A Visit to Disney's Animal Kingdom

An Unreal Tree

Tree of Life at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

As part of our June 2018 Florida visit, we spent a day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World. And not just part of a day. We spent the whooooole day there. Almost. And we did not run out of things to see.

We got there before opening time, and we were inside the entrance to the park just after 8:30 AM. As it turns out, it was an Extra Magic Hours days for Disney Hotel Guests, but we did not fall into that category, so we had to wait for them to let us common folks in. They took pity on us, however, and dropped the rope around 8:50 instead of waiting all the way to 9:00. Those masses of us who were herded like cattle were quite happy by the extra 10 minutes.

We had set up our Fastpass selections a few days earlier. Unfortunately, we were not able to get Fastpasses for the new attractions in Pandora: The World of Avatar, so that was where we headed first. And apparently, that was where everyone else headed first, too. In fact, while we were in the cattle herd, I overheard (in the herd) several people saying, “Which way do we go to get to Avatar when we get in?” Even though I knew which way to go, I knew that we could just follow the herd. Or just jump up and be carried by the flow of people. But I didn’t try that. And I don’t recommend that you try it, either.

You might be happy to know that we did get to ride the Na’i River Journey with only a wait of around 15 minutes or so. But the wait time for Flight of Passage was already well over an hour by that point, so we skipped it. It will be there whenever we make it back.

We did get to do just about everything else there was to do in Animal Kingdom while we were there. We even did some of the things twice, just for good measure. And after bearing through some pretty intense heat in the afternoon, we were cooled off by a rain shower in the late afternoon hours. It was a welcome relief, even if we did stand under a canopy for an extended time while waiting for it to pass.

We did not stay quite until Animal Kingdom closed, but we were there after 9:00 PM. That is the latest we have ever stayed at Animal Kingdom, because it always closed much earlier than that on our previous visits.

For many years after Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened, some people complained that there was not enough to do for a full day in the park. We never had any trouble filling up our days there. But then, we are the kind of people that like to take some time to look at all of the animals in addition to riding all of the rides. Those who are just there for the thrill rides might be a little disappointed. But now there is even more to do with the new Pandora additions, and that whole area of the park looks great, too.

Watch for more photos and stories from our trip in the June 2018 Florida Trip category.

Slow Down

I really think that people need to slow down sometimes. That is especially evident when you visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom, or any of the other Disney parks. People have their day all planned out as if they are going to war. Everything is calculated in advance. Maps are drawn up with the quickest possible routes from here to there. A few minutes might be set aside for meals. Just don’t think of doing anything that isn’t in the plan!

Yes, we contribute to that somewhat as well. We knew we had to get there early if we wanted to have a chance to ride either of the Pandora attractions. We knew that we should probably have Fastpasses to make sure we got to do some of the other things. But otherwise, we did not have a plan. And we got to do plenty of fun things.

Sometimes our lives get like that, too. We have all of these things that we think that we have to do. Society tells us we have to see this movie, or watch this television show, or go to this event, or have our kids play five sports, or whatever else there might be. But actually, so many times our lives would be better if we did not try to do it all. 

I am not saying just sit at home and don’t do anything. Rather, do what you want to do because you want to do it. Not because you might be missing out if you aren’t doing what everyone else is doing. If it is worth doing, you will eventually have your chance when it fits in with whatever else you want to do.

Don’t go all out all of the time just to try to keep up with everyone else. Just do what works best for you.

Take some time to slow down and enjoy life, or it might be over before you know it.

Bible Verse

Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word cheers it up. - Proverbs 12:25

About the Photo

One of the great things about Disney’s Animal Kingdom is all of the great wide vistas that were created around the park. Having the Tree of Life sit on Discovery Island in the middle of the park gives everyone so many opportunities to see it as they roam throughout the area. 

We found the view in this photo late in the afternoon, after the day’s rain shower had ended. And I realized that throughout the day we had not taken much time to slow down and enjoy the view. So I was thankful for this photo opportunity and reminder.

This photo was taken with the 25mm prime lens, because that is what I had on the camera at the moment. Even though it was not a wide-angle lens, I was back far enough from the Tree of Life to get the entire structure in the frame, along with some of the river water in the foreground.

The final photo uses two different exposures from the original Raw file, one for the clouds and another for the rest of the photo. Blended together, they create an extremely beautiful view, I think. Finishing touches were applied in Photoshop.

Here is a before-and-after view of the photo. As you can see from the “before” side on the left, the sky was quite washed out and boring. But blending in the darker exposure brought out the clouds and gave this photo what it needed to stand out.

Tree of Life at Disney’s Animal Kingdom - before and after processing

Photo: A single Raw exposure, processed in Photoshop. Read more about photography tips, photo software, camera gear, and more at Steve’s Photography Tips.
Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M10
Lens: Olympus M.Zukio 25mm f1.8
Date: June 13, 2018
Location: Disney’s Animal KingdomWalt Disney WorldFlorida

World Bible School

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Burnsland is Steve Burns, with generous help from his lovely wife Laura. Steve is a husband, father, photographer, webmaster, writer, podcaster, artist, Christian. Steve enjoys sharing his photography, art, and stories through Burnsland.com, from the Burnsland World Headquarters in Tennessee.