Animal Kingdom is the youngest park at Walt Disney World. It’s also one of the most unique thanks to its zoo-like atmosphere.
Even though there are a variety of animals to see, including giraffes, zebras, and elephants, it’s far different than a zoo.
Animal Kingdom is known for having some of the best park food on property, thrilling attractions, exciting tours, and much, much more.
As the biggest Disney World theme park, there’s a lot to see and do, so why not take a deep dive into each land?
Here we take a closer look into Rafiki’s Planet Watch, a land you can only access by hopping on the “Wildlife Express Train.”
This area is where you can learn how to draw your favorite characters at the Animation Experience, meet different animals at Affection Section, and possibly even see a procedure in process at the Veterinary Treatment Room.
As Animal Kingdom’s conservation and veterinary headquarters, Rafiki’s Planet Watch is not only educational, but a fun spot for both kids and adults.
Location: Animal Kingdom
Animals: Goats, sheep, chickens, cattle, donkeys, pigs, butterflies, tarantulas, scorpions, millipedes, lizards, snakes, mantis’, cockroaches, beetles, tortoise, and more
Attractions: The Animation Experience, Wildlife Express Train
Trails: Habitat Habit!
Popular snacks and drinks: None
Not-to-miss: The Animation Experience, Affection Section
Rafiki’s Planet Watch Map
While there aren’t too many seating areas at Rafiki’s Planet Watch, you’ll find different outdoor sections, including a couple near Affection Section.
They may not be thrill rides, but there are a couple noteworthy attractions at Rafiki’s Planet Watch.
Wildlife Express Train
The Wildlife Express Train is the only way to get to Rafiki’s Planet Watch.
One of the best parts of the train is that you get behind-the-scenes views of the animals backstage and the different areas where they receive care, including the rhinos and elephants.
You’ll find the Harambe Station in Africa, where you can board the train for about a 7-minute ride to and from Rafiki’s Planet Watch.
The train runs non-stop starting 30 minutes after park opening. The last daily train departs from Harambe Station at 4:30 p.m.
Guests can remain in wheelchairs, motorized scooters, or ECVs when boarding the train.
The Animation Experience at Conservation Station
The Animation Experience at Conservation Station is where guests take a 25-minute class learning how to draw different Disney characters.
A Disney animator gives step-by-step instruction on how to illustrate your own version of a popular Disney character.
The characters available to draw rotate and sometimes special ones are drawn for a limited time during the premiere of a new TV series or release of a new movie.
While there is a Lightning Lane available here, we don’t recommend making a this a top Genie+ priority.
That said, if you want to try the Animation Experience, you need to plan accordingly since you have to take a train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch.
The Wildlife Express Trains runs non-stop starting 30 minutes after park opening. The last daily train departs from Harambe Station at 4:30 p.m.
Disney recommends boarding the train at least 40 minutes prior to the experience start time, especially since classes can fill up. You can find daily class times for the Animation Experience in the My Disney Experience app.
Rafiki’s Planet Watch used to have a show on the Animal Encounters Stage, where guests could learn more about different animals and get an up-close peek into their habitats.
Currently, there isn’t any entertainment at Rafiki’s Planet Watch, but guests are welcome to sit on these benches if they need a break or are waiting on other members of their party.
The Habitat Habit! trail is the path you first encounter after you disembark the Wildlife Express Train.
This trail leads you to the Conservation Station, which houses the Animation Experience and other exhibits, along with Affection Section.
Along the trail, you’ll also find:
- A statue of Rafiki from The Lion King
- Wilderness Explorers location
- Butterfly crossing area
You can find a range of animals at Rafiki’s Planet Watch, especially at Affection Section where guests are invited to pet a variety of animals.
Save this map for future reference as you explore the Rafiki’s Planet Watch:
Tip: You can also find select animals in the My Disney Experience app under the “attractions” category. Plus, at the park entrance next to the park guide map, there should be literature on the animals and their locations.
Affection Section is the only petting zoo at Disney World.
Some of the domesticated animals at Affection Section include:
Important: Before petting animals, all guests are required to wash their hands. You must also wash your hands when you’re finished. There is a wash area near the entrance for guests to use.
Butterflies at Conservation Station
Rafiki’s Planet Watch has a pollinator garden for butterflies. Did you know that Walt Disney World Resort is home to more than 70 butterfly species?
There are even flower gardens at Disney Resort hotels that were specially designed to attract local butterflies.
Here are the different butterfly species you might see around Disney World, including Rafiki’s Planet Watch:
- Eastern Tiger Swallowtails: This is one of the most recognized butterflies in North America due to its large yellow wings with black stripes. It also has a wingspan of up to 6 inches (15 cm).
- Whites and Sulphurs: Sulphur butterflies can be found year-round in Florida and are usually yellow, orange, or white.
- Brush-Footed: These often have hairy forelegs that resemble tiny brushes. Species include monarchs, gulf fritillaries (long, narrow orange wings with silvery spots) and the zebra longwing (black with yellow stripes) — the state butterfly of Florida.
- Skippers: Some skippers are tropical checkered (dark brown wings with small white spots), with long-tailed skippers having bluish-green iridescent bodies). They are also known for being fast.
- Gossamer-Winged: These are often small and dainty, with brightly colored iridescent wings.
Amphibian, Reptile, and Invertebrate Windows
Inside the Conservation Station, you can check out different amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates, like:
Other Animal-Related Exhibits
You can also find the following animal-related exhibits inside the Conservation Station.
Veterinary Treatment Room
Here, you can get a close-up look at the place where Disney cares for the animas. You may even be lucky enough to see an animal procedure in process.
A schedule is usually posted on a monitor for guests to see what procedures are happening that day.
The Nutrition Center is where experts prepare meals for the park animals.
This is where you can check out what Disney’s resident scientists are working on.
There are a couple activities at Rafiki’s Planet Watch that are perfect for littles ones.
Coin Press Machine
You can purchase Lion King-themed pennies featuring Simba, Timon, and Pumbaa. You can buy one penny for $1 or three for $3.
Wilderness Explorer Troop Leader Location
There is a Wilderness Explorer Troop Leader stand at Rafiki’s Planet Watch. You’ll find it on the Habitat Habit! trail.
This activity is complimentary. You can also pick up a handbook here, which will be given to you by a fellow Wilderness Explorer.
They will give you everything you need before setting out on self-guided nature-themed challenges you’ll complete around Animal Kingdom.
Once you’ve collected over 25 badges, you’ll be able to call yourself a “Wilderness Explorer” and also recite the famous call.
You can find handbooks at the “Wilderness Explorer headquarters” stand, which is located right off the bridge connecting the Oasis to Discovery Island, or at other Wilderness Explorer Troop Leader locations in Africa, Asia, DinoLand U.S.A., and Pandora.
You can find a portable phone charging station (aka where you can swap and purchase FuelRods) outside Conservation Station across from Affection Section.
Nearby are vending machines for anyone needing a quick snack or drink.
There is also a souvenir I.D. tag machine.
You can find one set of restrooms inside the Conservation Station near the main entrance.
Rafiki’s Planet Watch Checklist
What’s your favorite thing about Rafiki’s Planet Watch in Animal Kingdom? Tell us in the comments!
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