A guide to all Animal Kingdom attractions

by Shannon Albert 74 comments Like the Facebook page

(Article last updated: August 2, 2016)

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).

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

Africa

Kilimanjaro Safaris

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.

FP+ available? Yes
Height req.: None
Suitable for: Everybody
Recommended? Definitely
When to visit: 1st hour (or later with FastPass+)
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.

Festival of the Lion King

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.

FP+ available? Yes
Suitable for: Everybody
Recommended? Absolutely
When to visit: Anytime, as scheduled
Tips: Check show times to see when it's scheduled, and show up 15-20 minutes beforehand, trying to sit near the front of a section for the best views.

Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail

Walking tour that 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
When to visit: Anytime
Tips: The trail entrance is near the exit to Kilimanjaro Safaris and consequently it can become quite busy (and HOT) during the middle of the day. If you'd like to walk the trail, try to get there early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid the crowds and the heat.

Asia

Expedition Everest

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 before heading forward again on a thrilling ride.

FP+ available? Yes
Height req.: 44
Suitable for: Coaster lovers. Although many kindergarten and 1st graders will be tall enough to ride, many get off of it bawling because it was way too intense for them. If your child is tall enough, make sure they're also ready for a big ride.
Recommended? Yes!
When to visit: 1st hour (or later with FastPass+)
Tips: Use a FastPass+ 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+ reservation.

Kali River Rapids

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.

FP+ available? Yes
Height req.: 38
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?)
When to visit: 2nd hour (or later with FastPass+)
Tips: Wear a poncho to avoid getting wet, and plan on using the free lockers nearby to store your belongings

Flights of Wonder

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 stunts.

FP+ available? Yes
Height req.: None
Suitable for: Anybody
Recommended? Good time-filler, not necessarily a must-see
When to visit: Anytime, as scheduled
Tips: Arrive about 10-15 minutes before the show begins. Morning visits will be more comfortable to avoid the hot afternoon temps.

Maharajah Jungle Trek

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

Height req.: None
Suitable for: Anybody
Recommended? Not a must-see but a good time-filler for animal lovers
When to visit: Anytime
Tips: If you love tigers try to go early in the morning when the tigers will be more active.

Baloo & King Louie (character meet)

Character meet

Height req.: None
Suitable for: Anybody
When to visit: 10:30am-2:10pm, 3:00pm-6:40pm

DinoLand U.S.A.

Primeval Whirl

A jerky, spinning, coaster ride.

FP+ available? Yes
Height req.: 48
Suitable for: People who like to get whiplash
Recommended? No
When to visit: 2nd hour (or later with FastPass+)
Tips: If you are using <a href="http://wdwprepschool.com/how-to-child-swap-at-disney-world/">Rider Switch</a>, the nearby Boneyard playground and Triceratop Spin (ride) are great alternatives for those not tall enough for Primeval Whirl.

DINOSAUR

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.

FP+ available? Yes
Height req.: 40
Suitable for: Bigger kids and adults
Recommended? Yes
When to visit: 2nd hour (or later with FastPass+)
Tips: If you're using <a href="http://wdwprepschool.com/how-to-child-swap-at-disney-world/">Rider Switch</a>, the Boneyard is nearby and is a good place to entertain little ones while the older people in your group ride.

Boneyard

Pllay structure that's great for letting little ones run around and burn off some steam. If you're using <a href="http://wdwprepschool.com/how-to-child-swap-at-disney-world/">Rider Switch</a> on a couple of nearby rides, this is a good place to entertain little ones while the older people in your group ride.

Height req.: None
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.
When to visit: Anytime (often opens an hour after the park)
Tips: This area usually opens an hour after the park does so don't plan to stop by until then.

Fossil Fun Games

Carnival games themed for this section.

Height req.: None
Suitable for: Anybody
Recommended? Just as a time killer if you're looking for something to do
When to visit: Anytime
Tips: Don't forget that if you win a prize you'll have to carry it around with you, so if you'd like to try your luck on the games consider playing right before you head out of the park.

Finding Nemo - The Musical

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.

FP+ available? Yes
Height req.: None
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.
When to visit: Anytime, as scheduled
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 views are in the top, middle section.

TriceraTop Spin

Dumbo but with dinosaurs.

Height req.: None
Suitable for: Young kids
Recommended? No, unless you're just trying to kill time with little ones
When to visit: Anytime
Tips: It is easy to take multiple rides on here without much of a wait, especially early in the morning.

Goofy & Pluto (character meet)

Height req.: None
When to visit: 10:50am-2:30pm, 3:00pm-6:40pm

Donald Duck (character meet)

When to visit: 10:20am - 5:30pm

Discovery Island

Discovery Island Trails

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.

Height req.: None
Suitable for: Anybody
Recommended? Only if you have extra time and/or want to see as many animals as possible.
When to visit: Anytime
Tips: These trails can be extra hot during the middle of the day, so if you want to visit them aim for mornings or evenings.

It's Tough to be a Bug

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.

FP+ available? Yes
Height req.: None
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.
When to visit: Anytime
Tips: 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 often 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.

Meet Disney Pals at Adv. Outpost (character meet)

FP+ available? Yes
Height req.: None
When to visit: Intermittently from 9:00am until 30 minutes prior to park closing

Flik (character meet)

Height req.: None
When to visit: 1:30pm-2:10pm, 2:30pm-3:10pm, 3:30pm-4:10pm

Russell & Dug (character meet)

Height req.: None
When to visit: 1:30pm-6:30pm

Pocahontas (character meet)

Height req.: None
When to visit: 9:45am-1:00pm, 2:50pm-5:55pm

Tarzan (character meet)

Height req.: None
When to visit: 2:10pm-2:50pm, 3:15pm-3:55pm

The Oasis

DiVine

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

Height req.: None
Suitable for: Everyone
Recommended? Yes
When to visit: As scheduled
Tips: If you arrive at Animal Kingdom before park opening, you can often catch her just to the right after entering the turnstiles for her first set of the day.

Rafiki's Planet Watch

Habitat Habit!

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

Height req.: None
Suitable for: Anybody
Recommended? No, unless animals are a focus
When to visit: Anytime (opens 30 min. after park)
Tips: If you're looking for a real "trail" to explore and view animals, try the Maharajah Jungle Trek instead.

Wildlife Express Train

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.

Height req.: None
Suitable for: Anybody
Recommended? Not unless you plan to spend time at the Conservation Station, the Affection Section or Habitat Habit.
When to visit: Anytime
Tips: It sometimes takes 1.5 hours round trip so be aware of that before you board

Conservation Station

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.

Height req.: None
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.
When to visit: Anytime (opens 30 min. after park)
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

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

Height req.: None
Suitable for: Anybody
Recommended? No, unless you really want to see the animals here
When to visit: Anytime

Rafiki (character meet)

Height req.: None
When to visit: 1:50pm-2:30pm

Chip 'n' Dale (character meet)

Height req.: None
When to visit: 1:40pm-5:20pm

Nighttime entertainment

Rivers of Light (coming soon, exact date unknown)

Height req.: None
When to visit: As scheduled (nighttime entertainment)

Tree of Life Awakenings

At night you can watch the Tree of Life "awaken" and come to life with flickering fireflies and magical animals. This show uses the same projection technology as Celebrate the Magic and has 4 different shows that rotate through the evening.

Height req.: None
Suitable for: Anybody
Recommended? Yes
When to visit: As scheduled (nighttime entertainment). The last one takes place 15 minutes after park closing.
Tips: Since a new show starts approximately every 10 minutes this is easy to catch on your way out and is a perfect end to an Animal Kingdom visit.

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.

WDW Prep Members

Level 2 WDW Prep Members have touring plan tools to put together their own plans. The attractions indicate height requirements, if it's a good use of FastPass+, illustrations of ride vehicles so you can see how many people will fit (especially handy if the kids outnumber the adults), and when to visit each attraction.

And as you build your touring plans, they are grouped by hour (for the first 3 hours) and then your whole plan is plotted on a map at the bottom of the page so you can see how it all lays out.

⇢ Get access to Level 2 tools ⇠