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Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Guide

Disney’s Animal Kingdom® is the most recent of the Walt Disney World® theme parks and in many ways, the most magical. This huge park sits on 500 acres and is the largest of all the Disney® theme parks. The theme park consists of a 110-acre replica of an African Safari, two Broadway shows, a thrilling roller coaster, and up-close encounters with numerous animals.

Many visitors to Walt Disney World® think that this theme park is just one large zoo. Well, it does have some zoo-like features, but this park offers far more. To assist you in planning your day at this theme park, might we suggest you click on the guide to Attractions at Disney’s Animal Kingdom®. We have even compiled a few touring plan ideas which you may find helpful.

This theme park is the latest and most unique of the Walt Disney World® parks. The layout and design differ from that of Epcot®, Hollywood Studios®, and the Magic Kingdom® of Disney®. The different lands of the Oasis, Pandora -The World of Avatar, Africa, Asia, and DinoLand U.S.A. surround Discovery Island where the Tree of Life resides. The Tree of Life is a giant tree that visually showcases many different animals interwoven in its base. It is the central focus and icon of the park.

Animal Kingdom® is also full of live animals. The meandering paths lead to a zoo-like performance of exotic park animals, such as tigers and Sumatran gibbons that play in acrobatic scenes, while safari attractions transport passengers through a 110-acre expanse of giraffes, lions, and elephants. Walking through Animal Kingdom® is designed and meant to be an adventure in itself.

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Animal Kingdom® Schedule

Walt Disney World® Park’s operating hours change all through the year. Be sure to download the My Disney Experience® app to stay up to date on the current operating hours. The typical park opens at 8:00 am and closes at 8:00 pm or earlier at 7:00 pm.

Guests of Walt Disney World® often select Orlando hotels that offer extra hours of magic. They will get access to the theme park on certain dates before closing or opening depending on the theme park. Be sure to purchase your Disney® packages for your Orlando vacation and include lodging at one of our Orlando hotels or our amazing Orlando vacation homes.

Animal Kingdom® Things To See


The Oasis Exhibits

Stroll through and explore the stunning beauty of the natural world. Encounter waterfalls, streams, exotic flora, and marvelous creatures. Some of the local residents of the Oasis are the giant anteater, boar, barking deer, wallabies, and spoonbills.

Discovery Island

Animal Encounters: Winged Encounters – The Kingdom Takes Flight

Watch as an airborne kaleidoscope of colors flies over Discovery Island near the Tree of Life. There are 6 species of South American macaw: hyacinth, green-winged, blue and gold, scarlet, blue-throated, and military to keep an eye out for. Birds of wingspans of up to 48 inches, don’t miss out on this ultimate bird-watching experience!

Tree of Life Awakenings

Behold a dazzling visual display of color and animated imagery that brings to life the animal spirits in the tree’s towering trunk. A musical light show that brings an original musical score and themes inspired by The Lion King.

Some of the animals to keep an eye out for:

Asian Small-Clawed Otters: Catch the otters as they swim and frolic underwater!

Flamingos: Behold the beautiful flamingos of Florida hanging out!

Vultures: Visit the world’s greatest cleanup crew!

Cotton-Top Tamarins: Visit the world’s greatest cleanup crew!

Discovery Island Trails

Explore through serene paths and tunnels on a self-guided tour around and below the great tree. A scenic trek where you’ll find some of these animals along the way:

White Stork
Asian Small-Clawed Otter, supported by Otterbox
Red Kangaroo
West African Crowned Crane
African Crested Porcupine
Galapagos Tortoise
Lesser Flamingo
Ring-Tailed Lemur
Saddle-Billed Stork
Lappet Face Vulture

Pandora -The World of Avatar

The Land of Mo’ara

Disney® Imagineers have made the land of Mo’ara have different smells like pepper to give you that more authentic experience. At Windtraders, guest can create their own avatar for a fee, where a picture of the guest to made to look like one of the Na’vi. Plus, the land during the night lights up with a colorful array of bioluminescence!

The Floating Mountains of Mo’ara

The floating mountains of Mo’ara are definitely a sight to see! Disney® Imagineers really outdid themselves creating this visually stunning masterpiece.


Festival of the Lion King

Join live performance with the inhabitants of the Pride Lands for a grand gala in honor of Simba, the next lion king. You’ll hear the sounds of the African savanna, the stage full of colossal puppets, costumed dancers, a daring fire dancer, and incredible stilt walkers. Relive all the classic songs from The Lion King, including “Hakuna Matata”, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?”, and the spectacular finale of “Circle of Life.”

Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail

Encounter exotic animals as you make your way through the forest. Start a self-guided tour of the Pangani Forest and experience amazing creatures in their natural habitats!


Feathered Friends in Flight!

Capture an amazing bird show where a few exotic birds are showcased.


Watch the gibbons which have overrun the ruins of a lost city.

Maharaja Jungle Trek

Cross tall footbridges, explore jungle bends, and see the cascading waterfalls to stand in the shadow of a palace frozen in time. Where over 50 species of birds soar free, here you’ll also find the graceful Asian tigers, along with:

Elds deer
Komodo dragon
Malayan flying fox
Water buffalo
Over 50 species of birds
Enjoy this lush tropical paradise on a self-guided tour.

Dinoland U.S.A.

Find Nemo – Musical

If you’re having kids who are a fan of locating Nemo, this is definitely the event for them. A live performance play that recreates the story of the movie.

Animal Kingdom® Attractions

Discovery Island

It’s Tough to Be a Bug

Visit a theater hidden at the base of the Tree of Life where you’ll relive moments of the movie in a live show hosted by Flik, the friendly ant from A Bug’s Life. Experience all the small critters from the movie in life-size and learn how insects survive the world. This informative and entertaining show will show you that it’s really tough to be a bug!

Height: Any height
Ages: All ages
Thrill Level & Type: Mild & Dark, Scary, and Loud Show

Pandora -The World of Avatar

Avatar Flight of Passage

Soar through the magical land of Avatar while on the back of the Ikran, a mountain banshee. Fly above the Na’vi hunters and behold the beautiful sights of Pandora’s astounding landscape.

Height: 44 inches or taller
Ages: Kids to Adults
Thrill Level & Type: Mild & Motion Simulated Ride with Small Drops

Na’vi River Journey

Take a boat ride through Pandora’s mystical bioluminescent rainforest. Behold the amazing creatures of Pandora through an enchanting journey. See also the life-size priestess chanting with incredibly expressive, life-like body and facial movements. This is one of Disney®‘s most advanced animatronics and truly an amazing ride not to miss.

Height: 44 inches or taller
Ages: Kids to Adults
Thrill Level & Type: Mild & Motion Simulated Ride with Small Drops


Kilimanjaro Safaris

Hop into your safari vehicle, driven by an expert guide, and explore the Harambe Wildlife Reserve. It is home to 34 species living in 110 acres and your guide will help point out the exotic animals and share wildlife facts during this 20-minute expedition. You can also venture onto the savanna for a safari tour after dark. This is a unique and unforgettable experience to remember.

Height: Any height
Ages: All ages
Thrill Level & Type: Mild & A Slow, Bumpy Ride

Wildlife Express Train

Here you’ll board an authentic, rustic-looking locomotive on a peaceful 7-minute, 1.2-mile train ride to Rafiki’s Planet Watch, an area devoted to the preservation and conservation of animals. You’ll see an up-close look behind the scenes at the amazing care Disney® has for its animals. There are a few kid’s activities, a petting zoo, and a chance to view more of the exotic animals at the animal care facility. Take the Wildlife Express Train back from Rafiki’s Planet Watch to the land of Africa.

Height: Any height
Ages: All ages
Thrill Level & Type: Mild & A Slow Ride


Expedition Everest -Legend of the Forbidden Mountain

Find yourself in a Tibetan village at the base of Mount Everest and hop onboard the train to the “top of the world.” As your train rises to the heights, you find a broken and twisted track in front of you. You then plunge back into total darkness. You fly through the caverns and come face to face with the legend of the Forbidden Mountain!

Height: 44 inches or taller
Ages: Kids to Adults
Thrill Level & Type: Moderate & Loud, Fast, Dark Places and Big Drops

Dinoland U.S.A.


A paleontologist from a research facility recruits you for a secret mission. You have to bring a 3.5-ton Iguanadon back to the present. Hop on the rugged Time Rover vehicle and start your dangerous journey through a prehistoric forest filled with dinosaurs. Dart here and there avoiding carnivorous dinosaurs and beat the clock as it counts down to the epic meteor shower the wiped out the dinosaurs.

Height: 40 inches or taller
Ages: Kids to Adults
Thrill Level & Type: Medium & Dark Ride and Bumpy

TriceraTop Spin

Have a child who’s not a fan of scary rides? Climb onto one of our many triceratop buggies. This gondola bobs up and down, forward and back, as you sail through the air. Keep an eye out for other little dinos that may pop out of nowhere!

Height: Any height
Ages: All ages
Thrill Level & Type: Mild & A Slow Ride with Small Drops


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Visiting Animal Kingdom® with Your Toddler

Are you on a trip to the park with toddlers? The following attractions are suitable for children:

  • It’s Tough to Be a Bug
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • Wildlife Express Train
  • TriceraTop Spin
Visiting the Animal Kingdom® During Pregnancy

The following attractions are suitable for pregnant women.

  • It’s Tough to Be a Bug
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • Wildlife Express Train
  • TriceraTop Spin
  • Winged Encounters – The Kingdom Takes Flight
  • Live Entertainment
  • Finding Nemo the Musical
  • Na’vi River Journey in Pandora
Animal Kingdom® Tips
  1. Take the Safari ride again – This trip will take you from sunny Florida to the warm savannah of Africa. Each guide tells stories and jokes, and you can see several animals at different times where they may be more active. It’s great to start and end your visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom®, by going to this amazing up-close and personal African animals trek.
  2. Pandora is amazing to see at night – If you Pandora during the day, don’t forget to wait until it gets dark. Pandora becomes a whole new world! Bioluminescence fills the dark with amazing colors!
  3. The Tree of Life is full of secrets – In the tree of life has some 320 animals sculpted into it! Seeing images and lights from different angles can illuminate things differently from a new perspective. The tree comes to life after dark with a projection show.

On most days, Animal Kingdom® may close from 6 pm to 8 pm. We strongly recommend tackling the Animal Kingdom® in the middle of your vacation. The amount of walking and the added humidity might wear you out more than other parks. Knowing this might prepare you and your family before you head to the Animal Kingdom® by getting your rest beforehand. Disney’s Animal Kingdom® has a myriad of fine restaurants, but you may choose to find dinner at a number of quality restaurants at Disney Springs®.

Special Hint – The best time to visit the park is very early in the morning. This is when the animals are most active and this is also when they are being fed.

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