Disney Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom Is Back!
Animal Kingdom is Disney World Resorts most recent addition to their Orlando empire. The Animal Kingdom gates opened for the first time in 1998. It’s obvious from the name that you might see the odd animal here and there, you will also be forgiven thinking you have left Florida and you are now in the heart of Africa. Animal Kingdom is split into 5 areas – Discovery Island, Pandora, Africa, Asia and DinoLand U.S.A.
The park is so green and natural it makes a welcome change from the average plastic, steel and concrete theme park. The park has some stunning shows and my personal favourite is Finding Nemo The Musical. I never fail to ‘well up’ to the song “That’s My Dad”. It’s not all just animals and shows, there are some brilliant rides for the thrill seekers in your family. Animal Kingdom was one of the least visited parks until the launch of Pandora – The World Of Avatar
The Tree Of Life
This is the icon or ‘Trademark’ of the park. Although it looks like a real tree that is covered in detailed carvings of over 300 animals, it’s actually made from concrete and plastic. Visit the It’s Tough To Be A Bug show and you will get a close up of the animal carvings. Stand back and stare at the tree from any angle and you will be able to see lots of animals in the trunk. The night time show “Tree Of Life Awakenings” is a must see if you are in the park on an evening. The Tree comes to life with an explosion of nature and colours.
The best place that I have found to take a photo is between the Africa and Asia areas. If you find a seated area near the water just in front of the UP show, this will give you a great view. The beauty of this location is that you don’t have hundreds of park visitors getting in your photo.
Remember! To Download excellent Disney World Apps and get lots of general Disney theme park tips, read the Walt Disney World Resort page. If you skipped ahead in the guide and just came straight to the Animal Kingdom section, try to read every page in Mr Brit’s Orlando Guide. There are hundreds of planning and money saving tips throughout Mr Brit’s Guide To Orlando.
This new area of the park is a breath of fresh air for Animal Kingdom. The main attraction is the Flight Of Passage ride and you can read my review of the ride further down this page. The whole area has been created with so much attention to detail it is a feast for the eyes. The colourful plants and the sounds in the bushes makes you feel like you are on Pandora.
Pandora really comes to life at night time so try to be in this area when it gets dark. The plants illuminate and the sound of the wildlife echoes around the area. The AMP below is on show in Pandora and there will be performances and music from the locals to enjoy. If you love the movie you will love this area. If you don’t like the movie, you will still love Flight Of Passage.
Find DiVine the walking tree
I usually spot DiVine the walking tree in the area between Asia and Africa but apparently you could spot her anywhere. Disney love to treat visitors to ‘little extras’ like this and it does make your experience even more magical.
If you don’t manage to spot DiVine on you visit to Animal Kingdom, she probably had to ‘leave’ for dinner.
Grab an ice cream…
…at the old ice cream van near Expedition Everest. My favourite is a mix of chocolate and vanilla in a waffle cone. It actually looks similar to the Everest mountain. They are absolutely beautiful and they don’t scrimp on the amount of ice cream you get as you can see. Mrs Brit never manages to finish one but I never seem to have a problem. On your theme park map you need to look for the Anandapur Ice Cream Truck. If the queue for Expedition Everest is long, take an ice cream in with you.
The Rides of Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Avatar – Flight Of Passage
Where should I start? The most sought after attraction of Walt Disney World Resort currently is Avatar – Flight Of Passage. This ride is not the best ride in Disney World, in my opinion it is the best ride…..
It is suitable for everyone over 44″ or 112cm tall and I recommend everyone over this height to ride it. This ride is a game changer in terms of theme park rides and it truly is one of a kind. It is classed as a simulator ride but it is unlike any simulator you would have ever experienced.
The first time I visited the ride it had a 2 hour queue time. The ride broke down and it ended up being 3 hours. It was worth every minute of the wait. You would only get a chance to FastPass+ this ride if you are staying in a Walt Disney World Hotel. You would still need to be quick off the mark and book it as soon as FastPass+ opens for your date. If you aren’t staying in a Disney hotel, you will have to queue for this ride and it may not be quick. Luckily the queue areas are excellent and you will get to travel through some of the amazing movie scenes. The Avatar in the chamber photo above was taken by during my first visit.
Get up early, get on quick
During our 2019 visit we headed for Animal Kingdom early in the day. The park was officially opening at 9am but we got there around 8.15am. We found the queue for Flight Of Passage at 8.30am and by 9.10am we were on the ride. This queue looked enormous and it took us around 5 minutes to reach the back of it. I honestly thought we would be queueing for hours. I spoke to a cast member and he sad this queue would take around 40 minutes at a guess. He was bang on with his estimation. The reason for this short wait is most of the queue was outside. The very interesting lab areas and the Avatar in the chamber were by-passed so we didn’t get to see them.
The ride follows the storyline of how a human becomes an Avatar in order to ride a Banshee. You will have to go through a little bit of training which involves moving on the spot while they de-bug you. Once you complete this stage you are directed to an area where you will ride your Banshee.
The seats look a little bit like a motorbike with no wheels. You sit on the seat and push yourself as far forward as you can get. A support comes from the rear to keep you in position. You pop on your 3D glasses, concentrate on the screen below you and then the magic starts.
This ride is the most amazing simulator ride in any Orlando theme park. The drops, the wind and the water splashes will make you feel like you are really riding a Banshee. Avatar – Flight Of Passage is truly amazing and even Nanna and Grandad Brit loved it. When the ride ended I asked Nanna Brit what she thought of it. She could only manage two words “Absolutely Beautiful”
The ride is located in the Pandora – The World Of Avatar area of Animal Kingdom and has a height requirement of 44″ or 112cm.
This is a ride that probably needs a FastPass+ to help you make the most of the day. An authentic safari style tour through the wilds of Africa that gets you up close to large and scary beasts. As with a lot of these sorts of tours, your enjoyment relies upon the knowledge and personality of your guide. When we rode the safari recently, we had a great guide that kept everyone amused the whole ride.
I do bang on about this a lot but Disney World really does have brilliant staff (Cast Members). You may get up close to a Rhino like the one pictured so sit in the centre of the row if you are nervous of big beasts. Giraffes may also come over to the bus but hippos and elephants are sectioned off. The safari area is vast so you aren’t always guaranteed to see your favourite animal during the ride.
‘Little Brit’ wanted to see the giraffes when we first rode the Safari but they were nowhere in sight. On our latest trip he was a lot older and they made an appearance. He was thrilled to bits so you will have different rides each time. One thing to note is that the ride can be very bumpy, especially on the back seats. If you or anyone in your party has regular back trouble, it might be best to sit this one out.
Kilimanjaro Safaris is located in the Africa area of Animal Kingdom.
Kali River Rapids
I have always thought Disney World could have done a lot better with kali River Rapids. I have been on many river rapids rides down the years and this one is probably the least exciting. It doesn’t get you as wet as Popeye & Bluto’s Bilge Rat Barges at Universals Islands Of Adventure. Getting soaked makes everyone laugh more and that is what people want.
The ride is more of a scenic ride taking you through some Disney-made terrains. If it is a hot day and there is no queue (very unlikely), hop aboard. You might get a cool soak-down. Don’t allocate too much precious queuing time for Kali River Rapids. One last whinge about this ride is that it is over way too quickly and you will be surprised when you return to base in such a short time. The ride has FastPass+ but I wouldn’t use something so valuable on this ride.
Kali River Rapids has a height requirement of 38″ or 97cm. The ride is located in the Asia area of Animal Kingdom.
Expedition Everest – Legend Of The Forbidden Mountain
This is Animal Kingdom’s biggest coaster ride and it is the second best ride in the park.
I didn’t know exactly what would happen during my first ride because 90% of the ride is hidden from visitors. I was caught by surprise once the ride started but I won’t spoil it for you be telling you what happens. The ride is a rollercoaster but there are no loops or really big drops so don’t worry about that. FastPass+ this ride to coincide with you leaving Finding Nemo The Musical. Plan it like this and you can do 2 of the best attractions in a short space of time.
The Everest mountain looks amazing and you can see it from various points around the park. Stop half way across the bridge that leads from Discovery Island to Asia and the background setting will be one for the holiday album.
The ride can be found in the Asia area of Animal Kingdom. It has a height requirement of 44″ or 113cm.
Most of the rides in the Dinoland U.S.A area of the park are similar to the rides of a travelling fairground. This spinning coaster-type ride is fast and furious. Riders will be thrown around a lot and the best way I can describe this ride is, like a waltzer on a rollercoaster track. Each time I ride this one, I panic a little every time the car heads for the sharp bends. I know the car isn’t going to leave the track but it feels like it may do and this makes the ride exciting. This ride has FastPass+ but the queues are never usually long enough to warrant using it.
The ride is located in the DinoLand U.S.A area of the park . It has a height requirement of 48″ or 122cm.
…or as our Little Brit used to call it, “the flying dinosaur ride”. This is one for the younger kids so may be worth a ride if you have toddlers in your party. TriceraTop Spin is very similar to rides seen at travelling fairgrounds in the UK. You sit in a small dinosaur that goes up and down whilst the whole ride rotates.
The Dumbo ride at Magic Kingdom is similar. You operate the up and down motion with a control inside the cockpit. A surprise awaits in the centre spire of the ride so keep your eyes peeled for that.
The ride is located in the Dinoland U.S.A area of Animal Kingdom.
Blasting back 65 million years, dodging dinosaurs and trying to stay alive is the theme of this Animal Kingdom ride.
I love anything related to Dinosaurs so I do like the DINOSAUR ride. The one criticism I have is that they could really add a few more internal lights to the ride as it is set in the dark. Your task is to travel back in time and bring back a Dinosaur but you can’t tell the boss what you plans are. The all terrain jeep car is travelling through the wilds of the Jurassic era at night. Predators are everywhere so you need to be quick.
As Animal Kingdom rides go, I suppose it is one of the main rides of the park. Although it has FastPass+ I have never needed to use it. I keep my eye on the wait times on the Disney My Experience App. The darkness and the scary sounding dinosaurs trying to eat you may not impress younger children. I would think twice before you let your ‘little Brits’ under the age of 6 ride with you.
The ride is located in the DinoLand U.S.A area of Animal Kingdom and it has a height requirement of 40″ or 102cm.
The Shows of Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Finding Nemo – The Musical
Of all of the shows that I have seen in any theme park around the world, this is one of the best. I have seen many shows over the years on my visits to some of the worlds best theme parks. Animal Kingdom’s Finding Nemo is well up there on my favourites list.
If you have not seen Finding Nemo, make sure you watch the film before you travel to Orlando. It will make the experience of this show even more enjoyable. One great jaw-dropper of a moment is when the Seagull makes an appearance from the side of the stage. I won’t spoil it for you but it is brilliant.
The performers are all amazing singers and the costumes and effects are stunning. The whole Nemo story is comfortably compacted into a 40 minute show. Finding Nemo is an absolute MUST SEE on a day trip to Animal Kingdom. We have seen the Finding Nemo musical show many times and have never had to start queueing too early. Don’t FastPass+ this show, just turn up at least 20 minutes before the show starts. Read my Expedition Everest review above to make the most of this area of the park.
The show is located near the DinoLand U.S.A area of the park and close to Expedition Everest.
It’s Tough To Be A Bug
– think carefully about taking your little ones to see this 3D show. The show itself is quite good and the animatronics are excellent. We took Little Brit to see this show when he was 3 years old. He came out petrified as did quite a few other children. The show is based around a CGI cartoon movie so you would think it’s fine for toddlers.
There are a lot of big creepy crawlies that either fall from the ceiling or rummage around under your seat. If your child doesn’t like that sort of thing (or you for that matter), give this one a miss.
Festival Of The Lion King
As with most of the Disney theme parks, the shows eclipse many of the rides of the park. Festival Of The Lion King is no exception. The show lasts around 30 minutes and it is jam packed with high energy tribal dancing and music. The show is a musical performance with a little bit of comedy thrown in. It features characters from the Lion King movie along with acrobats and amazing life size animatronics.
The show is truly brilliant and it doesn’t stop for a breather from start to finish. There are some great acrobatics to kick off the show and the performers are out of this world. Keep your eyes on the four main animal characters from the show, the Warthog, the Elephant, the Giraffe and the Lion. These characters really make me smile when I watch them singing during the show. They are large robotic creations (but don’t tell the kids) and they sing along to each song during the show.
The queues could start growing at around 30 minutes prior to the show start time. There are 1,450 seats but on busy times of the year, you still may not be guaranteed a seat without queueing. If you are a Lion King fan, plan other parts of your Animal Kingdom visit around this brilliant show. Follow this advice and you will be leaving the park very happy at the end of the day.
The show is located in the Africa area of Animal Kingdom.
What To FastPass+ In Animal Kingdom
|Popular So FastPass+ If You Can||Good But Shouldn't Need To FastPass+|
|Flight Of Passage||Finding Nemo The Musical|
|Kilimanjaro Safaris||Primeval Whirl|
|Festival Of The Lion King|