FamilyFun - - EXPLORE -

Un­til re­cently, An­i­mal King­dom shut its doors as soon as the din­ner bell rang, mak­ing it a big pay­out for a sin­gle-day ticket that ba­si­cally ex­pired at 6 p.m. But with the spring 2017 un­veil­ing of Pan­dora, the World of Avatar, and new ex­tended sa­fari hours, AK is now the place to be at night.


Pan­dora’s counter-ser­vice Satu’li Can­teen of­fers space-age food such as steamed “pods” (bao buns stuffed with cheese­burger meat or veg­etable curry) and cool views of the glow­ing, float­ing moun­tains from the out­door pa­tio seat­ing. Par­ents also won’t want to miss the drinks that glow in the dark (from a mag­i­cal Unadelta Seed) at the Pongu Pongu stand.


With the sun down, the Pan­dora sec­tion of the park com­pletely trans­forms; bi­o­lu­mi­nes­cence makes the ground glow with ev­ery foot­step, trees light up as you touch their trunks, and the kids shine too, with the help of black lights if they’re dressed in white or pale col­ors. Both of the area’s new rides run at night: The Na’vi River Jour­ney is a boat ride filled with six-footed an­i­mals, ac­com­pa­nied by melo­di­ous tunes from the Shaman of Songs; for big­ger thrills, the Avatar Flight of Pas­sage flies you over the moon on the back of a myth­i­cal Ban­shee.

All ages will also en­joy an evening Kil­i­man­jaro Sa­fari. An­i­mal-spot­ting takes on added drama as you ride through the sa­vanna at night, when you can wit­ness the noc­tur­nal habits of the re­serve’s many an­i­mals, in­clud­ing wild dogs, lions, and hye­nas. And big kids will want to charge down the thrilling Ex­pe­di­tion Ever­est coaster with a dark sky up above.


An­i­mal King­dom starts rolling out spe­cial en­ter­tain­ment as soon as 5 p.m. hits, like the Harambe Wildlife Parti, a fes­ti­val of street per­form­ers. Then head over to­ward the park en­trance to see the Tree of Life Awak­en­ings, where the 145-foot baobob-tree replica be­comes a wildlife the­ater as pro­jected an­i­mals seem to emerge from the twisted trunk and branches and leap out into the sky. In the Rivers of Light show, larger-than-life float­ing origami an­i­mals, el­e­gant junk boats, and mist-spray­ing lo­tus flow­ers com­bine in a spec­ta­cle that feels like a Broad­way show. Watch as im­ages grow and glow from the mist (a trick of high-tech lasers you won’t see any­where else). Keep an eye on the Asian pup­petry and cos­tumed ac­tors on the shores too.

Pan­dora’s The Na’vi River Jour­ney is dark but not too scary.

The icon of the park sits qui­etly dur­ing the day but wakes af­ter dark with pro­jected im­ages.

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