Top 10 Must Do’s: Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Top 10 Must Do's: Disney's Animal Kingdom - Festival of The Lion King

Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened as Walt Disney World’s fourth theme park on Earth Day, April 22, 1998. With the Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction taking up more space than Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the biggest Disney park, leaving plenty of room for wonderful attractions to enjoy. Let’s take a look at our top 10 must do’s for Disney’s Animal Kingdom!

10. Rivers of Light

This nighttime spectacular celebrates the wonders of nature through the use of an amazing soundtrack, glowing floats, water screens with projections, and so much more. The lotus blossom and animal floats can often be seen on the water during the day, but they come alive with brilliant colors for this nighttime spectacular. You’ll definitely want to have your camera ready for Rivers of Light.

9. Finding Nemo: The Musical

This show features larger than life puppets of your favorite Finding Nemo characters. For that reason alone, this show is a must see! In addition to the puppets, the show also features an original soundtrack filled with wonderful songs. Finding Nemo: The Musical provides a new take on the lovable Disney-Pixar film, making it a show the entire family will love!

8. Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail & Maharajah Jungle Trek

When visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you’ll want to see the amazing animals that call this theme park home. The Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail is home to amazing animals including gorillas, hippos, and exotic birds.

The Maharajah Jungle Trek is home to some of my favorite animals in the park – tigers and fruit bats! Watching the tigers play is so much fun. The tigers who live on the Maharajah Jungle Trek have recently had cubs who can now also be seen playing in their habitat.

If you’re afraid of bats, you may want to bypass the bat habitat. However, I highly recommend going in. Though there isn’t much to separate you from the fruit bats, their giant wingspan will not allow them to fit through the posts at the egde o their enclosure. So you don’t have to worry about a bat getting too close. These creatures are simply amazing to watch.

7. Kali River Rapids

I’m not a huge fan of being soaking wet all day, so I used to avoid this raft ride at all costs. Last year, my husband decided we needed to ride Kali River Rapids. I, of course, was not a fan of this idea, but went along with it anyway. I am so glad I did! Kali River Rapids is so much fun, and depending on who you’re riding with, it can also be quite humorous.

Yes, you can get completely soaked on Kali River Rapids, but I am happy to say that did not happen to me on the several times I rode this attraction on my last two trips. I do recommend planning ahead for Kali River Rapids. Disney offers free 2-hour locker rental across from the attraction’s entrance. Be sure to store anything you don’t want getting wet in these lockers. If you take your phone with you on the attraction, you’ll want to bring a zip-lock bag to store it in. I also recommend purchasing some quick drying shorts and shoes to wear on your visit to Animal Kingdom. I did get moderately wet on Kali River Rapids a few times, and, thanks to my quick drying clothes, I was completely dry within 30 minutes of getting off the attraction.

6. Explore Pandora

I know what you’re thinking…this isn’t an attraction. I know, just go with me on this one. When you enter Pandora: The World of Avatar for the first time, make sure you enter through the bridge just past Tiffins. Notice the wall of sound that effectively transports you from Disney’s Animal Kingdom to the planet of Pandora. As you walk, take in the details on the bridge and in the ground of this new land. Notice the unique plant life which surrounds you. The imagineers spared no detail when creating this remarkable land. Search for the water creatures that hunt by shooting a stream of water at their prey. Once you find them, wave your arms and watch what happens. As you stand under the floating mountains, look up. If you look close enough, you’ll notice small creatures who have made their home on the bottom of the mountains.

Stop by Pongu Pongu for a Night Blossom. This drink is delicious. In fact, I think I got one almost every single time I was in Pandora on our last trip. At meal time, visit Satu’li Canteen for the best quick service meal you’ll find at Walt Disney World. I recommend the Wood Grilled Chicken Bowl with rice and chimichurri sauce, but you really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. The cheeseburger pods with vegetable chips are also good.

After you’ve explored Pandora during the day, be sure to come back at night to see the world come alive. The bioluminescent plants are beautiful after dark. Notice the tall plants which serve as lamps for the area. Notice the colors on the floating mountains. Be sure to look at the colors of the ground as you walk. Visiting Pandora after dark is a remarkable experience.

Top 10 Must Do's: Disney's Animal Kingdom - Na'vi River Journey - Shaman of Songs

5. Na’vi River Journey

This stunning attraction, located in Pandora, takes guests on a magical journey through a river lined with bioluminescent plant life. While traveling down this Na’vi river, you’ll see a variety of Pandoran animals, as well as, some Na’vi. The details in this attraction are simply amazing. After taking in the sights and sounds of the Na’vi river for a bit, you’ll meet the Na’vi Shaman of Songs. She is simply amazing! The Shaman of Songs is by far the most impressive animatronic Disney has created to date. Her movements are so incredibly lifelike you may find yourself questioning if she’s really an animatronic!

4. Festival of The Lion King

This show is the best show in all of Walt Disney World! Festival of The Lion King features favorite characters from the film including Simba, Timon, and Pubmaa. The show also features brilliant singers and dancers dressed is colorful African costumes. The Tumble Monkeys are a highlight of the show. I love watching these acrobatic monkeys steal the show! The Can You Feel The Love Tonight segment of the show is another highlight. During this song, you’ll watch as a performer dressed as a bird gracefully flies through the air. Festival of The Lion King is a must see show, so be sure to check the Times Guide at the beginning of the day to make plans to see the show.


This thrilling attraction takes guest back in time to retrieve an Iguanodon right before the giant meteor strikes.  Once inside the Dino Institute, you’ll learn about dinosaurs from none other than Bill Nye The Science Guy. After some fun learning, you’ll head downstairs to board your CTX Time Rover for your trip to the past. The exciting journey and lifelike dinosaurs make this an attraction you won’t want to miss. Please note: Some guests, especially younger ones, may find this attraction’s loud noises, large dinosaurs, and dark environment a bit too scary.

2. Expedition Everest

Upon arriving in Asia, you won’t be able to miss Expedition Everest. This massive attraction towers over the rest of Disney’s Animal Kingdom and is the tallest attraction at Walt Disney World. You will may need a Fastpass+ for this attraction; however, if you do find yourself waiting in line at Expedition Everest, be sure to take notice of the artifacts found throughout the queue. My favorite of those artifacts is a real cast of a mysterious footprint found by Josh Gates while researching the Yeti for Syfy’s Destination Truth television show.

After waiting in line, thrill-seeking guests will climb aboard a steam train and begin their journey up into the Himalayan mountains and the land of the mysterious Yeti. Upon finding the Yeti has ripped up part of the track, this fast paced adventure sends guests barreling backwards down the mountain. While this attraction is a must do for many guests, some may find it a bit frightening.

2. Kilimanjaro Safaris

You can’t visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom without seeing the animals, and this attraction is the best place to do just that! Kilimanjaro Safaris is home to the 110-acre Harambe Wildlife Reserve. As guests ride through the reserve, they will be thrilled to find over 34 different species of African wildlife which seem to roam freely throughout the reserve. Don’t worry, though! Thanks to some Disney magic, the animals actually do have boundaries – you just won’t be able to see those boundaries. You will, however, see majestic animals such as lions, zebra, elephants, giraffes, and so much more! You will definitely want to have your camera ready while aboard Kilimanjaro Safaris!

1.  Flight of Passage

There are no words to accurately describe how amazing Flight of Passage is. This attraction act actually makes you feel like you’re flying. If you haven’t experienced Flight of Passage yet, you’re probably thinking “Yeah, right. It can’t possibly really feel like flying.” Well, that’s exactly what I thought when I first heard reviews on this attraction, but those reviews were so true. Flight of Passage is like no other theme park attraction you’ve ever experienced. This attraction is so immersive you will forget you’re at a theme park. Flight of Passage quite literally leaves first time guests speechless at the end of their flight. Because this attraction is so spectacular, you will need a FastPass if you want to have a reasonable wait time. I recommend getting your FastPass as soon as you can on the 60 day mark if you’re staying on-property.

Your Thoughts

Did your favorite Animal Kingdom attractions make our top 10 list? Let us know your favorites in the comments!

You may also enjoy these posts:

Top 10 Must Do’s: Magic Kingdom

Top 10 Must Do’s: Epcot

Epcot Illuminations

Photo credit: SpreadTheMagic / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

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Next week will be my first time seeing Pandora and I CANNOT WAIT!

Kimberly Baker

Have fun! Pandora is amazing! Be sure to try a Night Blossom at Pongu Pongu. They are so delicious!

Bernie Wallace

Flight of Passage is absolutely awesome. The line is always long though. I can’t wait for Star War Galaxy Edge to open to take some of the crowds away from Animal Kingdom.

Kimberly Baker

Flight of Passage is amazing! I think Galaxy’s Edge is going to be amazing as well!

Cassandra D

Great places. I really want to explore Pandora.


It’s so amazing! I could probably spend all day in Pandora.

Bernie Wallace

Animal Kingdom is a fun park. I just saw that Shanghai Disney is building a Zootopia attraction. I hope that they build it in Animal Kingdom one day.

missy ellis

never been

Cassandra D

I would love to explore Pandora.


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