Trekking through the Jungle
Amongst many Disney park enthusiats, one of the things often preached is to “take your time” and enjoy your surroundings. Unlike most amusement parks, everything has a back story, a reason to be there, and worth stopping to look at. That is the beauty of Disney parks and what makes them greater than any other amusement park in the world.
One of the challenges that has faced Disney park enthusiasts, and even Disney personnel themselves, is keeping people at Disney’s newest park at the Florida resort, Disney’s Animal Kingdom. When initially debuting, it was difficult to get the message across that this was not a zoo, with Disney using the “Nahtazoo” campaign, which initially helped, however keeping people at the park for more than just a few hours as a pit stop on their way to the Magic Kingdom became another challenge.
When building Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Imagineering added tons of theming and back stories to the different lands that circle the Tree of Life. One of the most rich in detail, possibly because it was the first new addition, was the Asia area of the park. Like Africa’s Harambe village theme, the Asia area theme revolves around a made up small village with tons of history, Anandapur. When this area opened to the public, it’s major attraction was Kali River Rapids, a fast water rapids ride through dense jungles, but off in the back of the village of Anandapur is the Maharajah Jungle Trek.
Maharajah Jungle Trek is greatly themed, maybe a little too themed, as it may be flying over some guests’ heads. Never-the-less, the breath taking walk through this area of jungle and animal habitats is worth taking the time to see and slowing down to take in the surroundings.
The backstory is very elaborate, but if you look at the details throughout the trail, it all makes sense to what you see. As (made up) history would have it, this trail was created by a wealthy Indian Maharajah who loved to hunt and kept animals within the perimeters of the trail to make hunting easier. As time passed, other Maharajahs turned the hunting trail into an animal preserve, and the villagers of Anandapur took care of the animals amongst the trail. As in true Indian history, the British came to the area. The British took over the Jungle trail and named it, hence the actual sign out front in English while most everything else in Anandapur is in an Eastern language.
To keep the backstory alive in this area, there are several paintings of the original Maharajah hunting as well as the other Maharajahs that helped turn this area into a preserve amongst the walls that surround the walking trail. Even the tomb of the original Maharajah is amongst the ruins as you walk by.
What most guests do get out of the theming on the Maharajah Jungle trek is they are somewhere in Western Asia walking through a zoo like atmosphere, seeing animals that would inhabit this area on the world. Amongst the animals here are a komodo dragon, fruit bats, flying foxes, blood pythons, and of course, the Bengal tiger.
The trek has several stops along the way to check out these animals from different view points. The crown jewel from the Jungle Trek are the Bengal tigers, with a giant area dedicated to these beasts and cast members explaining several facts on how the tigers live. On my last trip through the Maharajah Jungle trek, I spent 15 minutes talking with a cast member about the tigers, how they live, how similar they are to other cats, etc…, and these cast members are trained and very knowledgeable about the tigers, and the ones amongst the exhibits specifically. All of the have names, back stories, ties to Asia, and so much more to hear about.
Most come to visit the tigers in this area, as there are paintings of Bengal tigers everywhere leading up to the Treks finale, however, most people are surprised, maybe a little scared and excited to come close to the Rodrigues fruit bats. These creatures are non-threatening to humans so it is easy to be up close and personal with them, especially with a cast member by your side “keeping you safe” as most nervous people might think. The bats are fed several times a day, keeping them active during park hours for guests to see. They are very large and there is nothing but a ledge with windows that you can reach through keeping you from interacting with them even more.
There are several other animals among the trek and this attraction can easily take up 30 minutes if guests take the time to stop, check out the ruins, paintings, animals, and talk a bit with the cast members. An educational walk with some exciting animals is always great for children and adults alike, and you may be surprised how close you can really get to these magnificent creatures along the Maharajah Jungle Trek. Next time you are at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, make sure to add this attraction to your must-do list as it may surprise you how wonderful it can be.
Have you been along the Maharajah Jungle Trek? What are your thoughts on it? Do you prefer it over Africa’s Pangori Forest Trail? If anything what would you add to it? Let me know your thoughts.
Posted on February 2, 2012, in Articles and tagged Anandapur, Bengal Tigers, Disney Imagineering, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Fruit Bats, Komodo Dragon, Maharajah Jungle Trek, Walt Disney World. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.