The Entrance to Disney's Animal Kingdom

The Top 10 Attractions at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened in 1998, the fourth theme park at Walt Disney World in Orlando. It’s unique among the twelve Disney theme parks around the world in that its main focus is on animals. It was conceived as a cross between a zoo and a theme park with animal exhibits sitting alongside roller coasters, shows and other attractions. There are 6 lands in the park – Oasis (the entrance), Discovery Island, Africa, Asia, Dinoland U.S.A and Pandora – The World of Avatar. You’ll be able to meet all your favourite Disney characters like in the other parks but in Animal Kingdom, the animals really are the stars.

Kolyn and Denis in Disney's Animal Kingdom
Myself and himself on a VERY hot day in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Pandora – The World of Avatar opened in 2017, based around James Cameron’s Avatar and set around the Na’vi people of the planet Pandora. It’s really amazing, especially at night. It’s massively popular though with queues reaching over 3 hours on busier days! I would recommend spending extra on Disney Genie+ to keep your queuing to a minimum. Disney Genie+ lets you book a time in advance so you can use the Lightning Lane. You can make one Genie+ selection at a time throughout the day.

Just another word of advice. You can get 2 park, 1 day tickets etc for Walt Disney World. I would advise against it. Disney’s Animal Kingdom is HUGE. It takes a lot of time to get around and it’s worth spending the time exploring the trails, seeing the animals and watching the shows. You’ll have a really good day that doesn’t feel as frantic as other theme parks.

So with that being said, here’s my list of the top attractions at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park. Feel free to let me know if you agree or disagree in the comments.

10. TriceraTop Spin

TriceraTop Spin is located in Chester and Hester’s Dino-Rama, a sub area of Dinoland U.S.A. It’s a spinning ride similar to Dumbo The Flying Elephant in Magic Kingdom. If you’re seated in the back row, you can direct how high or low you fly by moving an onboard lever up or down. If you’re sitting in the front row, manoeuvring a joystick will tip your dinosaur forward or backward. Kids love it. Dinoland U.S.A feels a bit out of place in Disney’s Animal Kingdom and there’s now plans to turn the area into a Tropical Americas themed land with attractions based on Encanto and Indiana Jones. That means that time might soon be up for Chester and Hester and TriceraTop Spin.

TriceraTop Spin in Dinoland USA
TriceraTop Spin in the Chester and Hester’s Dino-Rama area is a bit out of place in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

9. Dinosaur

Also located in Dinoland U.S.A is Dinosaur. The thing is, unlike TriceraTop Spin which is based on travelling carnivals with cheesy cartoon prehistoric characters, Dinosaur is located in the fictional Dino Institute. It fits much better into Animal Kingdom. It’s based on the Disney film Dinosaur which was released in 2000 and follows a storyline which sees you going back in time in a vehicle called a Time Rover to rescue the film’s protagonist, Aladar the Iguanodon. It’s a fun ride that people love, even though it’s based on one of Disney’s lesser known animated movies. There’s talk that it will be rethemed as an Indiana Jones ride in the new Tropical Americas land.

Dinosaur in Dinoland USA at Disney's Animal Kingdom
It’s Aladar the Iguanodon outside the Dino Institute.

8. Finding Nemo – The Musical

Finding Nemo – The Musical is a stage show based on the popular Pixar movie. It features puppeteers on stage playing the characters we all know and love like Marlin, Dory and Nemo. It follows a condensed version of the movie with songs and effects to help bring the undersea world to life. It’s a good chance to get out of the hot Florida sun for 40 minutes and take a break from all the walking! The songs are all written specifically for the show so you won’t know them but the story, although condensed, is recognisable. Some of the ways they’ve brought the characters to life on stage are fantastic. It’s definitely worth a watch so make sure you fit Finding Nemo – The Musical into your day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Finding Nemo the Musical at Disney's Animal Kingdom
Nemo’s first day at school in Finding Nemo – The Musical.

7. Festival of The Lion King

This is another show, located in the Africa section of the park and based on The Lion King. It’s designed in the same style as a circus tent, with the audience sitting around the edges facing into the middle. It features humans leading you through the show where you meet the characters from the movies, some in costume and some as massive props. There’s lots of interaction, acrobatics, dancing and of course, singing! You’ll know the songs and as sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti, you’ll be singing along to Hakuna Matata, I Just Can’t Wait to be King and all the rest. It’s great fun. Kids will love it. Adults will love it. You’ll leave Festival of The Lion King with a smile on your face, guaranteed.

Pumbaa at Festival of the Lion King at the Africa land in Disney's Animal Kingdom.
It’s Pumbaa! One of the stars of Festival of the Lion King! He’s a sensitive soul, though he seems thick skinned.

6. Na’vi River Journey

Na’vi River Journey is one of the attractions in Pandora – The World of Avatar that sees massive queues. I’m glad I put it on Genie+ (and the only time I could get was late in the day so do book one of the Pandora attractions early!) The standby queue when I arrived was over 3 hours long! Na’vi River Journey is a boat ride using the same kind of system as Pirates of The Caribbean or It’s A Small World that you may be familiar with from other Disney parks. You board the boat and are transported into the Na’vi forest where you see the creatures and plants that you’d expect to see on the planet Pandora. There’s lots of luminescent foliage and the effects really are amazing. It’s still a really great ride, especially if you’re an Avatar fan.

The Flouting Mountains at Pandora World of Avatar.
The floating mountains of Pandora welcome you to Na’vi River Journey.

5. It’s Tough to Be a Bug!

Full disclosure – I love A Bugs Life! Pixar’s second movie is a quirky film with lovable characters and a brilliant take on the world of bugs. It’s Tough to Be a Bug follows that same formula to create a really fun 4D experience. Located inside the enormous Tree of Life at the centre of the park, you’re taken underground to the world of bugs for a variety performance hosted by Flik. There’s 3D effects, animatronics, special effects and lots of laughs. At only about 10 minutes long, it’s a perfect length and something all the family can enjoy. Sadly, It’s Tough to Be a Bug will be closing soon to make way for a Zootopia attraction.

The Tree of Life in Disney's Animal Kingdom
It’s Tough To Be A Bug is INSIDE the Tree of Life at the centre of Disney’s Animal Kingdom!

4. Kali River Rapids

I’ve been on lots of rapids rides in various theme parks like Alton Towers and Thorpe Park but Kali River Rapids is probably my favourite. It’s themed around a raft excursion in India which is affected by illegal logging, bringing with it a very important conservation message. The theming is really good and there’s some brilliant effects. There’s a good chance you’ll get soaked but on a hot Orlando day, it’s a nice way of cooling off and you dry out pretty quickly anyway. Watch out for the people on the banks shooting water cannons at you at the end! Kali River Rapids is really good fun.

The Kali River Rapids in Disney's Animal Kingdom
Prepared to be SOAKED on Kali River Rapids!

3. Kilimanjaro Safaris

Kilimanjaro Safaris really shows off what Disney’s Animal Kingdom is all about. It’s a really great way to see all kinds of African animals like rhinos, giraffe, elephants and LOTS more. You board a safari vehicle and are brought out into the reserve to see lots of animals, just like a real safari. The animals are all in habitats recreated to look like their own and you actually manage to get quite close to them. The driver of your vehicle also acts as your tour guide and you get a great, personal experience. The drivers point out the animals and even stop so you can get better pictures. I’m sure kids love it and adults will enjoy sitting back and seeing the animals.

The Kiliminjaro Safaris at Disney's Animal Kingdom
Nile crocodiles on the Kilimanjaro Safaris enjoying their time in Florida, just like me!

2. Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain

Walt Disney World doesn’t have a lot of roller coasters. Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain, as a result, stands head and shoulders above everything else. You’re taken up Mount Everest and plunged back down. You meet the Yeti and things take an unexpected turn. I’ve been on a lot of roller coasters and in terms of theming, it’s easily one of the best in the world. The queue line alone is a like an attraction in itself! Expedition Everest is the most expensive Disney attraction ever built and also the tallest coaster in their parks around the world. It’s also my favourite Disney roller coaster.

Expedition Everest at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Sure Mount Everest doesn’t look that high from here 🙂

1. Avatar Flight of Passage

As I’ve said a lot, I’ve been to lots of theme parks and experienced lots of roller coasters and attractions. Avatar Flight of Passage is easily the best I’ve been on. I came out absolutely speechless. It’s easy to see why it’s getting so much attention. I queued for nearly 2 hours and it was worth it. The story takes place after the events of the first Avatar movie and you sees you becoming a Mountain Banshee pilot. You’re brought through some great effects rooms simulated as the training programme before “linking” with your avatar, just like in the movie. The Mountain Banshee takes you into the air over Pandora and the visuals are absolutely stunning. At times, it’s hard to believe it’s not real. The smells, the mist, the spray of the water, the wind in your face. Avatar Flight of Passage is incredible.

Flight of Passage at Pandora - World of Avatar in Disney's Animal Kingdom!
There’s Jake Sully from Avatar taking a break from the Florida sun.

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