, waterfalls, and many displays around the area including the Conservation Station which has lots of animal specimens and a vet lab. If the vets are not working on an animal, videos will be shown of previous procedures.

Characters are also on hand. Rafiki, as shown in the photo above, and Jiminy Cricket as shown in the photo below. Pocahantas was also there.

Outside, you will find the Affection Section. This area has 3 parts. One part is for kids to actually get their hands on animals. Brushes are available. There is a hand washing station to use before exiting. Another part is a sort of outside classroom area where cast members provide mini-lessons about various animals. There was a session about turtles when we were there. The third part is a store. We found some excellent bargains at this store.

You can spend as much time as you like at Rafiki's Planet Watch. When you are ready, just head back down the path to the train station and catch the next Wildlife Express Train heading back to the main park.

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