I write a lot about Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Not because Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios are not fun and amazing in their own right, but really just because as the mom of two young boys and a foodie thats where we spend the bulk of our time. Animal Kingdom, while perhaps not my favorite park, is certainly in my opinion the most beautiful. Artfully designed and constructed, Animal Kingdom offers lush landscapes, seemless theming, and a with the addition of Pandora, a fresh area full of delicious food and fun attractions. The park also walks a fine line of traditional theme park attractions, beautiful animal landscapes, and some of the best live performance shows in all of Disney World.
Tree of Life
The Tree of Life serves as the center point of the park with the various lands located around it. Even from afar the tree is impressive in its size, but up close you will see the intricate carvings of animals. This is a must check out as it is a work of art. My kids love to point out and try to find all the different animals hidden in the "roots" of the tree. Also note, that if you go see Its a Bug's Life show (which is adorable by the way!) you will walk down further into the root structure and see more of the carvings.
The newest of the "lands" to come to Animal Kingdom, Pandora opened this past summer in May 2017. And its pretty remarkable. Even if you are not a fan of Avatar or havent event seen it, this is still a must do area for the attractions and the food. I have written a more detailed review of both Pandora and Santu'li Canteen for you to check out, but to summarize, the main two attractions there are Flight of Passage and Navi River Journey. Flight of Passage is the thrill ride where you board that back of a simulated Banchee and fly through the landscapes of Pandora. It is a mix of roller coaster fun with very well done simulation. If you have trouble with simulation rides, just know that this one is intense. But if you are up for it, you are in for an amazing ride that catapults you into the future of thrill attractions.
The second main attraction is Navi River Journey which is a slow moving boat ride through the lush tropical landscapes of the fictional Pandora world. This is ride is for everyone and features some really beautiful animatronics!
Not to be missed is the food! Now Satu'li Canteen is a truly immersive eating experience. You have to try and I think you will love it!
Expedition Everest remains the true highlight of the park in terms of rides. On Expedition Everest you board a train headed deep into Mt. Everest in search of the elusive Yeti. You travel through two mountains only to find your track destroyed. I can't give away the rest! The ride us fast and has some great drops.
While it is a thrill ride, it is more along the line of Thunder Mountain and other easy going roller coasters. It can be a bit jerky at times and bang up your ears if you dont hold your head back. It can also boast some of the longest lines.
There is a Single Rider Line as well, so if you dont mind being split up from your group, this is a great option!
The second biggest attraction in the park is the Kilimanjaro Safari. You board a large transport "bus" and travel through the open plains, shade forestscapes, wetlands to see wild animal in their 'natural' habitat.
This truly is an amazing ride that never disappoints. You can see antelopes, baboons, lions, hippos, crocodiles, cheetahs, zebras, and so many other animals walking freely about.
I recommend heading directly to the Safari located in the Africa section of the park first thing in the morning. Thats feeding time and the animals are much more lively. As the day heats up, the number of animals you may see will decrease. That said, I've done the Safari at mid-day and its still amazing.
Well clearly its not called Animal Kingdom for the fun of it! Not only are animal habitats seamlessly hidden in the walking areas throughout the park, but you can also venture through three "walking trails" and get up close with some animals. The Maharajah Jungle Trek, Rafiki's Planet Watch, and Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail, allow you to see a lot of animals in their more natural habitats. Sometimes we do all of these if we are really committing to a full day at AK, but frequently we may skip one or two if our touring plan is shorter.
DinoLand U.S.A. has several smaller attractions, that depending on your group, you may want to skip.
The first is Dino-Rama. Dino-Rama is a smaller area of dinosaur-themed carnival type rides and games. While the games are not our favorite thing, my youngest loves the Triceratops Spin which is very similar to Dumbo in Magic Kingdom, but with Triceratops.
Also located in DinoLand is the Boneyard, an interactive playground. My young kids beg to go here and getting them to leave can be a challenge. But they love being able to climb and explore through the rocks and fossils. There are not enough places in Disney World that just let the kids run around! So this one is especially fun for young kids.
The largest ride in DinoLand is "Dinosaur" which time travels to the Dinosaur Age in search of an Iguanodon. It is a thrill ride and is dark. You come face to face with a carnataurus and other carnivores. You can check out our full review of Dinoland here.
The other real attraction for Animal Kingdom is the amazing live shows. The Finding Nemo, Lion King, and Flights of Wonder are very well done. My kid love the Lion King show in particular, but the Finding Nemo show is perhaps the perfect cool down location at AK. Its dark and breezy. I loved the show and my husband loved the nap!
While I neglect to write about Animal Kingdom, it is a wonderful park full of beauty and adventure. We usually spend a good part of a day in the park, although it would be easy to spend more. I certainly do recommend getting Fast Passes for Pandora if you can, but also the Kilimanjaro Safari and Expedition Everest! Let me know what your favorite attraction is!
Tara is a Disney-obsessed Mom of two active boys!