Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the largest theme park not only at Walt Disney World, but also throughout the entire world. Situated on more than 550 acres, the park is divided up into six different areas which include the Oasis, Discovery Island, Africa, Asia, Dinoland USA and Pandora – The World of Avatar.
While Animal Kingdom does not have the history of EPCOT and the Magic Kingdom or the popularity of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, is not to be overlooked when planning a visit to Walt Disney World. It is no doubt an excellent park that offers a diverse array of attractions for guests of all ages.
While every guest has different favorites but after dozens of visits, following is our “Top 10” list of our favorite rides and attractions at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
The 10 Best Rides & Attractions at Disney’s Animal Kingdom (2023)
- Rafiki’s Planet Watch
- Finding Nemo
- It’s Tough to be a Bug!
- Na’vi River Adventure
- Kali River Rapids
- Festival of the Lion King
- Kilimanjaro Safaris
- Avatar: Flight of Passage
- Expedition Everest
10. Rafiki’s Planet Watch
Only accessible by the Wildlife Express Train, Rafiki’s Planet Watch is a special attraction where guests learn about animal care and conservation. The entire experience can take up to an hour, but it’s a nice addition to the thrill rides and other shows.
The attraction features Conservation Station (which includes a number of animal exhibits) and Affection Section (which is a live petting zoo where guests can interact with the animals).
9. Finding Nemo
While Finding Nemo has taken a little bit of a hiatus, Disney has announced that it will be back for 2022 so since it’s one of the more fun shows at Walt Disney World, we needed to include it on our list.
Guests will hear some of their favorite songs from the movies including “In the Big Blue World” and “Go with the Flow” as puppets and live performers bring Finding Nemo to life.
Crowd levels for Finding Nemo can get a bit large so if you are interested in seeing the show, it’s probably a good idea to get in line about 30 minutes prior to showtime.
8. It’s Tough to be a Bug!
Located just underneath the Tree of Life is a the 3D film, It’s Tough to be a Bug! This 8-minute show is based on the Disney Pixar movie “A Bug’s Life” and is full of laughs and antics.
There are a number of surprises that guests will find throughout the show to keep them on their toes.
This attraction is suitable for guests of all ages. Genie+ Lightning Lanes are available and wait times can exceed 20 to 30 minutes on a typical summer day.
7. Na’vi River Adventure
Guests take a calm and serene boat ride through the world of Pandora on the Na’vi River Journey – going deep into the rain forest to find the Shaman of Songs.
Check our our on-ride POV video to the Na’vi River Adventure.
There are no height requirements to ride the Na’vi River Journey and this attraction is suitable for guests of all ages. Disney Genie+ Lightning Lanes are available and wait times can exceed 30 to 60 minutes on a typical summer day.
DINOSAUR is an adventure type attraction where riders board their “Time Rover” to take a trip back to the prehistoric area to save a Iguandon dinosaur from deadly meteor strikes while not getting eaten alive by other dinosaurs.
The ride is a little dark, loud and scary but we do consider this to be a family-friendly ride and suitable for most kids.
Riders must be 40 inches or taller to ride the DINOSAUR. Individual Lightning Lanes are available and wait times can exceed 30 to 45 minutes on a typical summer day.
5. Kali River Rapids
Kali River Rapids is a perfect attraction for the summer months as you are pretty much guaranteed to get wet. Riders board a 12-person raft and navigate through white-water rapids, waterfalls and a fast-moving current.
One of the most exciting parts of the ride is the 20-foot drop where water is bound to get into your boat.
Riders must be 38 inches or taller to ride the Kali River Rapids. Individual Lightning Lanes are available and wait times can exceed 60 minutes on a typical summer day.
4. Festival of the Lion King
The Festival of the Lion King is one of the best shows in all of Walt Disney World. This 20-minute Broadway-style stage show is not to be missed with visiting Animal Kingdom.
Filled with the music of movie The Lion King, guests will recognize a number of the songs including “Circle of Life”, “Hakuna Matata” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” Just like a true Broadway show, it will feature dancers, puppets, acrobatics and stilt-walkers. The Festival of the Lion King show is exactly what would you expect to see if you were watching it on Broadway.
This show is perfect for guests for all ages. Since it’s one of the more popular shows at Animal Kingdom, it fills up quickly so make sure you check the daily times guide to get in line around 30 minutes prior to the show opening. Disney Genie+ Lightning Lanes are available.
3. Kilimanjaro Safaris
Kilimanjaro Safaris takes guests on a ride through the 100-acre Harambe Wildlife Reserve where they will encounter more than 30 living animal species including lions, rhino, cheetahs, elephants, giraffes, zebras and exotic birds. This mazing attraction gives you the feel of being in the heart of Africa without ever having to leave central Florida.
Each 18-minute tour is unique as there is no telling what animals will be active on that particular day (or at that particular time). The Endless Summer family has found it best to ride Kilimanjaro Safaris early in morning as the animals are more active during the cooler part of the day.
There are no height restrictions to ride Kilimanjaro Safaris. Wait times vary depending on the time of year but are typically more than 30 to 45 minutes. A Genie+ Lightning Lane is available for this attraction.
2. Avatar: Flight of Passage
One of the most popular attractions at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is Avatar: Flight of Passage. This attraction is a 3D motion simulator that allows guests to ride a banshee just like the Na’vi hunters in the Avatar movies.
This attraction is not only one of our favorites at Animal Kingdom but also throughout Walt Disney World. While there is a fair degree of motion that occurs during the ride, we consider it to be moderate enough to enjoy the entire experience.
Check out our on-ride POV video of Avatar: Flight of Passage.
Riders must be 44 inches or taller to ride the Flight of Passage. Individual Lightning Lanes are available and wait times can exceed 60 minutes on a typical summer day.
1. Expedition Everest
Most visitors to Disney’s Animal Kingdom probably knew what would be our number one choice. At an initial cost of $100 million, Expedition Everest is one of the most expensive theme park rides that has ever been built.
Located in the Asia section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, this thrilling roller coaster takes riders up to a height of 200 feet and speeds near 50 miles per hour – both forwards and backwards. There’s a 80 foot drop but this attraction does not have inversions – as a result it is a amenable ride for most novice coaster riders.
Fresh of a renovation in early 2022, Expedition Everest is our top ride at Animal Kingdom and one that is not to be missed during your next visit. Check out our on ride-POV video.
Riders must be at least 44 inches in height to ride Expedition Everest. Wait times vary depending on the time of year but are typically more than 45 to 60 minutes. A Genie+ Lightning Lane is available for this attraction.
Learn More about the Walt Disney World Resort with our Theme Park Guides
- The Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World
- EPCOT at Walt Disney World
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Disney Springs
Where Should We Stay When Visiting the Walt Disney World Resort?
The Walt Disney World Resort has a number of great on-site hotels and each and every one of them have their own benefits, characteristics and price points.
There are multiple “categories” of hotels which are as follows:
- Deluxe Resort Hotels
- Deluxe Resort Villas
- Moderate Resort Hotels
- Disney’s Campgrounds
- Value Resort Hotels
Deluxe resort hotels include the Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Disney’s Boardwalk Inn, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, Disney’s Beach Club Resort and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. These resort hotels are all located adjacent to a Walt Disney World theme park (Magic Kingdom Park, EPCOT and Disney’s Animal Kingdom) and offer easy access to that park as well as superior amenities and accommodations.
In addition Disney’s hotels and resorts, there are a number of other on-site hotels options. Click here to learn more about hotels at the Walt Disney World Resort.