Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a completely different park from the other three Walt Disney World parks. While Epcot, Magic Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios all have the same general idea - explore the world, magic, and movie studios - each park has its own unique focus that makes it stand out from its siblings. If you’re considering a trip to one of Disney’s most unique parks, you probably have some questions about how best to make use of your visit. Is there anything you need to do beforehand? What are the hidden secrets? What rides should you absolutely not miss? How can you get the most value out of your day?
What is Animal Kingdom’s mission?
When Animal Kingdom opened in 1998, it broke some new ground for Disney parks. Rather than focusing on immersive experiences based on existing stories, or the history of the park’s location, Animal Kingdom aimed to create an immersive experience of conservation, research, and protecting wildlife. Almost every ride, show, and exhibit at the park serve to further this mission. Guests can learn about animals and conservation efforts, see live animals up close and even experience a simulated rainforest environment. Humans are guests in this environment, not the owners or operators. Humans can learn from the animals, not teach them. The result is a really immersive experience that can be really interesting for guests who just want to experience the animals. Animal Kingdom has live animal exhibits, and plenty of species-specific rides and shows, along with opportunities to learn about conservation efforts and how you can help.
Fastpass in Animal Kingdom
For most guests, Animal Kingdom’s biggest challenge will be managing your time. Unlike the other three parks, it has very few attractions that are “must do”. So you have to pick and choose what to do and see, and make the most of your time. The park’s two biggest attractions, Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest, already have long wait times. You’re probably better off saving those for your last day when you have lower expectations and can plan your day around those two rides.
For almost everything else, your best bet is to use the standby line. The park’s limited number of attractions makes it tough for Disney to staff for the number of guests. You can expect long waits for the few rides in the park. The one exception is Finding Nemo — The Musical, which has been surprisingly popular since it opened. It’s not a must-see, but it will likely have very short wait times. If you’re visiting during peak times, use the My Disney Experience app to plan your meals. The park has two options for quick service meals, and you can plan for the busiest times for each to make sure you avoid the lines.
Best Places To Eat At Animal Kingdom
Flame Tree BBQ
If a hearty lunch of chicken and ribs sounds appealing to you, visit the Flame Tree Barbecue on Discovery Island.
This lively eatery offers ample (and covered) outside dining beneath finely carved wooden pavilions in the center of Animal Kingdom. But don’t let the unassuming look deceive you - this eatery delivers delicious meals!
The dining room provides a calm and tranquil setting where you may unwind after a long day. Additionally, when you dine, you will have a stunning view of Exhibition Everett’s snow-capped peak.
Pizzafari is, as you would have imagined, a pizza lover’s paradise.
Salads, pasta, desserts, and other delicious foods are available on the menu, but pizza is the star dish.
P.S In the Upside Down Room, all the animals are painted upside down with the exception of one.
In DinoLand USA, Restaurantosaurus offers a quick and delectable dinner close to the Rivers of Light standby.
Standard American fast food including burgers, fries, hot dogs, and mac ‘n cheese are available at this dino-themed diner.
Prices are comparable to those at other Disney World eateries (burgers cost between $10 and $15), making it a little on the pricier side considering what you get
Incredible Animal Encounters
Disney’s Animal Kingdom is home to a wide variety of animals, many of which are not found in the other parks. You can see these animals on the trails, at feedings, and in other special settings throughout the park. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you’re not just a guest, but also part of the environment. You play a role as an interpreter in the park’s conservation efforts, and you’re responsible for it being kept healthy. You see wild animals in their natural habitat and learn about the role they play in their environment. In the park, you’ll find birds, fish, reptiles, insects, mammals, and other animals. These live animals are native to Florida, the Caribbean, and other areas.
Here are five of the Best Rides and attractions at Disney's Animal Kingdom:
Flights of Wonder: At this show, you can see birds from different parts of the world as they soar, fly, sing and make nests.
It’s Tough to Be a Bug!: This 3D show stars an insect and a spider, two squabbling brothers who try to show you how bugs live and what they do.
Kilimanjaro Safaris: This attraction is a live-animal experience as you drive through the African savanna in a truck-style vehicle. You can see zebras, gazelles, wildebeests, a rhinoceros, and other animals as they go about their daily lives.
Maharajas’ Express: This attraction is a dining experience aboard an authentic train. Your train is operated by a couple of Indian princes who serve you food.
Wildlife Express: This is a transportation experience where you can see some of the park’s reptiles and amphibians as you travel between two different areas.
Finding Adventure Outside the Gates
One of the biggest advantages of visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom during non-peak times is that the park’s other two attractions, the two Disney water parks, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, and Disney’s two miniature golf courses, Fantasia Gardens and Winter Summerland, are either completely empty or have only a few guests. You can also discover the history of Disney’s Animal Kingdom at the Discovery Island Trails, where you can see the park’s original Tree of Life. You can also ride bikes, go on Segway tours or take a tour of the nearby Discovery Cove, where you can swim with dolphins.
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Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a great park for those who want the unique experience of encountering live animals from around the world. It is also a great park for those who want to learn about animals and how conservation efforts make a difference. If you’re planning a visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, make sure you know what to expect, and how to make the most of your day.