Animal Kingdom has a reputation for being a “half-day” park, but there are plenty of things worth doing in the park that many guests skip. Here is our list of 20 things, in no particular order, that you must do to enjoy a full day at Animal Kingdom. A bonus tip: Slow down! This is not a park to be rushed through. From the intricate carvings on the Tree of Life to the beauty of the park’s animals to the quality of the park’s performances, this is a “stop and smell the roses” kind of place.
20. Take a spin on Primeval Whirl
Primeval Whirl is a coaster of sorts located in the carnival-themed area of Animal Kingdom (Chester and Hester’s Din-o-Rama). Though certainly not a thrill ride, this raucous ride will whip you all over on its tight turns and quick drops.
19. Have an animal encounter in The Oasis
The Oasis is the front area of the park, beginning immediately after you pass through the ticketing area. Be on the lookout for cast members holding a variety of animals for you to meet up-close.
18. Dig in the Boneyard
It doesn’t matter how many awesome rides and attractions a park has; kids still love to hang out in play areas! This is less of a playground, however, and more of a simulated dig site for fossils.
17. Explore the Maharajah Jungle Trek & Pangani Forest Trail
Don’t stop with the safari ride! Animal Kingdom has two great walking trails where you’ll experience great views of animals in beautiful enclosures. On the Maharajah Jungle Trek, you’ll be see majestic tigers, massive fruit bats, and other Asian creatures. You’ll find gorillas, hippos, and other African animals on the Pangani Forest Trail.
16. Enjoy Flights of Wonder
Flights of Wonder features free-flighted birds that will soar over your head and delight audiences of all ages. It’s a mix of conservation messaging and comedy that is enjoyable for all ages.
15. Sing along at Festival of the Lion King
A truly noteworthy performance, Festival of the Lion King has a brand new venue and is better than ever. You’ll love hearing your favorite songs from The Lion King and watching acrobats, tumblers, and other acts throughout the show.
14. Experience Finding Nemo: The Musical
You’ll love this musical adaptation of Finding Nemo, complete with awesome puppetry and 14 original songs.
13. Escape the Yeti on Expedition Everest
Expedition Everest is one of Walt Disney World’s most thrilling rides. Despite not having inversions, this coaster feels incredibly fast and even travels backwards through a treacherous mountain. I’ve never ridden this one without feeling completely dizzy on my return to solid ground!
12. Get friendly with some characters
Animal Kingdom has some great character greeting spots. Some of my favorites include Baloo, King Louie, Dug, Russell, Pocahontas and Rafiki!
11. Get soaked on Kali River Rapids
Need to cool off on a hot day? This family rapid ride is a park favorite, but be warned: You really could get soaked to the bone on this ride.You may be interested in “8 Amazing Facts About Kali River Rapids.”
10. Catch a “Streetmosphere” performance
These musical performances are without formal venues or seating, but they include some of the more authentic cultural acts and are fun to catch if you are in the area.
9. Experience It’s Tough to Be a Bug
Enjoy this 3-D, multisensory look into the world of bugs with Flik from A Bug’s Life. This is a family attraction, but some of the effects might startle young children (and even adults!).
8. Fill your belly at Flame Tree BBQ
Flame Tree BBQ is a noteworthy counter-service restaurant. Take a break in the relaxing outdoor seating area at Flame Tree BBQ. While you’re there, try some ribs, pulled pork, or a tasty sandwich or salad.
7. Time-travel on DINOSAUR
This dark ride features huge dinosaurs that appear out of nowhere, wild turns in a bucking “time rover” vehicle, and a simulated meteor storm. It’s great fun, but young children might find it too scary.
6. Do some shopping
There are many exclusive items to be found in Animal Kingdom’s shops. If you’ve ever dreamed of combining your love of Mickey and animal print, you’re in the right place!
5. Dine with Mickey and friends at Tusker House
Meet Mickey and friends at this wonderful character buffet. Check out “The Tusker House Restaurant – 5 Reasons This Is The Best Food in Animal Kingdom’s Africa.“
4. Watch the Gibbons Play
Don’t hurry past the massive monkey temple in Asia. Stop and watch the gibbons swing, climb, and make a racket!
3. Get up close to the Tree of Life
The Discovery Island trails allow you to get extremely close to the base of the Tree of Life- in some cases, passing under the roots. You’ll love examining the carvings on the tree up-close.
2. Hop aboard the train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch
Take the Wildlife Express Train out to Rafiki’s Planet Watch, where you can visit the Affection Section (an animal petting area), as well as the Conservation Station, where you can watch cast members at work. If you’re lucky, you might observe a vet procedure or check-up, or be able to look through the glass and see scientists working on their research projects.
1. Ride the Kilimanjaro Safaris
The crown jewel of Animal Kingdom, Kilimanjaro Safaris is a “can’t miss” attraction. You’ll love your ride through the savannah and be amazed at just how close you’ll get to big cats, hippos, rhinos, giraffes, and many more animals. Check out “12 Mind-Blowing Facts about Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.”
BONUS TIP: Consider planning and booking your next Disney trip with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner you can trust like Mickey Travels. They’ll help you get the best Walt Disney World deal, share expert advice and their services are totally FREE! It’s genius!
Photo courtesy of Disney Photo Snapper