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Pangani Forest Exploration Trail


Now this is a zoo. The Pangani Forest Exploration Trail is a walk through exhibit of several animals just like a normal zoo. There are all kinds of animals along the trail. Yes, this is a walking exhibit. Some of the animals are the same as you see in locals zoos, but there are a couple of unique species that you won't see anywhere else.


Pangani Forest Exploration Trail

Pangani Forest Exploration TrailPhoto by mrkathika

The Attraction

When you enter the trail the first thing you see, oddly enough is monkeys. Colobus Monkeys are the first exhibit along the trail. These white faced creatures don't have any thumbs.


Next, you'll come to the first observation area. This is the home to the Opaki and the Yellow Backed Dulker. The Opaki are very shy. They are related to giraffes, but don't look much like them. They are chestnut brown, have black tongues, and strips on their legs, like zebras. Their partners are members of the antelope family. The Yellow Backed Dulker are the largest of the Dulker species. They are from west central Africa and can grow to 175 pounds. You'll see Cranes and Flamingos standing in this area. Shhh, these guys sleep standing up.


After you leave the observation area, you'll enter a research building where you'll see the Naked Mole Rat (no off-colored jokes, this is a family site). These hairless rodents are very curious animals. If you get close to the glass you might see them burrowing in their underground habitat. Naked Mole Rats are kinda like insects. Each colony has a queen, a breeding male, soldiers and workers.


Look up when you enter the aviary. (You'll be able to tell, it's the area with a net overhead.) Several species of rare African birds call this area home. Some of them are red-bearded barbets, Brimstone canaries and more. Don't spend too much time looking up, most of these birds spend their time on the ground.


After seeing the birds, you enter the hippo palace. Oops, I mean place. (Too many Disney movies.) The Nile Hippopotamus can be found in or around the water, behind the thick glass. (These hippos are the same as you might see in the Kilimanjaro Safari. The two attractions are back to back and the animals can wander back and forth. FACT - Hippos can be up to 5 feet tall and weigh up to 10,000 pounds. Yes, ten thousand. (Probably like feeding a teenage boy.) Lots of little fishies can be seen in the water with the hippos. Don't worry, the hippos eat grass not meat.


Once you get back on the trail, you'll come to a thatched roofed structure where you can look out over the savanna, like the Lion King, and see Timon from the movie. Timon was a Meerkat. There are several Meerkats in this area. (An interesting note - Meerkats eat scorpions. They are immune to the venom.) The other animal you'll see here is a Gunther's Dik-dik. The Dik-dik is an antelope that comes from eastern Africa. They grow to be a whopping 10 pounds or so.


The final area is home to the Gorilla Research Camp. (Start with the monkeys, end with the monkeys.) There is a family of gorillas that live here. Two females and a two males are part of the family. Sometimes babies can even be seen. That's all folks.


Along the way there are several Disney cast members who are actually research students who are around to answer any questions.


Thankfully most of Pangani Forest Exploration Trail is in the shade. It does get hot, and there's not a lot of air moving around, but the shade is welcome.


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Fun Facts

Here are some interesting tidbits -

  • There is a hidden, not Mickey, but, Jafar in a rock formation.
  • If you look real hard, you might see an outline of Scar from The Lion King.
  • The trail is less than half a mile long.
  • Hippos live up to 45 years in the wild and even longer in captivity.


This attraction first opened when Animal Kingdom opened.

  • Originally called Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail. It changed in 1998.

Dad's Ride Information Table

Pangani Forest Exploration Trail

Description: See animals as you walk down a trail
Height Requirement - none FASTPASS: no Length of Ride: 20 minutes or as long as you want
Type of ride: Walk through

Dad's Ratings

3 3 2 3 3

Other Information:

Please be Quiet

The Pangani Forest Exploration Trail is a quiet area. There's a reason for that. Some of the animals (the Gorillas especially) feel threatened by loud noises. They get agitated and will move away from the noise. They move to places where they can't be seen. If you want to see the animals you need to BE QUIET!!!


Lots more information about Pangani Forest Exploration Trail here.


Dad's Simple Fun Magic Guide to Walt Disney World Planning


Dad's Bottom Line

This is the reason to go to Animal Kingdom. Spend as much time as you want looking at the animals.

Important tip - There are no restrooms on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail. You have to walk all the way through or back through the exhibit to reach the restrooms.