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Welcome to the wildest adventure found at Disney World! Disney's Animal Kingdom is a wonderfully unique and immersive theme park offering unforgettable experiences to all its visitors. With thrilling rides and up-close encounters with exotic animals, the park provides an enchanting experience that can be difficult to simply describe. In this guide, we'll take you through everything you need to know about Animal Kingdom, from its history and various lands to must-try Animal Kingdom rides and attractions, so that you can have that first-hand experience and create memories that'll live rent free in your mind.
Exploring Animal Kingdom: An Overview
The world of wildlife and adventure is at Disney's Animal Kingdom, where nature and conservation takes center stage. The magical theme park offers a perfect blend of entertainment and education on its amazing animals. With education comes an appreciation for the many cultures that inhabit our world and their native species' habitats. From the mighty elephants of Africa to the tigers of Asia, an immersive experience of earth's wildlife is in store. Apart from the animal encounters, one attraction that brings everyone together is the iconic Tree of Life, symbolizing diversity and interconnectedness to this vibrant land with over 300+ animal carvings.
History of Disney's Animal KingdomAnimal Kingdom - a park born from Walt Disney's visionary quest to create a wildlife haven interweaving entertainment and conservation. In 1998, the park's grand opening etched a significant milestone in Disney's illustrious history. Disney's Animal Kingdom, with its deep-rooted association to the wonders of nature, has become an enchanting realm cherished by animal lovers from all over. Its story reflects the magic of Walt Disney World, where imagination knows no bounds.
Understanding the Different Lands in Animal Kingdom
Disney's Animal Kingdom Park is divided into 6 unique lands: Oasis, Discovery Island, Pandora - The World of Avatar, Africa, Asia, and DinoLand U.S.A. Once you enter through the main Animal Kingdom entrance, the first land you'll discover is Oasis. Continuing forward is Discovery Island, the heart of the park, where you'll bask in the magic of nature and conservation. From there, whether you go up, down, left, or right, you'll continue the explorations and furthermore, enjoy your favorite Animal Kingdom rides. As you walk through the lands, keep your eyes peeled for Disney characters waving hello from flotillas in the canals!
Before we continue, it's imperative that you download the My Disney Experience App, granting you access to show times, character meet and greets, the locations of animals and more, setting up your day(s) to be most efficient for seeing all there is to see.
Oasis: The Beginning
Your adventures will inevitably start here, in Oasis. There are limited things to do in this land, but it still packs a punch with its beautiful landscape. Keep your eyes peeled for babirusas ("deer-pigs"), spoonbills, and anteaters as you roam the tropical gardens of the Oasis Exhibits! And, one of the most popular throwback restaurants first established in the 90's lives here: Rainforest Cafe. This side of the park does not have Animal Kingdom rides.
Discovery Island: The Heart of Animal Kingdom
Discovery Island, the vibrant central hub of Disney's Animal Kingdom. As you explore this enchanting oasis, be prepared to marvel at the iconic Tree of Life, a towering symbol of the park's dedication to conservation as mentioned before. You'll find live entertainment, delicious dining like Eight Spoon Café and The Smiling Crocodile, refreshing cocktails at Nomad Lounge, and indulge in unique shopping experiences that capture the essence of the island. You can also meet nonother than Moana out at Character Landing! This side of the park does not have Animal Kingdom rides, unless you're wanting to count the It's Tough to be a Bug! show.
Pandora - The World of Avatar
Pandora - The World of Avatar: A Sci-fi Adventure
What an incredible land this is. Here you'll take in the breathtaking landscapes and otherworldly beauty of the Na'vi people. This area of the park is rich in its storytelling and groundbreaking technology. If you're a Pandora fan, we can almost guarantee you'll spend a solid chunk of your day here. To start the adventures, head to Colors of Mo'ara for a quick face paint with designs inspired by the Na'vi. Next is a needed stop to the Pongu Pongu kiosk for one of their insanely unique drinks topped with Boba Balls (both alcohol and non-alcohol beverages available). When you're ready for some fine Na'vi dining, check out Satu'li Canteen to enjoy a fast-casual meal. Lastly, if it fits in the budget, head to Windtraders shop and "adopt" your very own banshee to wear on your shoulder for the ultimate aesthetic.
Animal Kingdom Rides found at Pandora - The World of Avatar:
- Na'vi River Journey - This serene boat ride guides through the bioluminescent forest of Pandora, where you can marvel at the stunning visual effects and vibrant plant life. Along the way, you'll encounter the mystical Shaman of Songs, a lifelike animatronic character that brings the journey to life. Que options are Standby or Genie+ Lightning Lane
- Avatar Flight of Passage - Time to connect with your very own avatar! You'll soar through breathtaking landscapes, encountering mythical creatures along the way. The exhilaration of flying on the back of a banshee as you navigate through twists and turns will feel like absolute freedom. Hold on tight and let the excitement take you on a journey like no other. This has been considered the best ride in Animal Kingdom by many enthusiasts. Que options are Standby or Genie+ Lightning Lane
Africa: A Tribute to the African Wilderness
Journey into the heart of Africa at Disney's Animal Kingdom and immerse yourself in the vibrant sights, sounds, and culture of this extraordinary continent. As you walk the grounds, keep a lookout for the Tam Tam Drummers of Harambe! The incredible stage show, Festival of the Lion King, showcases the beauty of African music and dance, along with incredible stunts. Harambe Market is a necessary pitstop for a Simba Cupcake - incredibly delicious. If you are looking for more of a sit down, set your eyes on Tusker House Restaurant, and maybe, just maybe, you'll catch Donald Duck and pals during your buffet-style meal.
Animal Kingdom Rides found at Africa:
- Kilimanjaro Safaris - What an exhilarating adventure! This authentic African safari experience puts you up close and personal with a diverse array of wildlife. Encounter majestic elephants, graceful zebras, and elegant giraffes as you explore the vast African savannah. As you drive on you'll learn about the park's conservation efforts and the immense importance of protecting endangered species. Keep your phones out to capture stunning photos of these magnificent creatures in their natural habitats. Or, sit back, stay present and enjoy the simplicity and beauty of nature. Que options are Standby or Genie+ Lightning Lane
Asia: A Blend of Real and Imaginary
Experience the enchanting allure of Asia at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Here you'll discover the wonders of the Maharajah Jungle Trek self-guided tour in search for water buffalos, gibbons, and 50+ species of birds. Take a break and enjoy the captivating story of Finding Nemo - The Musical, a mesmerizing live show that brings its characters to life. When it comes to food, Yak & Yeti restaurant offers a pan-Asian feast of noodles, bowls, and wok dishes in the setting of a charming village home.
Animal Kingdom Rides found at Asia:
- Expedition Everest - Talk about an adrenaline-pumping adventure about the legend of the Forbidden Mountain. This high-speed roller coaster will take you through the Himalayas and experience unexpected twists, turns, and exhilarating drops along the way. But, beware of the mythical Yeti lurking in the shadows, ready to surprise you at any moment. Expect an expedition full of heart-stopping thrills with breathtaking views. Que options are Standby or Genie+ Lightning Lane
- Kali River Rapids - Brave swirling rapids, cascading waterfalls, twists and turns as you navigate the raging river. This wild ride is perfect for staying cool on hot days while enjoying a refreshing water adventure. Kali River Rapids is fun for the whole family with a guaranteed splashing good time. Que options are Standby or Genie+ Lightning Lane
DinoLand U.S.A.: A Journey Back in Time
Blast to the past with a visit to DinoLand U.S.A., where you'll be transported back to the prehistoric era. Beyond its attractions, you can enjoy carnival-style games and some pretty cool primitive aesthetics. Explore the mysteries of fossils and learn about fascinating dinosaur discoveries. This is definitely a nostalgic land worth roaming through.
Animal Kingdom Rides found at DinoLand U.S.A.:
- DINOSAUR - This time traveling adventure will bring you face to face with realistic dinosaurs in a dark and captivating environment. Hold on tight as you race through the age of the dinosaurs, feeling the excitement and danger of escaping from a meteor shower. As you embark on this exhilarating journey, you'll also learn about the importance of preserving Earth's history and protecting its creatures. This can be an intense ride for the little ones - discretion is advised. Que options are Standby or Genie+ Lightning Lane
- TriceraTop Spin - Fly sky high on this carnival-inspired ride twirling your kids into ear to ear smiles. TriceraTop Spin is a slow ride for all ages at any height. Queue option is standby online. No Lightning Lane
Unforgettable Attractions Beyond Rides
At some point you'll need a break from the thrills. Beyond the Animal Kingdom rides, there are plenty of unforgettable attractions offering unique and interactive experiences that will enhance your visit to Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Festival of the Lion King: A Musical Spectacle
The sights and sounds of the African savannah come to life during Festival of the Lion King: A Musical Spectacle. It's considered a Broadway-style show at Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park. Sing along to classic songs from The Lion King as talented performers bring the film's characters to life. You'll be captivated by colorful costumes and stunning choreography. Joining in on interactive moments will make you feel the energy of the performance.
Finding Nemo: The Big Blue... and Beyond!
Dive into the mesmerizing underwater world of Nemo's home with Finding Nemo stage show. Join Marlin, Dory, and of course, Nemo on their vibrant and imaginative adventures. As you tap your feet to catchy tunes, you'll be immersed in a story of family, friendship, and perseverance. This 25-minute show is nothing but a sea of fun.
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It’s Tough To Be a Bug: An Immersive Experience
This unique 3D movie and live show hybrid takes you on a hilarious and educational adventure alongside Flik and his insect friends. You'll feel the sensation of bugs crawling under your seat and be amazed by surprising special effects and interactive moments. You'll also discover the important role bugs play in our ecosystem. It's a bug-tastic journey, but be aware this may be an intense show for some kids! Que options are Standby or Genie+ Lightning Lane
Wildlife Express Train
This behind-the-scenes take on the park is a great way to explore beyond the paved paths. Its route is about 5 minutes and 1.2 miles long, taking guests from Harambe Station in the Africa to Conservation Station in the Rafiki's Planet Watch section. Expect to see awesome sights as your conductor leads the way.
Rafiki’s Planet Watch: A Conservation Effort
Rafiki's Planet Watch is a wildlife conservation center at Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom. Here you'll learn about animal care and conservation efforts through interactive exhibits and educational presentations. Explore behind-the-scenes operations and meet animal experts who are dedicated to protecting and preserving wildlife. Get up close with animal ambassadors and gain a deeper understanding of the importance of conservation. Most importantly, discover how you can make a difference and contribute to the well-being of animals and the environment! Here you'll also find the Affection Section, the only petting zoo located at Disney World.
Maharajah Jungle Trek and Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail
Walk on the wild side at Disney's Animal Kingdom with the Maharajah Jungle Trek and Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail. This Asian-themed jungle on the self-guided Maharajah Jungle Trek is where you'll encounter exotic animals like tigers and bats. Then, venture into the African rainforest on the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail, getting up close to gorillas, hippos, and other fascinating wildlife. Remember to wear comfortable shoes, bring sunscreen and water, and plan to spend at least an hour on each trail.
Entertainment and Shows in Animal Kingdom
Experience the magic of Animal Kingdom through a variety of captivating entertainment and shows! Let us be clear when we say these shows are not to be missed and are absolutely worth adding into your itinerary at Animal Kingdom. All show times can be found on the My Disney Experience App. It's good to note there are no firework shows located at Animal Kingdom.
Tree of Life Awakenings
Tree of Life Awakenings: A Nighttime Spectacle
Witness the magical transformation of the Tree of Life as it awakens with breathtaking projections and captivating music. Prepare to be enchanted by the mesmerizing visuals and immersive storytelling of Tree of Life Awakenings, a truly unforgettable nighttime experience. This must-see spectacle at Disney's Animal Kingdom transports you to a world of wonder and imagination.
Feathered Friends in Flight!: A Bird Show
Prepare to be amazed by the incredible talents of the feathered performers in the captivating Feathered Friends in Flight! bird show. Watch in awe as these beautiful creatures showcase their intelligence and perform awe-inspiring tricks and behaviors. Don't miss the opportunity to witness stunning aerial displays that will leave you breathless. Not only is this show entertaining, but it also offers an educational experience, providing insights into the world of birds.
Donald’s Dino-Bash: A Prehistoric Party
Party prehistorically at Donald's Dino-Bash in Disney's Animal Kingdom! Join Donald Duck and friends for a celebration like no other. This fun-filled event combines the beloved characters of Disney with a dinosaur twist, creating a festive atmosphere that you won't want to miss. Dance, play games, and interact with your favorite Disney characters. It's a unique party experience that adds an extra layer of excitement to your visit.
Disney Animal Kingdom Map
Our guide to the Animal Kingdom rides wouldn't be complete without a downloadable Animal Kingdom map! Includes full details of the park and more information on the My Disney Experience App.
Let Your Wild Adventure Begin
The options to choose from Disney's Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom brought you here. Disney's Animal Kingdom Park offers a one-of-a-kind experience that encompasses the circle of life. The animal exhibits provide one a true grounding experience with nature while the best shows and thrill rides reminds one of the wonders of the modern world and its technology.
We hope to see you at the Disney parks and our Westgate Resorts locations very soon!
Frequently Asked Questions
There are a handful of Animal Kingdom rides suitable for varying ages. Experience the exhilarating Avatar Flight of Passage, embark on the thrilling Expedition Everest, and get up close with wildlife on Kilimanjaro Safaris. Other notable attractions include Dinosaur, Kali River Rapids, and Na'vi River Journey. Don't miss out on live shows like Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo - The Musical.
Disney's Animal Kingdom Park is always evolving with new attractions and experiences. Stay updated by checking Disney's official website or following them on social media for the latest information on upcoming additions to the park.
There are 4 Animal Kingdom rides categorized as "thrill rides". Lightning Lane reservations can be made in advance for select rides to help you skip the lines. Check our Disney's Genie+ service for more information.
The Safari ride at Animal Kingdom takes guests on an 18 to 22-minute tour of the African savanna. It offers a chance to observe elephants, lions, giraffes, zebras, and other animals in their natural habitat. Lightning Lane reservations are available for this popular attraction and is a one of the most popular Animal Kingdom rides known.
All of your other Disney World questions answered.
Looking for a complete list of Disney rides across all parks? Check out our Disney World rides list, with printable guides included.
If you're planning a getaway to Orlando, we offer Disney vacation packages at a super lower cost. And if you're in search for discount theme park tickets, we've got those, too. If you're like us and enjoy big savings, try and explore Disney on a budget.
Called to do some shopping? Shopping at Disney Springs may be the stop for you. It's always a great time to visit Disney at Christmas, where you can purchase holiday gifts while enjoying a winter wonderland within the parks.
We also know traveling with the family calls for extra preparation. Master your experience with Disney World with toddlers, and if you're bringing your own stroller, learn about the Disney stroller dimensions. Also, avoid these common travel mistakes while you're at it.
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