One of the realist parks at Disney World is Animal Kingdom- because you can’t get any more authentic than real animals in habitats that mimic their original environment.
The Animal Kingdom is the largest theme park in the world coming in at 580 acres (and yes, your feet will feel it!) It houses hundreds of animals that you can view and learn about in an educational and fun setting.
It’s a “zoo” you can feel good about bringing your kids too, because they aren’t traditional in how the animals are raised.
Here’s some history:
Since its opening on Earth Day in 1998, the park has expanded to include Pandora- The World of Avatar, the fictional alien world from James Cameron’s movie, Avatar. In addition to Pandora, the Animal Kingdom is divided into 6 other sections: The Oasis, Discovery Island, Africa, Asia and DinoLand U.S.A. and Rafiki’s Planet Watch.
# 1 What are the Best Rides?
Animal Kingdom is home to some of the most popular rides of all the Disney parks, so be sure to book your FastPass+ for these rides!
Flight of Passage
Go on a 3D simulated flight across the gorgeous world of Pandora and you can experience every dip and turn with interactive wind and water.
If you’ve gone on Soarin’ in Epcot, you’ll be familiar with the format, but the views of Pandora are much more involved!
Board an all-terrain open sided safari vehicle and encounter African animals on a savanna. You’ll see lions, giraffes, rhinos, crocodiles, warthogs and so much more!
An on-board tour guide will provide fun facts and point out animals as the vehicle makes its way through shallow water and a well worn dirt trail.
This ride is hella bumpy though, so I don’t recommend it for the younger kids or anyone that may feel uncomfortable being jostled around.
# 2 What shows and entertainment are recommended?
Everyone knows that Disney can put on a great show! Animal Kingdom is no exception. Enjoy the sights and take a break in the shade.
Festival of the Lion King
Take a break in the cool air-conditioned arena as you watch a fantastic celebration inspired by the classic movie, The Lion King.
Guests will sing along to the familiar songs from the movie, while acrobats, stilt walkers, dancers and even fire twirlers command the stage.
The sets and costumes are incredible, seriously, it rivals a broadway play.
They also have several others shows to choose from during the day! But this is our favorite theater show.
Rivers of Light
This nighttime show is fairly new to the Animal Kingdom. It takes place on the Discovery River Lagoon.
Boats and floats help create a water show complete with music, lasers, fire and huge water screens that display clips from Disney nature films.
Animals from the land, sky and sea are shown in all their glory as the beauty of our planet is celebrated. This show is simply breathtaking!
I will warn you though- it isn’t the “top” nighttime show. So if you only have one or two late nights planned for the parks, you might want to skip this offering.
The Tree of Life
You can go on a walkabout around the tree of life to see all the amazing animals hidden in the trunk and roots.
The pathway is littered with signs informing you of various animal and plant facts, plus its generally pretty cool under the shade!
You’ll also want to catch the Tree of Life Awakenings. It’s a short show displayed on the Tree of Life and begins with it “awakening” for the night and coming to life with beautiful colors. It begins after dark and runs about every 10 minutes.
# 3 let’s eat! Get yourself some Grub!
There are many restaurants to try that offer dishes from other continents and even other universes (Pandora!).
Earthlings can taste some yummy offerings from Pandora here. They offer different varieties of chicken, beef and shrimp bowls.
They have the Blueberry Cream Cheese Mousse you always see on instagram here. It is an unusual looking dessert, almost too pretty to eat, but it’s a delicious cheesecake.
Tusker House Restaurant
Join Donald Duck and friends for a fun safari buffet. They serve breakfast, linch and dinner with characters at all three.
It is a favorite place of ours to visit at Animal Kingdom, (besides the many quick serve options!) because it is so kid friendly.
You can meet many characters at Animal Kingdom.
There is a designated spot to meet Minnie and mickey (grab a fastpass!)
You can also enjoy some popup spots, like Pocohantus behind the tree of life, and various characters from lion king and it’s a bugs life over by the Starbucks.
Dino Land USA is the place to be if you want to meet several characters in a short period of time. Donald and all his various forms, daisy and goofy all meet in circus garb in this spot.
#5 Interactive Scavenger Hunt
Wilderness Explorers is a fun and free challenge that sends guests on small missions throughout the park.
Basically, a scavenger hunt that encompasses the whole park and is fun for kids and adults.
Each challenge that is completed earns a badge from the wilderness explorer guides, you fill it in your book they give you and it’s a great way to see the park!
You can also experience something that the Animal Kingdom offers that no other Disney park has, lush walking trails! You can go on a self-guided tour of the Pangani Forest and encounter exotic animals from gorillas to hippos.
There is another smaller scavenger hunt here, you can grab a pamphlet and look for all the birds, butterflies and animals you will encounter!
See you at the Parks!
The live music, open marketplace and the stand out rides, shows and attractions make the Animal Kingdom a fantastic park to visit.
Its efforts for wildlife conservation most also be noted. Dozens of animals have been born here, many on the endangered species list. This is an animal park that you can feel good about visiting!