A guide to all Animal Kingdom attractions

by Shannon Albert 67 comments Like the Facebook page

(Article last updated: August 4, 2014)

The Ultimate Resource for Animal KingdomI think Animal Kingdom is a hugely underrated park.

It's a beautiful place with interesting things to see, impeccable theming and some fantastic attractions.

Here's a guide to every single attraction to help you decide what to do when you visit.

A quick overview

Animal Kingdom is the largest of all of the theme parks in terms of acres but has the least amount of attractions. The park icon is a the big man-made tree called The Tree of Life.

As the park's name implies, there are lots of live animal attractions here, but there are some good non-animal attractions as well (including the 2 best live shows in all of Disney World).

Animal Kingdom closes earlier than any of the other parks and many people consider it a half-day park.

Let's take a look at each section of Animal Kingdom and what attractions are located there.

The Oasis

theoasisThe Oasis is usually just an area you walk by to get to the rest of the park but it is its own section listed on the park maps.

Animal Kingdom Cast Members often let visitors into this section before the park opens which gives it some much-needed attention that it wouldn't get otherwise.

There are shaded trails, little streams and some interesting animals like an anteater, barking deer and wallaby.


Suitable for: Anybody
Recommended? Only if you have extra time and/or want to see as many animals as possible.

Discovery Island

discoveryislandBetter known as "that area where the big tree is," this section has a couple of attractions for guests to explore.

You might also take the time to check out the tree which has 103,000 leaves and each and every one was attached by hand (!).

In 2012, nets were erected over the walkways in this area due to tree limbs falling from The Tree of Life so the view of the tree is somewhat obstructed from some spots.

The attractions in Discovery Island are:

It's Tough to be a Bug

FP+ available?
Yes

Height req.:
None

This 3D show is inside of the Tree of Life and features characters from "A Bug's Life." As you're looking at The Tree of Life from the front of the park, the entrance for this show is located just to the right side, near the paths that you'd take to DinoLand, U.S.A.

Many families are drawn to this attraction because it's cool to be able to go inside the tree and the characters are from a kid-friendly movie, but I have to warn you that little ones scream at this show. It's dark and there are scary parts that freak kids out, leaving everybody to sit in a theater with inconsolable tots.


Suitable for: Big kids and adults
Recommended? It's not a must-see, but it's a fun time-filler and a nice break from the heat.


Discovery Island Trails

FP+ available?
No

Height req.:
None

These trails go all around Discovery Island (hence the name, right?) and you have a chance to see Galapagos tortoises, African crested porcupines, lemurs and tamarins.


Suitable for: Anybody
Recommended? Only if you have extra time and/or want to see as many animals as possible.

Africa and Rafiki's Planet Watch

africaThis section is primarily known for being home to the Safaris ride, but the area is really well-themed and features some interesting African items that you can purchase, including several African beers that are fun to try.

It's also a good area to watch live entertainment. In the afternoon and evening, there's a "street band" that performs and in the morning and early afternoon, live drummers appear for several shows.

The attractions in this section are:


Festival of the Lion King

FP+ available?
Yes

Height req.:
None

This big, fun, Broadway-style show lasts for 30 minutes and is 1 of the best shows at Disney World. There is lots of music, dancing, stilt walkers and acrobats, featuring music and stories from The Lion King.


Suitable for: Everybody
Recommended? Absolutely
Tips: Check show times to see when it's scheduled, show up 15-20 minutes beforehand, try to sit near the front of a section but a row or two back so you can see over the front row which is usually reserved for handicapped guests.


Kilimanjaro Safaris

FP+ available?
Yes

Height req.:
None

This attraction includes visitors riding in safari vehicles that are driven by guides who really do drive (no tracks) and they are very knowledgeable about the animals. As you go, the drivers give you lots of info based on what you see along the ride and sometimes have to stop to wait for animals to clear the path.


Suitable for: Everybody
Recommended? Definitely
Tips: Visit first thing in the morning after the park opens. Not only does the line get really long really fast but the animals do seem to be out more in the morning. The earlier you arrive at Animal Kingdom, the easier it will be to get on this ride without a wait (we once arrived at 8:45 and ended up waiting in this line for about 45 minutes but arriving to Animal Kingdom at 8:15-8:30 allows for a shorter wait).


Pangani Forest Exploration Trail

FP+ available?
No

Height req.:
None

This walking tour allows you to see birds, fish, gorillas and hippos.


Suitable for: Anybody
Recommended? Not a must-see unless you're trying to see lots of animals


Wildlife Express Train

FP+ available?
No

Height req.:
None

This train departs every 5-7 minutes (though lines to board the train can be lengthy) to take people to visit the Rafiki's Planet Watch section.


Suitable for: Anybody
Recommended? No, unless the fairly lengthy time it takes is worth it to see some of the attractions described below. It sometimes takes 1.5 hours round trip so be aware of that before you board.


Habitat Habit!

FP+ available?
No

Height req.:
None

Outdoor trails in the Rafiki's Planet Watch section where you can see cotton-top tamarins.


Suitable for: Anybody
Recommended? No, unless animals are a focus


Conservation Station

FP+ available?
No

Height req.:
None

This is a behind-the-scenes look at the care provided for the animals in the park. What you will see will vary depending on what's going on that day but could include watching surgeons operate on animals, experts presenting various wildlife and veterinarians who are available to answer questions.


Suitable for: Anybody
Recommended? Only if your interest in seeing the animals being cared for is strong enough to justify the time it takes to get there and back.
Tips: This section opens 30 minutes after the rest of the park does. If operations are going to be performed that day, they are usually performed in the morning.


Affection Section

FP+ available?
No

Height req.:
None

A petting zoo area with animals like goats, sheep, donkeys, cows and pigs.


Suitable for: Anybody
Recommended? No, unless you really want to see the animals here

Asia

asiaAhh, my most favorite themed area is in Asia, especially around Expedition Everest.

The theming here isn't focused on a particular country but includes inspiration from Nepal, India, Thailand and Indonesia.

There's been speculation that an animal-themed version of World of Color (a show which currently only lives in the California Adventure theme park) will be brought to the lagoon in this area in the near future.

A few different attractions are in this section including:


Flights of Wonder

FP+ available?
No

Height req.:
None

An educational bird show that's outside but covered and out of the sun. Don't expect animals to do any special tricks here. Although it's structured in an entertaining way, the focus is on educating people about animals, not having the birds perform silly stunts.


Suitable for: Anybody
Recommended? Good time-filler, not necessarily a must-see
Tips: Don't be late to this show because they have to close up the area so the birds don't fly out and you won't be able to get in after it starts. Arrive about 10-15 minutes before the show begins. Morning visits will be more comfortable to avoid the hot afternoon temps.


Maharajah Jungle Trek

FP+ available?
No

Height req.:
None

A walking path through "ruins" that allows you to see tigers, Komodo dragons, giant fruit bats and other exotic animals.


Suitable for: Anybody
Recommended? Not a must-see but a good time-filler for animal lovers


Kali River Rapids

FP+ available?
Yes

Height req.:
38"

A river raft ride that has a very high chance of soaking you.

I really love this ride but many people really dislike it. Watch the video below to see if you think it's something you'll want to do during your trip.


Suitable for: Anybody who doesn't mind getting wet
Recommended? Yes, unless you hate being wet (have I mentioned that it gets you wet yet?)
Tips: Wear a poncho


Expedition Everest

FP+ available?
Yes

Height req.:
44"

Expedition Everest is a fantastic roller coaster (my favorite ride at Disney World, in fact).

It starts off like a pretty normal coaster and then stops and goes backward.


Suitable for: Coaster lovers. Although many kindergarten and 1st graders will be tall enough to ride, I've seen many get off of it bawling because it was way too intense for them.
Recommended? Yes!
Tips: Make use of FastPasses if you don't ride it first thing when the park opens. There is also a single rider option which would help people ride if they don't have a FastPass.

DinoLand U.S.A.

dinolandusaThis area has a carnival feel to it that's heavily themed around dinosaurs, right down to the primitive plants that grow in this section.

The attractions in DinoLand include a huge mix of things: a play area, a terrifying ride, some carnival games and 1 of the best live shows in all of Disney World.



The Boneyard

FP+ available?
No

Height req.:
None

This is a play structure that's great for letting little ones run around and burn off some steam.

If you're using Child Swap on a couple of nearby rides, this is a good place to entertain little ones while the older people in your group ride.


Suitable for: Young children
Recommended? Not a must-see but a great way to let cranky kids run around and not worry about being restrained in a stroller or standing in a line somewhere.
Tips: This area opens 30 minutes after the park does so don't plan to stop by until then.


Fossil Fun Games

FP+ available?
No

Height req.:
None

Carnival games themed for this section.


Suitable for: Anybody
Recommended? Just as a time killer if you're looking for something to do


Finding Nemo - The Musical

FP+ available?
Yes

Height req.:
None

A Broadway-style show featuring super talented performers who sing and control puppet-type versions of the characters.

Really great show and I feel like it keeps getting better.


Suitable for: Anybody
Recommended? Yes, unless you have young kids who aren't into shows. I think everybody will like Festival of the Lion King because it's so high energy and fun. This one is great for people who tend to enjoy musicals.
Tips: You'll want to check the times guide for the show time and then show up about 15-20 minutes before a show begins. The best seats are in the top, middle section.


Primeval Whirl

FP+ available?
Yes

Height req.:
48"

A jerky, twisty, coaster type of ride.

I expected to love this ride because it looks similar to a ride at our local Six Flags but ended up really disliking it.


Suitable for: People who like to get whiplash
Recommended? No


TriceraTop Spin

FP+ available?
No

Height req.:
None

Dumbo but with dinosaurs.


Suitable for: Young kids
Recommended? No, unless you're just trying to kill time with little ones


DINOSAUR

FP+ available?
Yes

Height req.:
40"

This ride takes you on a rough ride through history where you see lots of dinosaurs along the way.

I've never taken a ride photo on this ride where I wasn't covering my face.


Suitable for: Bigger kids and adults
Recommended? Yes

Other attractions worth mentioning

There are a few other things that don't fit neatly into the park areas listed above.

  • DiVine. DiVine is a vine-covered character portrayed by a performance artist named Priscilla Blight. She's mesmerizing to watch. Check the daily times guide so you know when to look for her.

Touring Animal Kingdom

The new FastPass+ system is in place at Animal Kingdom and all guests (on-site and off-site) are now using it instead of the old paper FastPasses. Please see my Animal Kingdom FastPass+ guide for info on how to tour.

The map below is a bonus that people get when purchasing the eBook. It prints out on 1 piece of paper and indicates when to ride each ride, which attractions have FastPass+, the location of the FastPass+ kiosks and recommended dining.

Dining at Animal Kingdom

I have a dining guide below to help you decide on dining options at Animal Kingdom.

The pros and cons of all Animal Kingdom restaurants
There are a few great places to eat at Animal Kingdom, including a character dining location that's a good option when others seem to be fully booked up months in advance.


Enjoy this article? Sign up to get updates (it's free).