The Ultimate Guide To Disney’s Animal Kingdom
“Behold the magic of nature with rare animals and world-class entertainment” at Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney Word’s largest park, focused on animal conservation. It is divided into seven different themed areas: Asia, Africa, Dinoland USA, Discovery Island, The Oasis, and Pandora-The World of Avatar.
Since Animal Kingdom is so large (totaling 580 acres) and spread out, looking at a map of the park can be overwhelming. Our ultimate guide to Animal Kingdom will help you plan your visit–from what to ride, which shows to see, what characters are at the park, and where to eat. Plus, we even have a few tips for you.
Here is your ultimate guide to Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom!
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Animal Kingdom Attractions And Rides
Whether you are looking for a thrill ride or child-friendly attraction, there is something for everyone at Animal Kingdom.
Kali River Rapids is the ultimate water ride, taking you on a rip-roaring, raft ride through scenic jungle landscapes. Travel back in time on a perilous prehistoric race to rescue a dinosaur before a meteor strikes on DINOSAUR.
Rides you will want to get a FastPass for are Expedition Everest (speed through the Himalayas on a runaway trail while avoiding the mythic Yeti), Avatar Flight of Passage (climb atop a winged mountain banshee for a breathtaking 3D flight over Pandora’s otherworldly landscape) or Na’vi River Journey (navigate deep into a bioluminescent rainforest on this family-fun adventure), and Kilimanjaro Safaris (a guided tour of an African savanna on an open-air vehicle to see live animals roaming free).
Children will love Conservation Station (encounter fascinating animals and learn what it takes to care for them), Affection Section (the only petting zoo at Walt Disney World), Primeval Whirl (spinning dinosaur-themed coaster), It’s Tough To Be A Bug! (discover what it’s like to be a bug during this 3D film and live show), and TriceraTOP Spin (fly high on a dinosaur around a twirling tin-toy top).
The Maharajah Jungle Trek (traipse down mystical trail to discover a wonderland of tigers and other wild animals), Discovery Island Trails (stroll tranquil pathways around the Tree of Life and discover a lush landscape brimming with wildlife), and Gorilla Falls Exploration Trails (explore a lush tropical forest inhabited by native African wildlife including gorillas, hippos, and exotic birds) are often overlooked, but allow you to see some the animals that call Disney’s Animal Kingdom home.
Animal Kingdom Entertainment
There are two Broadway-style shows at Animal Kingdom that should not be missed: Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo-The Musical. Although the shows are spectacular, they’re also a chance to sit down and take a break in the air condition.
Animal Encounters: Winged Encounters and UP! A Great Bird Adventure give you a chance to see some of the park’s animals in action.
Musical performances take place throughout the park, so be on the lookout for those. Some of our favorites are the Tam Tam Drummers, Bollywood Beats, and Pandora Drummers.
The fun doesn’t end when the sun goes down, as Animal Kingdom has two nighttime experiences. See Animal Kingdom’s centerpiece come to life during the Tree of Life Awakenings or embrace the magic of nature at the Rivers of Light nighttime celebration. As of May 24th (2019), there will be a new Rivers of Light show, titled Rivers of Light: We Are One. The updated version will add new imagery and familiar Disney characters to Animal Kingdom’s current show.
Need to book a hotel room in the area?
Animal Kingdom Characters
Animal Kingdom’s character meet-and-greets feature some characters and outfits that you can’t see at any other Walt Disney World park.
The characters availabe for meet-and-greets at Disney’s Animal Kingdom are Donald Duck, Flik (A Bug’s Life), Goofy, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Pocahontas, Russell and Doug (UP), and Tarzan.
Tip: Characters often pop up unannounced in the middle of the day by the park entrance.
Animal Kingdom Restaurants
Majority of restaurants at Disney’s Animal Kingdom are quick service. Caravan Road (Asian), Dino Diner (American), Flame Tree Barbecue (American), Harambe Market (African), Pizzafari (American), and Satu’li Canteen (Avatar theme) are some unique choices.
Tusker House Restaurant (character dining), Rainforest Cafe, and Yak & Yeti are all great table service restaurants at Animal Kingdom. Yak and Yeti is our favorite restaurant in the park, maybe even at Walt Disney World all together. The food is fantastic! Read about our Yak and Yeti experiences here.
For a more upscale dining experience, opt to dine at Tiffins Restaurant.
Looking for a specialty cocktail? Visit the Nomad Lounge, Safari Bar, or Pongu Pongu in Pandora.
Note: Reservations are recommended for all table service restaurants at Walt Disney World.
Special Events At Animal Kingdom
There are three special events going on at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Donald’s Dino-Bash! is a prehistoric party with Donald Duck and friends in DinoLand U.S.A.
The Hakuna Matata Time Dance Party is happening in Discovery Island through September 30th (2019). This family-friendly event features music, dancing, games, and a few Disney friends.
From July 24th through October 23rd, embark on a journey celebrating The Lion King through rich flavors, music, and an appreciation for animal conservation. Circle of Flavors: Harambe at Night is a family-friendly dining experience taking place on select nights from 6 to 9 PM. The costs is $99 for children (3 to 9) and $125 for adults. Admission to Animal Kingdom is required and not included.
Tips For Visiting Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom is huge, so make sure to wear comfortable shoes!
Since Rafiki’s Planet Watch closes early, be sure to visit earlier in the day.
Start your day on the Safari because the animals are most awake in the morning.
Bring a fan! Animal Kingdom is the hottest Disney park. There’s very little shade and the plants give off heat.
Animal Kingdom has a lot to look at. You’re almost always surrounded by some sort of plant-life. Don’t run through the park; take it all in.
Children will love the Wilderness Explorers program. Pick up a handbook and let your kids collect 25 badges throughout the park, that teach them about animals and wilderness skills.
Plan on riding the Kali River Rapids? Bring a change of clothes! You will probably get soaked and you don’t want to walk around in wet clothes. There are lockers nearby where you can store your belongings.
Enjoy Your Time At Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom is a lot of fun. Whether you like thrill rides, mesmerizing shows, good eats, or animals, there is something for everyone at this Walt Disney World park. Use our guide to Disney’s Animal Kingdom to make the most of your visit.
Have a wild day!
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Taylor Pittman Hardy wrote this article.