Maybe you are in the planning stage of your Walt Disney World vacation, and you are trying to decide which Disney World Parks to visit. The most common question I get from friends planning a Disney vacation is how to choose between Disney Parks. If you are on the fence when choosing between a visit to Animal Kingdom or Disney’s Hollywood Studios, we got you.
Let’s flesh out the differences between these two Parks before you secure a Disney Resort or buy your airline tickets to Lake Buena Vista.
No one can argue that Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom are very different theme parks. Varying interests in movies or animals may be a tiebreaker for Guests looking to make a decision on how to allocate the bulk of their time between these two Parks. Hopefully, this list will help you sort out the differences between the two Parks and make an informed decision on where you want to spend the bulk of your vacation.
This is your Hollywood Studios vs. Animal Kingdom Disney Park comparison.
Movie Magic or Amazing Animals
Animal Kingdom is of course focused on animals. Real, mythical, and extinct, this Park is the place to see beautiful live animals and attractions and character meets from some of your favorite animal-centric Disney movies. Animal Kingdom has animal-inspired shows, food, rides, and attractions. If your little ones will be thrilled seeing a live Gorilla or a giraffe on Kilimanjaro Safaris, this Park is a must-see.
Hollywood Studios is all about tapping into the glamour and glitz of the movie industry. The Park showcases classic American architecture and themes from the golden age of Hollywood, while also paying homage to classic Disney movies that we all know and love. Live stage shows that bring Disney movies to life are a favorite for Hollywood Studios fans. Beauty & The Beast Live On Stage and Frozen Sing-Along: For The First Time in Forever Celebration are all favorites for little princesses.
Conservation Education or Pixar Magic
Conservation education is a huge focus of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Some are basic details like having no plastic straws or lids on drinks in Park restaurants to avoid plastic litter sickening their animals. But Guests can also learn from conservation messaging that educates the public on the importance of preserving rain forests and natural habitats of exotic animals around the world. Animal Kingdom makes conservation a central focus of shows, signage, and themes constantly encouraging Guests to treat our planet well.
You’ll see another sweeping theme in Hollywood Studios that Disney Pixar animation fans will adore. Toy Story Land has been a wildly popular part of Hollywood Studios since its inception. Walking past the giant Woody at the entrance to Toy Story Land ushers Guests into a magical world that shrinks you down to the size of a toy.
You’ll walk under string Christmas lights and Barrel of Monkeys with interlocking arms. You can dine at Woody’s Lunchbox, scream down Slinky Dog Dash, play on Toy Story Mania or spin with the little green men on Alien Swirling Saucers.
Wildlife Movie Magic or Star Wars Movie Magic
Not surprisingly, Disney’s Animal Kingdom has shows and character meets centered around Disney movies where nature is the theme. Dug and Russell from Up!, the crew from The Jungle Book, Rafiki and Timon, Pocahontas, and Flik the ant from A Bug’s Life are just a few of the characters available to meet Guests at Animal Kingdom. Finding Nemo: The Big Blue…and Beyond! and Festival of The Lion King are popular film-based stage shows performed at Animal Kingdom that rival Broadway productions and wow Guests with amazing vocalists and stunning costumes.
While movie magic is the central theme of Hollywood Studios, a certain movie series has quickly taken the Park by storm. Star Wars fans flock to Hollywood Studios in droves to explore Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Sip blue milk, meet Darth Vader, Stormtroopers, and ride a Star Tours simulator. This magical land even allows Guests to pilot the most famous spaceship on Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. You can make your own lightsaber, wander the marketplace, or pop into Oga’s Cantina for a cocktail. This is such an immersive land that Star Wars fans will adore.
Animal Walk Through or Movie Walk Through
Guests will have the opportunity to get up close and personal with exotic animals at the Animal Kingdom as they view animals from a jeep on Kilimanjaro Safari, at Conservation Station via train, or at the Maharajah Jungle Trek exploration trail. Viewing animal habitats and animals interacting is a huge part of the Guest experience at Animal Kingdom.
Conversely, some attractions at Hollywood Studios focus on the dynamics of movie magic. Enjoy immersive experiences like Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. This fun animated ride through the famous Chinese Theater is located at the end of Hollywood Boulevard. Outside, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame Plaza pays tribute to some of the biggest contributors to movies and television. Or get a look at behind-the-scenes special effects in the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular Show.
Animal Education or Movie Education
Education is another integral mission of Animal Kingdom. Guests are actually learning about animals, the environment, and their place in these ecosystems as they enjoy the attractions and animal encounters in the Park. The Affection Section at Rafiki’s Planet Watch allows children to interact with farm animals as they learn from Cast Members. Rafiki’s Planet Watch offers Guests a behind-the-scenes look at the animal habitats in the Park while teaching lessons about conservation, deforestation, and habitats.
Though more lighthearted than the educational aspects of Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios does offer Guests the opportunity to learn about Disney history, movie magic, and the art of animation. Visiting the Walt Disney Presents exhibit at Animation Place provides Guests the opportunity to learn about the evolution of Disney cinematography and filmmaking.
Guests will leave this self-paced walk-through experience with an understanding of just how much videography and animation have changed since Walt Disney produced Snow White as his first full-length motion picture.
Thrill Rides Abound In Both Parks
The adrenaline junkies in your group will be glad to know that regardless of the comparison that goes on between these two Parks, the thrill factor is completely covered! If you are ready to feel your stomach drop and heart pound, a ride on The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios or Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom is a great idea.
Perhaps equally daring and thrilling attractions are Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith in Hollywood Studios and Kali River Rapids in Animal Kingdom. There is no way you can go wrong as a thrill seeker visiting Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom!
We hope this guide served as a primer for your Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom Park day. Both Disney Parks are excellent in their own way. You just need to consider your family’s interests, needs, and preferences when choosing.