Disney’s Animal Kingdom is part zoo, part amusement park and all Disney. Unlike the Jungle Cruise in Magic Kingdom the animals are live meaning each time you go you have a slightly different experience. The park has one of the best roller coasters and is well balanced with great show and food options. The evening show isn’t fireworks and the theming of protecting the planet and the animals extends to the straws being paper in the restaurants and Starbucks.
It is a great park that you can mostly cover in a day depending on lines and how long you spend on self guided animal tours in Africa and Asia. Most of the park has a relaxed pace and with new rides like the Avatar flight of passage it is evolving while keeping its original charm. Here is our Animal Kingdom Top 5.
Dinosaur is a not to miss but hard-to-find ride in the land of animals real, ancient, and imagined. We’ve posted about it before. It is a fun ride with lots of details. Don’t miss the chemical formulas for ketchup, mustard, and mayo that still exists from when the ride was sponsored by Mcdonald’s. I don’t remember its predecessor Countdown to Extinction but I hope the Dinosaurs stay and the rumors of this becoming an Indiana Jones-themed ride like its similar cousin in Disneyland are just rumors.
4. Small Bites
[Animal Kingdom is the park to snack in. I would recommend eating your way around the park focusing less on a meal and more on finding small food experiences. Picture to the right is falafel from Mr. Kamal’s with tzatziki / siracha fries hiding in the background. Looking for something light but more substantial? The Satu’li Canteen in Pandora is great quick food too. And save a little room for Eight Spoon Café and their creative mac and cheese. We’ve barely scratched the surface on all the great options so go and explore.
3. Expedition Everest
With a top speed of 50MPH, over 3Gs of force and part of the ride going backwards Expedition Everest is the biggest thrill ride in any of the Disney parks. Spoiler alert this ride will have you climbing a mountain and crossing paths with the legendary Yeti. (Different Yeti from the Matterhorn Bobsleds in Disneyland.) Despite the name the ride itself does not take place on Everest itself but on the Forbidden Mountain with Everest being the mountain in the distance.
The backstory for the attraction is that the expedition offices are set at an old tea plantation. The train was originally used to bring tea to the village to sell, but now it’s used to bring trekkers to the mountain. The shelves holding food supplies in the queue are actually tea-drying cabinets, and if you look closely you may even spot some Yet-tea among the dry goods. (Source)
2. Pandora – The World of Avatar
Based on the blockbuster movie Avatar, Pandora immerses you into the world of the movie. It isn’t overwhelming in size but the details are amazing. It doesn’t matter if you remember or even liked the movie the land is a must see. The Flight of Passage is a great flight simulator where you fly on a banshee. This part of the park represents the “imagined” in the “real, ancient and imagined: a kingdom ruled by lions, dinosaurs and dragons;” in the park dedication. This replacement for the original concept of the Beastly Kingdom is well done and a great fit all the way down to the utility suit.
1. Kilimanjaro Safari
You did come to Animal Kingdom to see animals – right? There is no better place than the Kilimanjaro Safari with over 110 acres and 34 different types of animals viewed from an open air vehicle. At one point the ride incorporated a story of poachers and protecting the Harambe Wildlife Reserve but now the focus is more on the animals themselves. Depending on your driver you may get a little more or less humor and you never really know what animals may be out and about on a hot and humid Florida day. There are behind the scenes tours if you are interested in seeing more or if you want a little more time to explore.