10+ Must-Dos At Animal Kingdom

Planning your trip to Walt Disney World? These 10 Must-Dos at Animal Kingdom will help you decide how to make the most of your day! Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park has undergone several exciting changes over the past few years, making it a full day park, with top attractions and evening entertainment too.

10 Must-Dos at Disney's Animal Kingdom

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10+ Must-Dos at Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom has always been one of my favorite theme parks at Walt Disney World – it’s so pretty and I love how well themed the different areas are. I originally wrote this post way back in 2015, and Animal Kingdom has changed so much since then!

  • Pandora – The World of Avatar (commonly referred to as Avatar Land) opened in 2017
  • Since it’s opening it in 1998, the park would close at around 6pm, and many described it as a half-day park. In 2016, Animal Kingdom began to stay open after dark and introduced new nighttime attractions including Tree of Life Awakenings, and Rivers of Light.

And because of the new attractions at this Disney Park, this list is now at more than ten thing on this list. And this post was correct at the time of posting. Always check the Walt Disney World website for the most up to date information.

This list of must-dos at Animal Kingdom is not in any particular order, because, everything is relative isn’t it? What I might think is the best, someone else might think is the worst! The attractions and rides I have included in my list are ones that we simply must do whenever we go to Animal Kingdom! I’ll just put them in alphabetical order – easiest thing to do!

Pandora - The World of Avatar
Pandora – The World of Avatar

1. Avatar Flight of Passage

  • Location: Pandora – The World of Avatar
  • Height restrictions: 44in (112cm) or taller
  • Thrill Level: Thrill Ride
  • FastPass+ offered: Yes

Climb atop a winged mountain banshee for a breathtaking 3D flight over Pandora’s otherworldly landscape. Board your own mountain banshee and embark on a thrilling expedition, where interstellar explorers like you get an up-close look at this moon’s incredible landscape. Bonding with a banshee is a crucial step in the life of a Na’vi hunter on Pandora—and flying on the back of one of these powerful creatures is an important rite of passage.Walt Disney World

This is one amazing ride! Or so I am told by my husband. You see, I am plus-size and this ride is not accommodating to me, unfortunately. The best way to describe the ride seats is like a motorbike, so you straddle across the seat and the restraints do restrict you as you ride. Since I can’t give a first-person account (as yet) check out Touring Plan’s Five Things You Need to Know About Flight of Passage.

Baby Alligator at Animal Kingdom

2. Conservation Station

  • Location: Rafiki’s Planet Watch
  • Height restrictions: Any height
  • FastPass+ offered: No

Through informative interactive exhibits and a viewable onsite research facility, Conservation Station invites you to uncover the mysteries of the wild—and to go behind the scenes of Disney’s efforts to promote conservation awareness. Designed for animal lovers of every age, Conservation Station features more than 10 care areas and Disney-themed experiences including Animal Encounters Stage, Song of the Rainforest, Veterinary Treatment Room, Backstage Tour, Eco-Web, Nutrition Center, Amphibian, Reptile and Invertebrate Windows, Science Center. – Walt Disney World

This area of the park is rarely busy (at least, whenever we have been) and so it’s a nice place to get away from the crowds, meet some characters, learn about exotic creatures (and pet them too if you’re brave enough, like my son did with a baby alligator!) and collect some more stickers for your Wilderness Explorers book!

A new addition in 2019 is The Animation Experience at Conservation Station! I was gutted when they removed the animation classes at Hollywood Studios, so I am very excited for this!

Let your creativity shine—no matter your skill level—as a talented Disney animator gives you step-by-step instruction on how to illustrate your own version of a popular Disney character. In celebration of The Lion King, Guests will learn how to draw Simba, Zazu, Pumbaa and Timon, as well as furried and feathered friends from other classic Disney films. Each 25-minute class will offer something different, so be sure to keep coming back for more! Worried about securing the best spot? Disney FastPass+ is available at this location.Walt Disney World

Lemur at Disney Animal Kingdom

3. Discovery Island Trails

  • Location: Discovery Island
  • Height restrictions: Any height
  • FastPass+ offered: No

Escape to a garden paradise where exotic creatures mingle alongside verdant plants and trees. Encircling the base of the Tree of Life, Discovery Island Trails invites you to embark on a self-guided tour and enjoy an up-close glimpse of nature—at your own pace. Some of the animals you may encounter along the Discovery Island Trails include White Stork, Asian Small-Clawed Otter, Red Kangaroo, West African Crowned Crane, African Crested Porcupine, Galapagos Tortoise, Lesser Flamingo, Macaw, Red Kangaroo, Ring-Tailed Lemur, Saddle-Billed Stork, Lappet Face Vulture.Walt Disney World

Again, a nice quiet area, and a chance to see some amazing animals – this is the Animal Kingdom park after all!

Expedition Everest
Expedition Everest

4. Expedition Everest

  • Location: Asia
  • Height restrictions: 44in (112cm) or taller
  • Thrill Level: Thrill Ride, Big Drops, Dark
  • FastPass+ offered: Yes

Wander into a Tibetan village at the base of Mount Everest and board a train to the “top of the world.” Beware: Some say a legendary snow monster lives deep in the mountain. After a steep ascent, your train picks up speed and races into the darkness. Without warning, a broken and twisted track appears in front of you. Brace yourself as you plummet backward into total darkness. Inside the cavern, the mythical tale comes true as you see the shadow of a massive, growling beast! Race to escape the cursed mountain—before the Yeti claims another expedition. – Walt Disney World

An awesome and thrilling ride! It might be a bit scary for younger children (who are of course tall enough to ride), Disney says “This attraction features loud noises, fast drops, high speeds, dark places, and frightening creature effects.”

Festival of the Lion King at Animal Kingdom
Festival of the Lion King

5. Festival of the Lion King

  • Location: Africa – Harambe Theatre
  • Height restrictions: Any height
  • Duration: 30 mins
  • FastPass+ offered: Yes

Join the inhabitants of the Pride Lands for a grand celebration of The Lion King with songs from the film. Relax in air-conditioned stadium seating as the jungle roars around you!Walt Disney World

I’ve written about Festival of the Lion King during 100 Days of Disney, so go and check out the reasons why we love the show!

It's Tough To Be A Bug - Animal Kingdom

6. It’s Tough To Be A Bug

  • Location: Discovery Island
  • Height restrictions: Any height
  • Thrill level: Dark, loud, scary
  • FastPass+ offered: Yes

See the world from a bug’s point of view with a little help from Flik inside the great Tree of Life. Flik, the loveable ant from the Disney•Pixar film A Bug’s Life, invites you and your family to become honorary creepy crawlies by donning a pair of special “bug eye” glasses and watching an exciting 3D film and live show on the survival techniques of bugs.Walt Disney World

We love this! The 3D effects are fab, and then you have some 4D effects too, which take you by surprise but can be a bit scary for little ones. There is a warning before the show starts, but parents seem to just ignore it, and you end up with a fair few screaming kiddies!

Kali River Rapids - Animal Kingdom

7. Kali River Rapids

  • Location: Asia
  • Height restrictions: 38in (97cm) or taller
  • Thrill level: Small drops, spinning, thrill ride, water ride
  • FastPass+ offered: Yes

Hang on tight for a thrilling whitewater adventure along the scenic Chakranadi River. Make your way to a wooden pagoda and then onto a large, circular 12-passenger raft. Strap yourself in and gently glide up a 90-foot knoll into a mist, the native scents of jasmine and ginger filling the air. At the top, skim across an erupting geyser and brace yourself as you begin your descent down the mountain. During your voyage, bob up and down and gently spin, water splashing in all directions. Sail beneath a canopy of lush vegetation as your raft weaves back and forth in the fast-moving river. Graze gushing waterfalls and bounce between craggy mountain bedrock amid the raging current. Then, plummet down a dramatic 20-foot slope! Walt Disney World

We have only managed to ride this one time… well, actually it was more like 3 or 4 times in a row! It was the end of the theme park day, and there was no line, so we kept just going around and around – and got seriously wet too, so remember to leave some towels in your car to dry off with.

Kilimanjaro Safaris - Animal Kingdom
Kilimanjaro Safaris

8. Kilimanjaro Safaris

  • Location: Africa
  • Height restrictions: Any height
  • Thrill level: Slow rides
  • FastPass+ offered: Yes

Glimpse real animals in their natural habitats during an 18-minute expedition into the Harambe Wildlife Reserve. Traipse along a twisting path amid a lush garden gateway and make your way to the rendezvous point of Kilimanjaro Safaris expedition, the touring company for your adventure into the wilds. Featuring picturesque open plains, shady forest landscapes and rocky wetlands, the 110-acre Harambe Wildlife Reserve is a spectacular sanctuary dedicated to the protection of African animals. Walt Disney World

Ahh, my absolute favourite. No two safaris are the same, and there are so many different animals to see. I think the experience you get will be based upon the tour guide driver that you get. We’ve had some great ones, and some not so great. And for the love of all things Disney, listen to the driver when he says no children sitting on laps, no standing up, etc. It spoils the ride for others, and it is a safety issue too.

Now that Animal Kingdom is open later, you can venture onto the savanna for a safari tour after dark—and see the animals in a whole new light.

Previously off limits to visitors after sundown, this unforgettable journey through the reserve allows you to witness rarely seen nocturnal animal behaviors. Strategically placed lighting evokes both the setting sun and rising moon, so you won’t miss a moment. And as always, your friendly safari guide is on hand to share expert knowledge.Walt Disney World

Na’vi Shaman of Songs
Na’vi Shaman of Songs

9. Na’vi River Journey

  • Location: Pandora – The World of Avatar
  • Height restrictions: Any height
  • Thrill level: Slow rides
  • FastPass+ offered: Yes

On this visually stunning and mysterious river, you’ll glide through a series of caves and into a bioluminescent rainforest alive with the sights and sounds of exotic plants and creatures on all sides—even overhead. Soon, you’ll join the legendary Na’vi Shaman of Songs, who demonstrates her deep connection to the life force of Pandora—and sends positive energy out into the forest through the power of her music.Walt Disney World

I’ve included this ride, even though I don’t think it is necessarily a must-do at Animal Kingdom… If you manage to get a FastPass+ time slot for it, then use it – I am SO glad we didn’t line up when we visited (a 2 hour line!!). But if you have to choose between this and Flight of Passage, then choose the latter.

Yes, the Na’vi Shaman of Songs is very cool, but the boat ride itself was short and we were not blown away which is a shame given the hype (at the time) surrounding Pandora.

Gorilla at Disney Animal Kingdom

10. Pangani Forest Exploration Trail

  • Location: Africa
  • Height restrictions: Any height
  • FastPass+ offered: No

Encounter exotic animals as you trek through dense forests and sprawling savannas. Embark on a self-guided tour of the Pangani Forest and experience amazing creatures in their natural habitats—up-close and personal! Meander along winding paths amid a lush forest trail of African flora and fauna. Spot an adorable meerkat on a rocky perch or an impressive Grevy’s zebra on the savanna—before coming face to face with a gentle troop of western lowland gorillas on a grassy hillside—who are just as curious to see you as you are to see them! During your hike, snap pictures from convenient observation stations and learn more about the animals you see and Disney’s global conservation efforts to protect them and their habitats. – Walt Disney World

The entrance is to this trail is right next to Kilimanjaro Safaris, and so we more often than not, head here immediately after the safari. The gorillas are so majestic, and one visit we saw some baby ones which were hilariously playful!

Tree of Life - Animal Kingdom
Tree of Life – Animal Kingdom

11. Tree of Life

  • Location: Discovery Island
  • Height restrictions: Any height
  • FastPass+ offered: No

Behold the breathtaking artistry of a sculpted tree that wordlessly expresses the intricate balance of nature. Located on Discovery Island, the Tree of Life vividly commemorates all living things—and the place they share—in the great Circle of Life. At an impressive 145 feet tall and 50 feet wide at its base, the Tree of Life is home to over 300 meticulously detailed animal carvings throughout its massive trunk, gnarling roots and outstretched branches—invoking the diversity, beauty and interconnected nature of earth’s many creatures.Walt Disney World

One of the Disney weenies, which I absolutely adore. You can’t miss it, as it’s right there as you being to walk into the theme park.

Tree of Life Awakenings
Tree of Life Awakenings

12. Tree of Life Awakenings

  • Location: Discovery Island
  • Height restrictions: Any height
  • FastPass+ offered: No

Flickering fireflies magically appear and stir to life the animal spirits in the tree’s towering trunk—bringing to light a dazzling visual display swarming with color and animated imagery. Gaze upon a young doe embarking upon a thrilling journey. Behold love blossoming between a pair of hummingbirds. Spy a sly fox spreading gifts of love among the denizens of a wintry forest. A feast for the eyes, each revelation celebrates the eternal balance and harmony that exists in all living things, big or small, and is sure to inspire and delight your whole family tree.Walt Disney World

The Tree of Life is one of my very favorite things at Walt Disney World, and seeing it come to life with music, light, and color is breathtaking.

Conservation Station at Disney's Animal Kingdom

13. Wilderness Explorers

  • Location: Discovery Island
  • Height restrictions: Any height
  • FastPass+ offered: No

Follow in the footsteps of Russell and his faithful dog, Dug, from the Disney•Pixar film Up! Jaunt across jungles, furrow into forests and make way through the woods while you set out on a series of fact-finding challenges. Think you know the wilderness? Prove it! Dozens of self-guided activities await your arrival, with missions ranging from animal observation to learning all-too-important nature skills. Collect over 30 badges and earn the right to echo the Wilderness Explorer call—“Caw! Caw! Roar!” Every challenge is totally different from the next. With each one you complete, you can collect a new sticker badge to place in your official Wilderness Explorer field guide.Walt Disney World

We started this on our trip to Walt Disney World in 2014, collecting the stickers at various points around Animal Kingdom. The beauty of this is, is that you don’t have to complete it all in one day – or even during the same holiday! We were told to bring our books back on our next trip so we could carry on with the exploring!

Wildlife Express - Animal Kingdom

14. Wildlife Express

  • Location: Africa
  • Height restrictions: Any height
  • Thrill level: Slow ride
  • FastPass+ offered: No

Cross the African savannah for a backstage journey through Disney’s Animal Kingdom park. Steam ahead aboard the Wildlife Express Train for a peaceful 7-minute, 1.2-mile journey from the heart of Africa to Rafiki’s Planet Watch, a park area dedicated to the preservation and conservation of animals.Walt Disney World

This train journey takes you up to Rafiki’s Planet Watch and is a nice way to get off your feet for a while and see some behind the scenes at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park.

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10 Must-Dos at Animal Kingdom

This post was originally part of my 100 Days of Disney series.

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