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2012 Best Attraction Tournament: Best Animal Exhibit?

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Published: February 6, 2012 at 8:45 AM

As the lines between theme park and zoos blur, animal exhibits have become popular attractions at more theme parks. Today's we're honoring five of your favorites, as voted on in the Theme Park Insider attraction listings. Please vote for your favorite from these five, selecting the one that you feel best represents the ideal blend of education, awe... and a faithfully engaging recreation of a native habitat.

Today's category draws from all walk-through animal exhibits in theme parks, and does not include animal exhibits included as part of other attractions, such as narrated rides, roller coaster queues and live shows - which were voted on in other categories.

Voting is open for 24 hours.

Eagle Ridge - at Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Eagle Ridge

Edge of Africa - at Busch Gardens Tampa

Edge of Africa

Maharajah Jungle Trek - at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Maharajah Jungle Trek

Pangani Forest Exploration Trail - at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Pangani Forest Exploration Trail

Turtle Reef - at SeaWorld San Diego

Turtle Reef


Tomorrow: It's the 4D show showdown.

Readers' Opinions

From Andrew Carrieri on February 6, 2012 at 9:09 AM
I'm not really into animal attractions but I went with Mahahraja. If I have to do one of these I'd rather see really exotic Asian or African animals than birds or aquatic animals. I put Mahahraja ahead of Pangani because I've read the former is less congested. I put it ahead of Edge of Africa because I'm more likely to go to an animal exhibit at AK than I would be at Busch Gardens Tampa.
From Mike Gallagher on February 6, 2012 at 9:21 AM
I've been to both BG parks, but I have zero interest in animal exhibits. I saw some from the sky-ride in Florida, but I'll abstain from voting.
From Stuart Henny on February 6, 2012 at 9:43 AM
I prefer Edge Of Africa at Busch Gardens to either of the Disney attractions - there's a wider variety of Animals and different ways to view them - the train, Rhino Rally (not as good without the water element) and the sky ride. I've not ridden it yet, but I suppose Cheetah Hunt offers some "fleeting" views too. I'll find out in September!
From O T on February 6, 2012 at 11:02 AM
A friend of my, who has been to India several times was amazed about the accurat detailing (minus religus stuff) at the Maharajah Jungle Trek. And I´m a sucker for big cats. Although I like the mix of animals and attractions at Bush Gardens this vote goos to Disney´s Animal Kingdom.
From Mark Kausch on February 6, 2012 at 11:35 AM
Ah. Again we (seemingly) see the east coast bias of the voting. Then again, 80% of the nominated exhibits are east coast.

I may have missed this one, but I would think that many zoos would qualify as theme parks as many theme parks have qualified at least partly as zoos (in theme, if not in reality). Pretty sure the - ahem - World Famous San Diego Zoo has had more rides than SeaWorld San Diego until recently, yet the latter is considered a theme park while the former is, to my knowledge, not. Not that the SDZ would place very high in a tournament.

Except, maybe, in this category.

From Dominick D on February 6, 2012 at 11:59 AM
The AK ones are the best, so I voted for Pangai.
From Brian Bauer on February 6, 2012 at 12:23 PM
I'm very disappointed that Shrek 4-D isn't on here. :)
From James Rao on February 6, 2012 at 12:39 PM
Animal Kingdom takes the cake here, hands down. Both of the Disney walking trails are terrific, but if I have to pick one, the Maharajah gets my vote. It is, as someone else already stated, less congested and I prefer the Asian tigers, Komodo Dragon, and Malayan Flying Fox to the hippos, meerkats, and gorillas of the Pangani trail.

I do love all the zoo stuff at DAK and wish more people would take the time to explore it thoroughly. Sadly, most people just ride rides and bolt, never really understanding that DAK is all about exploration. *Sigh*

From Robert Niles on February 6, 2012 at 12:33 PM
I have deployed the varmints to Brian's house. Everyone please remain calm.
From TH Creative on February 6, 2012 at 4:28 PM
Did you see the photo Mr. Niles chose to illustrate Pangani Forest Exploration Trail?

I see that image in my darkest dreams every night ... and I wake up ... screaming...

The horror ... The horror ...

From Randall Peek on February 6, 2012 at 5:11 PM
Two words that elevate Maharaja Jungle Trek. Bengal Tigers. Hard to argue with Bengal Tigers.

I love the themeing throughout the area, and the Jungle Trek has a feeling of antiquity that is amazing.

From Robert Niles on February 6, 2012 at 7:56 PM
Glad you noticed that, TH. :^)
From 98.88.56.250 on February 6, 2012 at 8:35 PM
My vote goes for The Maharajah Jungle Trek because I believe it is the best themed and has a good back story. And not because I work there. OK, maybe the fact that I work there affects it a little bit...
From 173.227.205.1 on February 7, 2012 at 10:07 AM
There is usaully sancions for lions, tigers, elephants, manaties, etcc but you don't really hear much about saving turtles.

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