Magic Kingdom is perhaps the most iconic park at Disney World, with classic rides, shows, and of course Cinderella’s castle. However, Animal Kingdom has consistently evolved over the years, bringing in new thrills, attractions and experiences for visitors of all ages. Each park brings something different to the table, so in today’s battle between the Magic Kingdom vs Animal Kingdom, we help break down all of the the pros and cons of each theme park for every age group!
Magic Kingdom vs Animal Kingdom for Toddlers
Both parks have experiences suitable for babies and toddlers. Both are easy to navigate, stroller rentals are available and stroller parking is convenient and easy to find. So let’s talk about how the parks differ and what you can expect traveling with a toddler.
Magic Kingdom Pro – Attractions: This park offers plenty of rides suitable for toddlers, with Fantasyland almost packed with rides for this specific age group. Rides include It’s a Small World, Dumbo the Flying Elephants, Prince Charming’s Regal Carousel, and Peter Pan’s Flight. Skip on over to Adventureland for the Enchanted Tiki Room and the popular Jungle Cruise.
Keep in mind that while these rides are technically very tame, and you can even ride with a child on your lap, some immerse you in darkness and have loud noises that may be frightening for toddlers, so keep that in mind.
Magic Kingdom Pro – Ambiance: This park is so visually stimulating for little ones, as it really is excellently designed as a storybook. Each land is intricately decorated, and there are plenty of opportunities to catch a photo with a character. I have to mention the iconic castle, which was one of my first memories of Disney World growing up.
Magic Kingdom Con – Attractions (again): I’ve included attractions again (you’re not seeing things), but this time as a con, because for every ride that’s appropriate for toddlers, there’s a ride that isn’t. If you are visiting with different age groups, this can divide your party at times as many attractions have height requirements. While child swap is an option, this can be cumbersome on days when the park is at higher capacity.
Animal Kingdom Pro – Activities: Animal Kingdom is home to The Boneyard. This is an interactive play area with toys, props, mazes and slides – perfect for entertaining your little ones and giving them a confined space to run off their energy. Dinoland U.S.A. is a great place to spot their favorite characters!
The park is also home to toddler friendly entertainment, including Mickey’s Jammin Jungle Parade.
Animal Kingdom Con – Attractions: While there are several toddler friendly rides at Animal Kingdom, the most popular attractions have height requirements and special effects that are just too scary for most children. The Kilimanjaro Safaris is an excellent option if you’re looking for something the whole family can enjoy.
My Recommendation: Magic Kingdom
Both parks offer excellent child services and baby care centers, and a decent amount of dining options for even the pickiest eaters, there’s a clear winner for me. While both parks offer fun activities for toddlers, there’s simply more attractions and experiences for the whole family to enjoy together at the Magic Kingdom.
Magic Kingdom vs Animal Kingdom for Kids
Both of these parks are packed with fun rides, great shows and colorful characters that make them suitable for kids. So let’s get into why one may be better than the other.
Magic Kingdom Pro – Attractions: You know your kids and what their tolerance may be when it comes to more thrilling rides. There are still the classics that I mentioned that are great for toddlers, but now we also have iconic rides like Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion. Both are very tame rides, but special effects may be scary and both rides are dark.
There are a few more interactive rides for this age group, including the Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor that your kids are sure to get a kick out of. I can’t forget about the Tomorrowland Speedway where kids can take the wheel in their own car. Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin is a lot of fun for kids and the whole family as you can compete against each other for highest score!
Magic Kingdom Con – Crowds: Because this park is perhaps the most well known, it’s often a must see on every family’s list, especially if they’re traveling with kids. This means that lines for rides in Fantasyland and Tomorrowland that older members of your party may not be interested in can become quite congested (the line for Peter Pan’s flight – if you know, you know).
Animal Kingdom Pro – Animals: There are a variety of opportunities for kids to see exotic animals when you visit the Animal Kingdom. Visit Africa to see favorites like elephants, flamingos, hippos, lions, rhinos, zebras and more! Or hop over to Asia to spot a tiger. This is unique to this park, and a fun experience for this age group!
Animal Kingdom Con – Attractions: Again, most attractions are a little too scary for kids.
My Recommendation: Magic Kingdom
I have to give Magic Kingdom the win again, simply because there are so many attractions that kids can enjoy. Animal Kingdom’s animal experiences are so unique, but they’re not much more exotic than you’d find in your local zoo.
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Magic Kingdom vs Animal Kingdom for Teenagers
This is a fun age for both parks. Teenagers are open to more thrilling rides, meet the height requirements, and may be more interested in interactive experiences in the parks.
Magic Kingdom Pro – Attractions: There is a solid collection of thrill rides for this age group in the Magic Kingdom, including the iconic mountains: Splash Mountain, Thunder Mountain and Space Mountain. This park is also home to The Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train.
Magic Kingdom Con – Ambiance: While Magic Kingdom is a classic, its nostalgia may be lost on this age group, who’s looking for something a little more exciting and adventurous. Fantasyland may feel juvenile and the shows aren’t quite enough to keep a teenager’s attention. When my brother and I were teenagers, I loved this park because I grew up going to Disneyland, and it brought back fond memories. I was all about the magic. My brother found it boring and wanted to spend time in parks with bigger rides. Again, you know your teenagers best.
Animal Kingdom Pro – Attractions: This is where things get fun, and there are some exciting rides for the teenage age group. I particularly enjoy the thrill rides in this park because they’ve evolved so much over the years. We have Dinosaur, which is a high speed, off road simulation through the prehistoric era, reminiscent of Dinseyland’s Indiana Jones. Expedition Everest is a high speed coaster and Avatar: Flight of Passage is an impressive 3D simulation experience. Keep in mind all of these have height requirements of 40-44 inches.
Animal Kingdom Con – Food & Beverage: There aren’t as many traditional food & beverage options in this park, and for the picky eaters, that can be tricky. While there are certainly a variety of appropriately themed restaurants with genuine, eclectic dishes, this is fun for the more adventurous eater, but teenagers will have a harder time finding the classics and comfort foods they’re accustomed to.
My Recommendation: Animal Kingdom
This is a tough one because both parks offer great attractions for teenagers, and this is a near tie. But Animal Kingdom offers something a little different and unexpected for such an adventurous age group. Rides are fast, immersive and at times scary, and more technologically advanced than the classics that Magic Kingdom has to offer.
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Magic Kingdom vs Animal Kingdom for Adults
At this point we know that both parks have an array of attractions for all age groups, including adults. So let’s talk about experiences that both parks offer for adults, and how they differ.
Magic Kingdom Pro – Dining & Behind the Scenes: Enjoying Magic Kingdom as an adult can be a walk down memory lane, and there are so many fun things to take advantage of. First of all, holiday events like Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas are not just for kids – it’s a great opportunity for adults to join the fun, express their creativity, join in on the festivities and make memories with friends and family.
Join the magic and take advantage of a behind the scenes tour, such as Keys to the Kingdom. Tours like this are perfect for adults who want to peek behind the curtain and see how the magic is made in one of the most popular vacation destinations in the United States.
Enjoy a culinary tour through the park and sample seasonal snacks, desserts and drinks throughout your day. This is a fun way to spice up your vacation during the holidays – be sure to follow popular bloggers to know where to find exclusive treats – they often aren’t heavily advertised to the general public.
Because of Magic Kingdom’s close proximity to some of the largest resorts, and convenient transportation between the resorts via the Monorail, enjoy a dinner or drinks away from the park. For example, take a short monorail ride to the Polynesian, where you can enjoy drinks at Trader Sam’s and a Hawaiian feast at ‘Ohana. For stunning park views and a beautiful glimpse of the sunset, don’t miss the California Grill at the Contemporary Resort – one of my all time favorites.
Magic Kingdom Con – Entertainment: The entertainment at Magic Kingdom is great for little ones, but a little lost on adults. It’s very in theme, but a tad bit juvenile. The fireworks are excellent, and can be enjoyed from the park or any of the surrounding resorts.
Animal Kingdom Pro – Dining & Experiences: A con for kids and teenagers may be the lack of traditional dining options, but this can be a lot of fun for adults! Flame Tree BBQ, Harambe Market, Tiffin’s Restaurant and the Yak and Yeti are just a few quick service and full service options that offer a nod to African culture.
Animal Kingdom also offers some fantastic experiences for adults, including the Wild Africa Trek. This privately guided VIP experience will run you a pretty penny ($200) but includes a VIP, privately guided tour, including encounters with African wildlife. This experience can be physically demanding and requires reservations, but it’s well worth it.
Honorable mentions are Savor the Savannah, a private safari complete with beverages and African tapas and Up Close with Rhinos, a more affordable option for the whole family to get up close and personal with these massive animals.
Animal Kingdom Con – Layout: This park is one of the largest in regards to the area, coming in at 580 acres. While a good deal of this is dedicated to animal habitats, this is an expansive park and it takes time to travel from one side to the other. In spirit of the park, there’s also not a lot of indoor experiences, which means during summer months, this park is HOT. Be sure to pack plenty of water, and know that air conditioned experiences are few and far between. You’ll find yourself ducking into gift shops to escape the heat. So remember this before you make this a top destination during the summer months.
My Recommendation: Animal Kingdom
It’s no secret that both parks have excellent attractions for adults, but Animal Kingdom offers unique experiences and dining options that you just can’t find anywhere else in the parks.
Magic Kingdom vs Animal Kingdom for Seniors
Seniors may feel like the parks are geared more towards families with small children, and that’s not the case. There are plenty of things for senior aged travelers to experience at both parks, so let’s get into it.
Magic Kingdom Pro – Experiences: There are plenty of opportunities for seniors to slow down, enjoy a meal, and enjoy what this park has to offer. Main Street is home to the Dapper Dans, a handsome barbershop quartet. Be sure to keep an eye on their performance schedule. Liberty Square is home to the Liberty Belle Riverboat, where passengers can enjoy a serene river cruise.
Be sure to catch the People Mover in Tomorrowland for a slow moving journey through time, as well as the Carousel of Progress, an indoor attraction originally built for the 1964 World’s Fair. This attraction takes guests on an evolutionary journey of family life through the years.
Magic Kingdom Con – Crowds: While this park is easy to navigate, it’s consistently one of the most crowded. Seating can be scare, park benches are often full, and for seniors with mobility issues who need to rest or take a moment off their feet, it can be tricky to find seating aside from sit-down attractions and full service restaurants.
Animal Kingdom Pro – Entertainment: There are some fantastic, accessible entertainment options for seniors in this park. First of all there are several excellent animal encounters, including Winged Encounters – The Kingdom Takes Flight and a variety of African animal exhibits.
Festival of the Lion King is a family classic, perfect for all ages. The Tree of Life, the centerpiece of Animal Kingdom, comes to life at night in an array of colors, and it’s a spectacle not to be missed.
Animal Kingdom Con – Attractions: Besides Kilimanjaro Safaris, there are not a lot of senior friendly attractions in this park.
Animal Kingdom Con – Layout: Again, this is a massive park, it’s quite remote, and not within close proximity of a majority of Disney World resorts. This means it’s difficult to return to a resort to rest, enjoy a meal or take advantage of an air conditioned room out of the elements.
My Recommendation: Magic Kingdom
It’s hard to beat the nostalgia of the Magic Kingdom, and if as seniors you’re traveling with family, there are more family inclusive opportunities from attractions to shows to experiences in the Magic Kingdom.
It’s hard to beat the nostalgia that Magic Kingdom has to offer. It truly embodies the magic of Disney, which is something Animal Kingdom just doesn’t capture. With that said, Animal Kingdom does an excellent job of consistently renovating and expanding its park, and the attractions are top notch in regards to thrill factor and creativity. However, if you’re faced with the choice of going to Magic Kingdom vs Animal Kingdom, I have a clear favorite—the Magic Kingdom!