Living in Florida we naturally make it to Disney a few times a year, but Animal Kingdom has quickly become our favourite Disney Park. Here’s why…

Pandora

Pandora at Disney's Animal Kingdom

If you saw the movie Avatar (2009), then you have to make it to the incredible world of Pandora. To date, I think this is Disney’s best remake of a world from a movie (this post was written before Star Wars opened). 

When Pandora first opened in 2017 we were dying to go on the rides there and explore it at night. It seemed every time we visited, it just didn’t work out. We persisted and we were not disappointed!

Walking through Pandora makes you feel like you’re right in the movie! There are exotic plants that glow at night, waterfalls and floating mountains! 

You’ll also find some great, exotic food options at the Satu’li Canteen or a quick drink or snacks at Pongu Pongu.

Avatar Flight of Passage

One of the most sought after rides in Disney, Avatar’s Flight Of Passage gives you the chance to ride a banshee through the skies over Pandora. Built as an advanced simulator, you’ll feel like you’re really soaring through the air. Breathe in that air and you’ll smell the Earthy scents stirred by a stampede. If you want a Fast Pass for this ride, you’ll have to reserve them as soon as they become available for your visit (usually 30 days before).

If you miss the Fast Pass, I recommend trying to do this ride first thing, at rope drop. You’ll probably wait an hour, but it’s better than later in the day when wait times will be two hours.

An actual avatar

The upside is that there is plenty of cool stuff to see while you wait in line as you journey through caverns, glowing forests and a science lab.

Na’vi River Journey

For a long time, we had skipped this ride, as we were told it was boring and not worth the wait. Well, one day I was waiting for others to join me at Animal Kingdom, so wait I did… in the line for Na’ve River Journey. 

It’s similar to most other slow paced boat journeys, but the visual effects on this ride are pretty cool. You’re traveling down a river at night in Pandora and the colors are incredible. If you enjoy slower (read safer) rides, then this one is for you!

Africa

In Africa you’ll find the bustling Mombasa market place, often filled with people playing drums or dancing. You’ll also be able to take a walk down the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail and meet some Gorillas, hold the mist! But before you go exploring there is a show you have to see.

The Festival of The Lion King

The Festival Of The Lion King

I hear that The Festival Of The Lion King is one of the most sought after shows at Disney. The show is an incredible festival of color, dancing and acrobatics. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen it, but we enjoy it every time. This is definitely one to reserve a Fast Pass for, and get there early so you get good seats.

The wait can take a while so it pays to grab a Dole Whip from Tamu Tamu refreshments to enjoy while you wait in line.

The Kilimanjaro Safari

After watching the Lion King, it’s time to venture out onto the African plains and experience the real thing with the 

Kilimanjaro Safari. You’ll board a trusty Safari vehicle and venture across rickety old bridges over rivers filled with hippos and crocodiles. Once out of danger, you may see Ostriches or Giraffes, Elephants and even Lions, not to mention a bunch of other animals I can’t spell! 

It’s worth catching the Safari throughout the day if you have the time as you’ll often see different species active at various times through the day.

Once back from your trek, it’s time to Leave Africa and head Eastward to the orients of Asia.

Asia

Next stop, Asia! Here you’ll be able to take the Maharajah Jungle Trek and see the Sumatran Tiger! You’ll also find the Discovery River where you can enjoy Animal Kingdom’s Rivers Of Light show.

The Up Bird Show

On your way into Asia from Africa, you’ll pass the auditorium for Up! A Great Bird Adventure. Keep walking, as this is a ride you can miss. In all fairness, when we saw the show they had just started running it, so it may have improved.

Dug the dog from UP with Danielle

To me as cool as it was to see the characters, the show felt labored – it didn’t really fit with the story of Up. They’d taken a bird show and brought in Up characters but there wasn’t a reason why the two should go together. In terms of bird shows, I’d recommend the one at Healesville Sanctuary in Australia instead.

Kali River Rapids

If you’re feeling hot while in Asia, take a ride on the Kali River Rapids, but be warned… it’ll take a miracle to keep you dry on this rafting adventure. The good news is that it usually has one of the fastest wait times in the whole park.

Everest Rollercoaster

If you prefer mountain climbing to rafting, and aren’t afraid of nights, then join Expedition Everest. But beware! There is a Yeti on the loose! He has a bad habit of pulling up Rollercoaster tracks. 

Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom
Photograph by Ivan Curra

Danielle (my hot wife) and I love this ride and try and ride it multiple times. It is especially amazing as evening begins to fall, the lights in the park come on and there’s just a bit of light on the horizon.

If you make it off Everest alive, you may want to take a moment to head back in time. Way back in time to the land before time!

Dinoland USA

In Dinoland you’ll find some cool carnivore, I mean carnival type rides. It’s especially a fun place to be at night. Just be careful of the Primeval Whirl. It may look like an innocent  enough little coaster ride, but it hits those corners hard! It’ll mess you up.

Dinosaur

After Dinoland, it’s time to get back into a safari vehicle. This vehicle is going to take you on a fast-paced adventure through the prehistoric era. Keep your arms and limbs inside the vehicle at all times or they may become a dinosaur’s lunch.

You may even see a T-Rex. For a long time I didn’t even know this ride existed so I had low expectations when we went on it and was pleasantly surprised. It’s a pretty cool ride (especially if you’re a dinofan like me), but I would say it doesn’t match Universal‘s Jurassic Park ride.

Discovery Island

The island in the center of the park is Discovery Island. It’s the one with the giant tree – The Tree Of Life. Around the tree you’ll find more species of animals, including old mate Kangaroo.

A Bugs Life

Overcome your fear of creepy crawlies and journey beneath the tree for the show “It’s Tough To Be a Bug.” This show may be a little intense for young children of those who don’t line bugs and spiders. It is however ideal for anyone who loved A Bug’s Life (1998). It’s a talent show and you’ll see these bugs out their talents on show – until they’re interrupted of course. A Bugs Life is one of my favorite Disney Movies so I always enjoy seeing Flic and the gang!

Animal Kingdom’s End Of Day Shows

Towards the end of the day you may want to make it back to Asia to watch the Rivers of Light show. You won’t see fireworks at Animal Kingdom like you will at Epcot, Hollywood Studios or Magic Kingdom because of the animals. But you will see this show of projection through water. It was enjoyable to watch once, but we prefer this time to make the most of Everest (the wait times drop while the crowd watches the show).

Rivers of Light Show

You may also want to go back to Discovery Island for the Tree Of Life Awakens show. This show projects onto the giant tree and features scenes and characters from Disney’s movies.

Now you’ve made it full circle of the park and it’s time to head home. What are your favorite attractions in Animal Kingdom?