There’s no I in team. There’s no I in ‘theme park’ or ‘land’ either so here we are again talking about how individual lands mesh into an overall theme park with another Land Exit Survey. The intros get worse but the posts keep on coming! All theme parks are made up of sub-sections, generally called lands. Since you’re reading a theme parks blog then I’m guessing you probably know that. Many of these lands are spectacular, some are far from it. In this series, we’re going to take individual lands one post at a time and answer some questions about them.
While this isn’t quite the deep dive into lands that we’ve done before, I’ll provide the bare bones information about the area as well as my overall opinion. We’ll also use these posts to talk about theme both throughout the land and within the park. Throughout the series, all of the posts will use the same questions. Let us know in the comments if there are questions that we should add!
So far we’ve covered DisneySea’s Mysterious Island, Hollywood Studios’ Toy Story Land and DCA’s Grizzly Peak. Today we head back over to Walt Disney World to talk about Animal Kingdom’s Asia. We’ve also decided to add another voice to these exit surveys (since you’re probably tired of just Andrew) so Michaela is going to chime in with her answers to the applicable questions, as well! Welcome Michaela, use as many exclamation points as you’d like and please provide us with some further insight. Let’s get to it!
What is your short(ish) review of Animal Kingdom’s Asia?
Andrew: Animal Kingdom’s Asia is diverse both in offerings and aesthetic. It can be a traditional theme park land with a weenie (in this case, Everest) at the end of the land and everything else leads up to it. The land works excellently like that but if you turn a corner here or there, the story deepens and the architecture is all the more beautiful. It’s a gorgeous land that sums up Animal Kingdom well.
Michaela: I don’t often spend a lot of time in Asia other than booking it to Expedition Everest multiple times in a park day. The tall mountain peak is the only thing I see on my way in. Given my obsession with the land’s best attraction, I feel as though some of the detail and other attractions the land has to offer are often missed by my eyes. With that said, I absolutely love Everest, thus I love Asia.
What’s in the land?
Asia has a large footprint and takes a few twists and turns that are unexpected. This is what’s inside:
- Expedition Everest – One of the best attractions and roller coasters at Walt Disney World. Everest rises above Animal Kingdom’s skyline and is the second icon of the park.
- Kali River Rapids – A river raft ride that digs deep into conservation themes after a beautiful queue.
- Maharajah Jungle Trek – This is like a zoo walking path with animal exhibits except it’s full of beautiful architecture and art. Maharajah Jungle Trek is one of the most underrated parts of WDW.
- Up! A Great Bird Adventure – A fun and informative bird show that now has some Up connections that feel forced.
- Yak & Yeti Restaurant – A table-service restaurant serving mostly Asian fare that rests at the base of Everest and pays homage to the monster inside.
- Yak & Yeti Local Foods Cafe – The quick-service partner to the table-service restaurant that has some pretty outdoor seating and serves decent Asian food.
- Snack Stands – There’s a number of stands throughout the land serving food. These include Royal Anandapur Tea Company (tea and other drinks), Anandapur Ice Cream Truck (ice cream), Drinkwallah (drinks), and Thirsty River Bar & Trek Snacks (alcoholic drinks and select snacks).
- Mandala Gifts – A small kiosk mainly selling clothes.
- Serka Zong Bazaar – The gift shop connected to Expedition Everest has some attraction specific merchandise and some cool theming.
- Yak & Yeti Bhaktapur Market – Located near the restaurant of the same name, the market sells Asian inspired clothing.
There’s also a fantastic gibbons exhibit in the middle of the land. Rivers of Light, Animal Kingdom’s nighttime show, also takes place in Asia but has likely ended.
What is Asia’s backstory and theme?
Like its neighboring land Africa, Asia succeeds within a fictional village that makes up a lived in environment. As guests enter Asia, they are entering into the kingdom of Anandapur. This kingdom once lived in harmony with nature but along the way was turned into hunting grounds. In the time since the evil ruler Bhima passed away, the village has set out to once again be in harmony with nature. This story is especially told out in Maharajah Jungle Trek.
Neighboring Anandapur is the village Serka Zong. This little town sits in the shadow of the Himalayas (Expedition Everest) and is a gateway to hikers. The Royal Anandapur Tea Company once used trains to ship tea through the mountain pass but the trains disturbed the Yeti and those trade routes were closed. That is until a tourist company called Himalayan Escapes decided to use that rail line again for voyages up the forbidden mountain.
This is quite a backstory and there are details that even I haven’t caught on to yet. But doing all of this while keeping a sense of realism and through the Asian architecture is one an incredible feat by Imagineering.
What is your favorite part of the land? What’s the most memorable aspect of it?
Andrew: It’s pretty hard to pick against Expedition Everest in either of these categories. The imposing threat of the mountain and cascading down it is definitely the most memorable aspect of the land. As far as my favorite part, I’ll go with something else just to be original. My love for Maharajah Jungle Trek knows no end as it’s one of the prettiest areas in any theme park anywhere. The animal exhibits are great and the artwork is stunning. Shoutout to the strands of lights in the land. It’s a lovely place to be at night.
Michaela: I’m going to echo Andrew here with Expedition Everest. While I wish the Yeti still moved within the mountain, I would argue that this is the best roller coaster Walt Disney World has to offer. I also find myself staring at the Anandapur Ice Cream Truck whenever I walk by. The truck is covered in wonderful illustrations of animals, and the detail on the vehicle is astounding. I’m not sure I’ve ever stopped there for ice cream, but that hasn’t stopped me from thoroughly enjoying the truck’s aesthetic.
Are there parts of the land you don’t like?
Andrew: I can’t say I’m a big fan of Kali River Rapids. I’m all for attractions having a deep message and the story of conservation goes throughout the park. Unfortunately, it misses the mark here and brings the whole attraction down with it. Kali isn’t a terrible ride or anything, it just could be so much better.
Michaela: I feel a bit like a broken record, but Andrew is right. The queue of Kali River Rapids is detailed and causes anticipation for the attraction, but there is no payoff. On the actual rapids, there is very little themeing. You’re simply rushing through a jungle. It wouldn’t be hard to spruce up the experience with a few set pieces or animal animatronics. Grizzly River Run is by far a better raft ride, with more themeing in the ride, and a bigger drop.
How does Asia coincide and transition with the rest of the park? Does it make the overall park better or worse?
Andrew: The progressions from Africa to Asia in Animal Kingdom is one of the smoothest and best in all of Walt Disney World. That walkway is beautiful and integral to the park. While I’m no fan of DinoLand, that transition isn’t all that bad either. I like the bridge that leads to Everest and Chester & Hester’s is far enough away so there isn’t a jump right into chaos. Asia makes Animal Kingdom better, without a doubt.
Michaela: Asia is one of the lands in Animal Kingdom that showcases what the entire park is about; transporting guests to distant parts of the world with culture and the environment as their centerpiece. Each attraction in Asia centers on either a cultural aspect of Asia, or animals that inhabit the continent. Without a doubt, Animal Kingdom would be worse without this land.
Where would you rank the land in relation to the others in the park?
Andrew: Man, this one is hard. Animal Kingdom boasts some really beautiful lands that are all unique. There are only five lands to choose from and I like them all, save for DinoLand. While I reserve the right to change my mind, I’d put Asia in second right now just behind Africa. I think they could be flipped but I like the entertainment in Africa more.
Michaela: Asia is definitely my favorite land in Animal Kingdom, but perhaps only because it houses one of my favorite rides in the entirety of Walt Disney World. If you had to lock me in one area of Animal Kingdom for a week it would be right in front of that formidable mountain.
What do you think of Animal Kingdom’s Asia? Do you like our Land Exit Surveys? Would you add anything? Let us know, along with any questions you might have, in the comments below. Interested in a trip to Walt Disney World? Check out our Planning Guide to help you along the way! If you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney please share this post with your friends, as well as like our social media pages. You can also subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email. All of those links are on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!