Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park was the fourth and final (so far) theme park built at Walt Disney World resort. It opened on Earth Day, April 22, 1998, which makes a lot of sense for this amazing theme park that focuses on Animal conservation. Animal Kingdom is also the largest theme park in the world covering 580 acres.
Over 13 million guests visited Animal Kingdom in 2018 making it the 3rd most visited theme park in the US and 6th in the world. After one visit you too will understand why so many people decide to visit this amazing theme park. With the immersive lands, thrilling rides, and tasty food. One visit you too will fall in love.
The complete guide to Animal Kingdom covers all the lands, rides, shows, food, and entertainment offered at the largest theme park in the world and the second most visited Walt Disney World resort. Now let’s look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Animal Kingdom Lands
Animal Kingdom is broken down into 5 different themed areas. You have Discovery Island, Asia, Africa, Dinoland USA, and Pandora. Each has its own unique feel and look. From the Tree of Life in Discovery Island to the floating mountains in Pandora. Your camera will be working overtime trying to get pictures of all the interesting sites.
Discovery Island is the main area of Animal Kingdom and the 3 other lands connect from here. The big draw at Discovery Island is the Tree of Life. A 145-foot artificial baobab tree. Can you spot all the different animals that make up the trunk?
Asia is another themed land in Animal Kingdom. The big draw here is the Forbidden Mount which stands at 199.5 feet tall making it the tallest structure at Walt Disney World.
Dinoland USA is another land located in Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park. This area is themed after a carnival and is home to one of the scariest rides at Disney. However, this land is often a favorite among children since it has the best playground area within Walt Disney World Resort.
Africa is another land that can be found in Animal Kingdom. While there is no towering mountain or trees that will draw people. The main draw here is the African safari, where you can see lions, rhinos, flamingos, and so much more. This is the closest most of us will ever get to go on a real African safari.
Pandora is the newest land in Animal Kingdom and one of the most popular lands in all of Walt Disney World. The level of detail is amazing and is a must-see at night where everything glows and lights up. Plus how can we forget to mention that one of the most popular rides at Disney World calls this land home! Of course, we are talking about Flight of Passage.
Food (Quick Service and Table Service)
Within Animal Kingdom you will find 4 table service restaurants. Seven quick-service restaurants (check out our rankings on them) and numerous food and beverage carts.
- Tusker House
- Rainforest Cafe
- Yak & Yeti
- Flame Tree BBQ
- Yak & Yeti Cafe
- Harambe Market
- Tamu Tamu Refreshments
- Satu’li Canteen
Now in the past (pre-Covid) Tusker House was an amazing character buffet that had African flavors. It was one of my favorite breakfast buffets at Walt Disney World. If buffets come back this is one that you need to book. The character interactions are amazing and the food is delicious.
Rainforest Cafe is another popular table service restaurant at Animal Kingdom. It is located right in the front of the park and offers some great dishes for both kids and adults. However, the kids will go crazy over the sparkling volcano dessert.
Yak & Yet is another popular restaurant in Walt Disney World. Here you can satisfy your cravings for Lo Mein Noodles or Sweet and Sour Chicken. One thing to note is that both Yak & Yeti and Rainforest Cafe are Landry’s Restaurants and members can get discounts on food.
Tiffins is the fine dining location at Animal Kingdom. The main courses here will cost you $30 or more and include things like Surf and Turf and butter chicken. If/when the dining plan returns, Tiffins is a two-credit table service location.
Now two of the best quick-service locations in all of Walt Disney World can be found in Animal Kingdom. Flame Tree BBQ is my personal favorite and is a good value out of pocket or on the dining plan. The ribs and chicken combo is amazing as well as the mac & cheese. You can’t go wrong when you order from Flame Tree. Just make sure you are hungry or bring a friend. The meals here are large enough to share.
Satu’li Canteen is another popular and good quick-service location at Disney. The chicken and beef bowls offer some truly tasty ingredients and people go crazy for the cheeseburger pods. Another great draw for this place is the indoor seating. Animal Kingdom can feel quite hot in the summer months so it is nice to find a seat inside.
If you are looking for the more classic theme park offerings a stop-off at Restaurantosaurus is for you. Here you will find chicken nuggets, burgers, and hot dogs. While none of these will knock your socks off. They are still good for your basic theme park fare.
Yak & Yeti cafe has your Asian offerings like Honey Chicken and egg rolls. Whereas Harambe Market has more African inspired dishes. Pizzafari as you would guess it offers pizza. However, unless you really like Disney pizza. I would skip this place altogether.
There are a total of seven rides at Animal Kingdom. These rides include Kilimanjaro Safaris, Flight of Passage, Na’vi River Journey, Dinosaur, TriceraTop Spin, Expedition Everest, and Kali River Rapids.
Flight of Passage ride video
Two of the best rides can be found at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Flight of Passage is one of the top rides at Disney World and an argument can be made for it being better than Rise of the Resistance over at Hollywood Studios. One thing that is for sure is it is much easier to get on.
Now Expedition Everest is considered by many people to be the best roller coaster in Walt Disney World. Both kids young and old enjoy the forbidden mountain. Just keep your eye out for the Yeti. You never know when he will show up.
Kali River Rapids won’t get you soaked like Splash Mountain. However, you might be that lucky person that does. Personally, I am never that lucky to get splashed while on Kali. Just make sure you put your stuff in the lockers near by in case you are one of the lucky ones.
Animal Kingdom is home to the scariest ride in all of Disney World. Dinosaur in DinoLand is often considered the scariest ride. It’s not hard to imagine why either. Some areas of the ride are pitch black and can be scary for the younger kids.
Na’vi River Journey gets a lot of hate but it is a nice relaxing boat ride through one of the most detailed rides at Walt Disney World. The scenery is amazing and really makes you feel like you are in Pandora. Just do yourself a favor and ride it at least once.
Animal Kingdom offers a wide range of shows. You will find shows based on The Lion King, Finding Nemo, It’s a Bug Life, and UP. The Festival of the Lion King show is considered by many to be the best show in all of Disney World. It is a broadway caliber show that is based on the Lion King and loved by so many Disney fans. A big bonus is that it is inside so try to see a show in the middle of the day to escape the Florida heat.
It’s tough to be a Bug can be found inside the Tree of Life and gives you some interesting views of the tree and all the animals carved on it. While some younger children can find this show scary since it is in a dark theater and has 3D elements. It is another fun and interesting show offered at Animal Kingdom.
Finding Nemo – The Musical is another favorite among Animal Kingdom and Disney Fans. This 40-minute long musical retells the story from the Finding Nemo movie. Will you be brave enough to sing along to Big Blue World?
Throughout Animal Kingdom you can find Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Daisy decked out in safari gear. It definitely gives you a different photo op than at the Magic Kingdom. I can say that I enjoy getting pictures of all the characters in their different outfits.
Now one of the coolest characters you will find walking around Animal Kingdom is Kevin from UP. Just watch out he has a tendency of sneaking up on guests.
Also don’t skip out on Pandora for an interesting character walking around. No, it’s not one of the Na’vi people but a human walking around in a utility suit. This ten-foot-tall suit is amazing to see in person and might just blow your mind. I know I was pretty surprised the first time I saw it.
How can we even give you a complete guide to Animal Kingdom without talking about the animals found all around the park? We can’t and that’s what we are going to do here. Like we said earlier, Animal Kingdom is the largest theme park in the world and can be considered more like a zoo than a theme park.
Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail takes you on a walking tour where you will find Okapi, Monkeys, Hippos, Meerkats, and of course, Gorillas. The area is nicely shaded and makes for a perfect trip at any part of the day.
Maharajah Jungle Trek is another walking tour in the Asian area of Animal Kingdom. Here you will find the beloved Asain Tiger, water buffalo, and Komodo Dragon. This is the perfect area to escape to while you wait for the family members that are not too scared to ride Everest. They can just meet you afterward while you stand in awe of the majestic tiger.
Now Kilimanjaro Safaris is where you will find the most animals. This 20+ minute safari ride will have you passing and waiting for graffiti, elephants, black rhinos, zebras, Wildebeest, Hyenas, White Rhinos, and Lions. The number of animals you see on this journey is amazing. I just hope there is enough space on your camera to get a picture of them all.
Throughout Animal Kingdom you will find little viewing areas. Here you can find all types of birds, mammals, and Kangaroos. Some are easy to spot while others you really have to look for. Either way, you are bound to see something amazing.
What would a Disney Theme Park be without areas to go shopping in? Animal Kingdom has some of the best shops in any Disney World theme park. Discovery Trading Company has all your Disney and Animal Kingdom merch needs covered. This large shop has it all from pins to shirts, to stuffed animals and so much more.
Head on over to Mombasa Marketplace in Africa to find some of the most unique items offered at any of the four Disney World theme parks. Windtraders in Pandora has you covered for your “out of this world” needs.
Just remember if you see something you want you better pick it up. Chances are you won’t find it at any of the other theme parks or Disney Springs.
Wilderness Explorers is an interactive adventure found at Animal Kingdom. Travel around the different lands in Animal Kingdom and earn your different badges (stickers) by learning and completing different tasks.
Just be on the lookout for the WE symbol around the park and complete your tasks. You can learn something new and have fun at the same time.
Animal Kingdom is considered by some to be a half day park. I completely disagree with them. There is so much to see and do that you can easily add a second day at Animal Kingdom. From the rides to shows and Animals to Food. You will find plenty to see and do at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Where does Animal Kingdom rank for you out of the four Walt Disney World theme parks? Is it a half day park for you and your family? Let us know in the comments below. Also let us know if we missed anything in our Complete Guide to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Are you short on time and can only visit a few theme parks on your next Disney Vacation? Here we list the different reason for picking Animal Kingdom or Hollywood Studios. We also have EPCOT or Animal Kingdom. Of course, no Disney Vacation is complete without visiting the Magic Kingdom.
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