Surrounded by lush greenery, colourful signs, aging murals, and fruitful shrines, Animal Kingdom’s Asia is a place like no other, offering you a beautiful glimpse at the continent within a theme park! Capturing the physical beauty of Asia’s regions and wildlife, this area has carefully created artwork, peaceful and gorgeous areas, and opportunities to learn about and glimpse the remarkable native animals around every corner. Join me as I venture back to Animal Kingdom and explore my favourite three Disney details in the Asia area!
Animal Kingdom is full of treasures, from artwork to hidden-gem cuisine; but if you are after the true treasures and focus of the park, be sure to explore the Maharajah Jungle Trek, the self-guided walking tour through the Anandapur Royal Forest. This trail weaves through thick jungle, over old footbridges, and past ancient ruins of an old palace -all home to an array of amazing wild animals, including a flying fox, over 50 species of birds, a komodo dragon, and tigers.
Everything on this trail, from the stunning faded murals, the ‘crumbling’ remains of structures and pathways, and the subtle touch of items ‘left behind’ from those who trekked this path long ago, make you believe that this Anandapur Royal Forest is a legitimate place, used decades ago by maharajah’s.
My favourite detail on this path adding to the creation of this story, and one of my favourites in Asia, is perhaps something you might not expect: the water fountain. In a place full of so many dazzling details something so ordinary might seem like an odd choice; but that is exactly why it is one of my favourite things. When creating this amazing attraction Imagineers and builders could simply have placed a water fountain along the path, and focused on more obvious details to create the trail- but instead they took the opportunity to make it a part of the story and add to the visual impression.
The fountain is surrounded by old jugs for collecting water, and a sign is pinned above stating ‘Here is Located Safe Water for Travellers’, warning that it is unsafe to drink local standing water, and is signed off by the ‘Ministry of Public Health Anandapur’.
I just love that even something as small as a water fountain isn’t overlooked as a useful detail and addition to an attraction story!
As you continue your journey through Asia and leave Anandapur, you will find yourself on the path to Serka Zong, the small village that stands in the shadow of the Forbidden Mountain. This village pays homage to its towering neighbour everywhere you look, but it’s not just the mountain they revere: it’s also the legends that surround it, and its mystical -and possibly dangerous?- inhabitant: the yeti.
Serka Zong, much like the rest of the Asia area, is spectacular, filled with colourful prayer flags, brightly painted signs and kiosks, and many representations of the legendary yeti. Nothing is overlooked in this area in the way of detail to create the illusion that you are standing in a small town at the base of Mount Everest, a live town filled with real people. These touches include an old and sacred spot for the people to pay tribute to and appease the mythical being that dwells nearby, which is our next Disney detail.
As you wind your way along the path through Serka Zong you will come to a little lookout spot where, over the water, you can see the mountain looming. Just off the pathway in this area sits a very old, but still very much used, shrine to the yeti, piled with offerings of fruits and small items left by the locals. As you view the shrine, be sure to stand just right so that you can see the mountain rising directly behind it- the shape of the shrine lines up perfectly with the mountain’s peaks!
For our last favourite in Asia we will stay in the atmospheric Serka Zong; as we have determined, everything about this area lends itself to its story- let’s take a look at another of these amazing details!
As you pass the shrine to the protector of the mountain and continue on, beginning the last approach to Everest, you will end up passing by a building whose sole purpose is to add to the atmosphere of this fictional town. A brick building with tin roofing and intricate woodworking detail, it is peppered with different climbing gear hanging from and tucked into any available space, on display along with a sign declaring the shop ‘Gupta’s Gear’. Presumably this shop is a last stop for mountaineers to grab last-minute equipment before they begin their summit, something that you would catch sight of on your way to the real Mount Everest, and is a detail that really adds that subtle authentic ‘lived-in’ feeling to this Disney-created town; you really expect to see locals around every corner!
I hope you enjoyed our trip around Animal Kingdom’s Asia; this area is just full of amazing theming, beautiful touches, and stunning wildlife! As always, don’t forget to comment with your favourite Disney details!