In the center of Disney World’s Animal Kingdom, the Tree of Life is so enormous that it resides on its very own island, Discovery Island.
At 14 stories high, it towers over the island and is viewable from just about everywhere in the park. While this gigantic sculpted baobob tree is certainly remarkable when viewed from afar, you’ll want to give it closer inspection. There are plenty of shaded areas around the tree, with benches where you can sit and marvel at the wonders of the tree, for the Tree of Life is no ordinary tree.
Look Carefully at the Tree of Life
More than 300 animals have been beautifully carved into the bark of the Tree of Life, making this iconic centerpiece a visual art safari in itself. Some are quite obvious, while others are more obscure. Parts of the tree look like a work in progress, with partially formed animals morphing into ordinary tree limbs, roots, and knotholes.
Weaving around and through the Tree of Life are the Discovery Island Trails. They encompass a remarkable journey of scenic vistas, lush waterfalls, and animal discoveries – a perfect area for a relaxing walking safari.
First, I picked up an Animal Kingdom Animal Guide – actually, it was handed to me by a cast member as I neared the island, how convenient! The guide lists, by region, the animals in the park. For the Discovery Island Trails, here are the animals and fish listed:
- African Crested Porcupine
- Asian Small-clawed Otter
- Cotton-top Tamarin
- Galapagos Tortoise
- Lappet-faced Vulture
- Red Kangaroo
- Stork Waterfowl
- Paroon Shark Catfish
Along the way, we met a Wilderness Explorer Cast Member, and my great-niece took a pledge to become a Wilderness Explorer and earn badges along the way. The Wilderness Explorer Handbook provided her with a checklist of animals to find, and activities to experience in each region of Animal Kingdom, and kept her engaged and learning throughout the entire day.
So with the help of my little assistant, we set out on the Discovery Island Trails.
My goal was to hunt and shoot as many animals as I could find…with a camera, or course! So I ventured out with my Panasonic HC-WX970 4K video camera. While I was working primarily in video, the camera is blessed with the latest in 4K technology, which means, in the simplest of terms, that I can freeze any single frame of video and produce a high-resolution image file, with quality good enough for a large print. That’s like having two cameras in one! So I left the cumbersome SLR and heavy lenses behind, and went on an all-out Panasonic Adventure with the family on Discovery Island.
Here is my resulting video, shot entirely with the Panasonic HC-WX970. Enjoy!