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Pangani Forest Exploration Trail


The Pangani Forest Exploration Trail is a walk-through live animal exhibit near the exit from Kilimanjaro Safaris. Several species of animals are visible in habitats ranging from savannah and water to forest and a cleverly disguised aviary. While not as extensive as a large-city zoo, the diversity and the quality of the exhibits is very impressive. Near the end of the trail is Africa's Kid's Discovery Club activity center.


This exhibit opened on April 22, 1998 under the name Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail. Originally it was planned to be a research station, and those who successfully aided the hunt for the poachers were rewarded with special access to this usually private area. With the watering down of the poacher story in Kilimanjaro Safaris, this explicit backstory was abandoned. Signs for the research station can still be found in the area.


The Pangani Forest Exploration Trail is a barometer of the Animal Kingdom itself. If you get it, if you like it, you're going to like most of the park. If, on the other hand, you see it as another Disney attempt to educate, you probably will be disappointed in the park overall.

Not surprisingly, we here at get it, and like it. As with most of the animal areas in the park, the trail is full of ingenious habitats, with no obvious barriers. The theming is intricate, and now that the park is over a decade old, the natural growth of the trees and plants really gives this attraction a forest feel.


Touring Tips

  • If you intend to ride Kilimanjaro Safaris first thing in the morning, consider doing the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail first. You will miss the first wave on the safari ride, and you'll have the trail almost completely to yourself, so you can linger if you so choose, or rush through some parts without knocking over grandparents and small children.
  • If you want to finish the Kid's Discovery Club activity without walking the full trail, you can sometimes convince a cast member at the exit to let you go through in reverse. Don't be too rude if you are refused, however - the exit counts guests as they leave, letting the cast members know if someone is lingering too long too near to park closing.

Hidden Treasures

  • Notice the aviary. You walk into one building to see some exhibits, then exit through a pair of doors. Once outside, you are actually under a large net, which keeps the birds in, yet you probably won't notice until you start looking for birds up in the trees. Not wanting to repeat the same mechanism on the way out, the Imagineers installed a bead door (you know, like from the '70s), which is enough to keep the inhabitants from flying into the building but doesn't impede the flow of guests.


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