Photo Essay: Details from Disney’s Africa and Asia

Africa, Disney's Animal Kingdom - Orlando, Florida

Africa, Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Orlando, Florida

Following up on yesterday’s post, here’s a Photo Essay on Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Specifically the Africa and Asia sections. No film processing comparisons today, these were all post processed by me and flavored to my visual taste. The Animal Kingdom theme park has the most exotic and “real world” scenes out of Disney’s Florida parks, I think. The classic Magic Kingdom, for example, has some wonderful details, but they tend to be more of a fantasy theme.

My photographic challenge and objective were to capture realistic details and exclude as much people as possible. The crowds were heavy just before Christmas and it was challenging. I rejected some scenes because the crush of people got in the way of a clean image. And I must confess that, some compositions were shifted from my usual and ideal, to omit the distraction of tourists. I think I succeeded, for the most part. People present in the photos don’t distract.

Read the signs and it’s clear that this is Disney. I doubt there’s a place in Africa which advertises a “Festival of the Lion King”. But I find it fun since the whole place is wrapped in an alternate Disney reality. Safe, clean and sanitized. Yet, with enough texture and details to be interesting, visually. Certainly, worthy of some photography.

Africa, Disney's Animal Kingdom - Orlando, Florida
Africa, Disney's Animal Kingdom - Orlando, Florida
Africa, Disney's Animal Kingdom - Orlando, Florida

All of these photos are from Africa. Of course, a made up Africa of which I know nothing about. I don’t know what area or country these are designed to emulate. Or perhaps is an amalgam of different styles throughout the vast continent.

The photographs below are from the Asia section. A modest walk magically teleports you from one continent to another. The architecture changes, as does the themes and available food. The Asia section seems to mimic a Nepal, Tibet or North Eastern India, of which I’ve never been to. But the names and the prayer flags point in that direction.

Asia, Disney's Animal Kingdom - Orlando, Florida

As I recall, this restaurant had some enticing Indian food but $25 for Chicken Tikka Masala scared us away. We would have considered it if we can be assured that it was the best and most authentic implementation of the dish. But we had doubts of Disney’s culinary prowess. We opted for $14 fast food dishes instead, of Japanese inspired bowl dishes. Not quite in keeping with Tibet but at least it’s from the same continent.

Asia, Disney's Animal Kingdom - Orlando, Florida
Asia, Disney's Animal Kingdom - Orlando, Florida

The Olympus 28-300mm equivalent zoom conveniently worked to capture all my desired compositions. The top image is a 28mm equivalent and the zoomed in view was at a 40mm equivalent.

Asia, Disney's Animal Kingdom - Orlando, Florida

I took this from the same place as yesterday’s photo but at the widest 28mm equivalent instead of yesterday’s 58mm. Nothing like using the water and reflections to add some dimension.

Asia, Disney's Animal Kingdom - Orlando, Florida
Asia, Disney's Animal Kingdom - Orlando, Florida

These faded but texture filled Tibetan prayer flags added nice detail, both close up as well as a foreground element. In the second photo, I used telephoto compression to line up the monastery and the distant mountain. It has the benefit of getting both subjects, large in the frame, but also to exclude the crowds that packed the area.

Asia, Disney's Animal Kingdom - Orlando, Florida

Finally, I composed the wonderfully intricate bazaar with the mountain but did so in wide-angle. Notice how, at a 28mm equivalent, the background recedes. Unlike the previous photo where the mountain looms large, the bazaar details take center stage.

There’s enough photographic attractions that I would like to shoot the Animal Kingdom again, someday. We knew that the Christmas holiday was going to be crowded but the kids’ school dictates our schedule. But in the not so distant future, free from school age kids, maybe my wife and I can return in the off-season. That’s when the deliberate and contemplative photography can really take place.


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3 thoughts on “Photo Essay: Details from Disney’s Africa and Asia

    1. Movie set is a apt comparison but for all the Disney Imagineering, it’s more. I imagine movie sets to be mostly facades and nothing behind them. At Disney, they are really working but used in a different way or not for purposes that is outwardly implied.

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