Disney’s Animal Kingdom breaks down their different park sections in a couple of unique ways.  Some sections are listed by continent (for example, “Africa” or “Asia”), while others are labeled simply based on what the section of the park offers to its guests (a dinosaur-themed area of the park is rightly called “DinoLand U.S.A”).

Welcome to the Animal Kingdom

Either way, each area of AK (Animal Kingdom) is well-themed and the park overall does an impressive job of offering a little something that virtually anyone can enjoy.

Here are all of the sections or “lands” of the Animal Kingdom:

Pandora: The World of Avatar
Africa
Asia
DinoLand U.S.A
Discovery Island
Oasis
Rafiki’s Planet Watch

Let’s begin by first discussing the attractions and entertainment offerings located inside Africa.

Pandora: The World of Avatar

The latest land at Animal Kingdom is Pandora, built off the success of the popular 2009 film “Avatar.”  You can enjoy the wonderfully re-created world of Pandora at this Animal Kingdom land, while also experiencing memorable rides like the Na’Vi River Journey and Flight of Passage!

Africa:

Entering Africa at the Animal Kingdom

1) Kilimanjaro Safaris
This great ride puts guests inside a jeep-like vehicle as they trek through the East African savanna.  It’s a bit trippy, in part because unlike other Disney rides where you know that the animals are audio-animatronics, this ride features your driver giving you a tour on open land in which it appears, at least at first glance, that the animals (and these are real animals, not robots) are all roaming free.

Of course, guests never have to worry about being charged at by a rhino, but it’s quite an experience to see a giraffe wandering free or elephants marching on the grounds or zebras and hippos enjoying the nice Florida sunshine.

Kilimanjaro Safari
The driver of the vehicle acts as your tour guide, pointing out where you can find all the animals and dropping little information nuggets about their species and habitat.

This is a ride that lasts approximately 18 minutes, as guests ride through the 110 –acre Harambe Wildlife Reserve.  Some of the animals you will encounter are:

Lions
Elephants
Rhinos
Cheetahs
Flamingos
Antelope
Crocodile
Giraffe
Gazelle
Hippos
Warthogs

Age of Interest: Preschoolers, kids, tweens, teens, adults.
Height Restriction: Any height
Thrill Level: Slow ride
FastPass+ Offered


(Uploaded by BigFatPanda)

2) Pangani Forest Exploration Trail: Enjoy the animals of the Pangani Forest, as you take a self-guided tour through a wonderful habitat that allows you to see amazing birds and even get somewhat up close and personal with a few gorillas.  Throughout the trail, there are opportunities for guests to snap images of animals, especially the gorillas.  In fact, here’s an image I took of a gorilla on the Exploration Trail years ago:

A gorilla at the Animal Kingdom

Age of Interest: Preschoolers, kids, tweens, teens, adults.
Height Restriction: Any height


(Video by DisneyDaybyDay)

3) Wildlife Express Train: Why not take a break, sit down, and take a train ride that takes you from Africa to Rafiki’s Planet Watch?  This seven-minute journey by rail allows guests to sort of get a behind-the-scenes look at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  For example, the train will pass by the facilities where veterinarians take care of the elephants and rhinos whenever they need specific care.

Age of Interest: Preschoolers, kids
Height Restriction: Any height
Thrill Level: Slow ride


(Undercover Tourist)

4) African Elephants: Now, let’s move on to some of the key animals that guests will be excited to see at the Animal Kingdom.  One such animal is the African Elephant.  Guests can head over to the Kilimanjaro Safaris to see a herd of African Elephants.  Disney also believes its important to educate you about the dangers elephants face, particularly from poachers who kill them for their ivory tusks and sell on the black market.  To learn more about what you can do to save these wonderful animals, be sure to visit the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund.

Age of Interest: Preschoolers, kids, tweens, teens, adults.
Height Restriction: Any height

5) Gorillas: Believe it or not, gorillas share about 98% of our DNA.  So on the one hand, it’s not shocking that we are so fascinated by them, but at the same time, it’s also somewhat hard to believe that we have animals that resemble us so closely living in zoos across the country and world.

With that said, if you’d like to learn about how we can protect animals such as these from being endangered or killed, be sure to click the link to the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund page listed above in the elephants section.  And if you’re interested in learning where you can view gorillas at the Animal Kingdom, look no further than the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail. 

Age of Interest: Preschoolers, kids, tweens, teens, adults.
Height Restriction: Any height

6) Lions: We’ve now come to the mighty Panthera leo, or African Lion.    You can see both male and female lions on the Kilimanjaro Safaris—just don’t be upset if they’re sleeping while you’re visiting and aren’t providing you with the most optimal Kodak moments.

Lions are typically threatened by habitat loss in the wild.  To learn more about what lions around the world are up against, and how you can help, be sure to visit the Disney Worldwide Conservation website, which is linked above in the elephants section.

Age of Interest: Preschoolers, kids, tweens, teens, adults.
Height Restriction: Any height

7) Burudika: Come and listen to a Harambe band provide guests with the wonderful, unique sounds of Afro-pop.  Burudika is actually Swahili for “to be refreshed,” so why not come on by, grab a drink, and enjoy this thirty-minute performance that’s unlike anything else at Animal Kingdom.


(Video by DisneyGeekCom)

8) Festival of the Lion King: One of my favorite attractions in all of Disney World is The Festival of the Lion King.  This show features a mix of live performers, singers and animatronics.  Part air aerobics with a flair of Cirque Du Soleil and part Broadway Show, I can honestly say that this is arguably the best live show in all of Disney World.

To warm up guests, singers will actually come into the crowd and grab someone from the audience and get them to act like a giraffe, a warthog, an elephant or a lion.  I actually got called up on stage during one of my trips, as you can see below.  It was a really fun experience:

Age of Interest: Preschoolers, kids, tweens, teens, adults.
FastPass+ Offered
30 Minute Show


(Video by BigFatPanda)

9) Tam Tam Drummers of Harambe: This fifteen minute show features African drummers banging out beats of the Congo that will make you want to grab a friend or loved one and dance.


(Video by PhineasEzraGus)

Asia

1) Expedition Everest: Well, if you’re looking for a thrill ride at the Animal Kingdom, you’ve officially found it.  On Expedition Everest, located inside Asia, guests board a speeding train that races through the Himalayn Mountains.

You’ll have to be on the lookout for the Abominable Snowman, however, who’s lurking around the mountain somewhere.  Oh, and you’ll also have to endure your train car racing intentionally backwards on the track at some point.

Parents should know that this ride might be a little intense for young children.  There are creature effects inside the ride, as well as some darkness and loud noises.

Age of Interest: Kids, tweens, teens, adults.
Height Restriction: 44 inches (112 cm) or taller
Thrill Level: Dark ride with big drops
FastPass+ Offered


(Video by CoasterForce)

2) Kali River Rapids: Are you ready for an intense river rafting expedition?  If so, board a circular raft that can hold twelve Disney guests and prepare for the wildest, wettest ride you can experience at the Animal Kingdom.

And take it from me and my personal experience on this attraction: be prepared to get very wet on the Kali River Rapids ride.

This ride not only contains a ton of water (a lot which falls onto guests), but quite a bit of spinning too, as you are inside a circular raft.  It’s not the kind of spinning that is unbearable, but if you are at all sensitive to spinning, you may want to consider sitting this one out.

Age of Interest: Kids, tweens, teens, adults.
Height Restriction: 38 inches (97cm) or taller
Thrill Level: Small drops, spinning, and lots of water
FastPass+ Offered


(Video by Positively Mommy)

3) Maharajah Jungle Trek: This trek through the Maharajah Jungle allows guests to embark on a self-guided tour that allows them to see tigers, a bunch of different and unique birds, and even fruit bats.  There are a lot of opportunities to get some great pictures here, as well.

A Tiger at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Age of Interest: Preschoolers, kids, tweens, teens, adults.
Height Restriction: None


(Video by Sharp Productions)

4) Chakrandi: Come and be transported to Anadapur, India, where the area’s virtuoso sitar, Chakrandi, will make beautiful music for guests for thirty minutes per show.

Age of Interest: Preschoolers, kids, tweens, teens, adults.


(Video by Orlando Streets)

5) Flights of Wonder: If you’re at all afraid of birds, or get jumpy when they fly near or around you, this might be the attraction you’ll want to sit out.  While this show is indeed part entertainment and part majesty, the truth of the matter is that this show (which lasts 25 minutes), features exotic birds flying from one side of the stage to another and even flying into and above the audience. 

Here is just a small handful of the birds you can expect to see in this show:

Rose-Breasted Cockatoo
Great Horned Owl
Harris Hawk
African Grey Parrot
East African Crowned Crane

Age of Interest: Preschoolers, tweens,, adults.


(Video by BigFatPanda)

6) Meet Baloo and King Louie at Upcountry Landing: If anyone in your party loves the animated film “The Jungle Book,” then why wouldn’t they (or…perhaps you?) want to come on down to get your picture taken with Baloo and King Louie?

Age of Interest: Preschoolers, kids


(Video by MouseSteps / JWL Media)

7) DJ Anaan: Come bust a move at “The Festival of All Seasons” show, where you’ll be able to groove to Bhangra music (Punjabi music mixed with pop sensibilities of the West).

DinoLand U.S.A.:


(Video by KennythePirate)

1) Boneyard: This is where all the kids 10 and under head to for some fun, wholesome dinosaur excitement.  At The Boneyard, kids can walk across bridges, jump on rocks, spelunk through caves, and even be active participants in unearthing the remains of a Wooly Mammoth.

Age of Interest: Preschoolers, kids.
Height Restriction: None


(Video by Undercover Tourist)

2) DINOSAUR: Here’s another one of my favorite rides in all of Disney World.  On the Dinosaur ride, you board a vehicle (called a “Time Rover”) and your mission is simple: you must save a dinosaur from going extinct.

This ride is intense.  It’s loud.  It’s scary.  It’s dark.  And it’s bumpy.

Animatronic dinosaurs roar in your face and chase you while you and your fellow guests are in your Time Rover.

It’s a thrilling ride, extremely well done thematically, and is one of the small handful of attractions that you can easily say is much, much better than the piece of entertainment that inspired it.  It even features narration by none other than Bill Nye the Science Guy.

Is it too intense for young children?  That always depends on the sensibility of the child in question.  I would say, though, that this is one of the loudest and more visually and physically intense rides in Disney World. 

Age of Interest: Kids, tweens, teens, adults.
Height Restriction: 40 inches (102 cm) or taller
Thrill Level: Dark ride, loud, small drops
FastPass+ Offered


(Video by CoasterForce)

3) Dino-Sue: Pull out your cameras folks, as you’re standing in front of a replica of one of the largest T-Rex skeletons that has ever been found by man.  Discovered in 1990 in South Dakota, the name originated from the woman who found the fossils, Sue Hendrickson.

While what you see at the Animal Kingdom is indeed a replica, the real Dino-Sue lives on at The Field Museum in Chicago, IL.

Age of Interest: Preschoolers and kids
Height Restriction: None

4) Fossil Fun Games: Come on down and interact with six fun carnival games that all have a dinosaur-related theme.  Included are whack-a-mole-like games, a water squirting game, and even a basketball game.  Kids can win prizes here, as well.

Age of Interest: Preschoolers and kids
Height Restriction: None

5) Primeeval Whirl:  This is such a fun, wacky ride.  Here, you board a circular vehicle that can hold about four people, and you embark on a wild spinning roller coaster experience.

Because of the small drops on this coaster, coupled with the fact that your constantly rotating, you never can quite get a great line of sight to see what’s coming next.  That keeps this roller coaster fun, light-hearted, and very, very unpredictable.

Primeeval Whirl is also decorated with cartoon dinosaurs all around, so this is no doubt a ride that kids will enjoy.  But it has just enough “bite” to it that I think adults will really enjoy it, as well.

Age of Interest: Kids, tweens, teens, adults.
Height Restriction: 48 inches (122 cm) or taller
Thrill Level: Small drops and spinning


(Video by Front Seat Coasters)

6) TriceraTop Spin: In what amounts to, essentially, a dinosaur-themed Dumbo ride, the TriceraTop Spin lifts young guests up in the air and spins them around, albeit slowly, in a circle.

Kids here will board a mini triceratops-themed vehicle.  Capable of holding up to four people, parents can easily ride with their kids here.

What’s unique, too, is that there is an element of control to this ride, so guests have the ability to control how high or how low they want to fly.

Age of Interest: Preschoolers and kids
Height Restriction: None
Thrill Level: Slow spinning


(Video by The Coaster Views)

7) Finding Nemo: The Musical: Those looking for their Finding Nemo fix will certainly get it here at this Musical show.  Lasting a lengthy forty minutes, this musical features actual people dressed up in either fish costumes or, in much more subtle fashion, dressed completely in black and giving the illusion that the colorful fish they puppeteer are swimming around in the ocean on-stage.

Sometimes, the performers can be a bit distracting if they’re not well blended into the background.  It would be almost akin to seeing the performer puppeteering Cookie Monster and he or she making no attempt to hide their body.  However, if you’ve seen the stage show “Avenue Q,” this is almost exactly how Finding Nemo: The Musical handles its puppets and puppeteers.

And little fun fact here: There are 14 original songs that are performed in this show.  Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez—the former of which won a Tony Award for “Avenue Q”, composed them.

Still, this is one colorful show.  It of course features Nemo, Dory, Crush and all of your favorites from the original movie. 

Age of Interest: Preschoolers, kids, tweens, teens, adults.
Duration: 40 minutes
FastPass+ Offered


(Video by Disney and More!)

8) Meet Goofy and Pluto in DinoLand U.S.A: Outside of Chester and Hester’s Dinosaur Treasures, guests can meet Goofy and Pluto in person.  Get your hugs ready.

Age of Interest: Preschoolers, kids


(Video by Orlando Local Guide)

9) Meet the #1 Duck in DinoLand U.S.A: Although Donald Duck is excited to be in DinoLand to dig up some fossils, he’s also happy to make time for kids of all ages that want to stop by, receive a hug, and snap a picture for your family photo album.

Age of Interest: Preschoolers, kids


(Video by MrDizneyKing)

Discovery Island:

1) Discovery Island Trails: The Tree of Life is an iconic symbol at the Animal Kingdom, but at Discovery Island Trails, guests get the opportunity to enjoy all there is to see and do around the base perimeter of the tree.  Not only can you see a large variety of animals like the stork, macaw and porcupine, but you also will have a chance to notice the actual animals that are carved into the tree itself.  In fact, the tree is home to over 300 animals carved into it, so be on the lookout for lions, eagles, bears, monkeys and elephants in this amazing work of art.

Age of Interest: Preschoolers, kids and adults
Height Restriction: None


(Video by Undercover Tourist)

2) It’s Tough to Be a Bug!: I think that this attraction, which is a 3D show that also features some audio animatronics, is one of the most underrated 3D offerings in all of Disney World.

Located directly inside the Tree of Life, this show is of course based on the Disney-Pixar flick that, well, starred Flik (“A Bug’s Life”).  Showing enough respect to make all 400+ Disney guests inside the theater “honorary bugs,” you meet everything from butterflies to stink bugs.  But be on the lookout for Hopper, who’s not happy with the way human beings treat bugs as if they were nuisances.

Parents should note that, although this attraction is based off of a kid-friendly movie, this show can get kinda dark.  And I don’t just mean the absent of light here.

There’s of course no blood in the show, but between the rage of the Hopper character and the constant loud sounds and 3D images (this show features Hopper’s gang of insects attempting to “attack” guests), it can be a little….intense.

Fun fact about this attraction:  This show opened in early 1998 at the Animal Kingdom.  And, believe it or not, it actually opened at the park six months before the movie hit theaters.

Age of Interest: Kids and adults
Height Restriction: None
Thrill Level: Dark, Loud, and Potentially Scary
FastPass+ Offered


(Video by Disney and More!)

3) Tree of Life: As mentioned earlier, the Tree of Life is the symbol for the Animal Kingdom in the same way that Cinderella’s Castle is the icon for the Magic Kingdom.  It’s a great opportunity for guests to grab some photo memories, and you can even walk around the perimeter.  Inside the tree lives the 3D show “It’s Tough to Be a Bug!”

Fun fact about this attraction: There are over 300 animals carved into the Tree of Life.  See how many you can find while you wait in line for the “It’s Tough to Be a Bug” show.

Age of Interest: Preschoolers, kids and adults
Height Restriction: None


(Video by Sharp Productions)

4) Wilderness Explorers: If you became inspired to go out on your own adventure after watching the animated film “Up,” now’s your chance.  Here, you’ll be able to embark on challenges that are scattered all throughout the park.

On top of that, challenges can earn you adventure badges, as well.  Some of the challenges will task you with the responsibility of determining what affliction a sea turtle is dealing with, or identifying and playing a given African drum pattern.

Age of Interest: Age of Interest: Preschoolers, kids
Height Restriction: None


(Video by Attractions Magazine)

5) Tamarins: These South-American monkey’s are incredible leapers, and at Discovery Island, you can see them jump up to 15 feet.  As far as their physical appearance, it’s impossible to miss them, as their long white hair makes them resemble what Doc Brown would look like if he were a simian.

Age of Interest: All ages
Height Restriction: None

6) Meet Favorite Disney Pals at Adventurers Outpost: Drop by this indoor spot to meet Mickey and Minnie.  Get (and give) a hug or two, and pull out those cell phones to snap pictures that will last a lifetime.

Age of Interest: Preschoolers, kids
FastPass+ Offered


(Video by MouseSteps / JWL Media)

7) Meet Pocahontas on Discovery Island Trail: Powhatan’s daughter is here to greet guests anxious to see her in person.  Located very close to the Tree of Life, Pocahontas is up for some good conversation, a warm embrace, and even an autograph.

Age of Interest: Preschoolers, kids

8) Meet Flik on Discovery Island: Come meet the popular purple ant from the film “A Bug’s Life.”

Age of Interest: Preschoolers, Kids

9) Meet Russell and Dug at Discovery Island: Come on out and meet two of the stars from the movie “Up.”  These two lovers of adventure are available in person to greet guests.  Just don’t point out a squirrel to Dug!

Age of Interest: Kids

10) Viva Gaia Street Band!: Come be a part of a musical celebration of the Caribbean.  Listen to music that will make you want to dance, and enjoy incredible costumes that are full of life, energy, and bright colors.

Age of Interest: All ages
Duration: 30 minutes


(Video by WDW News Today)

11) Winged Encounters – The Kingdom Takes Flight: Do you have any interest in watching beautiful macaws fly around the Tree of Life?  Of course you do!

Macaws, for those that don’t know, are the absolutely gorgeous, brightly colored parrots that you often see in either a pet shop or in a TV show or movie.  In fact, I snapped an image of one several years ago when I was at Animal Kingdom:

A Macaw relaxing at the Animal Kingdom

Here, you’ll see them take to the skies while also learning about some actual facts from avian specialists tasked with educating guests about these unique animals.


(Video by AllEars.net)

Oasis

1) The Oasis Exhibits: Located right at the heart of the Disney Animal Kingdom entrance, you can roam through unique exhibits and see everything from the Exotic Boar to the Giant Anteater.  There’s a bunch of lush foliage everywhere to make it feel like you’re in the jungle, too.

Age of Interest: Preschoolers, kids, adults
Height Restriction: None


(Video by Undercover Tourist)

Rafiki’s Planet Watch:

1) Affection Section: Get ready to say “awwwww” a whole lot, because this is the attraction where cute animals meet cute kids in one cute-tacular explosion of cuteness.

The Affection Section is a petting zoo where kids can come up and meet the likes of goats and sheep.  Kids also have an opportunity to meet and greet cows, pigs, monkeys, and donkeys, too.

Age of Interest: Preschoolers, kids
Height Restriction: None


(Video by Undercover Tourist)

2) Conservation Station: This is the best spot in Animal Kingdom for the true, hardcore animal lovers.  Here, you can enjoy a “backstage tour” that features cameras that “spy” on animals when they are in their backstage habitat.  And you can control the cameras, too.

There is also a lot of learning going on at this station too, as experts are on hand to not only discuss the animals and their habitats with you, but you’ll also discover all the conservation efforts that are happening globally to keep our furry friends happy, safe, and healthy.

Age of Interest: Preschoolers, kids, and adults
Height Restriction: None


(Video by Undercover Tourist)

3) Habitat Habit!: Come see the cotton-top tamarins (one of the most endangered primates on earth unfortunately), and see what you can actually do to help make a difference for them and other animals!

Age of Interest: Preschoolers, kids
Height Restriction: None


(Video by Undercover Tourist)

4) Gi-Tar Dan at Rafiki’s Planet Watch: Come listen to Gi-Tar Dan strum on a guitar.  He might just have a personalized song just for you, too.

Age of Interest: Preschoolers, kids and adults
Duration: 20 minutes


(Video by LvnDISMS)

5) Meet Rafiki at Rafiki’s Planet Watch: Rafiki didn’t bring along Simba, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stop by and meet and greet the famous monkey from “The Lion King.”  Here, guests come to get a photo op as well as a prized signature.

Age of Interest: Preschoolers, kids


(Video by Positively Mommy)

6) Meet Your Chipmunk Buddies at Rafiki’s Planet Watch:

This is where you come to meet Chin ‘n’ Dale.  And really, could it be more appropriate for tree loving chipmunks to be located at Animal Kingdom, whose icon is the massive Tree of Life?

Age of Interest: Preschoolers, kids

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