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Discovery Island is the central hub for the Animal Kingdom. It is home to the park's primary weenie, the Tree of Life, as well as one attraction and several shopping and dining establishments. You can meet characters at Character Landing (across from Flame Tree Barbecue) and at Island Mercantile. Bridges across Discovery River provide the spokes to the other lands of Animal Kingom - going clockwise around the island from the main entrance are Camp Minnie-Mickey, Africa, Asia, and Dinoland U.S.A.
For about the first two years of the park's existence, Discovery Island was called Safari Village, which actually better fits the offerings here.
What is now Character Landing used to be the boat dock for the ill-fated Discovery River Boats. This "attraction," originally slated to be reminiscent of the Jungle Cruise in the Magic Kingdom, became something of a joke, as guests were simply taken around the island and dumped back at the dock, having seen only an animatronic dinosaur and only heard a dragon in its cave. It also loaded slowly, with long lines exacerbated by the mistake many guests made of thinking this was the safari ride. The promise of an audio-animatronic dragon attacking the boat never quite made it to the park.
Discovery Island is a great place to just hang out, especially if you've already experienced the major attractions but don't want to leave the park just yet. The trails around the Tree of Life are seldom crowded and usually shaded, and offer stunning glimpses of the animal carvings. The front thoroughfare, however, is always filled with people traversing from one side of the park to the other or heading to the shopping and dining destinations of the island itself. In addition, the path from Africa counter-clockwise to Asia is part of the parade route, making movement around the park nearly impossible for 45 minutes or so every day. There is really no other option for Disney to route the parade, but it seems like they did not anticipate the traffic jam that would result.
Character Landing (the former Discovery River Boat loading dock) is home to Pooh, Eeyore and Tigger. Lilo & Stitch can be found at Island Mercantile.
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