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10 Sensational Experiences You Must Have At Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom is the perfect place for you and your family to go completely wild…in a good way. This theme park incorporates live animals, dinosaurs, runaway trains, mythical beasts, and raging rivers in an experience that dazzles your senses, while at the same time ensuring your family’s safety. Though it was once a barren cow pasture, Disney Imagineers transformed it into a zoological paradise where humans interact with animals and enjoy wilderness themed attractions and entertainment on a daily basis. Of all that you can do at Animal Kingdom, these are the top ten sensational experiences that you must have in order to get the most out of your visit.

10. It’s Tough to be a Bug!

No doubt, the first thing you’ll gravitate towards is the 145-foot Tree of Life at the center of the park. Inside the tree, It’s Tough to be a Bug! plays in a 4-D theater. As you wait to enter the theater, you can appreciate the animal carvings on the Tree Life; try playing a game to see who can name the most species. Once inside, you’ll experience a 3-D film about insects that’s hosted by Flik from A Bug’s Life. Beware, because Disney Imagineers have whipped up some special effects to put you in the middle of the action. You’ll experience not only sight and sound, but also touch, smell, and a little taste, if you’re not careful. Oh, and watch out for the stinkbug.

9. DINOSAUR

This attraction places you inside an off-road “Time Rover” that transports you 65 million years into the past, right as an asteroid is about to collide with the Earth during a mass extinction event. Your mission is to rescue an Iguanodon and bring it back to the present. However, before jumping in line, consider that DINOSAUR is a bit rough, since there weren’t any roads in prehistoric times, and the dark atmosphere may frighten small children, especially with hungry, carnivorous dinosaurs pouncing at them. Overall, the ride is exciting, and you can capture the excitement by purchasing a well-timed photo.

8. Kali River Rapids

Splash down the Chakranadi River on this thrilling whitewater raft ride. Yes, you will get wet, especially on the 25-foot drop, so bring an extra set of clothes and a towel if you don’t want to dry out naturally. Some riders wear ponchos, but what’s the fun in that? Stow your valuables in a protected compartment in the center of the raft to keep them dry, because a ruined camera or a soaked plush Mickey is not fun. Otherwise, this attraction is about as sensational as they come.

7. Finding Nemo – The Musical

Those who like Finding Nemo and can’t wait to get their song on will love this production. The vibrant set, colorful costumes, and animated puppets capture the attention of audience members of all ages, distracting them from the human entertainers creating all the magic. The show highlights key scenes from the movie with stunning performances from highly talented singers and actors. Certainly, the story will be familiar to those who’ve seen the movie, but this live show nevertheless enthralls the imagination of viewers with a fresh telling.

6. Na’vi River Journey

Na’vi River Journey is one of the two incredible attractions that is now open in the new Pandora – The World of Avatar area in Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park. Climb aboard a small boat and feel the slow river push you along. The space around you glows as if bioluminescent lighting has struck the rainforest with beauty! The sights and sounds appeal to the senses as you drift down river. Pass caves, exotic plants, and interesting animals to reach a very important member of the Na’vi tribe. This is one family friendly journey down river not to miss!

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5. Kilimanjaro Safaris

The wildlife encounters located along the trails aren’t the only ones found in Animal Kingdom. No visit to this theme park is complete without hopping on a truck at Kilimanjaro Safaris. Most people don’t have the time and resources to go on a safari in Africa, so Disney has brought the safari to Central Florida! Your driver will guide you through beautiful landscapes filled with free-roaming wildlife, some of which will sometimes wander close to the vehicles. Don’t worry, the dangerous animals like lions, cheetahs, crocodiles, and rhinoceroses are sectioned off to keep park guests safe. Though the guide announces the visible animals to the guests, you can always refer to the illustrations posted above you if you want to identify them yourself.

4. Rivers of Light

Embrace yourself for the celebration of nature with the newest nighttime show at Animal Kingdom, Rivers of Light. This 15-minute show is held in an amphitheater next to Expedition Everest and boasts dramatic storytelling and animal folklore through beautiful floats, inspiring music, impressive water screens, and all the latest technology and special effects. Truly a celebration of nature’s beauty!

3. Festival of the Lion King

This popular show celebrates the themes, characters, and songs of The Lion King with talented vocalists, dancers, and acrobats. The audience enters a charming circular theater divided into four sections, each represented by an animal. The four hosts introduce the crowd to the animals that lead their sections, and soon everyone sounds off with their best lion, elephant, giraffe, or warthog calls. Timon also makes an appearance, trying to maintain control of the tumble monkeys and inviting the audience to join in song. The show’s colorful array of costumes and sets, blending of drama, romance, and humor, and participatory design make it a show you can’t miss at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

2. Avatar Flight of Passage

Avatar Flight of Passage is one of the two attractions located in the new Pandora – The World of Avatar area within Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Prepare to straddle what feels somewhat like one of those motorcycles at an arcade, be secured in, and then using 3D screen technology, awesome 4D effects, and motion simulation – feel like you are literally flying on the back of a mountain banshee in the most exhilarating way. Your banshee (somewhat like a flying dragon) will soar through the sky as it takes you on the ride of a lifetime through Pandora – The World of Avatar.

1. Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain

By far, the most sensational experience at Animal Kingdom is Expedition Everest. Adventurous park guests wind through a Tibetan-Nepalese village to catch a “train” that will take them up the mountain. The ride up the mountain features roller coaster thrills with drops and turns, however when the track ends near the top, things become interesting. The train pivots and then zooms backwards and downwards, swooping down drops and looping in the darkness. A gigantic animatronic Yeti barely misses catching the training and eating it for lunch. Those who dare to ride Expedition Everest certainly complete a top-notch sensational experience that remains unforgettable.

About D.W. Noonan

D.W. Noonan was blindsided by the magical universe of Walt Disney when he married a dedicated Disneyphile in 1994. His wonderful wife dragged him into countless days of binge-watching great Disney films. As children began showing up in the Noonan home, D.W.'s growing passion for all things Disney led him to vacationing with his family in Walt Disney World each year and taking a journey to visit Disneyland. He is especially proud of his two teenage daughters, who danced for Disney Performing Arts at Walt Disney World in 2015. Though D.W. lives in Maryland, he longs to hear these familiar words when he returns to the resort: "Welcome home."