Recently my wife and I took a vacation to Disneyworld. As iconic as the Disney parks are, and as much as we think we know about what we will see and do, we still left the parks wishing we had watched many different movies and shows before our trip to really help us feel that full immersion experience. Not sure what to prioritize? Don’t worry, that’s what you have me for.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about what to watch before heading to Magic Kingdom.
All caught up now? Good. Next up is Animal Kingdom, my personal favorite of the three parks we were able to visit. Grab your best safari hat and canteen, and check out these awesome movies before getting in touch with your wild side at Animal Kingdom.
The Lion King
Notice the date here, 2019. Though I am a sucker for the animated classics, I actually think the live action version fits better here. Sure, you will see the animated versions of the character costumes cruising around the park, but one of the highlights of the whole park is the safari ride, taking you right into &Disney’s own little slice of Africa amongst all the animals you would expect to see. Lions, zebras, giraffes, hyenas, hippos… The list goes on. Way cooler to see their live (okay, okay – “live” CGI) counterparts in the film to get you pumped for this part of the trip. If you do have time, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to watch the animated version of &The Lion King& as they also have an accompanying stage show, but I wouldn’t prioritize it over live action in this instance.
The Jungle Book
Done in 2016 and also the live version, The Jungle Book is one of the reasons why you head to the Asia part of the park. Although there is no direct link, watching &The Jungle Book& to get a feel for the jungle will do you right. You will see several inhabitants from the film and similar scenery& on the river rapids ride, and on the self guided Jungle Trek.
There is a fun little show directly corresponding to the film released in 2009, &Up& in the Asia section of the park. During the show you will join Russell and Dug from the film as they meet a variety of exotic birds, some of which you may recognize from the the film. Part educational experience, part Disney fun, if you plan to do this make sure you watch the movie first!
One of the surprise attractions of the entire trip, the ride corresponding with the 2000’s film Dinosaur ride &is not to be missed! Hop in your Time Rover and go back to prehistoric time during a meteor shower to bring back an Iguanodon to the present for research. It sounds ridiculous. It is. And it’s really fun. Also, there is a whole little section of the park dedicated to dinosaurs, so you need to watch the movie even if you somehow miss the ride.
A Bug’s Life
The 1998 film A Bug’s Life is crucial to watch before your trip. Taking place inside the Tree of Life centerpiece of the entire park, you are “shrunk” to bug size, navigating your way through tunnels to the center of the tree. Once you are there, you are treated to a fun little 3D and special effects show called &It’s Tough to be a Bug& featuring all your favorite characters from the movie. Flik serves as your host, and Hopper of course tries to ruin it for everyone. Some really fun moments here, but definitely worth re-watching the film to keep track of who all the “performers” are in the show.
Perhaps our favorite part of the entire Disney experience was the world of Pandora which is straight out of the 2009 film Avatar. My wife doesn’t even care for &Avatar& and even she thought it was amazing and arrived home saying “I guess I could give it another shot”. I promise you, this is the highest critical acclaim one could ask for. Interestingly enough, Disney obtained rights to create &Avatar& based theme park attractions all the way back in 2011, well before their recent acquisition of Fox properties. Funny how things work out eh? I could have done an entire article on just this part of the park. It’s that good. Floating islands above your head, being placed into your own neural link to assume an Avatar and ride a banshee, and a leisurely ride through the jungle river of Pandora for a close up glimpse of Na’vi life and culture. Just WOW. If you have time for only one movie before the trip, make it this one.
&This is it. This is the essential list of movies to watch before heading to Animal Kingdom. I Hope you find some inspiration to get in the Disney magic mood before your own vacation! Check back soon for the final list of what to watch before heading over to Epcot.