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Best Animal Kingdom Rides & Attractions Guide

This post is a guide to the Best Rides and Attractions at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park in Walt Disney World. We cover the complete list of attractions, which ones you absolutely must-do while visiting, and which ones are better to skip.

Disney's Animal Kingdom Rides

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is anything but a normal theme park, and its attractions are just as unique. There are traditional rides here, some of the best in Walt Disney World, but the park is so much more. Many of the attractions are walking trails and self-guided exploration and focus on nature and animal conservation.

Some of the rides are smaller and slow, good for the whole family, but there are also some thrill rides for teens and adults who like excitement. The entertainment options are top-notch, with two of the best Disney World shows found here.

There are enough rides to fill a full day at the Animal Kingdom, so if you are going to make the best use of your time, it’s important to know which ones are the best and what to prioritize.

In this post we are going to rate all the attractions from best to worst, each with a rating from 1 to 10. A 1 means it’s a terrible attraction, while a 10 means it’s one of Disney’s finest. (Spoiler warning, there are 3 rides rated a 10 at the Animal Kingdom, the most of any Disney World park).

Disney's Animal Kingdom Attractions

Of course these rating are our own, and you might have a completely different list. Make sure to let us know if you agree with our top rides or if your list looks different.

If you are wondering what has changed since reopening, check out our Animal Kingdom Reopening Guide for more info.

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

Full List of Animal Kingdom Attractions

Best Rides at Disney's Animal Kingdom Disney World

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is not your typical theme park, so don’t come expecting to ride 30+ rides like over at the Magic Kingdom. While there are some amazing rides here, the park is known for its animals, physical beauty and extreme attention to detail.

If you like rides, the Animal Kingdom has 20 different attractions including traditional rides, shows, walking trails, and experiences. It doesn’t have the most attractions in Disney World, but what it has is very high quality.

Here is a list of all the attractions at Disney’s Animal Kingdom…

Discovery Island

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


  • Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • Festival of the Lion King


  • Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
  • Kali River Rapids
  • Maharajah Jungle Trek
  • UP! A Great Bird Adventure

Dinoland U.S.A

  • The Boneyard
  • Fossil Fun Games
  • TriceraTop Spin
  • Finding Nemo – The Musical
  • Primeval Whirl (Permanently Closed)

Pandora: The World of Avatar

  • Avatar Flight of Passage
  • Na’vi River Journey

Rafiki’s Planet Watch

  • Affection Section
  • The Animation Experience at Conservation Station
  • Wildlife Express

How Many Rides are there at Disney’s Animal Kingdom?

There are only 8 actual rides at the Animal Kingdom in Disney World. There are a total of 20 attractions but there are only 8 rides in a moving vehicle. The rest of the attractions are shows, walking trails or interactive experiences.

Is the Animal Kingdom a Half-Day Park?

For the longest time, many guests thought of Disney’s Animal Kingdom as a half-day park. This may have been true when the park opened in 1998, but since then they have added many new attractions, including some of the most visually stunning ones at Walt Disney World.

If you like to do all the attractions, we do not recommend visiting the Animal Kingdom for a half-day only. To see the entire park and do all the attractions you need at least one full day. That let’s you relax and take your time to appreciate this truly remarkable place.

Best Rides at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Best Rides Disney's Animal Kingdom

Of course as with any theme park, it’s important to know all the must-do attractions at the Animal Kingdom before you go. This will help you plan your day so you can concentrate on the best rides first. Then once you do those you can concentrate on the rest depending on the time you have left.

The best rides at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in order are:

  1. Avatar Flight of Passage
  2. Kilimanjaro Safaris
  3. Expedition Everest
  5. Festival of the Lion King
  6. It’s Tough to be a Bug!
  7. Na’vi River Journey

If your visit to the Animal Kingdom is going to be a success, we think you should first concentrate on doing the above list first. Each of these rides is in the “must-do” category and they are easily the top attractions at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Before your visit, make sure to read all the Disney World Height Requirements so you know ahead of time which rides your children can go on.

Let’s take a more in-depth look at all the Animal Kingdom rides…

Kilimanjaro Safaris (10/10)

  • Ride Type: Safari
  • Thrill Level: Low
  • Good For: All Ages
  • FastPass: Yes
  • Ride Length: 20 minutes
  • Height Requirement: No
Kilimanjaro Safaris Disney's Animal Kingdom

Kilimanjaro Safaris is a safari ride at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in the back of the Africa area. Let’s face it, animals are the reason you came to this park, and this is the headliner attraction. This is as close to going on a real safari in Africa as you can get.

There are so many reasons why this is one of the best attractions at the Animal Kingdom. Guests board a giant safari ride vehicle and listen as an expert guide takes you through the savanna and explains incredible details about the animals. The way the “natural” environments are created is truly awesome, giving the animals barriers without being visible to the guests.

Animals include, giraffes, zebras, crocodiles, elephants, hippos, rhinos, and of course, lions. This attraction has everything, and no two rides are ever the same. This ride is what makes the Animal Kingdom what it is, and it is a must-do for guests of all ages.

When to Visit: Kilimanjaro Safaris is best visited early in the morning when the park opens up. The animals are much more active before the temperatures heat up and they also feed during this time which means they will be close to the action. Sunset safaris are also incredible and you can use a FastPass+ to make that happen.

Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain (10/10)

  • Ride Type: Roller Coaster, Big Drops
  • Thrill Level: High
  • Good For: Kids, Teens, Adults
  • FastPass: Yes
  • Ride Length: 4 minutes
  • Height Requirement: 44 inches (112cm)
Expedition Everest Animal Kingdom

Expedition Everest is a steel roller coaster in the Asia area of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Walt Disney World of course is known for its mountain coasters, and in our opinion, this is the best one of them all.

The story behind the ride is you are taking a trip through the Himalayan mountains on the “Anandapur Rail Service” when things go wrong and the train is derailed by the infamous Yeti. The magic begins in the ride queue, one of the most detailed and story driven queues in any park.

The ride itself is unmatched among other Disney coasters and it runs very smooth with little bumpiness. There are no loops here, but Everest has plenty of thrills with a backwards drop going into a 250° turn at high speeds, and another 80ft forward drop.

Expedition Everest is an unbelievable coaster with A+ marks for theming, thrills and fun. It’s no doubt one of the best attractions anywhere and you will have a blast. Just look out for the Yeti!

When to Visit: We tend to ride Expedition Everest in the late morning or afternoon. The line isn’t usually super long, and is often 30 minutes or under. You might consider getting a FastPass+ for it as your third choice, just make sure to prioritize Flight of Passage and Kali River Rapids first. Single Rider is also an option and is normally less than 10 minutes wait. For a unique experience and to up the “scary-factor, try riding at night.

DINOSAUR (8.5/10)

  • Ride Type: Dark Ride, Thrill Ride
  • Thrill Level: Medium
  • Good For: Kids, Teens, Adults
  • FastPass: Yes
  • Ride Length: 3 minutes 30 seconds
  • Height Requirement: 40 inches (102cm)
Dinosaur Ride Disney's Animal Kingdom

DINOSAUR is a dark ride in Dinoland U.S.A which brings you back to the age of the dinosaurs. This is another one of our favorite rides at the Animal Kingdom, and it’s great for thrill-seekers. It’s a motion-simulator ride, very similar to the Indiana Jones Adventure ride in Disneyland.

Your mission is to go back in time and capture and bring back a dinosaur with you for scientists to study. The only problem is getting out before a giant meteor strikes and wipes out most life on the planet. The chase in this ride is gripping and definitely not something you will fall asleep on. Expect loud sound effects and big show scenes with huge animatronic dinosaurs.

Even though this ride has been around since the park opened, it’s still one of Animal Kingdom’s best! Just be aware small children might be frightened by this ride.

When to Visit: Late morning is best for Dinosaur, before the crowds pick up too much. FastPass+ is also an option here, but not to be used over Kali River Rapids or Flight of Passage. It is an option for your third one along with Kilimanjaro Safaris, Everest or one of the shows.

Avatar Flight of Passage (10/10)

  • Ride Type: 3D Flying Simulator
  • Thrill Level: High
  • Good For: Kids, Teens, Adults
  • FastPass: Yes
  • Ride Length: 6 minutes
  • Height Requirement: 44 inches (112cm)
Avatar Flight of Passage Animal Kingdom Rides

In our opinion, Avatar Flight of Passage is the best ride at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, hands down. This is a 3D flight simulator attraction that takes you flying over the landscapes of Pandora. Think of it as Soarin’ on steroids.

Flight simulator doesn’t do this ride justice, as it really makes you feel like you are flying on the back of a banshee. The attention to detail is incredible and you can even feel the banshee breathing with your legs. The water sprays in your face, the music and even the scents are all great.

It also has one of the best ride queues in Disney World, and it takes you through the ancient Na’vi caves, into a bioluminescent forest, and eventually into the Alpha Centauri Expeditions research facility.

The screens are done perfectly, and you only are taken out of the experience if you look to the far left or right. Flight of Passage is a pure thrill ride and can only be understood by living through the experience, and it is arguably the best ride in Walt Disney World.

When to Visit: This ride has the longest wait times at the Animal Kingdom and is a priority FastPass+ reservation. If you are not able to get a FastPass+ for it, we highly recommend getting there before the park opens at rope drop and making this the first attraction of the day. Lines are regularly 2-3 hours long and you definitely don’t want to spend all that time waiting.

It’s Tough to be a Bug! (8.5/10)

  • Ride Type: 3D Film
  • Thrill Level: Low
  • Good For: All Ages
  • FastPass: Yes
  • Ride Length: 9 minutes
  • Height Requirement: No
It's Tough to be a Bug Show Animal Kingdom

“It’s Tough to Be a Bug” is a 3D film attraction in Discovery Island area of the Animal Kingdom based on Pixar’s “A Bug’s Life” franchise. In fact, it’s located right underneath the base of The Tree of Life.

The premise of the show is bugs want to demonstrate to humans how difficult they have it and increase the understanding between these two animal groups. Bees, termites, ants, beetles, dragonflies, grasshoppers are just some of the insects featured. It’s a good use of Disney characters without making them feel forced.

We love this attraction and think the special effects are well-done, and even at times surprising. The 3D technology is over 20+ years old now and could use an upgrade, but we still have a great time. This is an attraction the whole family will enjoy so don’t miss it!

When to Visit: This show has a large capacity and low wait times. There is no need to use a FastPass+ selection here. We recommend visiting during the afternoon to get a break form the sweltering heat.

Na’vi River Journey (7.5/10)

  • Ride Type: Boat Ride, Dark Ride, Slow
  • Thrill Level: Low
  • Good For: All Ages
  • FastPass: Yes
  • Ride Length: 5 minutes
  • Height Requirement: No
Na'vi River Journey Disney's Animal Kingdom Attractions

The Na’vi River Journey is a slow-moving boat ride in Pandora: The World of Avatar. It’s often overlooked as being “the other” ride in Pandora, and not nearly as popular as Flight of Passage.

The idea behind the ride is to take guests on a river cruise through a bioluminescent forest. Some of the effects here are top notch and you will marvel at all the lights. Screen technology is used for some nice effects of animals and the Na’vi.

Our biggest problem with it and the reason why it doesn’t contend with the best rides in the Animal Kingdom is because of its short length, and lack of an interesting plot or story. It starts off slow and you are waiting to get into the story, but there isn’t one, it’s just a ride down a river.

The audio-animatronic of the Shaman of Songs is very impressive, and it’s one of the most complex animatronic figures ever built. How it moves in such a lifelike way is beyond me.

This ride had way more potential, and could have been one of the best rides at the Animal Kingdom. Ultimately, the short ride length and lack of a gripping story makes the Na’vi River Journey fall just short of expectations.

When to Visit: If you can’t get a FastPass+ reservations for Flight of Passage, get one for Na’vi River Journey. If you are rope dropping Flight of Passage you can make this your second ride of the day as lines shouldn’t be too long by the time you get out.

The Rest

Most of the rest of the attractions are still really good, but they shouldn’t be the focus of your touring plan. Do these if based on the amount of time you have.

Kali River Rapids (7/10)

  • Ride Type: River Rapids Ride
  • Thrill Level: Medium
  • Good For: All Ages
  • FastPass: No
  • Ride Length: 5 minutes
  • Height Requirement: 38 inches (97cm)
Kali River Rapids Animal Kingdom Rides

Kali River Rapids is a water raft ride at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and one that will get you absolutely soaking wet. The idea behind the ride is pretty cool, and guests ride through a deforested area in and Asian rainforest. There is a huge drop at the end and that’s where you get wet. Approximately half of the passengers will be soaked and it all happens at random.

Normally we love raft rides, but Kali River Rapids falls short of expectations. The original idea was to have free roaming tigers watching guests from the side, but that never worked out. It’s way too short and lacks that extra something to make it special. The queue is amazingly detailed, and perhaps better than the ride itself.

TIP: Make sure to bring a poncho and even an extra pair of socks or shoes for this one.

When to Visit: Kali River Rapids has the second longest lines at the Animal Kingdom, so we recommend getting a FastPass+ for this. Make a reservation for the afternoon or end of the day so you don’t have to walk around soaking wet all day long.

Maharajah Jungle Trek (9/10)

  • Ride Type: Walking Trail
  • Thrill Level: Low
  • Good For: All Ages
  • FastPass: No
  • Length: Self-guided Walkthrough
  • Height Requirement: No
Maharajah Jungle Trek Animal Kingdom

The Maharajah Jungle Trek is one of two wildlife walking exploration trails at Disney’s Animal Kingdom (the other is Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail). The main attraction here are the tigers, but you will also find birds, bats and other animals along the way.

The theming here is excellent and the temple ruins are realistic and made to look like they’ve been there for hundreds of years with the animals living around them. This really increases the experience for us, and is one of the most enjoyable in the Animal Kingdom.

This trail is self-guided so you can take your time and check out the animals as much as you like. Be sure to ask the animal experts any questions you have along the way, they are more than happy to tell you anything you want to know.

When to Visit: Visit here after exiting Kali River Rapids since the two attractions are right next to each other. Set aside about 30 minutes for this attraction going at a reasonable pace. Also try to go early or at lunch, that’s when the tigers are eating and most active.

Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail (9/10)

  • Ride Type: Walking Trail
  • Thrill Level: Low
  • Good For: All Ages
  • FastPass: No
  • Length: Self-guided Walkthrough
  • Height Requirement: No
Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail Animal Kingdom

The Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail is one of two wildlife walking trail in Disney’s Animal Kingdom park (the Maharajah Jungle Trek is the other). It’s a self-guided trail, so you can take your time and stop more to learn about whatever animals interest you the most. Animals include zebras, birds, prairie dogs, and of course, gorillas.

Getting to see the gorillas up close is a real treat, and if you are luck, they will be interacting with each other which is a blast to see. Definitely one of the top attractions in the park and not to be missed.

When to Visit: The gorillas are more active during feeding hours which is early in the morning and at lunch. Try to come on a day when it isn’t brutally hot outside and you are more likely to see them walking around and interacting.

Rafiki’s Planet Watch (7/10)

  • Ride Type: Train Ride, Petting Zoo, Animal Observation
  • Thrill Level: Low
  • Good For: All Ages
  • FastPass: No
  • Length: Self-guided Walkthrough
  • Height Requirement: No
Rafiki's Planet Watch Observatory

Rafiki’s Planet Watch is a mini-land dedicated to animal conservation located in the back of Africa at the Animal Kingdom. It’s not one attraction, but many small attractions folded into one including a petting zoo and animal exhibits.

To get to Rafiki’s Plant Watch you must first board the Wildlife Express Train. This is a slow and easy ride. Once you get to Rafiki’s Planet Watch, it’s up to you to decide what you want to see and experience. The petting zoo is the most popular attraction here and it lets you get up close to some of the animals.

Outside near the petting zoo you’ll find animal experts and caretakers giving demonstrations and explaining about some of the animals here. Inside Conservation Station there are many exhibits with many species of reptiles, amphibians, and insects.

The area where medical procedures are performed on the park’s animals is also visible to the public, and if you are lucky you can see surgery being performed on a big animal like a zebra, crocodile or lion. The last point of interest is the new Animation Experience, which shows the history of animals and Disney animation.

When to Visit: Rafiki’s Planet Watch is an interesting attraction at the Animal Kingdom. The only problem is how much time it eats up out of your day. A train is required to get there and back, and that alone could take up a hour of your day. If you are more of a “rides” person, we suggest doing those first and coming here if you have time left.

The Boneyard (6.5/10)

  • Ride Type: Kids’ Playground
  • Thrill Level: Low
  • Good For: Kids
  • FastPass: No
  • Length: Self-guided
  • Height Requirement: No

The Boneyard is a Kids’ playground area in Dinoland U.S.A. It’s a fairly elaborate play area themed after a dinosaur dig site complete with a rope course and other fossil finding activities. The best part is the fake, non-stick sand, so you don’t have to worry about your kids come back completely dirty.

Obviously adults are not going to be interested in this area, but for kids it’s a pretty well-themed space and it gives them a little time to blow off steam.

When to Visit: Anytime your kids need a break. Keep in mind there is not much shade here so it might be brutal in the afternoon heat.

Fossil Fun Games (4/10)

  • Ride Type: Carnival-style Games
  • Thrill Level: Low
  • Good For: All Ages
  • FastPass: No
  • Length: N/A
  • Height Requirement: No
Fossil Fun Games Disney's Animal Kingdom Rides

The Fossil Fun Games are carnival-style games in Dinoland U.S.A. Game include basketball, water-squirt game, the mallet game and a goblet toss. These games cost extra money, but if you are good enough you can win a prize.

Needless to say, we hate the Fossil Fun Games and we would demolish the entire area if it were up to us. This does not belong in a Disney theme park and we hope it’s next on the list of attractions to close at the Animal Kingdom.

When to Visit: Keep in mind that if you win a prize, you’ll have to carry it around the Animal Kingdom all day with you. In that case, it’s better to wait until the end of the day to come here.

TriceraTop Spin (4/10)

  • Ride Type: Spinning Ride
  • Thrill Level: Medium
  • Good For: All Ages
  • FastPass: No
  • Ride Length: 1 minute 30 seconds
  • Height Requirement: No
TriceraTop Spin Animal Kingdom

TriceraTop Spin is a spinning ride in Dinoland U.S.A. at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It’s similar to Dumbo or Astro Orbiter at the Magic Kingdom. There is nothing special at all about this ride and you just spin around in a circle and go up and down.

Actually, it’s even worse than its Magic Kingdom cousins since the view of Dinoland U.S.A. around the attraction is plain ugly. Count this as the worst ride at the Animal Kingdom.

When to Visit: If you absolutely must visit here, don’t do it in the morning when time is better spent doing the more popular rides. Do this toward the end of the day when you have nothing left on the list.

Discovery Island Trails (7/10)

  • Ride Type: Walking Trail
  • Thrill Level: Low
  • Good For: All Ages
  • FastPass: No
  • Length: Self-guided Walkthrough
  • Height Requirement: No
Discovery Island Trails Disney's Animal Kingdom Attractions

The most impressive feature at the Animal Kingdom is the 145-foot Tree of Life standing in the center of the park. On that tree are carvings of 325 different animal species, both living and extinct. The Discovery Island Trails are walking paths that let you get right up close to the tree for a better look, and one of the quietest places in the park.

When to Visit: This area is very peaceful, so come here when you’ve had enough of the crowds and need a few minutes away. If you come near sunset, you can catch the Golden Hour as it’s hitting the tree which makes for some good photos.

The Oasis Exhibits (6/10)

  • Ride Type: Walking Trail
  • Thrill Level: Low
  • Good For: All Ages
  • FastPass: No
  • Length: Self-guided Walkthrough
  • Height Requirement: No
Yellow Bird

The Oasis is technically the first land you go through after coming through the entrance of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It’s like the park’s version of Main Street U.S.A. only this time you are in the jungle.

Most people run straight through this area, but if you stop to explore you will find interesting exhibits filled with animals like birds and reptiles.

When to Visit: When you arrive you’ll probably be running through here to get in line for Flight of Passage. Make sure to stop by on your way out and take a look around before leaving.

Primeval Whirl (Permanently Closed)

Primeval Whirl Animal Kingdom status

Primeval Whirl in Dinoland U.S.A. was a steel wild mouse roller coaster. It was part of Chester and Hester’s Dino-Rama, and the gimmick was that the ride vehicles would spin around while going through the usual maneuvers a roller coaster makes.

Disney closed down Primeval Whirl permanently in 2020, after several mechanical issues forcing the attraction to move into the “seasonal” category. Even when it was working properly, it was a terrible ride. There was hardly any story and its theming was outright lazy and uninspired. Rumors are this whole area could eventually be replaced, though Disney has not made any plans it has public at this time.

New Attractions Coming to the Animal Kingdom

At this time, there are no new attractions scheduled to be built at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Even though there will be some minor additions and refurbishments for the upcoming Disney World 50th Anniversary celebration, there won’t be any new attractions.

Recently, Disney finished its Pandora: The World of Avatar project, and they have since shifted attention away from the Animal Kingdom for now to the other parks. Does that mean we will never see a Black Panther attraction, a Zootopia land or an Indiana Jones re-theme of Dinoland? That remains to be seen, but nothing is imminent.

For a more detailed look at more Disney attractions in the next few years, read our post on the Best New Rides Coming to Disney World.

Shows, Entertainment & Activities

Festival of the Lion King Animal Kingdom Shows

Besides the rides, there are many things to do and see at the Animal Kingdom, including a slew of entertainment options like shows, street performers, games, and activities for kids. This park has some of the absolute best shows in Disney World and make a great opportunity when you need a break in the afternoon.

Let’s take a look at all the best shows at the Animal Kingdom as well as our ratings for each of them…

Temporary Entertainment

Disney's Animal Kingdom Entertainment

Unfortunately, at the moment, not all of the in-park entertainment is currently running due to the new safety guidelines Disney has been forced to put in the theme parks. Right now fireworks shows, parades and character meets have all been put on hold for the moment.

Disney has however introduced some new temporary entertainment which guests can see. Since traditional character meets are not running, you can still see all your favorites in the new Character Cavalcades which are in all the parks.

There are 5 Character Cavalcades at the Animal Kingdom daily. Each features your favorite Disney friends passing by on cruise boats down the Discovery River including:

  • Discovery River Character Cruise
  • Discovery Island Drummers
  • Donald’s Dino Boat Bash!
  • Mickey & Friends Flotilla
  • Goofy & Pals Set Sail

Read our Character Cavalcades Guide for more info.

Festival of the Lion King (10/10)

  • Show Type: Stage Show, Musical
  • Good For: All Ages
  • FastPass: Yes
  • Show Length: 30 minutes
Disney's Animal Kingdom 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?”

Festival of the Lion King is quite possibly the best show in Walt Disney World and a must-see for guests of all ages. It’s a very artistic take on the original story, but all the costumes, music and props work together in harmony.

When to Visit: We recommend going in the afternoon to get a break from the heat. Any seat is a good one so you don’t need to use a FastPass+ here.

Finding Nemo – The Musical (9/10)

  • Show Type: Stage Show, Musical
  • Good For: All Ages
  • FastPass: Yes
  • Show Length: 40 minutes
Finding Nemo the Musical Animal Kingdom Rides

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. 

The Animal Kingdom comes through again with another one of the best stage shows at Disney World. The human puppeteers are incredible to watch and they way they glide through the air is utterly brilliant. They could have added some additional parts instead of a straight-up retelling of the film, but that is a tiny complaint in an otherwise stellar show.

When to Visit: Unlike the Festival of the Lion King, having a closer seat does matter here as you will have a much better view of the puppeteers. We suggest getting in line early for this or using a FastPass+ if you don’t want to wait. Again, afternoon showtimes are the best to stay out of the heat.

Tree of Life Awakenings (7/10)

  • Show Type: Projection Mapping
  • Good For: All Ages
  • Show Length: 5 minutes
Tree of Life Awakenings Animal Kingdom

Projection mapping technology has been all the rage in the Disney theme parks for the past few years, and in 2016 they came to the Animal Kingdom as part of a new nighttime spectacular, “Tree of Life Awakenings.” This is currently the only nighttime spectacular at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

This is a pretty cool show as you can watch luminous fireflies come to life on the tree to celebrate the beauty of nature found in animals. It’s not a huge show like Happily Ever After and there are no fireworks, but Tree of Life Awakenings are definitely worth a look as the effects are excellent.

Rivers of Light: We Are One (Permanently Closed)

Rivers of Light Show Animal Kingdom

In 2017, Disney opened the Rivers of Light nighttime show out on the Discovery River lagoon between Everest and Discovery Island. It included floating barges, colored-fountains, lasers, lights, projection mapping and more.

Even after a second version (“We are One”) debuted in 2019, the show has been permanently closed. Rivers of Light never got off to a good start and was originally delayed for months due to technical and artistic problems with the show. It was mildly entertaining but never really had that “wow” moment to grip audiences.

We are waiting to hear what Disney’s plans are for the space and a potential replacement nighttime spectacular some time in the future.

UP! A Great Bird Adventure (5/10)

  • Show Type: Stage Show with Exotic Birds
  • Good For: All Ages
  • Show Length: 25 minutes
UP! a Great Bird Adventure Animal Kingdom Attractions

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, however it’s unclear which will stay long-term.

Overall, we aren’t huge fans of this show. The former Flights of Wonder was a better show and the UP! version just feels like a way to shoehorn more IP into the park unnecessarily. The characters don’t add anything of value to the show and take away from the amazing birds. Let’s hope the next version gets it right.

Donald’s Dino Bash!

Lively celebration in Dinoland that includes character meets, and a nightly dance party featuring a DJ. If you’ve ever wondered what Donald, Daisy, Goofy, Pluto, Launchpad McQuack and Chip ‘n’ Dale look like in crazy dino-costumes, this is your chance.

Donald's Dino-Bash Animal Kingdom

Animal Encounters: Winged Encounters – The Kingdom Takes Flight

An incredible display near the Tree of Life of 6 South American Macaw species with wingspans up to 48 inches long. Learn from bird experts and watch as they take off and swoop down over the on-looking guests.

Animal Encounters: Winged Encounters Disney's Animal Kingdom Rides

Hakuna Matata Time Dance Party

Fans of the The Lion King will like this street dance party lead by Timon and Pumba and other beloved Disney characters. Shows occur daily from 11:30 am to 5:30 am on the Discovery Island Stage.

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.

Pandora Rangers Animal Kingdom Rides

Tam Tam Drummers of Harambe

These guys get the entire Harambe village dancing with high-energy African music and rhythms. It also has an interactive element to it as guests can get involved the show.

Dance party in Africa at Animal Kingdom

Viva Gaia Street Band!

A lively group of musicians leading a Caribbean Street Party on Discovery Island. The show lasts about 30 minutes.

Bollywood Beats

Fun and energetic Bollywood-style dance show. It lasts approximately 10 minutes.

DJ Annan

Street dance party in Asia including a DJ.

FastPass+ Animal Kingdom Attractions

(FastPass+ is currently suspended at Walt Disney World)

The FastPass+ attractions at Disney’s Animal Kingdom are split up into two tiered groups: Tier 1 and Tier 2. Each guest is allowed to book one Tier 1 attraction and two Tier 2 attractions up to 60 days before your vacation start date.

FastPass+ rides Disney's Animal Kingdom

Here are all the current FastPass+ attractions in Disney’s Animal Kingdom:

Tier 1

  • Avatar Flight of Passage
  • Na’vi River Journey

Tier 2

  • Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
  • Festival of the Lion King
  • Finding Nemo – The Musical
  • It’s Tough to Be A Bug
  • Kali River Rapids
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • Meet Favorite Disney Pals at Adventurers Outpost
  • Primeval Whirl (Permanently Closed)
  • Rivers of Light (Permanently Closed)

The nice thing about FastPass+ at the Animal Kingdom is there aren’t too many difficult choices to make when booking your rides. Concentrate on the rides that normally have the longest wait times and don’t worry about the less popular rides.

Of the two Tier 1 rides we recommend using a FastPass+ selection on Avatar Flight of Passage. This ride has the longest wait time in the park, and can be in excess or 2-3 hours at busy times. This should be your first priority and if you can’t get a FastPass+ for it right away, keep checking every day and see if anything opens up.

Of the Tier 2 rides we recommend using a FastPass+ selection on Kali River Rapids and either Kilimanjaro Safaris or Expedition Everest. Kali River Rapids often has lines one hour or more when it’s hot out so if if you are going at that time use one here.

What Should You Ride First at Disney’s Animal Kingdom?

Best rides at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Choosing what to go on first at the Animal Kingdom depends on which rides you have FastPass+ reservations for.

If you got a FastPass+ for Avatar Flight of Passage, then we suggest going to Kilimanjaro Safaris first in the morning. This is the best time to see the animals all day as they tend to be more active first-thing in the morning.

If you don’t have a FastPass+ for Avatar Flight of Passage, then we suggest rope dropping that first thing in the morning. This ride has the longest lines in the park and early in the morning is the best time to beat the crowds there.

Best Family Rides

Family Attractions at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Most of the rides at Disney’s Animal Kingdom are family-friendly and can be enjoyed by the whole family. There are only three rides that some people might be hesitant to go one. Most of the attractions are slow-moving rides, and there are plenty of shows and walking paths to explore at your own pace.

Here are the best family rides at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in order:

  1. Kilimanjaro Safaris
  2. It’s Tough to be a Bug!
  3. Na’vi River Journey
  4. Maharajah Jungle Trek
  5. Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail

If you have small children or you just don’t like thrill rides, each of the above attractions will be perfect for you and can be enjoyed by the whole family. Kilimanjaro Safaris is especially awesome if you like animals and the kids will have a ball.

Best Thrill Rides

Disney's Animal Kingdom Thrill Rides

Disney World in general is not known for big thrill rides, but the Animal Kingdom park does have a few that that will send shivers down your spine. They are on the same level as the Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster as far as thrills go.

Here are the best thrill rides at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in order:

  1. Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
  2. Avatar Flight of Passage
  4. Kali River Rapids

Expedition Everest is the best roller coaster in Disney World and even though there are no loops, you will be clinging to the grips once you feel those G-forces kick in. You may even spot the Yeti which is enough to scare anyone!

Avatar Flight of Passage is one of the most exhilarating experiences you will find at any theme park. Riding a banshee over the gorgeous landscapes of Pandora will likely bring you to tears, those sharp drops down also might do the trick.

DINOSAUR isn’t the fastest ride and doesn’t have any steep drops, but it makes use of heavy lighting and special effects that might be a too much for your little ones. The Kali River Rapids isn’t super scary but there is a big drop and you might go down backwards.

How to Avoid Long Lines for Rides at the Animal Kingdom?

Avoiding Lines at Disney's Animal Kingdom

There is nothing more frustrating when visiting a Disney park than waiting in long lines for the attractions. Here are our best tips to avoid wasting a lot of time waiting in line at the Animal Kingdom.

Use FastPass+ – You can reserve up to 3 FastPasses ahead of time which will let you skip the lines for the most popular rides at the parks. FastPass+ reservations from 30-60 days before the start of your vacation. This will save you some serious time in line and highly recommended. (FastPass+ is currently unavailable during the reopening phase.)

Do Flight of Passage Early – If you can’t get a FastPass+ reservation for Avatar Flight of Passage, we highly recommend waking up early and doing it at rope drop. This always has the longest wait times in the park, so doing it first thing in the morning before the crowds get there will save you lots of time. We recommend being there a minimum of 30 minutes before the official opening time of the park.

Go Early in the Morning – This is a good suggestion no matter which Disney park you are going to. The first couple of hours are always the slowest, so you will be able to get a lot of the big attractions done before the majority of the guests arrive for the day. Then you can go slower in the afternoon when the park is sure to be hotter.

Go When the Crowds are Low – Another great way to avoid crowds is to go when there are less people in the parks. This is easier said than done, but if you use our Disney World Crowd Calendar it will give you a good idea about the dates when there will be fewer people in the parks. A general rule to keep in mind is weekdays are always less busy than the weekends and avoid going on holidays.

Make sure to look at the Disney World Attractions Refurbishment Calendar while planning your trip to see if any of your favorite attractions are scheduled to be closed while you are there.

For more attractions, be sure to check out our other Disney World Ride Guides:

If you are thinking about going to Walt Disney World in the coming future, make sure to read our Disney World Planning Guide. There you will find all the info and tips you need to plan your trip.

Your Thoughts

I want to know what you think about the Animal Kingdom Rides…

  • What is your favorite attraction at the Animal Kingdom?
  • Which new ride are you looking forward to the most?

Let us know in the comments section below!

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