If you’ve heard nasty rumors to the effect that Animal Kingdom doesn’t have enough to do and see, don’t listen to them! Animal Kingdom is much more than a half-day park…you just have to treat it a bit differently than you would Walt Disney World’s three other parks. Animal Kingdom is a great park to take a bit more leisurely – there’s a lot to see, do, and enjoy! Incredibly themed, amazingly detailed – plan FastPass+ selections based on what you think your family will enjoy the most. My family loves Animal Kingdom and we have, over the years, developed a kind of routine for getting the most enjoyment from our day. I’ll tell you what we love the most…
Top 10 Not-to-Miss Experiences at Animal Kingdom (in no particular order):
1. Kilimanjaro Safari – We could (and have) taken the Kilimanjaro Safari multiple times in a single vacation. I love early morning before it gets too hot and while there’s a better chance of seeing animals on the move – and there are a bunch of animals to see! Rhinos, hippos, elephants, giraffes, lions, and many, many more – right there as you ride along through Africa in your open-air safari vehicle. Have your camera ready!
2. Expedition Everest – My favorite attraction in all of Walt Disney World! Enter the Forbidden Mountain riding on a tea train – it’s thrilling and jam-packed with tons of details. Beware the Yeti! Ride early or late and use the standby line so you don’t miss one of the best queues in the World – an experience all on its own. Save the FastPasses for the afternoon when the crowd levels peak. You’ll want to ride this one more than once! Tip: This is a thrilling roller coaster that comes with health warnings and a height requirement of 44″. You can always chicken out at the last minute, but do check out this area of Animal Kingdom – it’s incredible!
3. Pangani Forest Exploration Trail – The entrance for this trail is right at the exit to Kilimanjaro Safari, so this trail tends to get really crowded. Tip: If you can, hit the Safari first thing in the morning and head right onto this trail afterward. You will love the variety of animals along the way! The gorillas, meerkats, and Nile hippos are my favorite animals and you get awesome photo ops! You can even watch the hippos play underwater in a special viewing area.
4. Dinosaur – Once upon a time, this attraction would not have made a must-do list for me! The speed and jerkiness of the ride has been toned down, as has the sound volume on this ride. I actually like it now and can appreciate the details more than before the changes. Tip: This ride is dark and can be quite scary for small children. The height requirement is 40″.
5. It’s Tough to be a Bug – One of Disney’s 3D movie experiences, It’s Tough to be a Bug is located under the Tree of Life. This 8 minute show usually has a short wait and is a wonderful place to take a midday break from the Florida heat. It’s cool and dark and the movie is full of surprises as guests learn about the insect world. Fans of A Bug’s Life will enjoy seeing their favorite characters again – the show is hosted by Flick! Tip: Not for anyone scared of insects or the dark.
6. Kali River Rapids – Tip: Bring your rain poncho for this one if you don’t like getting soaked! The queue is particularly beautiful as you make your way to the river’s edge and board your round raft (seats 12) and head off through the wilderness…to face the rapids. The ride’s well-developed back story involves a lesson on deforestation – listen for chainsaws and watch for ravaged, barren land left behind by illegal logging activity. Watch out for the squirters! On a bridge over the river as you’re reaching the end of the ride, guests can aim water shooters at you! Riders must be 38″ and if you’ve decided not to ride – head on over to that bridge to watch (and squirt) your friends as they float by.
7. Maharajah Jungle Trek – Located in Animal Kingdom’s Asia section, the Trek is another excellent trail for seeing and learning about animals. Tip: If you allow about 30 minutes, you’ll have plenty of time to take in all the sights along this particularly beautiful and well-themed area. There are many different species along the way including Asian tigers, two kinds of bats, Gibbons, Blackbuck, Elds deer and more. The aviary at the trail’s end contains over 50 bird species and some gorgeous bird houses. Great for all ages.
8. Flights of Wonder – Okay, if you’re afraid of birds, this one’s not for you, be I love it! Guano Joe, world famous tour guide, becomes part of the show as Cast Members help guests learn about all different bird species – as the birds demonstrate some pretty amazing feats!
9. Festival of the Lion King – This is our family’s favorite stage show in all of Walt Disney World. Perfect for all ages, this show has everything! Singing, dancing, aerial stunts, tumbling, and audience participation. All of that is wrapped up in a tribute to The Lion King!
10. Rafiki’s Planet Watch – If you don’t make time for visiting this area of Animal Kingdom, you’ll miss out on some very unique experiences. Take the Wildlife Express Train to this attraction and prepare to be amazed, educated, and entertained! This area of Animal Kingdom is devoted to animal care and conservation. Habitat Habit offers guests a self-guided tour highlighting what animals need to live. Conservation Station offers a wide variety of experiences including animal encounters, view-able veterinary treatment rooms, animal nutrition preparation, a virtual visit to the rain forest with Grandmother Willow, and much more. The Affection Section is a petting zoo – interact with, brush, pet, and feed a variety of farm animals which may include goats, pigs, donkeys, sheep and cows. Don’t worry – hand sanitizer is provided!
See? There’s plenty to do and see for an action-packed, fun-filled day at Animal Kingdom! Just remember – this park’s completely different from the other three in that there are many attractions best enjoyed at a relaxed pace.
What are your favorite Animal Kingdom attractions?