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10 Essential Experiences You Must Have At Walt Disney World’s Disney’s Animal Kingdom

The newest and largest theme park in Walt Disney World brings the beauty and power of nature to life through amazing experiences which aim to showcase to guests the importance of conservation and preservation. Disney’s Animal Kingdom features several different areas which bring different parts of the world and nature to life through breathtaking detail and wonderful experiences. Guests who spend time in the park can go white water rafting, explore the Forbidden Mountain, embark on an African safari, travel back in time, explore an new moon, and shrink down to the size of a bug. With so many amazing experiences in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, guests can easily become overwhelmed attempting to figure out which are the absolute must dos. From thrilling and popular attractions to unforgettable shows, there are plenty of experiences in the park which guests consider to be essential. Here are the top ten essential experiences that every guest must have when spending time in Walt Disney World’s Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

10. Kilimanjaro Safaris

One of the most beloved and essential experiences in all of Walt Disney World let alone Disney’s Animal Kingdom can be found in the heart of the Africa section of the park. Kilimanjaro Safaris invites guests into the Harambe Reserve for a two week long safari through the forests and savannahs of Africa. Along the way, guests can experience up close encounters with animals like lions, giraffes, hippos, rhinos, cheetahs, elephants, flamingos, and more. Since the animals are free roaming, each visit to Kilimanjaro Safaris is sure to be unique making it an experience that cannot be missed in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

9. Festival of the Lion King

Also found in the Africa section of the park is a show that is so phenomenal it can definitely not be missed. The Festival of the Lion King is housed in the Harambe Theater and it brings the story of the classic Disney animated film The Lion King to life. Guests who enjoy the show which runs several times each day can see familiar characters, enjoy favorite music, and watch aerial ballet, fire dancing, and amazing acrobatics. With limited seating and only several shows each day, guests definitely need to make sure they enjoy the Festival of the Lion King!

8. Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail

After enjoying a ride on Kilimanjaro Safaris, guests often head straight back to the village of Harambe and pass by the entrance to a wonderful self-guided walking tour that shouldn’t be missed. The Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail invites guests to explore at their own pace and take in beautiful environments and animals including meerkat and Grevy’s zebra. The highlight of the trail is the final massive habitat which is home to many gorillas who can be found relaxing, enjoying meals, and frolicking in the grassy area.

7. Pandora – The World of Avatar

Pandora – The World of Avatar is the newest land in the Animal Kingdom theme park. Here you will find two extremely popular attractions known as Avatar Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey. You can expect a thrilling ride on Avatar Flight of Passage as you climb aboard a Banshee (dragon-like creature) and ride through the beautiful World of Avatar. The Na’vi River Journey is a perfect family-friendly attraction as guests boat down river and see just how beautiful the Na’vi tribe’s rainforest is with bioluminescence lighting and the latest animatronics. Unfortunately, you can only FastPass ONE of these two attractions. We recommend you FastPass one and head to the other the moment the park opens. Outside of these two attractions, the land is almost like an attraction itself with stunning beauty and ability to interact with guests… especially as it glows at night!

 

6. Kali River Rapids

No hot day in Disney’s Animal Kingdom is complete without enjoying a ride on Kali River Rapids. The attractions has guests board family style rafts and set off down the Chakranadi River on what begins as a serene journey. Soon enough guests discover firsthand the devastation of illegal logging and find themselves plummeting down a steep and soaking hill! With big thrills, soaking moments, and an important message of conservation, Kali River Rapids is an essential experience to enjoy in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

5. Maharajah Jungle Trek

Like the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail, there is a second self-guided walking trail found in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The Maharajah Jungle Trek is located in the Asia section of the park and invites guests to explore lush temple ruins and other beautifully detailed areas. Guests can check out many different types of birds in the aviary and also take in the beauty of Asian Tigers who rule the temple ruins. Those who visit first thing in the morning might even see the tigers being let out for the day or fed!

4. Expedition Everest

One of the most thrilling attractions in Disney’s Animal Kingdom draws guests in with its massive silhouette dominating the sky in the Asia section of the park. Expedition Everest begins as a serene tea train tour of the foothills of the mountains, but guests soon find themselves climbing high and higher and faced with a piece of broken track. With nowhere to go but deep inside the mountain, guests soon find themselves scrambling at high speeds to escape the clutches of the mountain’s protector, the fabled Yeti. With big thrills and an amazing Yeti to face off with, Expedition Everest is definitely an essential experience in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

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3. Dinosaur

Guests who love all things prehistoric should definitely visit Dinoland for a one of a kind experience. The main attraction in the area is Dinosaur which invites guests into the Dino Institute where the technology to travel back to the time of the dinosaurs has been perfected. Guests board Time Rovers and embark on an unauthorized excursion that brings them dangerously close to a massive asteroid impact. With near darkness, unexpected twists and turns, and thrilling encounters with dinosaurs, Dinosaur in Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a must do experience.

2. Finding Nemo – The Musical

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is also home to another amazing live stage show that brings a classic Pixar film to life. Finding Nemo – The Musical is housed in the Theater in the Wild and uses larger than life puppets and familiar characters to retell the story of Nemo, Dory, and friends. Guests who enjoy the show will love checking out their larger than life friends as well as listening to exclusive musical numbers not heard anywhere else!

1. Tree of Life Awakens

Every night in Disney’s Animal Kingdom features a beautiful show that simply can’t be missed at the Tree of Life. The park’s icon comes to life each evening with the Tree of Life Awakens which feature beautiful stories told through projection on the trunk of the tree every ten minutes or so. Each story has its own important message in terms of the beauty of nature, and guests should definitely be sure to stick around and watch all of them!

About Caitlin Corsello

Caitlin Corsello first visited Walt Disney World when she was two years old, and despite spending most of the trip quarantined with the chicken pox she managed to fall in love with the place. Visiting WDW every year since, she especially loves learning about the history and small details of the parks, enjoying a Lapu Lapu, and eating/drinking her way through the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. When she's not in Disney, Caitlin lives in New York teaching preschool and spending her time counting down the days to her next trip.