7. Wilderness Explorer Program
This program allows guests of all ages to join the Wilderness Explorers, and follow in the steps of Russell from the hit Disney movie, Up! This program takes guests on an interactive journey through the entire park to complete challenges and learn about things like animal life, conservation, fossils, out of this world plants in Pandora, and different cultures, to earn badges just like Russell does in the film. The Wilderness Explorer Program is a great, hands on way to learn about all of the different animals and cultures that have come together to make Animal Kingdom a unique experience compared to other theme parks or zoos.
6. Rainy Days
Animal Kingdom is not really one of the most popular parks to visit on rainy days, but there are a couple of reasons why I enjoy coming when the weather is a little gloomy. One is that the animals at Kilimanjaro Safaris tend to be more out and about after rain storms. After the rain passes, I’ve been able to get some great views of the lions and see hippos out of the water. If you’re looking for characters, rainy days are the best time to meet Goofy, Pluto, and Donald in Dinoland U.S.A. Generally, Goofy and Pluto meet in one location, and Donald meets in another, however when it rains, Donald is moved into the same area as Goofy and Pluto, meaning you can meet all three at the same time.
Animal Kingdom is one of my favorite places to take pictures at Walt Disney World. The attention to detail put into each section of the park, along with the lush greenery, and of course the animals, makes this park a perfect place to work on your photography skills. Plus, you can capture the same location with drastic changes from morning to evening. This is especially noticeable in the Pandora land.
Animal Kingdom is not often known for its shopping compared to the other parks, however this is actually one of my favorite places to go. This park is home to some of the most unique merchandise, that you really wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else. The shops in Asia and Africa house merchandise that is handmade in different Asian and African countries, as well as Disney themed books, t-shirts, and dinnerware. Dinoland U.S.A. carries science museum-like dinosaur products, in addition to Disney-specific merchandise, particularly featuring the Carnotaurus from the Dinosaur ride. Head over to Windtraders in Pandora to create your own Avatar or adopt a Banshee. For regular Disney souvenirs, stroll through the shops on Discovery Island, as they have a lot to offer and are generally less crowded than their counterparts in the other parks.
3. Extended Hours
You don’t want to skip out early from Animal Kingdom! Now coming to life at night, guest have the opportunity to enjoy an amphitheater style show called Rivers of Light where nature is celebrated in an incredibly beautiful way. And who’s ready to dance? The Discovery Island Carnivale is a fun event to dance with colorfully costumed dancers, stilt walkers and musicians. The Tree of Life Awakenings is a perfect way to cap off the evening with its projections and music lighting up the iconic Animal Kingdom symbol. And finally, the perfect evening experience is a visit to Pandora – World of Avatar to see this beautiful land glow at night! Truly remarkable.
In my opinion, Animal Kingdom has some of the best food on property! Yak and Yeti, both the quick service and table service versions, is one of my favorite restaurants, and Tusker House is a favorite among Animal Kingdom fans as well. In terms of snacks, Asia is home to a delicious falafel sandwich, and Africa is the place to go if you’re looking for a twist on the popular Dole whip—Just across the street from Tusker House you can find pineapple soft serve with dark or coconut rum. Check out many of the quick service locations such as Satu’li Canteen and be sure to take advantage of the Mobile Food and Beverage option on the My Disney Experience App.
1. Animal Trails
It might seem silly to include the animal trails on a list titled “Hidden Gems in Animal Kingdom,” however so many guests fail to take full advantage of visiting all of the animals in the park, so I believe this is worth mentioning. Understandably, because it is a Disney theme park, guests go to Animal Kingdom expecting to go on rides and meet characters. But the best part of visiting Animal Kingdom is the experience of seeing so many animals in environments that are as close to their homes in the wild as you can get without going to Africa or Asia yourself. I would recommend walking through the Discovery Island Trails on your way in and out of the park, and make sure not to skip the Maharajah Jungle Trek or Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, where you can see gorillas, komodo dragons, bats, and tigers, just to name a few.