10 Things I Miss About Disney’s Animal Kingdom

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I loved my work costume!

After working merchandise at Discovery Island for almost a year, DAK became my home away from home.  I miss it – and my fellow cast members – every day!

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August 2015:  Ice cream break with my DAK coworkers!

It was super fun to be able to come back as work as an alumni in the Summer of 2015!

I really loved working at DAK, especially the hours.  No working until 2am like at the Magic Kingdom!  Nope, those animals have to go the bed! In the winter months, I would get off work by 7pm.

Below is a list of the things that I miss the most about DAK. (I’ve added links to some of my earlier DAK blogs, if you’d like to see some photos.)


DAK’s Tree of Life

1. The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life dominated my time at DAK.  It was the first thing that I saw walking into work and many nights, the last thing that I saw as I was leaving the Park.  If they shut off the lights to the Tree and I was still stocking merchandise for the morning crew, it was getting late!

At 145 ft., this 14 story artificial tree has the images of more than 300 animals hand-carved into its trunk.  Every time I looked at it, I saw a new animal hidden in the carvings.


2. Animal Kingdom Lodge

I got to stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge twice during my time at the DCP internship.  Both times, I had views of the savannah in front of the Lodge and got to see the animals being fed in the morning.  The Lodge itself is beautiful, especially decorated at Christmastime.


3. The Attractions

You want to ride a roller coaster?  Expedition Everest is for you!

You’re hot and want to get wet to cool off?  Kali River Rapids is just the thing!

You want to be scared on a ride?  Take a seat on Dinosaur and be prepared to get scared!

You want a ‘midway’ amusement park experience with games and fun rides?  DinoLand is just the place!

4. The Animals

Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s 500 acres are home to some 1700 animals representing 250 different species throughout the Park. All of them are extremely well cared for and live in interesting habitats.  I should know – I did a backstage tour a few months ago.

5. The Characters

DAK has Park-exclusive characters that can only be seen at DAK.  Russell and Dug can be seen near the Tree of Life (“The wilderness must be explored!”). Pocahontas can be visited with at Discovery Island. Jimmey Cricket comes out to play just once a year – on Earth Day, only at DAK.  Rafiki is just a train ride away, hanging out at Rafiki’s Planet Watch. The list goes on…


6. The Conservation Message

Through my role, I collected over $1,000 for the Disney Conservation Fund.  Most months, I was one of the top fundraisers for DCF and got awards and prizes.  I really admire Disney’s commitment to worldwide conservation efforts.


7. The Food

The bar-b-que at the Flame Tree Barbeque is delicious and the outdoor seating is so pretty.  The carved animals are done in a prey/predator theme, each area different, all in vibrant colors of teal, orange, and yellow.

Pizzafari has delicious pizza and wonderful indoor (AC!) seating if it’s getting too hot outside. Each room has a different animal theme, all of it wildly colored.  So pretty!


8. Kilimanjaro Safari

With its lush setting and animals roaming around freely everywhere, this is one of my favorite attractions at DAK!

9. Flights of Wonder

This is not your average bird show. The birds are trained with lots of positive reinforcement (i.e., food bits) and like performing for the audience. They are all very smart and it’s a good show!

10. Finding Nemo – The Musical

WOW!  If you’ve seen this musical, you know what I mean!!!  It’s 35 minutes of the most elaborate live show performed in any WDW park.  The scale of this show is HUGE, some of the props and puppets are larger than a minivan!

 And, lastly: Avatar is Coming!

Construction began in 2014 on the new Avatarland, causing several of the attractions at the front of the Park – like Camp Minnie Mickey – to be moved. Can’t wait to see this in a few years!


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I miss my DCP friends most of all!

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My home park!


DAK pin trading (2)Two Girls and a Mouse Tale

   by Elly Collins & Caroline Collins

Ever wonder what it’s like to work for Disney???

We worked at WDW for a year in the Disney College Program (Fall 2013/Spring 2014) and have written a book about what it’s like to be a cast member working for Disney.

We’ve included advice on how to successfully get into the DCP program, including some of the actual phone interview questions, how to have a successful internship, and how not self-term before your program ends. Our book is filled with lots of behind-the-scene stories of the magic of Disney. Available now at Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle formats. Published by Theme Park Press.

Book link on Amazon.com:  Two Girls and a Mouse Tale


2 thoughts on “10 Things I Miss About Disney’s Animal Kingdom

  1. Jacob Fife says:

    I’ve just been placed in Merchandise at discovery island too. I might even be your replacement. Are there any tips that you can give me? Also, what’s are the male costumes like?

    Thank you for the good read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Discovery Island is the BEST! You really lucked out! 🙂

      As for tips: always bring your water! You are at one of the lucky few locations that actually allow the water bottle as part of the costume! I ended up also bringing gatorade to drink at lunch to give me some energy.
      Pack your lunch! People waste sooo much time and money walking to the CM cafeteria every day. I never understood that because when I’m on break, I want to sit!
      Figure out which managers will trade out your bad pins for nice new ones to make guests happy. Nothing is more sad than when guests reject your lame pins! lol
      Get comfortable shoes! I had terrible back problems because you’re basically standing on cement all day, but it all went away once I switched to more comfy shoes.
      Study the map and make sure you know which direction the bathrooms, entrance, nearby restaurants, and all the attractions are because guests will ask you all the time!

      As for the male costumes, when you are working register, you will were a loose, relaxed Island style shirt and pants (no shorts option unfortunately). When you’re stocking, you will wear the “mud” costume which is exactly like the one I’m pictured in – tan blocky design shirt and either khakis shorts/pants. And you’ll be wearing black shoes (white socks on stock, black socks on register).

      Hope this helps! And I hope you have a WILD program! 🙂


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