Best Animal Kingdom Attractions & Ride Guide

This guide to Animal Kingdom attractions contains reviews and ratings for every ride and show at Walt Disney World’s zoological themed park, including Pandora – World of Avatar. This also offers some strategy and advice so you know what’s a must-do and what you can safely skip! (Updated October 9, 2022.)

This covers everything from popular thrill rides to smaller attractions, plus shows and animal exhibits. Despite Animal Kingdom’s “half day park” reputation, there’s a lot to do. Be warned that this list of Animal Kingdom attractions is deceptive: it appears short, but many of these shows and trails take a lot of time to complete. If you go at a slow pace or stop for table service meals, you’ll have a full day in the park.

The “half day park” reputation comes from those who don’t give Animal Kingdom’s trails and exhibits their due. In fairness, it took me a long time to discover the beauty of Animal Kingdom, but I admitted to being wrong about Animal Kingdom. While its nighttime spectacular has been retired, Animal Kingdom now features more nighttime offerings and the bioluminescence of Pandora, which means it’s now a full day park for just about everyone.

Animal Kingdom ranks right up there with World Showcase as an excellent spot to just relax and spend some time. The park has a great sense of place to it, and the thematic execution is top notch, save for some criticism that it has too much real world “grit” and not the same sense of whimsy you might find from other Disney parks.

Nevertheless, Animal Kingdom is a truly an exceptional “ambiance park” with a ton of atmospheric entertainment, performers, and conservation exhibits that aren’t even covered here because they’re not technically attractions. In short, there’s a lot to do at Animal Kingdom beyond what’s on the park map. Which is good, because some of the popular rides can have long lines, especially those in Pandora – World of Avatar.

This guide to Animal Kingdom assumes that you have a full day to spend in the park–and in each of the other Walt Disney World theme parks. You may have more or less time depending on how many day tickets you purchase and whether you add on the Park Hopper option (read our Walt Disney World Ticket Guide to determine which tickets are best for you).

If you want to read our other Walt Disney World park guides, you can find those here:

If you have children, you should also consult our full list of attractions with height requirements at Walt Disney World. Numerical scores are on a scale of 1 to 10, and only take into consideration overall quality relative to that specific type of attraction. In our ratings, we only consider how well done the attraction is, overall and within its category, when experienced by its target demographic.

Top Disney’s Animal Kingdom Attractions

Avatar Flight of Passage (10/10) – Walt Disney World’s newest E-Ticket thrill ride, this is like Soarin’ on steroids. Riders climb aboard the back of a banshee and link to an avatar flying through Pandora for a simulator experience that is far more ‘active’ than any past attraction of its nature. You can feel your banshee breathe, the wind and spray of the ocean in your face, and smell plenty of scents along the way.

Even though Avatar Flight of Passage is a screen-based attraction, you are fully immersed in the experience, and can fully suspend disbelief and embrace the action. No prior knowledge or being a fan of Avatar is necessary here. This will make you want to step deeper into the world of Pandora.

Na’vi River Journey (8/10) – The other attraction in Pandora – World of Avatar is not nearly as wow-inducing, nor is it thrilling. Instead, guests board a slow-moving boat ride for a short boat ride through a bioluminescent environment, encountering flora and fauna along the way. Although visually interesting, too much of the scenery is static, making it all feel a bit underwhelming.

The finale features the most breathtaking Audio Animatronics figure Imagineering has ever created, making the attraction worth it, but you still get the feeling this attraction could’ve been so much more. If you wait over 45 minutes for this (and you probably will), there’s a decent chance you’ll leave disappointed.

Kilimanjaro Safaris (10/10) – Animal Kingdom’s flagship safari ride through “natural” environments exposing guests to a wide array of animals. This attraction used to have a bit of a storyline, but it was widely viewed as lazy pretext. Now it doesn’t have any real storyline and it’s viewed as lacking ‘substance.’ It just can’t win. Regardless of the story or lack thereof, Kilimanjaro Safaris is an amazing attraction, exposing guests to a multitude of animals in what appears to be their natural environments.

The ride can be bumpy, but it adds an element of authenticity. Drivers are usually quite knowledgeable about the animals, so definitely ask questions that you may have. Animals are most active first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening. This works well, as these are also the best times to experience the attraction to avoid waits.

Maharajah Jungle Trek (9/10) – Walk-through animal exhibit with birds, bats, and tigers. Its scenes that bring you up close to various animals, all while traversing through an elaborately themed Asian environment. While the animal encounters are great, as are the Cast Members here sharing information about them, the environments are the real star. At one point it seems as if you’re going through the ruins of a remote temple that has existed for thousands of years, and details abound everywhere. All of this makes it feel like you’re experiencing the actual environments where these animals live, rather than just observing them in their pens. It truly feels like you’re an active participant in some sort of exploration. This is the best animal ‘exhibit’ we’ve ever experienced anywhere.

Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail (7.5/10) – Formerly Pangani Forest, this is a wildlife walking trail, with (you guessed it) gorillas as the highlight. There are also hippos underwater and being close to them and the gorillas is pretty awesome. Space this and Maharajah Jungle Trek out during your day, so you don’t get “trailed out.”

Expedition Everest (10/10) – Everest-themed roller coaster that goes backwards and encounters a yeti. Everest is Disney’s most ambitious roller coaster in terms of theming and detail. Many effects on Expedition Everest now do not work; the most notable of these effects is the large Audio Animatronics “Disco” Yeti. Despite this, Expedition Everest is still an impressively fun coaster, with one of the best queue lines at Walt Disney World. Expedition Everest has a minimum height requirement of 44″. While Expedition Everest has a Lightning Lane, the wait time through the Single Rider line is typically less than 10 minutes, making that a good (free) alternative. Everest is also better at night!

Kali River Rapids (7/10) – Whitewater raft ride spinning freely down a river through rainforest, ruins, and deforested areas with message of conservation. Kali River Rapids has a pretty setting, but there isn’t enough substance to the scenes. You will get wet on Kali River Rapids, and there’s a pretty good chance you’ll get absolutely soaked–it’s all random. There are free (2-hour) lockers nearby, and we strongly recommend using them for a change of clothes (or wear a poncho on the ride). The queue is arguably more interesting than the attraction itself, and is quite gorgeous. Kali River Rapids has a 38″ height requirement.

Finding Nemo: The Big Blue…and Beyond! (9/10) – This is the reimagined Finding Nemo: The Musical, with the biggest changes being additions from Finding Dory, and a tighter show or shorter runtime. Human performers are paired with creatively-made puppets in a condensed retelling of Finding Nemo. The big draw here is how the entertainers manipulate the puppets. Are the humans the focus or the puppets they’re controlling? (Both are, we think.)

Finding Nemo: The Big Blue…and Beyond is an interesting concept, and the presentation and music are excellent. We’re not huge fans of the story simply being a condensed version of the film, but this show brings enough novelty to the table that it just works. The end result is that Finding Nemo: The Big Blue…and Beyond is one of the best-done and most unique stage shows at Walt Disney World. While we preferred the longer version, parents with small children might find the slightly shorter show easier to get through.

Festival of the Lion King (9/10) – Acrobats, singers, and other performers in tribal attire and vibrant costumes, plus floats with Lion King characters and other creatures enact scenes inspired by the Lion King in a very lively theatrical show. There’s a lot of stuff going on, in what basically amounts to a lot of audio-visual stimulation.

Festival of the Lion King just flat out works, and its almost abstract nature allows the audience to just sit back and enjoy the wow-inducing performers. This is right up there with Finding Nemo: The Big Blue…and Beyond as one of the best stage shows at Walt Disney World. Our advice is to “pace yourself” and put some distance between the two–do walking trails in between and then use the indoor, air-conditioned escape as a nice change-of-pace.

Feathered Friends in Flight! (7/10) – This replaces “Up! A Great Bird Adventure,” which itself replaced “Flights of Wonder.” This show is essentially the former, but rewritten to remove the clunky character injections from Up, which makes it more like the latter. Dropping the characters was addition by subtraction; there’s still cheesy humor, but the avian encounters are the focus. These feathered friends are impressive and this show appeals to guests of all ages.

Rafiki’s Planet Watch (6.5/10) – Board the Wildlife Express Train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch to see a petting zoo and a number of exhibits concerning animal care. The only place the Wildlife Express Train goes is Rafiki’s Planet Watch, and everything (besides the petting zoo) is in the same small-ish area. What you will see in these exhibits varies based upon what’s going on, which is where the true variance in quality exists. The big downside to Rafiki’s Planet Watch is the time commitment: you’re looking at about an hour of your day doing this given the commute, and the payoff is low for the time investment.

Dinosaur (8/10) – A high-speed, wild drive in a time rover through dark show scenes with Audio Animatronics dinosaurs trying to capture a particular dinosaur before the moment of extinction. Dinosaur has a humorous pre-show video and some memorable scenes and encounters with dinosaurs. It utilizes the same ride technology as Indiana Jones Adventure in Disneyland and is often (negatively) compared to that attraction as a result. We really enjoy Dinosaur, although there is admittedly a lot of dead, black space and it lacks interesting scenes. A letdown in terms of what a dinosaur attraction could be, but still good. Dinosaur has a minimum height requirement of 40″.

The Boneyard (7/10) – We have a lot of complaints about Dinoland USA and the subarea of Dinorama, but the Boneyard is not one of those things. This elaborate play area gives kids the chance to play in a dinosaur dig site, excavating fossils and playing on a ropes course and other interactive areas. The paleontology angle makes it moderately educational, which scores it points, too. The only downside is that the heat can be brutal and there’s minimal shade, but how many dig-sites are heavily forested?!

Tree of Life Awakenings (7.5/10) The Awakenings that occur throughout the night are truly magic moments that are the best element of Animal Kingdom at night right now. You can’t plan for these and they’re not large-scale, but they are well done and moving.

It’s Tough To Be A Bug (7/10) – 3D show about touting the benefits of inspects with the cast of A Bug’s Life. This is a prime example of how you use Disney characters to make an educational (at least partially so) film feel like pure entertainment. It’s a lot of fun and there are some great “interactive” moments in the show.

TriceraTop Spin (4/10) — This is a spinner ride like Dumbo, but with dinosaurs. While there’s certainly something to be said for soaring on the back of a triceratops, it’s a ‘what you see is what you get’ kind of ride.

Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know! For Walt Disney World news, tips, discount info, and free eBook downloads sign up for our free monthly newsletter.

Your Thoughts…

Which Disney’s Animal Kingdom attractions are your favorites? Which ones do you normally skip? Do you agree or disagree with our ratings? If you haven’t visited Walt Disney World yet, which Animal Kingdom attractions are you most excited about? Hearing from you is half the fun, so please share your questions and thoughts in the comments!

143 Responses to “Best Animal Kingdom Attractions & Ride Guide”
  1. Mike April 3, 2021
  2. keri March 21, 2021
  3. Keri March 21, 2021
  4. Rick March 19, 2021
  5. Linda Knowles October 23, 2020
  6. Heather S February 5, 2020
    • Sienna February 17, 2020
  7. Drew Clausing September 29, 2019
  8. George August 26, 2019
  9. Alison July 29, 2019
    • Jennifer November 27, 2019
  10. David June 17, 2019
    • Allie July 8, 2019

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.