10 Essential Experiences You Must Have At Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom

Walt Disney Word is home to four amazing theme parks that are filled with attractions, entertainment, dining, shopping, and more that guests can enjoy each day. The newest of the four theme parks is Disney’s Animal Kingdom where the beauty of nature is celebrated and guests are taught through enjoyable experiences the importance of conservation. Guests who spend time in the park can travel back to prehistoric times, shrink down to the size of a bug, come face to face with a Yeti, embark on an African safari, travel to the otherworldly location of Pandora, and much more. While there are countless experiences to enjoy in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, guests might be a little overwhelmed trying to experience it all in one day. In order to avoid feeling overwhelmed, guests should focus on enjoying the experiences that are so amazing that they are considered essential. Here are the ten essential experiences that every guest must have when visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

1. Avatar Flight of Passage —

The newest area of Disney’s Animal Kingdom brings guests to the otherworldly planet that is home to the Na’vi from the hit film Avatar. Pandora – The World of Avatar brings guests into the Valley of Mo’ara where floating mountains dominating the skies and all sorts of mythical and beautiful vegetation and creatures are waiting to be discovered. The most popular attraction in the area is Avatar Flight of Passage where guests can be genetically linked to a Na’vi and experience the thrilling rite of passage of flying on the back of a banshee. This 3D experience is totally immersive, and guests are sure to be amazed by the beauty of Pandora during their adventure.

2. Na’vi River Journey —

Also found in Pandora – The World of Avatar is a second attraction that showcases the beauty of Pandora. The Na’vi River Journey brings guests on a serene boat ride through the bioluminescent forests of Pandora. The experience is filled with exotic and strange plants and animals and guests soon spot Na’vi all heading in the same direction. The final scene of the attraction reveals the Shaman of Songs who is singing a native Na’vi song that seems to bring the forest to life.

3. Kilimanjaro Safaris —

The Africa section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom is home to the village of Harambe which is brought to life through vibrant details, entertaining townspeople, and a wonderful attraction. Kilimanjaro Safaris invites guests to embark on a two week safari through the Harambe Reserve. Throughout the journey, guests explore the forests and savannahs of Africa and enjoy up close encounters with animals like elephants, giraffes, zebras, lions, cheetahs, rhinos, hippos, and more. Each visit to Kilimanjaro Safaris is different thanks to the free roaming animals, and it is definitely an essential experience in the park.

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4. Kali River Rapids —

Guests who are looking to cool off on a hot day in Disney’s Animal Kingdom should head over to the Asia section of the park for a wonderful and thrilling attraction. Kali River Rapids has guests board large circular rafts and set off down the Chakranadi River where they can enjoy the beauty of the forests and jungles. Soon guests find themselves facing firsthand the devastation of illegal logging before plunging down a steep and wet drop! With plenty of twists, turns, and drops, guests are sure to leave Kali River Rapids soaked!

5. Expedition Everest —

Also found in the Asia section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a thrilling attraction that brings guests deep into the Forbidden Mountain. Expedition Everest has guests board steam trains and set off on what begins as a serene tour of the foothills of the mountains. Soon guests encounter a piece of torn up trap and find themselves plunging into the darkness of the mountain. The attraction culminates with a thrilling encounter with the mythical Yeti who is the protector of the Forbidden Mountain.

6. Dinosaur —

Dinoland is one of the most entertaining areas in all of Disney’s Animal Kingdom thanks to its wonderful and quirky theming. In the rear of the area is the attraction Dinosaur which welcomes guests into the Dino Institute where the technology to travel back to the time of the dinosaurs has been perfected. Guests embark on a mission to bring a dinosaur back to modern times with them, but soon find themselves facing some large carnivores and racing to beat the massive asteroid impact. With lots of thrilling moments in near darkness, Dinosaur is an essential attraction in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

7. Walking Trails —

Guests who are looking to enjoy beautiful areas at their own pace should definitely check out two self-guided walking trails in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail can be found near the exit of Kilimanjaro Safaris and features meerkats, Grevy’s zebras, a hippo, hundreds of fish, and a beautiful habitat where many gorillas can be found frolicking in the grassy hills. Over by Kali River Rapids, guests can find the Maharajah Jungle Trek where they can enter into the Anandapur Royal Forest. While exploring the trail guests can encounter many different species of birds, a Komodo dragon, Elds deer, and Asian tigers living in ancient palace ruins.

8. Festival of the Lion King —

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is home to an amazing live show that brings the classic Disney animated film The Lion King to life. Festival of the Lion King is performed in the Harambe Theater in the Asia section of the park several times each day. The performance feature familiar characters and music, audience participation, aerial ballet, fire dancing, and acrobatics to make for one unforgettable show that cannot be missed when enjoying time in the park.

9. Tree of Light Awakenings —

Once night falls, Disney’s Animal Kingdom comes to life with live entertainment and plenty of beautiful experiences. The Tree of Light Awakenings are wonderfully projected stories that share the beauty of natures. These vignettes feature amazing projections directly onto the trunk of the Tree of Life and run every ten minutes. Guests should definitely plan on spending time by the Tree of Life at night to enjoy these gorgeous animations and projections!

10. Rivers of Light —

Each night in Disney’s Animal Kingdom is brought to a close with a wonderful show that takes place on the Discovery River. Rivers of Light is a wonderful experience that combines the powers of water and light to create spectacular floats and barges for guests to enjoy. Combining special effects, dancing water, projected animations, pyrotechnics, and beautiful music, no day in Disney’s Animal Kingdom is complete without enjoying a showing of Rivers of Light!

About Caitlin Kane

Caitlin Kane first started visiting Walt Disney World when she was two years old, and despite spending most of that trip quarantined with the chicken pox she managed to fall in love with the place. Visiting WDW every year since, she especially loves learning all about the history and small details of the parks and eating/drinking her way through the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival each fall. When she's not in Disney, Caitlin lives in New York and spends her time counting down the days to her next trip.