by Caitlin Corsello
Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a lush oasis for exploring the animal world and nature that exists all around us. Full of rich details and with plenty of unique and entertaining attractions, the Animal Kingdom allows guests to feel fully immersed in the world of nature, animals, and adventure. Guests can experience everything from a forbidden mountain, to dinosaurs, to close encounters with tigers. No matter what type of attraction you enjoy the most, there is something for everyone in the Animal Kingdom.
As with past posts, I’ve broken down the attractions in the park into three categories; thrill, classic, and must see. Starting off the thrill category is Expedition Everest, a towering and foreboding mountain in the Asia section of the park. Everest begins with a slow paced journey through a valley on a tea train, however soon guests realize that entering the mountain may not have been the wisest choice. Will you survive coming face to face with the yeti, the mountain’s protector? In addition to being a thrilling ride, Expedition Everest has one of the most intricately themed queues on property and it is a true testament to the level of detail created in the Animal Kingdom. So be sure to have a good look around at the artifacts and items throughout the queue. You might just find that others who have explored the mountain before you haven’t fared so well.
Also located in the Asia section of the park is Kali River Rapids, a family raft style adventure down the Chakranadi River. While on the attraction, you’ll experience the lush landscapes of the rainforest, but soon discover something more sinister- illegal logging. After encountering a fire-ridden destroyed forest, your only option to escape is down a large hill, plummeting into the water below. This attraction is definitely sure to get your blood pumping while also stressing the importance of maintaining the beauty and existence of nature. If you are someone who does not like to get wet, I advise you to opt out of this attraction. You will not only get wet, you will get soaked. While there is a water tight bin in the center of the raft to store personal items, there is nothing to protect you from the plethora of oncoming waters. So I recommend wearing a poncho on the attraction if you do not want to come away completely soaked. Disney also recently announced that they will be offering free lockers outside of the attraction to store valuables in.
Another attraction that made the thrill list is DINOSAUR. Located in Dinoland U.S.A., this attraction is a heart pounding bumpy ride back in time to secure a dinosaur and bring him back to the present with you. You’ll soon realize that the ride sends you back a little too close to the extinction of the dinosaurs, leaving you to embark on a race to escape in time before the asteroid hits. Occurring vastly in the dark, this ride is as psychologically thrilling as it is physically. With sounds and creatures around every bend, you never know what you will run into or if you will make it back in time. One of my favorite details of the ride is the ironic name of the scientist who is leading you on the mission: Dr. Grant Seeker (insert groans here).
The most classic attraction in the park is Kilimanjaro Safaris, an attraction which puts guests in the middle of a vast savannah of wildlife making one feel as though they are truly on an African safari. With the ride being so large (you can fit the entire Magic Kingdom inside this one attraction alone!), you will get to experience animals such as giraffes, lions, and elephants at an up close and personal distance. Located in the Africa section of the park, be sure to visit either first thing in the morning or later in the afternoon as these are the cooler times of day and also around feeding times. Visiting then will ensure that you will see more animals than during the middle of the day.
The other attraction in the Animal Kingdom which I consider to be a classic is It’s Tough to be a Bug! located in the Discovery Island section of the park inside the Tree of Life. This immersive 3D experience takes guests into the world of insects and dubs you “honorary bugs.” Narrated by Flik from the movie A Bug’s Life, the attraction introduces certain types of bugs in humorous scenarios. Be sure to look out for Claire de Room, a stink bug who may just send an unpleasant scent your way! Other great details that are worth taking the time to look at are the posters located in the lobby advertising other productions which have been shown in the theater. See if you can figure out what classics they refer to.
The “must see” attractions at the Animal Kingdom are of course the ones that provide an up close glimpse of the beautiful creatures that reside in the park. The first is the Maharajah Jungle Trek located in the Asia area of the park. This trail allows you to explore at your own pace and discover animals such as Asian tigers, numerous species of exotic birds, and bats. Surrounded by a beautifully detailed environment, this trail offers a great way to slow down, cool off a little, and enjoy the animals.
Like the Maharajah Jungle Trek, the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail offers the opportunity to explore animal habitats and lush scenery at your own pace. Located in the Africa section of the park, this trail provides the chance to observe hippos, gorillas, and even more exotic birds. Along the way, the trail provides fascinating information regarding the animals, making the experience both informative and entertaining.
The final must see on my list is the Conservation Station which is part of Rafiki’s Planet Watch and can be reached by traveling on the Wildlife Express Train in the Africa section of the park. The Conservation Station allows you to experience a glimpse into the care and interactions that occur with the animals every day. With areas dedicated to veterinary care as well as interactive activities to enjoy, there is much to see and learn at the Conservation Station. Be sure to check out the all of large murals as they are one of the most concentrated areas of Hidden Mickeys in Disney World. See how many you can find!
So that wraps up my list of thrill, classic, and must see attractions in the Animal Kingdom, however there are numerous other experiences to be had. I recommend taking plenty of time to simply explore the park and take in the gorgeous environment, extreme attention to detail, and unique experience it has to offer.
What is your favorite attraction in the Animal Kingdom? Think I left something off my list? Let me know in the comments below, I would love to hear from you!
Caitlin Corsello was born and raised in New York. She graduated from Adelphi University with a Masters in Mental Health Counseling in 2012. Her love for Disney started as an infant and has continued to grow with family vacations to Disney parks almost every year since. She holds a particular interest in WDW’s parks and attractions, never passing up an opportunity to visit. She looks forward to continuing to explore and learn about all things Disney and to share that passion with readers.