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Max Out Disney’s Animal Kingdom – 17 Things To Do From Open To Close

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the largest of the four theme parks in Walt Disney World and has a variety of things to experience. Including attractions, dining experiences, character meet and greets, educational opportunities, and up close and personal encounters with wildlife, this park immerses guests in nature and the environment. With so many things to experience, it can get a little overwhelming exploring Disney’s Animal Kingdom without a plan, so let’s check out these 17 things to do in order to max out a day in the park.

1. Rope Drop

Getting to Disney’s Animal Kingdom roughly thirty to forty-five minutes before it opens typically will allow you to be one of the first guests in the park. Guests will also get to hear a welcome speech that will be sure to get them pumped up for the exciting day ahead!

2. Head Straight To Pandora

Pandora – The World of Avatar is the newest land in the Animal Kingdom theme park. This is exactly why you’ll want to head to this part of the park as soon as you arrive in the morning! Here you will find two extremely popular attractions, restaurant, bar, and shopping all located within the “Valley of Mo’ara”. The attractions are Avatar Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey. You can expect a thrilling ride on Avatar Flight of Passage as you climb aboard a Banshee (dragon-like creature) and ride through the beautiful World of Avatar. The Na’vi River Journey is a perfect family-friendly attraction as guests boat down river and see just how beautiful the Na’vi tribe’s rainforest is with bioluminescence lighting and the latest animatronics. Unfortunately, you can only FastPass ONE of these two attractions. We recommend you FastPass one and head to the other the moment the park opens. Outside of these two attractions, the land is almost like an attraction itself with stunning beauty and ability to interact with guests… especially as it glows at night! Expect large crowds to be flocking to this area for quite some time.

3. Ride Kilimanjaro Safaris

After checking out Pandora, be sure to head to the Africa section and get in line for Kilimanjaro Safaris or to use your FastPass. Taking a Safari before lunch is key. The earlier the better the experience is as the animals are usually eating and the temperatures are also still on the cooler side making the different species more comfortable being active.

4. See The Festival of the Lion King

This spectacular show is located behind Tusker House and combines characters and music from the favorite animated movie with audience participation and acrobatic performances. It is one of the best live shows on Disney property and is a must see. Note that the show only runs several times a day, so don’t forget to grab a times guide at the entrance of the park and check the schedule.

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5. Explore Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail

This walking trail allows guests the opportunity to explore various animals and plant life at their own pace. Guests can see hippos, bats, and even get up close in observing gorillas. Generally not crowded, this trail is a great way to relax and appreciate the details that the park has to offer.

6. Lunch at Yak & Yeti Restaurant

This dining location in the Asia section of the park is unique in that it offers the option of either a full service meal or a quick service meal. Either option allows for delicious cuisine with an Asian flair and a beautiful Nepalese style setting rich in detail.

7. Explore The Maharajah Jungle Trek

Similar to the Pagani Exploration Trail, this walking trek allows guests to explore an aviary and exotic tigers at their own pace. Also rich in detail, this is a great place to spend an hour simply enjoying the atmosphere and watching the animals.

8. Ride Kali River Rapids

On a hot day in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, there is no better way to cool off than to take a ride on Kali River Rapids. This wet adventure takes guests on a journey through nature and ends up showing the importance of maintaining forests and the environment. Trust me though, you will get soaked!

9. Conquer The Forbidden Mountain

After spending some time taking in the view of Expedition Everest, guests will have mustered up the courage to actually ride it! Starting off as an innocent tea train ride, the scenic tour suddenly turns dangerous as guests find themselves face to face with the Yeti and rushing to escape his realm.

10. See Finding Nemo the Musical

This Broadway caliber production features a retelling of the favorite Pixar film and features all of its characters in larger than life puppet form. Great for kids of all ages, this is one show not to be missed in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Like The Festival of the Lion King, this show only runs several times a day so be sure to consult a times guide for show times.

11. Ride DINOSAUR

Housed in the nearby Dino Institute, this attraction takes guests back in time on a mission to bring back a massive dinosaur to the present. Along the way there are some close encounters with some not so friendly dinosaurs and an asteroid.

12. Dig In The Boneyard

Everyone can have fun digging for prehistoric dinosaur bones in the massive boneyard. There are plenty of places to dig and also lots of places for kids to climb and explore making it a great place to stop and spend some time during a maxed out day in the park.

13. Spot Animals on the Tree of Life

The Tree of Life is the symbol of Disney’s Animal Kingdom and it is intricately carved with hundreds of animals that are so lifelike that it is amazing. Take some time to simply check out the tree and see how many animals can be spotted and identified!

14. Dinner at Tusker House

Located in the town of Harambe in the Africa section of the park, this full service buffet style character meal offers up some delicious food, entertainment for the kids, and the chance to meet Mickey and pals decked out in their safari gear. It’s a great chance to have a hearty meal after a long day and rest up before the evening activities begin.

15. Be in Awe of Rivers of Light

Embrace yourself for the celebration of nature with the newest nighttime show at Animal Kingdom, Rivers of Light. This 15-minute show is held in an amphitheater next to Expedition Everest and boasts dramatic storytelling and animal folklore through beautiful floats, inspiring music, impressive water screens, and all the latest technology and special effects. Truly a celebration of nature’s beauty!

16. Catch the Tree of Life Awakenings

The perfect way to let the day start coming to a close is with the Tree of Life Awakenings. While fireworks are too loud for the animals, Disney Imagineers had the great idea to use lighting projections on the Tree of Life to turn it into a centerpiece of colorful design and show. After the sun sets, fireflies begin to appear on the Tree of Life approximately every 10 minutes. These fireflies begin awakening of the Tree of Life which turns into a brief but gorgeous presentation worth stopping for. But wait… there is more than one show so don’t think because you’ve seen one show you’ve seen it all!

17. Head Back To Pandora

Visiting Pandora – The World of Avatar again at night is especially important as the land changes in tremendously beautiful ways! Plan to walk through nice and slow to enjoy the views of the glowing walkways and on the unbelievable glowing Pandoran plants thanks to all the bioluminescent lighting. Enjoy a drink from Pongu Pongu while you’re at it!

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.