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Animal Kingdom for Toddlers: Best Rides, Restaurants & Tips

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a magical place for people of all ages. But when you’re visiting with toddlers, there are some extra things to consider because you want to make sure your little ones have a fun, but also safe, time.

My family and I were fortunate enough to visit when my niece was a toddler for her first trip and we loved visiting this park together.

So, I’ve put together a guide on what to do, where to eat, and general tips for visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom with toddlers. Get ready for a wild adventure!

Tips for visiting Animal Kingdom with toddlers

Photo of a toddler at Animal Kingdom wearing a shirt with a leopard print Minnie Mouse head and carrying a mister fan.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

We all know that Animal Kingdom can be a wild adventure, but throw a mini-human into the mix and things can get downright hairy.

Don’t worry though, after visiting Animal Kingdom with my toddler-aged niece a few times, I’ve learned quite a few tips and tricks that will help make your visit a roaring success.

For general tips that work for any park at Disney World, as well as planning tips, check out my posts about Disney World with toddlers and best Disney parks for toddlers.

Skip the balloons

Balloons are a common souvenir sold at some of the other parks at Disney World, but at Animal Kingdom, they are banned due to being a safety risk for the animals.

So if you have one attached to your stroller or got one while at a different park earlier in the day, you may want to stash it in your car or bring it back to your hotel room.

My niece begged for a balloon when we visited Magic Kingdom earlier in our trip and it doubled as an easy-to-spot marker for her stroller when we had to park it in a sea of nearly-identical strollers.

Fortunately we knew of this rule ahead of time, so we left it in our hotel room that day. Otherwise we would’ve been out a lot of money on that expensive balloon!

However, these days, Animal Kingdom now has what they call “Balloon Daycare,” where you can leave your balloon for safekeeping at Guest Services. Sometimes they get extra cute with it and even give you a report card of their time at Guest Services!

Don’t bring plastic straws

As with balloons, plastic straws are also banned at Animal Kingdom. So if your toddler is used to drinking with a straw, you’ll get a paper straw instead.

Alternatively, you can bring reusable metal or bamboo straws or a sippy cup.

Where to find the Baby Care Center

Located on Discovery Island next to the Creature Comforts souvenir shop, the Baby Care Center is not just for babies – it’s for toddlers too!

There are private nursing rooms with rocking chairs, changing rooms, a kitchen with a microwave, and a shop carrying all the essentials like pull-ups, kid-friendly sunscreen, and more.

Best place to nap at Animal Kingdom

Photo of the Discovery Rivers stadium seating in Asia at Animal Kingdom.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

While some families will head back to their hotel for nap time, others use it to hit up the non-toddler friendly rides.

Over in the Asia section of the park, there is stadium seating that is perfect for nap time, as well as watching the character and musician flotillas.

If you have a comfortable stroller, your little one could also nap away in their stroller while you tackle the non-toddler attractions, too.

Most rides at Animal Kingdom have rider swap, so an adult can stay with your tot while the other enjoys an attraction – and then you can swap without having to get back in line.

Best restaurants at Animal Kingdom for toddlers

Photo of the interior of Tusker House Restaurant at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Not all restaurants at the Disney parks are toddler-friendly or might just be so-so experiences. If you’re looking for something special, prioritize one of these spots.

Character dining at Tusker House Restaurant

One of our favorite ways to get character meet-and-greet times in when my niece was a toddler was character dining.

It was a great way to avoid the long waits in line and double up meal-time with character face time.

And luckily, Animal Kingdom has character dining at Tusker House Restaurant in the Africa section of the park.

Donald Duck is the star of the show here, all decked out in safari gear. Plus other characters will join him, such as Mickey and Goofy, but the exact line up is not a guarantee.

The menu includes a mix of pan-African fare, as well as American favorites, so both foodies and plain eaters will be pleased.

Rainforest Café

Located just outside the entrance to the park is Rainforest Café, an immersive restaurant with a rainforest theme.

The menu has lots of toddler-friendly foods, plus most kiddos will love the ambiance. It is a bit dark and can get a bit loud though, so keep that in mind if your little one is afraid of the dark or loud noises.


While the menu here is your typical quick-service park food, all of the kids meals come with a National Geographic “So Cool! Dinos” book! Who doesn’t love free souvenirs?

Zuri’s Sweet Shoppe

Over in the Africa section of the park is a delightful sweets shop that sells delicious candy, cookies, cupcakes, and other fun treats.

They always have the coolest themed cupcakes and treats, so if you’re looking for something special, definitely check out this spot.

My favorite item here is the Haystack, which is salted potato sticks mixed with peanut butter. It’s the perfect combo of salty and sweet all in one.

Best things to do at Animal Kingdom with toddlers

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a newbie to the wild world of Disney, there’s no denying that planning your day can be overwhelming.

Keep reading to learn about the best rides and shows at Animal Kingdom for toddlers.

Affection Section

Photo of a trio of goats, one with a Mickey Mouse head shaved out of his fur on its back.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

Located in Rafiki’s Planet Watch, this petting zoo is a must-visit for toddlers. They can touch and feed animals like goats, sheep, pigs, and more.

Be sure to keep an eye out for hidden mickeys…on the animals!

As for our experience? My niece was a bit terrified of the animals, but I think it was crankiness from being tired and hot!

But there were lots of toddlers there fully enjoying the hands-on experience with these gentle farm animals.

TIP: This attraction can only be accessed via the Wildlife Express Train, which many toddlers are obsessed with!

Just be sure to add extra time for travel in and out of Rafiki’s Planet Watch if you have dining reservations or Genie+ lightning lane times coming up.

The Boneyard Fossil Fun Site

Photo of signage for the Boneyard Fossil Fun Site sandbox in DinoLand USA.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

Located in DinoLand USA, this sandbox-like play area is designed for kids to dig for dinosaur bones while pretending to explore the prehistoric world.

It’s exclusively for kiddos 10 and under so you won’t have to worry about older kids or adults taking up space.

Plus it’ll give you time off your feet while your little one gets some sensory play in while burning off energy.

Conservation Station

Photo of the Conservation Station at Rafiki's Planet Watch in Animal Kingdom.
Kent Phillips / Disney

If your toddler is a budding veterinarian or Doc McStuffins fan, definitely make a point to head over to Rafiki’s Planet Watch to check out the Conservation Station.

Here, you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at the care and conservation of animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.


Photo of Dino-Sue, the skeleton replica of a Tyrannosaurus Rex in Animal Kingdom's DinoLand USA.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

Over in DinoLand USA, check out a giant replica of the largest T-Rex skeleton ever found in the US. Don’t forget to take some pictures!

Then, head over to The Boneyard playground for some playtime or Restaurantosaurus for some lunch.

Feathered Friends in Flight

Photo of a parrot perched on a trainer's hand during the Feathered Friends in Flight show at Animal Kingdom.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

One of two avian shows at Animal Kingdom, Feathered Friends in Flight gives guests a behind-the-scenes look at the free roaming birds at the park, including their care.

If your toddler is interested in birds, they’re going to love this 25 minute show!

Feathered Friends in Flight takes place at Anandapur Theater in the Asia section of the park.

Festival of the Lion King

Photo of Timon and a singer at the Festival of the Lion King show.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

Located in the Africa section of the park, this 30-minute Broadway-style musical features singing, dancing, acrobatics, and all your favorite characters from The Lion King.

I love how this show gets the crowd to interact and participate in the show, too! It’s a great time and the perfect AC or rain break.

This was one of our favorite shows. My niece loved the acrobat monkeys and all the colorful costumes – and of course, the appearances from her fave characters from The Lion King.

Finding Nemo: The Big Blue…and Beyond!

Photo of the encore scene from the Finding Nemo show at Animal Kingdom, with all the main actors and puppets on the stage.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

Don’t let this puppet show fool you – it is way cooler than your typical puppet performance.

This 25-minute production between Asia and DinoLand USA is filled with singers, dancers, and gorgeous, larger-than-life puppets and their performers.

When we went with my niece, it was a different Nemo-themed puppet show and she adored it.

I’m absolutely certain toddlers will love the colors, music, and live performers in the new show, as well.

Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail

Photo of a gorilla at the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

Take a walk through the Pangani Forest to see a variety of animals, such as birds, hippos, meerkats, zebras, and gorillas.

Your toddler will love spotting all the different animals, especially if they are doing something silly!

This walk-through attraction is located in the Africa section of the park.

Harambe Village Acrobats

Several times a day, a team of acrobats put on an energetic show over in Harambe Village in the Africa section of the park.

The show also includes African dance and drumming that will no doubt get your toddler moving and grooving!

Check the My Disney Experience app for the latest times, as they change from time to time.

It’s Tough to Be a Bug!

Photo of the opening scene from It's Tough to Be a Bug at Animal Kingdom.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

This show in the base of the Tree of Life features characters from A Bug’s Life.

The theater gets dark and has lots of immersive sensory experiences, which not all toddlers will like – so you’ll have to decide if your little one will enjoy it or be too scared.

Personally, we laughed and found it to be silly and fun!

Be sure to check out this show soon, because Disney has plans to replace it with a Zootopia-themed show (source). A closing date is not yet set, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it occurs this year.

Kali River Rapids

Photo of the Kali River Rapids water ride.
David Roark / Disney

If you’re looking for the perfect ride for your little ones to cool off in the midst of a hot Florida day, then look no further than Kali River Rapids.

This swashbuckling water ride will have your toddlers giggling with glee as they splash through twists and turns, and a thunderous waterfall that’s sure to soak everyone onboard.

Lockers are nearby to put away any items you don’t want to get wet. We like to hit up this attraction right before we take an afternoon break so we can change back at our hotel.

NOTE: This one’s for the older toddlers or preschoolers that are at least 38″ tall, due to height restrictions.

Kilimanjaro Safari

Photo of a giraffe approaching a safari vehicle with 2 more giraffes in the background at the Kilimanjaro Safari attraction.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

Take a ride through an African savanna and see all sorts of animals like giraffes, lions, and elephants.

Your toddler will be amazed by the sights and sounds and marvel at all the animals.

Sometimes the giraffes will come up to the safari car and while you can’t touch them, they might poke their head in for a sniff.

This happened to us one time and my niece was feeling a bit apprehensive about it, so we just put her in the middle, which helped ease her anxiety.

Maharajah Jungle Trek

Photo of a tiger at the Maharajah Jungle Trek.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

This walking trail is similar to Gorilla Exploration Trail, except it is home to animals that are native to Asia.

Here you can see a variety of animals like birds, water buffalo, a Komodo dragon, and tigers.

We loved watching the tigers roll around and play in their enclosure area!

Meet tons of characters

Photo of a toddler in a Frozen shirt and blue tutu while posing with Pocahontas.
Disney PhotoPass

There are a variety of character meet-and-greets at Animal Kingdom that your toddler will love!

On Discovery Island, you can meet Mickey and Minnie, all dressed up in their safari gear.

Next up is Donald’s Dino Bash in DinoLand USA, where you can meet Donald Duck, as well as Chip and Dale.

There are also flotillas that circle the Discovery River with characters like Pluto, Goofy, Russell and Dug from Up, Launchpad McQuack and Scrooge McDuck from Duck Tales, and more.

While you can’t meet these characters, you can snap some fun pictures or just enjoy the show – perhaps with a tasty snack in hand.

Lastly, there are occasionally pop-up meet-and-greets of other characters like Kevin from Up and Flik from A Bug’s Life.

Sometimes these are listed on the My Disney Experience app, but not always, so keep and eye out!

Your toddler will love meeting all their favorite characters like Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and more. Check the Times Guide for locations and times.

Na’vi River Journey

Photo of the shaman animatronic on the Na'vi River Journey ride.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

Pandora – A World of Avatar is spectacularly done, but most people think it’s just for older kids and adults. That couldn’t be further from the truth!

The Na’vi River Journey is a slow boat ride through the magical world of Pandora. Your toddler will be mesmerized by the colors and sights, and even the animatronics!

I will note, though, that it’s a dark ride, so if they are afraid of the dark you might want to skip this one.

TriceraTop Spin

Photo of the Tricera-Top Spin ride in DinoLand USA.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

Located in DinoLand USA, this dinosaur-themed ride goes up in the air and flies around in a circle.

It is very similar to other toddler-friendly rides like Aladdin’s Magic Carpet and Dumbo the Flying Elephant at Magic Kingdom.

Sure, it is simple, but for a toddler, it’s super exciting!

Wilderness Explorers

Photo of a Wilderness Explorer leader showing a young girl an activity booklet.
Kent Phillips / Disney

This one is great for older toddlers and preschoolers. It’s an interactive experience where you can complete challenges around the park and collect a badge – just like a real Wilderness Explorer in Up.

You can start at any time, with a variety of Wilderness Explorer stops throughout the park where you can pick up your challenge booklet or pick up a newly earned badge.

There’s a stop in each section of the park, as well as the main one at the bridge between Discovery Island and Oasis.

This would be a fun tradition to start, with a goal of completing new experiences each time you visit. There are up to 25 badges to collect!

Wildlife Express Train

Photo of the Wildlife Express train parked at the Harambe station in Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Kent Phillips / Disney

Take a round-trip ride or hop off and explore Rafiki’s Planet Watch at the mid-way stop, where the Affection Section petting zoo and Conservation Station exhibits are.

Your toddler will love the sights and sounds along the way and many will love the experiences at Rafiki’s Planet Watch, too.

Winged Encounters – The Kingdom Takes Flight

Photo of birds flying above heads during the Winged Encounters show at Animal Kingdom.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

Your toddler will be amazed by the sight of macaws soaring overhead in a beautiful display of color and flight.

As the birds show off, a cast member teaches them all about the six different species at the park: blue and gold, blue throated, green winged, hyacinth, and scarlet.

Viva Gaia Street Band

Photo of the Viva Gaia Street Band performing at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

This lively musical performance features Caribbean music and it is an absolute blast!

Your toddler will love dancing along to the music, which is a great way to get some energy out.

Performances take place on Discovery Island, just before the entrance to DinoLand USA. Check the My Disney Experience app for accurate performance times.

What are your favorite things to do at Animal Kingdom with toddlers?

After perusing this blog post, I’m sure you’ll agree that Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a great place to visit with toddlers.

With so many fun and educational experiences, your little ones will be entertained all day long.

Just remember to take breaks, stay hydrated, and wear comfortable shoes – and don’t be afraid to use a stroller, even if your toddler doesn’t normally use one at home. Disney involves a LOT of walking that they aren’t used to and they may need more breaks than the older kids and adults.

For more tips on visiting Disney World with toddlers, check out these posts:

About the author

Photo of Meg Frost on Buzz Lightyear: Space Ranger Blast at Disney World's Magic Kingdom.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

Meg Frost is the creator of The Park Pixie, where she covers Disney World, Disney+, and Disney fandom.

She holds an M.A. in Journalism from Northeastern University and B.S. in Communication & American Studies from University of Miami in Florida.

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This post was originally published on August 6, 2023. It was last updated on March 10, 2024.