As an avid Disney Parks fan, I love going to Disney World. I always have the best time planning how I am going to divide time up between parks. YES. Planning CAN be fun! Each park is special in it’s own way, and for different people, they require different lengths of time to enjoy them. Epcot is essentially 2 parks, so you can see how it could easily take two days. Hollywood Studios is very small, so you can see how it could take less then one day; perhaps it could even share a day with Epcot. Animal Kingdom is a very interesting case, because it is very large, but you can count all the major attractions on Mickey Mouse’s hand. It’s deceptive, because there is actually a lot more to this park on second glance, and the best use of your time is to spend a full day tracking down these must-do Animal Kingdom attractions.
This is a terrific place to explore, and discover the intricately layered backstory. It should be your first stop, where you ride the thrilling Dinosaur dark ride, then take on the surprising excitement of Primeval Whirl. If you have younger children, don’t miss The Boneyard, an elaborately themed playground. On your way out of Dinoland USA you will find the Theater in the Wild. This is where they perform Finding Nemo, a 40 minute musical adaptation of the film.
Leaving the Dinoland USA area, you will come to a bridge and see Mount Everest in the distance. This is the most thrilling roller coaster in Walt Disney World. It has top notch theming and really great surprises during the ride. It’s fast and it’s smooth and it tells a story like only Disney can do. It all begins with the immersive queue that sets up your adventure. Following a ride on Expedition Everest, you should head deeper into Asia before moving on. The Maharajah Jungle Trek is a walk-through attraction with live animal exhibits in an Asia inspired habitat.
When you get to Africa, you have to go on the Kilimanjaro Safari. Especially speaking, it’s literally half the park! This is where you will encounter various forms of African wildlife. It is my absolutely FAVORITE attraction at Animal Kingdom Park…mostly because it is NEVER the same! Near the exit is Gorilla Falls, another amazing must-do Animal Kingdom walkthrough exhibit. As you finish with Africa, Make sure you make time for Festival of the Lion King. It’s a short live-show packed with entertainment. It will appeal to all ages!
Get back to the center of the park where you can explore the trails on Discovery Island and go underneath the Tree of life to see Flik in It’s Tough to Be a Bug! This is a 9 minute continuously running show that will offer some shelter from the sun on a hot day. The shows quick pacing and format make it one of the best 3D shows in Disney history. BUT consider this your warning. It might be frightening for small children. There are very dark moments and startling scenes. My 5 year old had to leave the theater early. Be advised!
Finally Pandora lights up at night so the evening is the perfect time to go for a stroll through it’s bioluminescent wonders. The Must-do Animal Kingdom attraction here is the main draw for the entire park. Whether or not you have ever seen Avatar, you have to ride Flight of Passage, because it is simply the most thrilling experience in Disney World right now. In fact, I saw Avatar for the first time AFTER I visited Pandora. I really believe having experienced the beauty of Pandora, made me appreciate and enjoy Avatar all the more!
If you’re looking to end your evening at Animal Kingdom, don’t miss the Tree of Life Awakenings. This mesmerizing show takes place approximately every 15 minutes. Rivers of Light is a not to miss light and water spectacular show set on the lagoon between Asia and Discovery Island. Be immersed in the beauty and sheer imagery of this breathtaking experience. It’s the perfect way to end your night.
What are your favorite must-do Animal Kingdom attractions? Do any of these make your list?