Attraction Guide to Walt Disney World’s: Animal Kingdom

“Welcome to a kingdom of animals… real, ancient and imagined: a kingdom ruled by lions, dinosaurs and dragons; a kingdom of balance, harmony and survival; a kingdom we enter to share in the wonder, gaze at the beauty, thrill at the drama, and learn.” ~  Michael D. Eisner, April 22, 1998 on the opening day of Animal Kingdom.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened on Earth Day in April 1988 and is the one of largest theme parks in the world. This park is unique because it is dedicated and themed entirely around the natural environment and animal conservation.  Disney’s Animal Kingdom features attractions as well as hundreds of species of live animals on exhibit. Here is an attraction guide for the park’s seven themed areas.

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Green parrot sitting in a tree in Animal Kingdom

The Oasis is Animal Kingdom’s “main street” and features animals and beautiful vegetation.  The Oasis provides a transition from world of man to the park and the world of animals.

Guests can stroll and view beautiful waterfalls, meandering streams, and colorful flora. Animal fans can also see fascinating creatures, such as a giant anteater, exotic boar, barking deer, wallaby, and spoonbill.

Discovery Island

The Tree of Life on the banks of Discovery River on a cloudy day at dawn

Discovery Island is located at the center of Animal Kingdom.  This central hub is in the middle of the Discovery River waterway and connects the other sections of the park.  Discovery Island contains the Tree of Life, which is the park’s icon.  This sculpted, man-made baobab tree is 145-foot-tall and 50-foot-wide. The Tree of Life contains It’s Tough to Be a Bug!, a 3D film based on the 1998 Disney·Pixar film, A Bug’s Life.

Tree of Life Repertory Theatre with theater seating, Flik on the ceiling and Hopper on stage

It’s Tough to Be a Bug! allows guests to experience what it is like to be a bug in a live, 3D show. This 430-seat Tree of Life Repertory Theatre features Flik, everyone’s favorite bug, in “Off-Off Bugway” show. Guests will learn about the survival techniques of bugs, while dodging flying quills from a tarantula, smelling a stink bug, and watching buzzing hornets and tumbling spiders.  Guests will learn “it’s tough to be a bug” in this fun and educational experience.

Pandora – The World of Avatar

Pandora – The World of Avatar is themed after Pandora, from James Cameron’s Avatar series. This beautiful area provides eco-tourists the opportunity to join Alpha Centauri Expeditions (ACE) for the transformational experience of a lifetime on Avatar Flight of Passage. The Na’vi River Journey is also located in Pandora – The World of Avatar.

A boy flies through the sky with Na'vi and Mountain Banshees through the skies over Pandora

Avatar Flight of Passage allows guests to experience an all-new expedition where they climb atop a mountain banshee for an incredible flight. Disney guests can feel just like a Na’vi hunter on these powerful winged creatures as they soar over the moon’s beautiful landscape. Guests must be 44in (112cm) or taller to enjoy this attraction, and FastPass+ is offered.

Guests enjoying the bioluminescence of Na’vi River Journey while they ride aboard a woven raft

Guests can journey down a gentle, mysterious river on the Na’vi River Journey.  Travelers will board a reed boat and drift downstream through a series of caves in a bio-luminescent rainforest.  Disney fans will view exotic glowing plants and amazing rainforest creatures as they search for the Na’vi Shaman of Songs.


Clouds lord above the rustic walk-up windows of Harambe Market at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park

Africa is one of the original areas of Animal Kingdom and is set in the fictional east African port village of Harambe. Africa contains several animal exhibits, including spotted hyenas, wild dogs, cattle, rhinos, giraffes, lions, cheetahs, elephants, zebras, wildebeest, buffaloes, Nile crocodiles, ostriches, several species of antelopes, birds and flamingos.

Guests can board an open-air vehicle for a day or evening Kilimanjaro Safari.  This 18-minute expedition into the Harambe Wildlife Reserve allows guests to see some of these amazing animals.

Three gorillas sit on a grassy hillside close to a brook and a cascading waterfall

Guests can explore the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail and see black-and-white colobus monkeys, gerenuks, gorillas, hippos, Kenyan sand boas, kori bustards, meerkats, naked mole-rats, okapis, tarantulas, and yellow-backed duikers.

Disney fans can also visit the Harambe Theater, which is home to the Festival of the Lion King, a stage attraction based on the 1994 Disney film The Lion King.

Costumed performers from Festival of the Lion King wave from the stage

Hakuna Matata! Disney fans of all ages will feel the love tonight as they watch the Festival of the Lion King. Guests of all ages will marvel over the pageantry and puppetry of the Festival of the Lion King. This colorful and vibrant show retells the story of Simba, the lion cub who would be king with songs from the beloved film. This musical includes adored song such as “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?”, “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King” and “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”

Rafiki’s Planet Watch

Rafiki’s Planet Watch is located next to Africa in Animal Kingdom. Guests can board the Wildlife Express Train and visit the three sub-areas, including Conservation Station, Affection Section, and Habitat Habit! Conservation Station which showcases the various conservation efforts supported by the Walt Disney Company. Affection Section is a petting zoo that feature goats, sheep, and other domesticated animals.

Rafiki the baboon holds his staff in front of jungle trees

Habitat Habit! allows guests to stroll along a path to conservation on this self-guided tour.  Animal lovers will also see the adorable South America cotton-top tamarins and learn about efforts to protect these endangered primates.


Two tigers roam outside ruins as seen in Maharajah Jungle Trek

Asia is set in the fictional kingdom of Anandapur and means “Place of many delights” in Sanskrit.  This land comprises two villages and is a center of animal research and tourism in Animal Kingdom.

Guests can venture out on the Maharajah Jungle Trek, which is a self-guided walking tour of Southeast Asia.  Animal lovers will see a variety of species, include tigers, dozens of birds, a flying fox and a Komodo dragon.

The land of Asia features the attraction Expedition Everest: Legend of the Forbidden Mountain, Kali River Rapids, Up! A Great Bird Adventure, and the Rivers of Light show.

A train ascends Mt. Everest at Expedition Everest - Legend of the Forbidden Mountain

Expedition Everest: Legend of the Forbidden Mountain is a steel roller coaster ride that takes guests through the Forbidden Mountain of the Himalayas. Travelers will board a speeding train and careen through the mountains while avoiding the clutches of the mythic Abominable Snowman. This exciting ride includes a steep climb, a train that races backwards, a double-looping turn, and an 80-foot drop! Guests must be 44in (112cm) or taller to enjoy this attraction, and FastPass+ is offered.

Guests of various ages hold on tight while riding Kali River Rapids at Disney's Animal Kingdom park

Kali River Rapids is a river raft ride through a lush jungle landscape in the Heart of Asia. Guests will load a large, circular 12-passenger raft that glides up a 90-foot knoll into a mist. The rafts will sail an erupting geyser and descend the mountain that includes a dramatic 20-foot slope!  Spectators can spray water on the rafters with elephant-themed water sprayers, so guests should be prepared to get wet! Guests must be 38in (97cm) or taller to enjoy this attraction and FastPass+ is offered.

An illustration of Dug and Russell on a stage with an eagle, a peacock and a variety of parrots in front of an audience

Up! A Great Bird Adventure is a live bird show where guests can learn about natural bird behaviors. Russel and his pal, Dug, host this unique birding experience. Guests can even see a marabou stork with a 10-foot wingspan!

The Rivers of Light show is set on the banks of the Discovery River in between Asia and DinoLand U.S.A. This nighttime show features mist screens, water fountains, floating lanterns, music, and lighting.  Guests will be transported across Asian jungles to African savannahs and North American mountains. FastPass+ is offered for this show. Update: Rivers of Light will be permanently replaced with a new nighttime spectacular show.

DinoLand U.S.A.

A wooden sign in front of dinosaur-themed attractions reads Welcome to Dinoland U.S.A.

DinoLand U.S.A. is themed after…you guessed it… dinosaurs and other prehistoric life. The land includes the Dino Institute, a fictitious palaeontological facility which is home to the Dinosaur attraction.  Kids can play on the multi-leveled playground area that contains a Columbian mammoth fossil and a cast skeleton of a Brachiosaurus.

This Animal Kingdom land features animals on exhibit, including the American crocodile, red legged seriemas, Abdim’s stork and Asian brown tortoise.  DinoLand U.S.A. also features attractions, such as Dinosaur, Primeval Whirl, TriceraTop Spin aerial carousel ride, and Theater in the Wild.

Profile of a Triceratops as a time rover filled with Guests drives by at the Dinosaur attraction

Dinosaur is a dark thrill ride that visits the Late Cretaceous Time Period and is based on the 2000 Disney film Dinosaur.  Guests will board a 12-seat Time Rover on this scary, prehistoric joyride to the Dinosaur Age.  Recruits are on a secret mission to save a dinosaur from extinction. Guests must be 40in (102cm) or taller to enjoy this attraction. FastPass+ is offered.

A mother and daughter spin while sliding on the tracks at the Primeval Whirl attraction

Primeval Whirl is a steel Wild Mouse spinning roller coaster where guests will spin and slide back to the dinosaur age. Disney fans will experience a maze of curves and drops on this dinosaur-themed carnival-style attraction. Guests must be 48in (122cm) or taller to enjoy this attraction, and FastPass+ is offered. Update: this ride is now permanently closed.

A triceratops vehicle in the aerial carousel-style ride at TriceraTop Spin

Guests of all ages can enjoy the TriceraTop Spin aerial carousel ride. This dinosaur ride in the sky allows guests to spin above the ground aboard an adorable dinosaur that they control. Guests seated in the front row can maneuver a joystick that will tip their dinosaur forward or backward. Guests in the back row direct how high or low they fly by moving an onboard lever up or down There is no height requirement for this attraction.

Marlin and sea turtles with their actor counterparts on stage at Finding Nemo - The Musical

The Theater in the Wild hosts Finding Nemo – The Musical, a live-action musical stage show based on the story of the 2003 Disney·Pixar film Finding Nemo. This 40-minute musical runs several times a day.  Guests will enjoy watching Nemo, Dory and their friends in this entertaining show!

Plan Your Visit To The Animal Kingdom

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About Monique Smalling

Monique and her husband, Ted, live in Sacramento, California with their two daughters, Sydney (14) and Reagan (13). Sydney's first trip to Disneyland was at one year old, and the family has been hooked ever since. The family has been annual pass holders for several years and visit the Happiest Place on Earth every couple of months. Each visit includes 3 to 4 days in the parks before heading to the beach. Monique and her daughters consider themselves huge Disney fans, and love sharing their knowledge and tips on the parks.

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