Here are our top eight things to do at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. From attractions to shows and meals, these are our favorites. The Animal Kingdom has enough attractions to fill an entire day, but we recommend that you enjoy your vacation and make sure you take a break, return to the hotel for a nap, and get some pool time.
Pandora the World of AVATAR
The land inspired by James Cameron’s movie Avatar is comprised of lush flora, winding streams, and meandering paths. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to fly on a banshee, wonder no more. Head right over to Flight of Passage, don your 3-D glasses, and connect to your banshee for a simulated ride over Pandora. Guests must be 44″ tall to ride. Get a Fastpass+, or ride as soon as the park opens. A less exciting but absolutely charming experience awaits you at the family-friendly Na’vi River Journey boat ride. Travel on a sacred river, discover the creatures of the rainforest, and meet the Na’vi Shaman
This ride offers such a complete package, with something to dazzle each of the senses, that it overcomes its lack of loops and inversions. Though you begin the segment in reverse, you soon succumb to an almost disembodied and dreamlike state of drifting in a void, with an exhilarating sense of speed but with no certain sense of direction. When you can see, there’s plenty to look at: The mountain, with its caverns, cliffs, and crags, is a work of art; then there’s that pesky yeti who menaces you throughout the ride. And for those of you who hate rough coasters, Expedition Everest is oh-so-smooth.
The Festival of the Lion King Show
At the Harambe Theater, fantastic pageantry and dazzling costumes come together for a mini–Broadway show. The theater is air-conditioned and the 30-minute show is performed several times a day. There is some audience participation prior to the show; if you want your little one to have a chance to march with the animals at the end of the show, arrive early and claim a seat in the first row of the theater-in-the-round.
Kali River Rapids
Whitewater raft rides have been a hot-weather favorite of theme park patrons for more than 20 years. The ride itself consists of an unguided trip down an artificial river in a circular rubber raft with a top-mounted platform seating 12 people. The raft essentially floats free in the current and is washed downstream through rapids and waves. What distinguishes Kali River Rapids from other theme park raft rides is Disney’s trademark attention to visual detail. Where many raft rides essentially plunge down a concrete ditch, Kali River Rapids flows through a dense rainforest and past waterfalls, temple ruins, and bamboo thickets. Beware! Rather than just getting a little wet (like on Splash Mountain), chances are, you will get soaked.
Now is a good time to return to your hotel for some rest and relaxation!
Finding Nemo—The Musical
Based on the Disney-Pixar animated feature, Finding Nemo—The Musical is a stage show headlining puppets, dancers, acrobats, and special effects. It is arguably the most elaborate live show in any Disney World park. It is a must-see. To get a seat, show up 20–25 minutes in advance for morning and late-afternoon shows and 30–35 minutes in advance for shows scheduled noon–4:30 p.m.
All ages will love the open safari vehicle ride through a simulated African savanna, looking for hippos, zebras, giraffes, lions, and rhinos.
Consider the nighttime version of Kilimanjaro Safaris, which allows you to explore the savanna and its inhabitants thanks to special lighting. Disney has done an amazing job of replicating the sub-Saharan east-African landscape that guests can observe throughout the day. Special technology creates additional hours of twilight, making this attraction very beautiful at night.
It’s Tough to Be a Bug!
This humorous 3-D presentation, inside the Tree of Life, is about the difficulties of being a very small creature. Contrasting with the relatively serious tone of Disney’s Animal Kingdom in general, It’s Tough to Be a Bug! stands virtually alone in providing some much-needed levity and whimsy. The show combines a 3-D film with an arsenal of tactile and visual special effects. We rate Bug as not to be missed.
Evening bonus: When the sun sets, the park’s iconic symbol, The Tree of Life, awakens. The 14-story-tall structure, with its network of carved “roots” in the shapes of animals, comes alive as a sound-and-light show is projected onto its branches. Each show lasts about 3 minutes and comes with an original musical score. This show is really lovely and well worth seeing.
Rivers of Light
Animal Kingdom’s nightly sound-and-light show takes place along the lagoon formed by the Discovery River and comes complete with floating animals, transforming lanterns, and laser light projections. The colors, lights, and musical score provide a soothing experience and a perfect end to a long day in the park.
Where to Eat at Disney’s Animal Kingdom?
Tiffins is one of the best restaurants in Walt Disney World and would be right at home in any of Disney’s deluxe resorts. As a signature restaurant, Tiffins’ prices are higher than the other sit-down options in the park. However, the quality supports the prices, which are in line with what we’re paying for comparable quality, service, and setting in our hometowns.
If you enjoyed this post, sign up for our newsletter here. For more information on all there is to see and do at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World by Bob Sehlinger and Len Testa.