The Animal Kingdom “Lowdown” at Walt Disney World

tree of life animal kingdom park disney
Credit: Disney PhotoSnapper

In 2017, Disney’s Animal Kingdom underwent a major transformation with the addition of Pandora – The World of Avatar. While the new land and it’s two rides are incredible, there is more to the park than just Pandora. Here is the lowdown on Disney’s Animal Kingdom.


At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the lands are as follows: Oasis, Discovery Island, Pandora – The World of Avatar, Africa, Asia, and DinoLand U.S.A. The Tree of Life is the park’s main icon. It is also home to the multi-sensory film It’s Tough to Be a Bug. Oasis is for the most part the park’s entrance, you’ll pass through it and then see the Tree of Life for the first time. Discovery Island is home to shops and places to grab a quick bite to eat. Pandora – The Land of Avatar will be covered in more detail below. In Africa you’ll find Kilimanjaro Safaris. In Asia you’ll find Kali River Rapids and Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain. DinoLand U.S. A. is the home of DINOSAUR.

Pandora – The World of Avatar

The newest land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is based on the James Cameron movie Avatar. You will walk through a portal and be transformed to another world. The land is designed so that you will not experience the rest of the park while you’re in Pandora, you can’t even see the Tree of Life. One of the best rides at any theme park on the planet is found in Pandora. Avatar Flight of Passage allows riders to link with an avatar and ride on the back of a banshee. The ride is physically and visually stunning, it is unlike any other ride at Walt Disney World. It is extremely hard to get FastPass+ for, and the standby line is often between two and three hours long. There is one other ride in Pandora, Na’vi River Journey. It is a slow moving boat ride through the Valley of Mo’ara. The line for this will also grow quite long. Windtraders is where you can buy Pandora merchandise. It’s unlike other Disney stores in that you won’t find traditional Mickey ears and Donald T-shirts, all of the items tie into the Pandora theme. If you’re hungry, try Satu’li Canteen. The menu is also Pandora themed, with pods or a build your own bowl. The food is fantastic. Make sure you return to Pandora – The World of Avatar after dark. Then the land becomes an attraction in and of itself.


There are other standout rides that are outside of Pandora – The World of Avatar. Kilimanjaro Safaris in Africa is a must do for the whole family. You’ll head out into the Disney created savanna and see dozens of animals as they wander about the land. Ride after dark for a different experience. You’ll want to head to Asia on a hot day and cool off on Kali River Rapids. It’s a white water adventure, and you will get wet! Also in Asia is Expedition Everest, where you’ll face the Yeti. Many thrill seekers say that it is the best roller coaster at Walt Disney World. Head to DinoLand U.S.A. for a chance to travel back in time. Primeval Whirl is a different roller coaster that is heavy on the curves. DINOSAUR allows you to visit the dinosaurs up close in their own time period. TriceraTop Spin is a flying ride that is similar to Dumbo at the Magic Kingdom.

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Disney’s Animal Kingdom has several shows that you are going to want to experience. Festival of the Lion King is based on the classic animated film. Audience participation is strongly encouraged. Finding Nemo – The Musical uses puppets and live actors to retell the story of the missing clown fish. A newer show is UP! A Great Bird Adventure. It combines bird tricks with Russell and Dug from the Disney•Pixar film. The nighttime show at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is Rivers of Light. It uses boats, water screens, music, lighting, and more. There is also plenty of live entertainment that takes place throughout the day. Check your Times Guide or the My Disney Experience App to see what is going on, where, and when.


One thing that is unique about Disney’s Animal Kingdom is that there are animal trails in several different locations throughout the park. You will be able to see many different types of animals, and along the way there are often animal experts who can answer your questions. Some of the animals that you’ll see are endangered. To learn about The Disney Conservation Fund and all that they are doing for the planet, visit their website at


Tiffins is a signature restaurant in Discovery Island, on the way to Pandora. It features the tastes of Africa and Asia, and the menu is seasonal. Tusker House Restaurant is a character buffet featuring Donald and friends. Yak & Yeti Restaurant has all of your favorite Asian classics. Rainforest Cafe has American cuisine in a fun atmosphere. It is located at the park’s entrance, and you don’t need a theme park ticket to eat there. Some of the counter service options are Flame Tree Barbecue, Harambe Market, Pizzafari, and Restaurantosaurus. There are also plenty of stands and walk up locations. If you’re looking for a drink, Pongu Pongu in Pandora has some delicious options. You can also grab an icy margarita at Warung Outpost.

Wilderness Explorers

There is a fun extra for kids of all ages at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Wilderness Explorers is based on UP!, and it will take you all over the park. Pick up a guide at one of several stations, then complete activities to earn badges (stickers). There are over 30 badges to earn, so don’t expect to finish them all in one day.

About PaulaK

I grew up in Western Massachusetts. When I was nine my family went to Disneyland and I was hooked. I grew up, attended New England College in Henniker, NH and eventually moved to Virginia. I worked as a disc jockey, married and became a full time mom when our daughter was born. Fast forward several years. In 2010 we moved to Central Florida and my Disney obsession grew. I now work as a freelance writer and spend my spare time in the parks. Under the name Paula Brown I penned the novels Dream Wanderers and The Coffee Cruiser. I also am a co-author of Dining at Walt Disney World: The Definitive Guide. I'm obsessed with Star Wars, so this is a good time to live in Central Florida. I've been a vegetarian for well over a decade, a choice that my daughter eventually made as well. While my husband still hasn't joined us fully he has given up most meats except for seafood. I was relieved to find that vegetarian dining is not difficult at Walt Disney World.