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by Military Diva

Disney’s Animal Kingdom offers an amazing break from the rush and crowds of Disney World’s other parks.  In true Disney fashion, guests are transported to foreign lands that are both realistic and fictional.  But here guests are surrounded by nature, delighted by the live creatures, and inspired to learn about the living culture of each land.

Animal Kingdom Park has a multitude of activities and shows that enhance the available rides.  This park is so much more than a Zoo and is a true delight, especially if you know where to look!

Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom’s Tree of Life

I often hear guests say “there wasn’t much to do at Animal Kingdom”.  That can be true if you walk the main paths, forget to look at the Park Maps, or fail to look “behind the scenes”.

Let’s start by taking a look at the attractions that are available at Animal Kingdom. There might not be a lot in terms of number,  but they are HUGE in terms of thrills!

Animal Kingdom thrill rides

Animal Kingdom’s Expedition Everest

  • Avatar Flight of Passage-test your courage while riding a Na’vi Mountain Banshee, high thrill VR ride
  • Dinosaur-bumpy, drive through escape ride
  • Kali River Rapids
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris-ride through the African Savanna while viewing Lions, Giraffes, Zebras, Rhinos, and more
  • Na’vi River Journey-beautiful, peaceful ride through Pandora
  • TriceraTop Spin
  • Expedition Everest-The Legend of the Forbidden Journey-enjoy your train ride to the top of the Himalayas to find the Yeti, just be prepared for your journey back down! (Currently closed for Renovation)
  • Wildlife Express Train
Conservation Station train

To reach the Conservation Station, you must take the Wildlife Express Train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch.

Looking at the short size of this list, many guests shrug and sigh, feeling like Animal Kingdom won’t offer enough to keep their attention. However, this park has several shows that help fill in the gaps.

timon at festival of the lion king (folk)

Celebration of the Festival of the Lion King

  • A Celebration of Festival of the Lion King-a live show that highlights the best of the Lion King through music, jokes, dance, acrobatics, and fire! (25 min)
  • Animal Encounters-Winged Encounters-The Kingdom Takes Flight-see the work being done to train Animal Kingdom’s feathered friends in this interactive stage show
  • Disney Kite Tails-celebrate the Lion King and Jungle Book through the high flying kite action, storytelling music, and Cast Member dance interactions (10 min)
  • It’s Tough to Be a Bug-take a chance and see life through the eyes of a bug (10 min)
    • take your time passing through the queue…notice all the animal carvings in the Tree of Life!
  • Finding Nemo…The Big Blue and Beyond-relive the movie through Grand Puppetry, amazing set design, and beloved music from Finding Nemo (pre-Covid, 35 min-returning in 2022!

The above-listed shows, with the exception of “It’s Tough to Be a Bug”, run at scheduled times during the day. Guests need to look book their Genie+ Lightning Lane, look at the Times Guide, or check their app so they properly fit shows into their daily schedule. Attention to showtimes and dining reservations help to maximize the day!

Animal Kingdom Shows

Don’t miss the NEW Kite Tails show at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lagoon

And of course, you can’t visit Animal Kingdom without spending some time with the Animals!  Disney’s Animal Kingdom has an amazing way of hiding many of its residents in plain sight!  It’s easy to walk past without noticing their homes. Here’s the list of “don’t miss” creatures and exhibits in the park.


Disney Animal Kingdom Walking Trails

Catch the tigers on the Maharajah Jungle Trek walking path.

  • Affection Section-petting area in the Conservation Station
  • Asian Small Clawed Otters-located across from Pizzafari
  • Bird Aviary and Butterflies
  • Cotton-Top Tamarins
  • Feathered Friends in Flight
  • Flamingos
  • Gibbons
  • Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail
  • Invertebrates
  • Komodo Dragon
  • Maharajah Jungle Trak (Tigers!)
  • Meerkats

Disney’s Animal Kingdom has a beautiful design that encourages you to stroll from one area to another. Don’t be afraid to walk to venture off of the main path, follow the trail, or take time to explore!  But Beware-due to the humidity and walking you will get dehydrated and HUNGRY!

Animal Kingdom Character Dining

Visit with Donald Duck and friends at the Family-Style dining location

There are food, drink, snack, and fruit offerings throughout the park.  The following is a list of our personal favorites!

  • Dino-Bite snacks-ice cream, sundaes, ice cream sandwiches, and more
  • Eight Spoon Cafe-Baked Mac & Cheese with pulled pork, jelly doughnut sandwich
  • Flame Tree Barbecue-ribs, chicken, salads, baked mac & cheese with pulled pork, kids’ favorites (quick service)
  • Harambe Fruit Market
  • Kusafiri Coffee Shop & Bakery
  • Pizzafari (quick service)
  • Rainforest Cafe (table service, reservations recommended)
  • Satu’li Canteen-beef, shrimp, chicken bowls with vegetable and grain options (quick service)
  • Tamu Tamu Refreshments-alcoholic and non-alcoholic Dole Whip options
  • Tiffins Restaurant (table service, reservations recommended)
  • Tusker House Restaurant-family-style, all you care to eat character meal (table service, reservations recommended)
  • Yak & Yeti Local Cafe-breakfast bowls and sandwiches; honey chicken with rice and vegetables, sweet &sour shrimp bowl, vegetable marsala, burgers,
  • Yak & Yeti Restaurant (table service, reservations recommended)
Table Service “Twins”: Where to find Table Service Dishes Without Having to Break the Bank or Make Reservations

The Yak and Yeti Local Cafe is located just outside the Yak and Yeti Restaurant. Photo courtesy Devo CabDisney

And if you still need more to fill your day, or need time to digest, consider one of the following experiences.

Animal Kingdom Experiences

Get your face painted at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

  • Animation Experience at Conservation Station-learn to draw your favorite character with the help of a Disney Animator
  • Conservation Station-view the Veterinary area of Animal Kingdom. If you’re lucky, you will be able to see some of the Disney Caretakers at work, treating one of their residents.
  • Chakranadi-live cultural music
  • Face painting
  • Fossil Fun Games-carnival style games in Dinoland USA
  • Kora Tinga Tinga-live cultural music
  • Tam Tam Drummers of Harambe
  • The Boneyard-open air “dinosaur-dig” play area for kids and families
  • Tree of LIfe Awakenings-be amazed as the Tree of Life “awakens” with light every evening
  • Viva Gaia Street Band
  • Wilderness Explorers- put your family’s skills to the test by completing self-guided activities and challenges through the park, earning up to 25 badges.
  • Capture Your Moment-private 20-minute in-park photo session

The World's Most Magical Celebration


And finally, if you want to see more of the “backstage” area of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, consider booking one of these tours!  (Bookings available 60 days prior to check-in for onsite resort guests; 60 days from the day of experience for offsite guests).

  • Caring for Giants-60 minute experience with the African elephants
  • Savor the Savanna-private safari tour with meal and drinks
  • Up Close with Rhinos-60 minute experience with the Animal Kingdom Rhinos
  • Wild Africa Trek-3 hour private VIP tour with snacks and drinks

Disney Parks have always been known for top-notch guest experiences. Locations such as Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios offer “in your face” entertainment and experiences. Disney’s Animal Kingdom makes you work a little harder but offers more of a laid-back, enjoyable experience. Feel free to give your little a little more room to walk and more time to slow the crazy park pace. You might even be able to let your kids take the lead here, allowing them to guide your travels!

If you would like more tips or assistance booking your next trip, consider contacting Patricia Payne with All for Dreams Travel. She works with her clients to customize their vacation to their family’s health and travel needs, provides Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane guidance, concierge-style service, and daily itinerary planning. Her prices will always match the Consumer Site and her fees are paid by the supplier. She does not charge any additional fees for her services.

Patricia Payne with All for Dreams Travel is partnered with Gateway to Magic Travel, an Authorized Disney Travel Planner