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8 Non-Negotiables To Experience In Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Every day is a wild day in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. While many Guests visit the Disney Park for a half day, there is plenty to do to spend a whole day there. Watching the many shows that take place in Disney’s Animal Kingdom is an excellent way to fill an entire day. Don’t miss out on the following shows:

  • Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… And Beyond!
  • Feathered Friends in Flight
  • Festival of the Lion King
  • Winged Encounters: The Kingdom Takes Flight

However long you plan to stay, there are eight non-negotiable experiences in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Let’s take a look at them!

Explore Pandora

You haven’t been to Disney’s Animal Kingdom without exploring Pandora – The World of Avatar. The immersive Disney land has restaurants, a shop, plenty of photo opportunities, and two of the most popular rides in the Walt Disney World Resort. Don’t leave Disney’s Animal Kingdom without riding Avatar Flight of Passage and the Na’vi River Journey. Lines can be long, so you may wish to visit Pandora first when you arrive at Disney’s Animal Kingdom for rope drop. As a Disney Resort Guest, Early Theme Park Entry will help you to experience the Disney attractions with a minimal wait, provided you enter the line before the Park opens to all Guests.

If your Disney vacation schedule allows for it, we recommend visiting Pandora – The World of Avatar during the day and in the evening too. Visiting in the evening will enable you to see the bioluminescent colors throughout the land.

Pandora, Disney's Animal Kingdom
Credit: V Mills

Take a Safari

Kilimanjaro Safaris is a beloved attraction in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Embark on a journey through the Harambe Wildlife Reserve. There are plenty of animals to see, including hippos, pelicans, cheetahs, rhinos, lions, zebra, giraffes, and more. You may see different things when riding at various times throughout the day. Every Kilimanjaro Safari is unique in Walt Disney World. 

Pride Rock, Kilimanjaro Safaris
Credit: V Mills

Explore the Trails

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park has many different trails to explore. However, they are often overlooked as Guests rush from one attraction to the next. Along the trails, you will have the opportunity to see many different animals. Cast Members are available to speak to along the trails, so you can learn more about the unique animals you see. Be sure to ask them any questions you have. Take time to explore the following trails while you are spending time in Disney’s Animal Kingdom:

  • Discovery Island Trails
  • Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail
  • Maharajah Jungle Trek
  • The trail between Wildlife Express Train and Conservation Station at Rafiki’s Planet Watch
  • The Oasis Exhibits
Maharaja Jungle Trek, Disney's Animal Kingdom
Credit: How To Disney

Escape from the Yeti

Disney’s Animal Kingdom has the highest Walt Disney World Resort drop. Prepare to travel down an 80-foot drop to escape the Yeti on Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain. Before you do so, your train will travel backward as you reach the end of the track. Expedition Everest is a high-speed adventure suitable for all Guests 44 inches tall and over. You haven’t been to Disney’s Animal Kingdom if you haven’t escaped the Yeti!

Expedition Everest, Disney's Animal Kingdom
Credit: V Mills

Get that Dino!

DINOSAUR is a thrilling dark ride that allows you to travel back in time. Enter your Time Rover, where you will be transported back to prehistoric times. Embark on a secret mission with a paleontologist to bring back an Iguanodon to the present time. Will you make it before the meteor shower arrives? If you do, will your dino make it back too?

Dinosaur Pipes, Disney's Animal Kingdom
Credit: V Mills

Admire the Tree of Life

The Tree of Life is Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park icon. It’s beautiful to admire from a distance, but you should also plan to see it up close. The Discovery Island Trails allow you to walk close to the Tree of Life. Additionally, you’ll get to see some of the roots, which also feature many different animals carved into them. While strolling the Discover Island Trails, you’ll have the opportunity to see different animals that call Disney’s Animal Kingdom home.

Tree of Life Details, Disney's Animal Kingdom
Credit: V Mills

Meet Unique Disney Characters

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is an excellent place to meet Disney characters. In particular, there are three Disney character meet and greets:

  • Moana meets Guests at the Character Landing on Discovery Island. You’ll find the spot near the DinoLand U.S.A. walkway.
  • Mickey Mouse & Minnie Mouse are in their explorer’s outfits at Adventurers Outpost on Discovery Island. They often attract a line. However, Lightning Lane is available if you are using Disney Genie+.
  • Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Goofy, Pluto, Chip, and Dale meet in Donald’s Dino-Bash! in DinoLand U.S.A. The Disney characters are dotted around the area, each with their own line. Join the line for each character you wish to meet.

Dining at Tusker House is also an excellent way to meet Mickey Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck, and Daisy Duck. The Disney characters will meet you in their safari outfits while they take a break from exploring. You can enjoy a delicious breakfast, lunch, or dinner at the Disney restaurant. Advanced dining reservations are highly recommended to secure your dining experience.

Tusker House, Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge
Credit: Disney/TripAdvisor

Additionally, plenty of Disney characters sail along the Discovery River throughout the day. While you can’t meet the characters, you can wave to them and take a selfie. Watch for them as you pass over the river near Africa, Asia, and Pandora. You never know who you will see!

Walk with Kevin & DiVine

There are two unique Disney character interactions in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. However, you won’t find the characters at a static location. Instead, you’ll see them freely walking around the Disney Park. As you enter Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and pass through the Oasis, look for a tree-like character. DiVine is a beautiful character that camouflages into the greenery and trees around the Disney Park. She is covered in vines and leaves and moves slowly yet elegantly.

Like DiVine, Kevin from Up! (2009) is a free-moving Disney character who wanders Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Generally, you will find her on Discovery Island, close to the It’s Tough to be a Bug! entrance, and the Russell and Karl meeting area. Kevin likes to join the dance party while the Viva Gaia Street Band performs.

Kevin, Disney's Animal Kingdom
Credit: V Mills

What are your non-negotiable when spending time in Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park? Do you agree with our selections? Are there any that you would change for other experiences?

We’ve also covered the non-negotiable experiences in the following Disney Parks for your upcoming Disney trip:

Victoria Mills

Victoria is a Disney-loving, tea-drinking, Math teacher from Liverpool, England. Her motto is 'work hard, Disney harder'! Having taken part in the Disney College Program back in 2010, Victoria's love and appreciation for Walt Disney World only grew, and it's the place where she feels most herself - it's home!

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