Maharajah Palace Ruins at Animal Kingdom in Walt Disney World

Ruins of the Maharajah's Palace provide an area for guests to walk through and view animals along the Maharajah Jungle Trek in the Asia section of Disney's Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World

Ruins of the Maharajah’s Palace provide an area for guests to walk through and view animals along the Maharajah Jungle Trek in the Asia section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World.

While most people spend their time along the Maharajah Jungle Trek looking at the fascinating animals that can be seen along the way, I spend a majority of my time getting photos of the interesting surroundings, enjoying all of the detail that can be seen, such as in this view from our December 2016 Florida trip.

Most of the Jungle Trek is set among the “ruins” of the Maharajah’s Palace, but of course you and I both know that there never really was a palace here to be ruined. Rather, the Imagineers went to extraordinary lengths to have the whole area look as though it has been sitting there for many, many years. Crumbling walls, missing roofs, trees growing up through the middle of everything, and wild animals roaming around (but safely separated from us human visitors, thankfully).

Maharajah Jungle Trek at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Among the ruins are several murals of men – the maharajahs, perhaps? – on hunting excursions. Perhaps they were hunting the same sort of animals that now occupy where the maharajahs once lived? I am sure there is some irony in there, and some sort of social comment on man versus nature. Something along the lines of this: man may come and go, but animals and nature are there forever. If you have ever built your house in what used to be a large pasture and have tried to keep the critters and insects out, you will know that to be true. I do.

But anyway, these ruins are quite interesting to see, partly because they look so real, and partly because of the effort that went into making them look so real. In the above photo, notice the plaster that has been worn away from the corner at the lower right. Can you imagine how difficult it would be to design something to look incomplete like that? Although I could imagine that after doing for a little while, you might get pretty good at it. In fact, maybe you would have trouble designing something that looks new. However they do it, the effect is really cool, even if most people don’t take the time to notice it.

Maharajah Jungle Trek at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Here is one more view of the “ruins,” along with some greenery that has grown up among the old walls. This sort of thing is what separates this park from zoos all over the country. However, many zoos are starting to design their animal exhibits in much the same way, providing a themed experience instead of just cages with animals. I’m sure it doesn’t make that much difference to the animals, because they are trapped either way, even if their trappings are more elaborate and look more “real” than just some concrete walls. But to those of us there to see the animals, it is much more interesting.

Maharajah Jungle Trek at Disney's Animal Kingdom

As you can see, I do take some time to watch the animals, too. Perhaps the Maharajahs in the murals were hunting the ancestor of this tiger, who has now taken up residence on the palace grounds. Or perhaps this tiger is just a freeloader who moved in when he heard the place was vacant. It is always interesting to watch the tigers to see how much they remind me of the cats we used to have, who would spend much of their time sitting around watching everything, just like this one is doing here. But then you wouldn’t want the tiger jumping up on the bed with you in the middle of the night, would you? I wouldn’t.

So the next time you go to Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World, be sure to notice all of the detail that is present everywhere in the park. It really is something to see.

But despite his assets, man will not last; he is like the animals that perish. – Psalm 49:12

About the photo:

As with the photos in the recent Walk Around the World post, I tried to give these photos a bit of a fantasy feel while I was processing them, because in many ways the setting is a bit of a fantasy. Yes, there are real places like that, but not in Florida. So once again I used bold colors here and there, along with bringing up the shadows and turning down the highlights.

Also, the first three photos used the fisheye lens to get as much of the ruins in the frame as I could. But I switched to the zoom lens to get closer to the tiger, since he would not have been too much more than a speck in the frame with the fisheye lens. I don’t have a very powerful zoom, but it was enough to get a good view of the tiger.

Because I often enjoy sharing these, here is a before-and-after comparison of the first photo in this post, showing how much changed during processing:

Maharajah Jungle Trek before-and-after

Photo: A single Raw exposure, processed in Photoshop. Read more about photography tips, photo software, camera gear, and more at Steve’s Photography Tips.
Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M10
Lens: Rokinon 7.5mm f/3.5 Fisheye Lens and Olympus 14-42mm IIR
Date: December 19, 2016
Location: Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Florida

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