By Carrie McLaren

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park opened, in conjuction with Earth Day, on April 22, 1998. Now, with 403 acres, the park is home to 1,500 animals representing 250 species.

My family and I love to explore the park and we’ve found it to be a great educational experience for teaching our kids about the environment, too.

Here are some of my family’s favorite things to experience at Disney’s Animal Kingdom-

Avatar Flight of Passage

Board your own mountain banshee and embark on a thrilling expedition, where interstellar explorers like you get an up-close look at this moon’s incredible landscape. Bonding with a banshee is a crucial step in the life of a Na’vi hunter on Pandora—and flying on the back of one of these powerful creatures is an important rite of passage.

Conservation Station

Hop on the Wildlife Express steam train in Africa and travel to the Conservation Station, a conservation center where families can discover animals and their natural habitats. If you’re lucky, you may even run into a few characters while you’re there..

DinoLand U.S.A.

My kids love exploring The Boneyard dig site and prehistoric playground – and so do I. Kids can climb through this massive playground and dig for prehistoric fossils in the dig area. It’s a great place to cool off mid-day. The TriceraTop Spin is the dinosaur version of Dumbo – great for little kids.

Kilimanjaro Safaris

Hop on an open-air safari truck and let your guide take you through the wilderness. You’ll see elephants, giraffes and even lions. As you make your way through the Harambe Wildlife Preserve, your safari guide tells you about the preserve and fun facts about the animals you’ll encounter. Don’t forget your camera – you’ll have a great seat for action shots.

Finding Nemo, The Musical

This is one of my childrens' favorite movies and we love seeing this story come to life with bright colors, songs and seeing Nemo himself in life-size, puppet form. Get there early for a great seat; this show is presented in an amphitheater setting and once the theater is full, the doors are closed.