17 Best Attractions at Animal Kingdom, Ranked By a Blogger

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When we think about the word “attractions” at any Walt Disney World theme park, our minds almost automatically jump to rides.

Small World in Magic Kingdom.

Star Wars Rise of the Resistance in Hollywood Studios.

Soarin’ in EPCOT.

But Disney uses the word attractions for a reason. In other words, it’s more than just a ride. Specifically, it’s an experience and an adventure.

Each attraction is an opportunity for kids and adults alike to create a special memory of their time with Mickey, Minnie, Donald and the crew.

Therefore, if you want to build memories for a lifetime, you need to focus on more than just the rides. 


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What is Animal Kingdom most known for?

I think it’s still probably the animals. From Kilimanjaro Safaris to the Discovery Island Trails, Animal Kingdom is first and foremost a park about animals.

And like any great zoo, Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park features lions, giraffes, zebras, tigers, rhinos, cheetahs, elephants and more.

Read Also: 12 Best Animal Kingdom Rides, Ranked

What should you not miss at Animal Kingdom?

I know I just said the animals are what the park is most known for. That said, it’s Pandora that shouldn’t be missed.

Avatar Flight of Passage, on which you get on a Banshee and fly all over the beautiful alien world, is one of the best amusement park attractions in the world. Notably, it’s a simulator ride, a thrill ride and an immersive experience all rolled up into one. 

But Pandora is more than just one ride. It’s also the most expansive immersive theme park world in existence. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal and Galaxy’s Edge in Hollywood Studios are both as immersive, but they’re constrained. 

They feel small. It’s like you can see the edges. 

In Pandora, especially as you pass Na’vi River Journey and turn towards Flight of Passage, the world feels big. You don’t feel trapped inside. 

expedition everest lines
You may not need Genie+ to navigate Animal Kingdom. At the time this photo was taken, the standby line for Expedition Everest was only 30 minutes (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

Do you need Lightning Lanes for the best Animal Kingdom rides? 

Disney Genie+ covers several popular attractions except for Flight of Passage, which is an Individual Lightning Lane. However, my recommendation is this: Get the Individual Lightning Lane for Flight of Passage. 

It will save you the most time. 

I think you can effectively cover the park without Disney Genie+. However, if you have the money, it might be worth it to do both. 

If you can get Lightning Lanes for any of the following attractions, it should save you some time on rides such as:

  • Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
  • Naʻvi River Journey
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris

Remember, Disney Genie+ only guarantees you Lightning Lanes for a couple of rides per day. It’s not like Universal, it doesn’t get you line skips on every ride included in the program. 

What are the best Animal Kingdom attractions?

Here we come to the crux of the issue. Time is limited, so you have to be smart. Below, I’ll list and rank the best attractions at the Animal Kingdom to help you decide what to prioritize:

A Toddler Feeds a Goat at Affection Section Animal Kingdom
This little one enjoyed feeding a goat at Affection Section (photo by Kirby Russell/HeyOrlando.com)

17. Affection Section

Located at Rafiki’s Planet Watch, this petting zoo is a … petting zoo.

It is not unlike the ones you presumably have in your hometown with goats and pigs and such. Still, it’s a hit for small children and toddlers if you have any in your family.

Kids Ride the Triceratops Spin Animal Kingdom
TriceraTop Spin is a carnival-type ride that is fun for the kids (photo by Morgan Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

16. TriceraTop Spin

Located in Dinoland, this is essentially Dumbo’s Flying Elephants but with Triceratops, which are not traditionally thought of as flying dinosaurs.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with this ride. It’s fun and diverting for what it is.

In fact, I think Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios would do well to add a handful of these carnival-style rides that can help keep wait times down and offer options for families that need a quick ride to keep the kids entertained.

It's Tough to Be a Bug Entrance Animal Kingdom
It’s Tough to be a Bug uses characters from “A Bug’s Life” (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

15. It’s Tough to be a Bug

This show, located inside the Tree of Life, uses characters from the underrated Pixar classic “A Bug’s Life”.

Unfortunately, the cleverness and heart of the movie do not really transfer over to the show.

Nevertheless, it’s nice to sit in some air conditioning and have a 4D experience. But it’s nowhere near the best show Animal Kingdom has to offer. 

Rafiki's Planet Watch at Animal Kingdom
Conservation Station can be found inside Rafiki’s Planet Watch (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

14. Conservation Station

Located on Rafiki’s Planet Watch, Conservation Station is an educational foray into animal habitats around the globe.

It also offers a glimpse at the expert veterinary care the animals receive. In fact, I like the behind-the-scenes veterinary care more than I do the habitat stuff.

That said, it is an important lesson for kids to learn about the world in which they live.

Animal Kingdom's Wildlife Express Train
Take a short ride from Africa to Rafiki’s on the Wildlife Express Train (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

13. The Wildlife Express Train

The Wildlife Express Train is a short train ride from Africa to Rafiki’s Planet Watch which offers some behind-the-scenes glimpses into animal care.

We did this immediately after riding the safari ride. Some animals we didn’t get to see on the safari were being cared for, so we could see them from the Express. So it made it like a mini-expansion of the ride. 

Read Also: What Can You Ride at Animal Kingdom When It Rains? Your Complete Guide

The Boneyard Entrance Animal Kingdom
The Boneyard in the Animal Kingdom is designed to resemble a dinosaur dig (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

12. The Boneyard

This open-air space is designed to look like a dinosaur dig.

Young paleontologists can play there. It is also a great place for adults to rest and kids who have spent too much time in line to stretch their legs.

turtles at discovery island
Discovery Island offers a glimpse of animals not typically seen in most zoos (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

11. Discovery Island Trails

I can’t say I come to Disney with the idea of going on a walking trail, but I make an exception for the Animal Kingdom. What I like about this trail in particular is that I can see some animals that are not at our local zoo.

The Discovery Island animals include: 

  • White stork
  • Asian small-clawed otter (supported by Otterbox)
  • Red kangaroo
  • West African crowned crane
  • African crested porcupine
  • Galapagos tortoise
  • Lesser flamingo
  • Macaw
  • Ring-tailed lemur
  • Saddle-billed stork
  • Lappet face vulture
DINOSAUR at Animal Kingdom
DINOSAUR is a dark ride at Animal Kingdom about animal extinction (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)


This Dinoland attraction is forgettable in many ways. And also, like some other legacy rides in EPCOT, it’s aged. But it doesn’t have the nostalgia boost of the older rides in Magic Kingdom.

Certainly, this ride has its fans and it does have a place in the Animal Kingdom family. It just doesn’t have much of an impact on me. 

A gorilla behind glass
Get a up-close view of Gorillas at on the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail (photo by Kirby Russell/HeyOrlando.com)

9. Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail

I love watching the gorillas. I find them endlessly fascinating.

Also on this trail, you’ll see hippos, zebra and more. Disney says they’re in their natural habitats. I don’t think that’s the wording I’d choose. They’re in good facsimiles of their natural habitats. 

8. Finding Nemo: The Big Blue … and Beyond!

This is a fun musical filled with puppets, singers and more. It’s colorful and charming.

I don’t love it as much as Festival of the Lion King, but it’s great for kids, especially smaller kids. 

Animal Kingdom's Maharajah Trail Signage
The Maharajah Jungle Trek offers a view of some unique animals (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

7. Maharajah Jungle Trek

In addition to the tigers, on this trek, you’ll see gibbons, Eld’s deer, blackbuck, a Komodo dragon, a Malayan flying fox, water buffalo and over 50 species of birds.

Gibbons are good. I like trying to hoot with them and make good gibbon sounds. Even though I get funny looks, the gibbons and I don’t care. 

on the navi river journey ride
The Na’vi River Journey is a relaxing journey through the forests (photo by Kirby Russell/HeyOrlando.com)

6. Na’vi River Journey

I really love this section of the World of Avatar, with the black lighting of the nighttime forest and the animals and Na’vi moving through the forests. Finally, the Shaman of Songs sang us out.

It’s a short ride. I would love for it to be longer, maybe 20 minutes. It’s so chill and relaxing. In fact, it’d be nice to have one of these at the office.

Stressful day? I’m going to Pandora to chill out. 

Kali River Rapids at Animal Kingdom
Ride a raft and be sure to be prepared to get wet on the Kali River Rapids (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

5. Kali River Rapids

The boat ride is a pretty standard amusement park staple. The round raft bounces through the river, getting riders drenched.

The Asia theming is excellent and elevates the experience. I’ve always thought it should have an Indiana Jones tie-in based on his river ride early in the Temple of Doom, but alas. 

Exhibition Everest Ride Animal Kingdom
The quest to see Yeti on Expedition Everest is a great trip (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

4. Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain

When this roller coaster debuted, it was quickly recognized as the best at Disney. It’s been surpassed, but the ride in Animal Kingdom’s Asia to see the Yeti is still a great ride.

Guests with Toddlers Watch an Elephant on the Safari
The Safari ride at Animal Kingdom is highly recommended (photo by Kirby Russell/HeyOrlando.com)

3. Kilimanjaro Safaris

I don’t think this is the best of Disney’s Animal Kingdom rides, but it might be the most iconic, the most representative of what the park is supposed to be.

It’s a good ride, and depending on the animals you get to see, it can be a great ride. We’ve also had good luck over the years seeing many of the possible animals on the trip. It is highly recommended.

Be aware, though. At rope drop it can be a bit of an extra hike as they figure out the line. 

Festival of the Lion King
Guests of all ages enjoy the Festival of the Lion King (photo by John Gullion/HeyOrlando.com)

2. Festival of the Lion King

The best non-fireworks show in Disney, in my opinion. The acrobats and fire breathers are fun. The performances are also great. The selections from “The Lion King” and the combination of animatronics and costumed performers really work.

The show is fun, brightly colored and entertaining. What more could you want?

seats on the flight of passage ride
Avatar Flight of Passage is one of the most immersive Disney World rides (photo by James Overholt/HeyOrlando.com)

1. Avatar Flight of Passage

Simply put, Avatar is one of the best rides Disney’s ever created. It’s immersive, thrilling and beautiful.

In truth, I think all theme parks that own IP should be figuring out how to recreate this magic. Give me a Star Wars version on speeder bikes or even X-wings. Give me a Harry Potter version on broomsticks.

It is, in fact, almost as good as Rise of the Resistance and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.

What is your favorite attraction at the Animal Kingdom? Let us know in the comments.

Photo of author


John Gullion

John Gullion, Managing Editor at the Citizen Tribune, is a freelance contributor for TheSmokies.com LLC – the parent company of TheSmokies.com and HeyOrlando.com.

1 thought on “17 Best Attractions at Animal Kingdom, Ranked By a Blogger”

  1. This list is about as accurate as it gets!!! And these attractions are great for most ANY and EVERY type and level of adventurer!


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