There are plenty of misconceptions about Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park.

Many people think it is a just a half-day park, but they don’t understand that there are so many places to explore and discover. Many people think that Dinoland USA is just a cheap carnival and not worthy of a Disney park, but they don’t understand the amazing back-story for Dino-Rama. And many people think that Animal Kingdom lacks the design details and intricacies of other Disney parks, but they don’t understand that there really are plenty of amazing design elements to be found.

Great Design Hidden In Plain View

Some of the most fascinating design intricacies of Animal Kingdom can be found in and around the buildings in the Discovery Island area of the park.

At first glance, the buildings in Discovery Island simply look colorful and like they are covered with animals, but there is much more happening than just color and animal decorations.

Most of the buildings in Discovery Island have an unspoken animal-based theme, and then are adorned with animals that fit that theme. This isn’t something that is written down anywhere or noted on the Guide Map, but it shows the detailed level of thinking that Disney Imagineers put into the design and art of the park.

Let’s take a look at several buildings, their themes, and what types of animals you can find.

Creature Comforts

Building: Creature Comforts is a gift shop that carries a wide variety of merchandise including plenty of toys and stuff for the young and young at heart.

Theme: Animals with spots and stripes

Animals: Here you will find bumble bees, zebras, and tigers.

Creature Comforts sign - all about animals with spots or stripes.

Creature Comforts sign – all about animals with spots or stripes.

Zebra with stripes in Creature Comforts.

Zebra with stripes in Creature Comforts.

Giraffe with spots in Creature Comforts.

Giraffe with spots in Creature Comforts.

Island Mercantile

Building: Island Mercantile is a gift shop that carries shirts, plush toys, home ware, and hats. The shop contains many interesting carvings.

Theme: Animals that work or migrate.

Animals: Here you will find beavers, donkeys, camels, and geese.

Sign for Island Mercantile - all about working animals.

Sign for Island Mercantile – all about working animals.

Beaver hard at work in Island Mercantile.

Beaver hard at work in Island Mercantile.

Camels hard at work in Island Mercantile.

Camels hard at work in Island Mercantile.

Beastly Bazaar

Building: Beastly Bazaar is a gift shop that carries candies and home decorations like figurines, pillows, towels, and dishware.

Theme: Animals that live around or in water.

Animals: Here you will find fish, frogs, otters, sea horses, and bears.

Sign for Beastly Bazaar - all about animals who live near water.

Sign for Beastly Bazaar – all about animals who live near water.

Fish carving on the outside of Beastly Bazaar.

Fish carving on the outside of Beastly Bazaar.

Crock or alligator design on the outside of Beastly Bazaar.

Crock or alligator design on the outside of Beastly Bazaar.

Fish carving inside Beastly Bazaar.

Fish carving inside Beastly Bazaar.

Disney Outfitters

Building: Disney Outfitters is a gift shop that carries upscale apparel, frames, jewelry, and watches.

Theme: Animals that travel in herds.  The design may be a metaphor for trend setting too.

Animals: Here you will find elephants, lions, and rhinos.

Disney Outfitters sign - all about animals who travel in groups.

Disney Outfitters sign – all about animals who travel in groups.

Carving of a rabbit; they travel in colonies or herds.

Carving of a rabbit; they travel in colonies or herds.

Carving of a hippopotamus; they travel in groups called a 'bloat'.

Carving of a hippopotamus; they travel in groups called a ‘bloat’.

Flame Tree BBQ

Building: Flame Tree BBQ is one of my favorite quick service restaurants in all of Disney World. It has delicious ribs at a reasonable price. The seating is outdoors but covered, and some areas have amazing views of Expedition Everest.

Theme: Hunters and their prey.

Animals: Here you will find snakes and mice and big fish eating little fish. It’s very appropriate for a BBQ place!

Sign for Flame Tree BBQ.

Sign for Flame Tree BBQ.

Everywhere you look - hunters and their prey.

Everywhere you look – hunters and their prey.

Great Design

The next time you or someone you know thinks that Disney’s Animal Kingdom doesn’t have the same design quality as other Disney parks, remember that, all around Discovery Island, there are details in the design that most people miss every day.

Do you like the design elements in Animal Kingdom?