Skip to Content

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park | Walt Disney World

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park is the most unique and beautiful of the 4 Walt Disney World theme parks. Get ready to explore African savannas, Asian jungles, and even other planets all with breathtaking landscapes and immersive stories and without ever leaving Orlando!

Disney's Animal Kingdom Park

Disney World’s most unique and certainly most ambitious park, the Animal Kingdom is a wonderful mix of exotic wildlife, thrilling attractions, and some of the most realistic details you will ever find.

The research and care that went into developing Disney’s Animal Kingdom are unmatched and because of that, it is a place where your imagination can run as wild as the more than 1,700 animals the park is home to.

In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park, including all the rides and attractions, entertainment, and restaurants you have to experience when you visit.

Elephant on Safari at Animal Kingdom

Though the Animal Kingdom has had its share of criticism in the past, it has made many improvements over the years and has quickly risen on our list of best Disney Parks. It has one of Disney World’s best attractions (Flight of Passage), and is a place the entire family will enjoy.

We’ll also share with you the history of Animal Kingdom at Disney World, how the park was created, explore each one its themed areas, and share some of our favorite tips and tricks we’ve learned in the decades we’ve been visiting.

Before we get started make sure to read these other useful resources we’ve put together on Disney’s Hollywood Studios to help you plan your visit:

Also, don’t forget to sign up for our FREE Weekly E-Mail Newsletter. There we bring you the latest updates on Disney’s Animal Kingdom as well as vacation planning tips. You can sign up here: Join our E-Mail Newsletter

Overview

  • Location: Walt Disney World, Bay Lake, Florida, United States
  • Opened: April 22, 1998
  • Lands: 6
  • Attractions: 19
  • Restaurants: 34
  • Status: Operating
  • Operated By: Walt Disney World Resort
  • Park Capacity: 60,000

What is the Animal Kingdom?

Kilimanjaro Safaris Savanna Disney's Animal Kingdom

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the fourth theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Bay Lake near Orlando, Florida, USA. The park is themed to the environment and animal conservation.

The park was known as “Disney’s Wild Animal Kingdom” during its development stage.

It is home to 6 unique lands that explore real-world locations and the wildlife located there such as Africa and Asia, as well as fictional places with dinosaurs and alien plant-life and animals. It is a hybrid combination of zoological exhibits and theme park rides.

Pandora: The World of Avatar Disney's Animal Kingdom

It is definitely not your everyday theme park and whatever you do, just don’t call it a zoo!

The Animal Kingdom at Disney World opened on April 22, 1998, and was designed and brought to life by Disney Imagineer Joe Rohde who took the lead on the project.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is also Disney World’s biggest theme park at 580 acres, roughly 5 times the size of Disney’s Magic Kingdom.

Walt Disney World is one of the world’s most popular vacation destinations and the Animal Kingdom is one of the most visited parks annually. In 2019 it was home to 13+ million guests, making it the third-most visited theme park in North America and sixth overall in the world.

Where is Animal Kingdom Located?

Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida is just one of the 4 Disney theme parks in the Walt Disney World Resort in the Orlando, Florida area. It can be confusing, but the park is part of a larger complex of other parks and hotels.

Disney's Animal Kingdom entrance sign

The official Disney’s Animal Kingdom park address is: 2901 W Osceola Pkwy, Orlando, FL 32830.

When looking at a map of Walt Disney World, Animal Kingdom park is on the far west of the property. It’s definitely the most isolated of all the Disney World theme parks.

To the immediate South West is Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, the closest resort to the park. To the East are Disney’s Blizzard Beach water park and Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. To the southeast are the All-Star Resort Hotels.

What is Disney’s Animal Kingdom Known for?

When you think of the Animal Kingdom, the first thing that comes to mind are animals and wildlife of course. Going along with that, the most famous attraction in the park is Kilimanjaro Safaris, the perfect way to see those animals.

Wildebeest on Kilimanjaro safaris Animal Kingdom

The park icon is The Tree of Life, located in the center of the park on Discovery Island. It is recognized as the symbol of the park and you will see it listed on all advertisements, brochures, etc.

In recent years, the most popular attraction has been Avatar Flight of Passage, which brings in thousands of guests each day who come to ride a banshee.

If you’ve seen the logo for Disney’s Animal Kingdom park, you might have noticed the Tree of Life, the animals, which include a dragon in the middle of them.

Disney's Animal Kingdom logo

Why is there a dragon in the Animal Kingdom logo if there are no dragons in the park itself?

When the Animal Kingdom was designed, it was decided that it would focus on animals that exist today, animals that did exist at one time but are now extinct and fictional animals brought about through legend and fantasy.

The Yeti from Expedition Everest is a good example of this.

The dragon was included in the Animal Kingdom logo due to its presence in one of the originally planned lands, Beastly Kingdom. This area would have included many creatures of legend and mythology, like dragons.

Even though this land never was built, the dragon has stayed in the Animal Kingdom logo down to this day.

Getting Tickets

Disney's Animal Kingdom park entrance

If you want to go to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the first thing you need to do is get your park admission. To do that, you need to decide how many days you will be going.

If you want to see everything the Animal Kingdom has to offer, you will need a full day at the park. There are many must-do rides and plenty of animal exhibits you will want to take your time visiting.

Getting a ticket with a Park Hopper option is always a good idea, as it allows you to visit multiple parks on the same day. That way you can always come back for at least part of a second day if you don’t see it all the first time, without having to spend a full day there.

If you go a second day, make sure it’s the morning, that’s when the animals are the most active.

(Park Hopper Tickets are temporarily unavailable at the moment).

Discovery River Animal Kingdom

Both Single and Multi-Day tickets to Disney’s Animal Kingdom are available to purchase dates for 2020 or 2021. Tickets are available right now through December 31, 2021.

Disney World park tickets use dynamic pricing which means the cost changes depending on the date you go. If you are trying to get the lowest-priced tickets, go in the off-season when ticket prices are cheaper. The closer to a holiday you visit, the higher ticket prices will be.

Make sure you buy Walt Disney World tickets from the official Disney World website or a trusted reseller. Don’t waste your time with offers on a third-party website that look “too good to be true,” they probably are. Some resellers even try to sell unusable tickets, so be careful.

How Much Does Animal Kingdom cost?

Spending the day at the Animal Kingdom park at Disney World is not cheap, especially if you have a big family.

Again, depending on what time of year you plan on going, a 1-Day ticket to Disney’s Hollywood Studios can cost anywhere from $109 to $159.

There are also other costs you also must consider. Food is expensive in all the Disney parks, and it will vary depending on whether you eat at sit-down table service restaurants or counter service.

The cost of food at Disney’s Animal Kingdom can be anywhere between $40-$100 per person, per day, so budget accordingly.

If you are taking your vehicle, parking is another expense to factor in. Standard parking costs $25 per vehicle, per day for cars and motorcycles.

The bottom line is all these expenses add up, so figure on spending between $150-$200 per person for one day at the parks, again depending on when you go.

For more info on all expenses during your trip, read our post on How Much Does it Cost to Go to Disney World?

Park Pass Reservations

Select a Time Animal Kingdom Disney Park Pass Reservation Screenshot website

At this time, visiting Animal Kingdom Park requires not just a regular park ticket, but also a Disney Park Pass Reservation.

The Disney Park Pass Reservation System was implemented recently due to the new safety guidelines as a way to limit the number of people that can visit the parks each day and help manage the crowds.

Park reservations can be made on the Disney World website, but again, you’ll need to have a valid park admission before making a park reservation.

Read our Disney World Park Reservations Guide for a detailed walkthrough on the new system.

Park Hours

Operating hours at all 4 Disney World theme parks can vary depending on when you visit and the events happening at that time. Make sure you check park hours before making your day-to-day touring schedule.

Pandora: The World of Avatar at night

2020 & 2021 Hours – All park hours have been heavily modified at this time due to the current health crisis. Mostly this means reduced hours for all the parks, including the Animal Kingdom.

Here are the typical Animal Kingdom Park Hours during this reopening phase:

  • Animal Kingdom Hours: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

On some select days around holidays, the opening hours are also extended to either 8:00 am or 9:00 am. These times will vary greatly in the coming months, so make sure to check with the Walt Disney World Park calendar on the official website for the most updated hours.

Normal Schedule – When Walt Disney is operating normally, on most days, the Animal Kingdom opens at 9:00 am and closes between 5:00 pm and 8:00 pm depending on the season.

Kilimanjaro Safaris Savanna

Holidays and Busy Days – Animal Kingdom park hours can vary during the holidays and the busy season with earlier openings and later closings.

Extra Magic Hours – The Animal Kingdom usually runs Extra Magic Hours on Monday mornings and Friday evenings.

  • Morning Extra Magic Hours: from 8:00 am to 9:00 am
  • Evening Extra Magic Hours: 1-2 hours after normal park closure.

Special Events – Hours also vary when Animal Kingdom Park is running a Disney After Hours event or another special event.

What Time do the Gates Open? – Guests showing up at Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be let in before the official park opening time. Usually, they start letting guests through the gates 30-45 minutes ahead of time. This is mostly for people going to Pandora and the line for Flight of Passage starts forming at that time.

Check the official Walt Disney World park schedule for the latest Animal Kingdom park hours.

Lands

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is divided into 6 uniquely themed lands each with its own look and feel as well as attractions based on that theme.

Animal Kingdom Lands Sign and Tree of Life

Here are the 6 themed lands at Disney’s Animal Kingdom:

  • The Oasis
  • Discovery Island
  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Dinoland U.S.A.
  • Pandora: The World of Avatar

The Animal Kingdom is built on a similarly “wheel and spoke” layout like what is found at the Magic Kingdom. Instead of a castle as the central focal point, The Tree of Life acts as the hub and the other lands branch off from there.

Located on Discovery Island, the Tree of Life acts is visible from many areas of the park and helps people to know where they are going, acting as a orientation point for guests.

Set up this way, the park is easy to navigate, while at the same time giving guests control over their adventures and letting them decide where they want to go.

If you are wondering why we didn’t include Rafiki’s Planet Watch as one of the themed lands, that’s because it technically isn’t one of the park’s lands and it belongs to Africa.

Let’s take a look at each of the 6 themed lands…

The Oasis

This is the first land you go through at the Animal Kingdom and connected to the park’s entrance. This is the introduction area to the park. Think of it as the Animal Kingdom’s version of Main Street U.S.A. only without any buildings and in the middle of the jungle.

Yellow Bird

The Oasis is the most overlooked area of the park as people just run through it on their way to one of the park’s E-Ticket attractions when they arrive or skip over it on their way out of the park. That’s really a shame because it offers some interesting areas to explore and sets the mood for upcoming adventures.

You’ll immediately notice the thick vegetation and plant-life that helps create the transition from the parking lot. Stop by the Oasis Exhibits when you are here, the first animals visible in the park.

At the end of The Oasis, cross the bridge and head to the park’s central hub, Discovery Island.

Discovery Island

Bride to Discovery Island Animal Kingdom

Discovery Island is the center of Animal Kingdom Park and it’s where your journey begins. From here you can reach any of the other major lands, you only need to decide where to go.

In the center of Discovery Island and standing at 145 feet tall is the Tree of Life. No, the Tree of Life is not a real tree. It is a sculpture of a Baobob tree and carries over 8,000 artificial branches and 102,000 leaves.

The tree also features 325 carvings of animal species, both existing and extinct. Some of the animals you will find include: elephant, tiger, hippo, kangaroo, moose, horse, lion, turtle, lobster, shrimp, alligator, frog, rabbits, cougar, shark and many more.

Bear sculpture on Tree of Life

Inside the tree, don’t miss “It’s Tough to be a Bug,” a fun 3D show based on the 1998 Pixar animated classic “A Bug’s Life.”

It's Tough to be a Bug theater

If you are looking for a quiet place away from the crowds, make sure to spend some time wandering the Discovery Island Trails where you can get a good look at the hundreds of animals on the Tree of Life.

Africa

Africa Disney's Animal Kingdom

Africa is one of the original Animal Kingdom lands and home to the fictional East-African village of Harambe. It’s the biggest land in the park and the jumping off point to see many of the most popular animals.

Even though Harambe is a fictional place, it’s a very realistic representation of a real-life modern-day African village. Nothing here is glamorous, many of the buildings are falling apart, and the details were taken by Disney Imagineers on their many trips to the real Africa.

Of course, since Harambe is a port town, it caters to the tourists, many how have come for the famous Kilimanjaro Safari. This is a very realistic imitation of an actual African safari, and the closest you will get to one without leaving the continent.

Giraffe at Animal Kingdom

This is only the beginning of the animal exhibits in Africa. Make sure to spend some time at the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail where you can get up close to these amazing creatures.

Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail

The Festival of the Lion King is a popular stage show based on Disney’s 1994 animated hit. Africa is also home to one of the best buffets in Disney World (Tusker House Restaurant) and various quick service options like the Harambe Market, Kusafiri Coffee Shop and Bakery and Tamu Tamu Refreshments.

Simba Dole Whip Animal Kingdom

Rafiki’s Planet Watch, while technically not a separate land, is a huge area separate from the rest of Africa, accessible only by train. Here you can learn about Disney’s commitment to animal care and conservation in the various exhibits and attractions.

To get to Rafiki’s Planet Watch, you’ll need to take the Wildlife Express Train, an attraction in its own right.

Train station to Rafiki's Planet Watch

Once you get off, you are lead down paths until you get to Conservation Station. This is where most of the exhibits are located.

Outside, this area has a petting zoo called “Affection Station” where you can get up close to some of the furriest animals in the park.

Inside there are various displays and many species of snakes, insects, lizards, spiders and more. You might even get to see the veterinarians doing a procedure on one of the park’s animals like a lion, ostrich or gazelle.

Conservation Station animal operating room

Lastly, see how live animals help inspire Disney artists and animators at “The Animation Experience at Conservation Station.”

The Animation Experience Animal Kingdom

Asia

To the right of Africa and over the bridge coming from Discovery Island is the continent of Asia. This was the first expansion land at the Animal Kingdom and it opened in 1999.

Asia Disney's Animal Kingdom

Asia is set in the fictional village of Anandapur, which means “Place of many delights” in Sanskrit. Anandapur was inspired by and is a mix of real-life locations such as Thailand, Mongolia, Cambodia, Nepal, India and Indonesia.

Anandapur was founded as a hunting preserve in 1544. Since then, the village has turned back to focusing on the beauty and nature found here and it has changed into a public nature reserve focused on the conservation of local species.

You can’t miss Everest as it’s visible throughout most areas of Asia. It holds the Expedition Everest: Legend of the Hidden Mountain roller coaster where guests ride through the Himalayas and encounter the legendary Yeti along the way.

Expedition Everest Disney's Animal Kingdom

Other attractions include the raft ride, Kali River Rapids, and the Maharajah Jungle Trek where you will run into Komodo dragons, orangutans and Sumatran tigers.

Kali River Rapids Animal Kingdom

There are a few interesting dining locations like Drinkwallah, Caravan Road, and Yak & Yeti Restaurant.

DinoLand U.S.A.

Think about what a fossil dig site would look like if combined with a Route 66 tourist trap, and that’s Dinoland U.S.A. Originally founded as a small highway town where dinosaur bones were found, Dinoland U.S.A. is themed to the study of dinosaurs and pre-historic life.

Dinosaur Entrance Animal Kingdom

A fictitious paleontological facility known as the Dino Institute runs the area, where scientists, researchers and other volunteers have been trying to find more answers about dinosaurs.

Dinoland U.S.A. is currently home to 2 main attractions (DINOSAUR and TriceraTop Spin), as well as a carnival-like game area called Chester and Hester’s Dino-Rama. Kids can play the Fossil Fun Games or over at The Boneyard Playground.

TriceraTop Spin Disney's Animal Kingdom

Over on the eastern edge of Dinoland is the Theater in the Wild which is home to “Finding Nemo – The Musical”, an intricate live-action musical show based on the 2003 Pixar classic “Finding Nemo.”

Finding Nemo the Musical Animal Kingdom

Pandora: The World of Avatar

The Animal Kingdom’s 6th and newest land is Pandora: The World of Avatar. It’s based on the fictional planetary moon of Pandora, from James Cameron’s blockbuster “Avatar.” It was the original planned site for Beastly Kingdom.

Floating Mountains Disney's Animal Kingdom Park

When it opened in 2017, Pandora: The World of Avatar quickly became the biggest “must-see” place in Walt Disney World. Whether you love, hate or have never seen the movie “Avatar,” you will be blown away by this one-of-a-kind theme park destination.

The Valley of Mo’ara is the setting for Pandora and is based after the events of the Avatar film. Alpha Centauri Expeditions, or ACE for short, is an eco-tourism group educating guests about the planet of Pandora and the Na’vi culture.

The first thing you will notice is the land’s thick and lush alien flora and fauna. The soundtrack is amazing as dozens of native species can be heard throughout. The Floating Mountains are the land’s focal point and a true marvel of Disney Imagineering.

Under the floating mountains at Pandora

Pandora is home to 2 attractions, Avatar: Flight of Passage and the Na’vi River Journey. Both are great rides, but Flight of Passage is arguable the best attraction at Walt Disney World and shouldn’t be missed.

Inside the Na'vi River Journey

It also is home to the best quick service restaurant at the Animal Kingdom, Satu’li Canteen, which serves hearty portions of protein and vegetable bowls.

Chicken Bowl Satu'li Canteen

Rides & Attractions

Here is a list of all the attractions at Disney’s Animal Kingdom by Land:

Africa

  • Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • Rafiki’s Planet Watch
    • Affection Section
    • The Animation Experience at Conservation Station
    • Wildlife Express

Asia

  • Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
  • Kali River Rapids
  • Maharajah Jungle Trek

Dinoland U.S.A.

  • The Boneyard
  • DINOSAUR
  • Fossil Fun Games
  • Primeval Whirl (Permanently Closed)
  • TriceraTop Spin

Discovery Island

  • Discovery Island Trails
  • It’s Tough to be a Bug!
  • Wilderness Explorers

The Oasis

  • The Oasis Exhibits

Pandora: The World of Avatar

  • Avatar Flight of Passage
  • Na’vi River Journey

Disney’s Animal Kingdom has often been criticized as being only a half-day park. While this may have been true when the park opened in 1998, that is no longer the case as many new attractions and shows have been added over the years.

Expedition Everest roller coaster Animal Kingdom

The park now has 19 attractions and it’s going to take the better part of a day to visit them all. There is a mix between thrill attractions, kid’s rides and attractions good for the whole family.

Most of the lands are pretty balanced, but some of the best attractions at the Animal Kingdom are the thrill rides such as Flight of Passage, Expedition Everest and Dinosaur.

Animal Kingdom Must-Do’s

While it can’t compete with parks like the Magic Kingdom on sheer numbers alone, Disney’s Animal Kingdom does make up for it with quality, and some of the most visually stunning attractions in any park.

Avatar Flight of Passage attraction queue floating Na'vi

Here are the must-see attractions when visiting the Animal Kingdom:

Avatar Flight of Passage – If there is one ride you must try at the Animal Kingdom, this is it. Feel what it’s like to fly over Pandora on the back of a banshee. Think of it as Soarin’ taken to the next level.

This 3D attraction is full of surprises, including the realistic “breathing” by the banshee you can feel in-between your legs. From the gorgeous visuals, to the thrill of soaring over an alien planet, Flight of Passage has it all!

Kilamanjaro Safaris – While Flight of Passage is the park’s most thrilling ride, Kilimanjaro Safaris is its most iconic. If you have ever wanted to take a real safari but haven’t had the chance to go to Africa, this is the next best thing.

Your safari vehicle takes you through a created African savanna, simulating a real safari. Expect to see animals such as giraffes, lions, elephants, crocodiles, zebras, gazelles, water buffalo, wildebeest, rhino and many more.

Jeep on Kilimanjaro Safaris

Expedition Everest – Arguably Disney World’s top roller coaster and best of the Disney mountains. Expedition Everest is a steel roller coaster, and at 199.5 feet, the tallest coaster in any Disney park.

The ride takes you on a journey through the Himalayan mountains in search of the mythical Yeti. There are no inversions, but plenty of twists and turns and not for the feint of heart.

Yeti projection Expedition Everest Animal Kingdom

Na’vi River Journey – This is the second, more tame ride in Pandora: The World of Avatar. The Na’vi River Journey is a dark boat ride taking guests through a bioluminescent forest and showing off one of the best audio-animatronic figures ever created.

Dinosaur – Go back in time on this dark ride EMV attraction to bring back a dinosaur. If you’ve been on the Indiana Jones Adventure at Disneyland, this attraction is built on the ride system. There are plenty of audio-animatronic dinosaurs and riders have hang on through evasive maneuvers to avoid the incoming astroids.

T-Rex skeleton Dinosaur ride

Kali River Rapids – This is a river rapids ride along the Chakranadi River. Guests are loaded in giant 12-person rafts and sent on a tour and coming dangerously close to illegal loggers. You will get wet on this ride, so save it for when the weather is hot.

Rafiki’s Planet Watch – If you like learning about animals and how they are cared for, you will love Rafiki’s Planet Watch. This huge area separate from the rest of the park has a petting zoo, animal exhibits and gives guests a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes care for the animals in the park.

Conservation Station Rafiki's Planet Watch

Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail This self-guided tour is one of our favorite areas at the Animal Kingdom, and a place you can just get lost in amazement at all the wildlife here. While there are many different species, you come for the gorillas. There are multiple viewing spots and if you are lucky, they will be in a playful mood.

Maharajah Jungle Trek Another self-guided tour, only this one takes you to former hunting grounds turned into a nature preserve. You’ll find water buffalo, Komodo dragons, gibbons, and the star of the attraction, Sumatran tigers. A great place to wander and take pictures of the animals.

Tiger running at Animal Kingdom

Make sure to look up the Disney World Height Requirements so you know ahead of time which rides your children can go on.

FastPass+

*Disney has temporarily suspended use of the FastPass+ system at the Disney World parks until further notice.

A big part of touring Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park is using the FastPass+ ride reservation system. FastPass+ allows you to book a return time, allowing you to skip most of the time traditionally spent waiting in line.

To use FastPass+, link your ticket purchase to your account to schedule FastPass selections in advance. Guests can make up to 3 FastPass+ reservations in advance, which are then redeemed at the attraction queue when it’s your turn to ride.

To make FastPass+ reservations, use the My Disney Experience app on your smartphone. Reservations can be made between 30 days and 60 days ahead of time, but we recommend making them 60 days ahead, especially for the more popular rides in the park like Flight of Passage.

Disney's Animal Kingdom FastPass+ sign

Animal Kingdom attractions are broken up into 2 FastPass+ tiers, Tier 1 and Tier 2. Only one Tier 1 attraction can be booked ahead of time, as they are the most popular rides. The other 2 attractions need to come out of the Tier 2 pool.

The following are the Tier 1 FastPass+ selections at Animal Kingdom:

  • Avatar Flight of Passage
  • Na’vi River Journey

For your other 2 FastPass+ attractions… we recommend choosing Expedition Everest, Dinosaur or Kali River Rapids as they tend to have the longest wait times in the park.

What’s New Coming to Animal Kingdom?

There isn’t much new coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom at the moment. The park had its big expansion in 2017 when Pandora: The World of Avatar opened up. Disney has since focused its attention on the other theme parks which are in more need of upgrades.

The only thing currently going on is the renovation to the park entrance. The entrance is being expanded and faster security checkpoints which will make for an easier guest arrival experience.

Rumors of Dinoland U.S.A. eventually being replaced by an Indiana Jones-themed land persist, though nothing has been decided. We’ll let you know as soon as we hear of any new attractions that are coming to the Animal Kingdom.

In the meantime, here are a few links if you are interested in knowing what new attractions are coming to the rest of Walt Disney World soon:

Animal Kingdom Animals

Hippo in the water on Kilimanjaro Safaris

While the attractions are extremely popular at the Animal Kingdom, the animals themselves are the real stars here and they are what separates this from being just another theme park.

The Animal Kingdom’s 500+ acres of land are sprawling with over 1,700 animals and 250 individual species. They can be found in all 6 of the park’s themed lands and can be seen on walking trails, safaris, exhibits, and private tours.

Do yourself a favor and don’t rush through the park only going from ride to ride. Take some time to observe and learn more about the animals, and use the many photo spots to bring home lasting memories.

Some of the animal species you will find at Disney’s Animal Kingdom include: Lions, giraffes, tigers, elephants, zebras, wildebeest, water buffaloes, black rhinoceroses, white rhinoceroses, cheetahs, nile crocodiles, ducks, storks, flamingoes, kangaroos, macaws, gorillas, monkeys, antelope, ostriches, pythons, and many, many more.

Entertainment

Disney's Animal Kingdom street performers in Harambe village

While not having quite as many as the other parks, there are many fantastic entertainment options at Animal Kingdom Orlando for guests of all ages.

Some of the entertainment types include stage shows, street performers, character greets and nighttime spectaculars. Many of these are done by native performers from Africa and Asia.

*Much of the regular Animal Kingdom entertainment like fireworks shows, stage shows, and character meets are temporarily suspended.

Nighttime Spectaculars

Nighttime shows are always some of the most popular in the Disney Parks, but the Animal Kingdom only started having them in recent years. There are no fireworks shows here since the loud noises would disturb the animals, but Disney has created alternative nighttime spectaculars.

Tree of Life Awakenings In 2016, Disney introduced a new nighttime projection-mapping show that takes place on the Tree of Life itself. This is an amazing show as luminous fireflies come to life on the tree to celebrate the beauty of nature found in animals.

Rivers of Light Show Animal Kingdom

Rivers of Light: We Are One (Permanently Closed) This nighttime show opened in 2017, and took place on Discovery River lagoon, in-between Everest and Discovery Island. Guests could watch the many colored-fountains, lasers, lights, projection mapping and water barges from the nearby amphitheater.

The show never really caught on and quickly ran into various production and directional issues throughout its short history. It was then canceled in 2020 after the Animal Kingdom Park reopened.

Shows & Performers

Festival of the Lion King entrance
  • Animal Encounters: Winged Encounters – The Kingdom Takes Flight – An incredible display near the Tree of Life of 6 South American Macaw species. Learn from bird experts and watch as they take off and swoop down over the on-looking guests.
  • Bollywood Beats – Fun and energetic Bollywood-style dance show.
  • DJ Annan – Street dance party in Asia including a DJ.
  • Donald’s Dino Bash! – Lively celebration in Dinoland that includes character meets, and a nightly dance party featuring a DJ.
  • Festival of the Lion King – This Broadway-style show is based on the Disney Animation classic “The Lion King.” Talented performers dress in extravagant costumes, perform incredible acrobats and dance to musical favorites from the film. Classic songs include: “Hakuna Matata,” “The Circle of Life,” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?”
  • Finding Nemo – The Musical – An elaborate musical re-telling of the Pixar classic “Finding Nemo.” This show has extraordinary special effects, digital backgrounds, and uses human performers who act as giant puppets in the roles of the show’s characters. One of the best stage shows at Disney World.
  • Hakuna Matata Time Dance Party – Fans of theThe Lion King will like this street dance party lead by Timon and Pumba.
  • Pandora Drummers – Also known as the Swotu Wayä, these drummers perform a traditional Na’vi drum ceremony.
  • Pandora Rangers – Equipped in a 10-foot-tall Exo-Carrier Utility Suit, these rangers wander the Mo’ara Valley to study the local wildlife and offer some comedic relief in the meantime.
  • Tam Tam Drummers of Harambe – These guys get the entire Harambe village dancing with high-energy African music and rhythms.
  • UP! A Great Bird Adventure (Feathered Friends in Flight) – Join Russell and Dug at this stage show as they learn about bird species from around the world. Trainers showcase 20 species of exotic birds and showcase their talents. This show was replaced by Feathered Friends in Flight when the park reopened and it’s unclear which will stay long-term.
  • Viva Gaia Street Band! – A lively group of musicians leading a Caribbean Street Party on Discovery Island.

Character Cavalcades

Since regular character meets are canceled for the time being, Disney has introduced Character Cavalcades as a way for guests to still be able to see and interact with their favorite Disney personalities, without getting too close.

Discovery Island Drummers river cruise Animal Kingdom

Character Cavalcades are processions of Disney characters that walk, ride or float by guests in an organized way (very similar to parades) and greet guests from a distance. The Animal Kingdom has character cruises that float down the Discovery River on boats and greet guests on the shore.

Here are the current Character Cavalcades at Animal Kingdom Park:

  • Discovery River Character Cruise – This cruise includes characters from The Lion King or Pocahontas.
  • Discovery Island Drummers –
  • Chip, Dale & Goofy
  • Donald’s Dino Boat Bash! –
  • Mickey & Friends Flotilla –

There are also special Christmas Character Cavalcades (“Festive Flotillas”) going on during the holiday season with characters in their holiday outfits:

  • Donald’s DinoBash Festive Flotilla (Chip, Dale & Goofy)
  • Mickey and Friends Festive Flotilla (Mickey, Minnie & Pluto)
  • Timon & Rafiki
  • Santa Claus Festive Flotilla (Santa Claus & Reindeer)
  • Discovery Island Drummers Festive Flotilla

Check out our complete guide to Character Cavalcades at Disney World for more details on them in all the parks.

Characters

Kevin walk around character at Disney's Animal Kingdom
  • Chip & Dale (Dinoland U.S.A.)
  • Divine (The Oasis)
  • Donald Duck & Daisy Duck (Dinoland U.S.A.)
  • Goofy (Dinoland U.S.A.)
  • Kevin (Discovery Island)
  • LaunchPad McQuack (Dinoland U.S.A.)
  • Mickey Mouse & Minnie Mouse (Discovery Island)
  • Pocahontas (Discovery Island)
  • Russell & Dug (Discovery Island)
  • Scrooge McDuck (Dinoland U.S.A.)
  • Timon & Rafiki (Discovery Island)

The characters in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Orlando are extremely popular with guests and there are daily character meets available with the above characters, in just about all areas of the park.

Dining

Yak & Yeti Restaurant Fried Rice Container

For many (us included) dining in the Disney World theme parks are just as fun as the attractions themselves. Naturally, you’ll want to try as many different things as the parks have to offer.

While other parks like EPCOT may get more recognition when it comes to food, the Animal Kingdom is the hidden gem of Disney theme park dining, with loads of great options.

There aren’t many table service restaurants since the park closes early most of the time, but the quick service options are arguably the best at Disney World, and have lots of interesting options you can’t get in the other parks.

If you aren’t in the mood for a full meal, check our