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Best Animal Kingdom Rides & Shows to Prioritize

Plan your day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom using this guide to the best attractions the park has to offer.

This guide includes my top shows and rides at Animal Kingdom, including important information like height requirements, Genie+ availability, and more.

Ready to plan your day? Let’s jump right into the 12 best Animal Kingdom rides and shows.

The Animation Experience at Conservation Station

Learn how to draw popular Disney characters from a real Disney animator.

This used to be held at Hollywood Studios, which personally I think is a better fit for it, but at least the format hasn’t changed!

This 25-minute class is held at the Conservation Station at Rafiki’s Planet Watch, so you’ll need to take the Wildlife Express Train to get there.

While you’re over there, check out the other attractions, like seeing inside a veterinary treatment room or petting the pigs, goats, and sheep at the Affection Section.

  • Location: Conservation Station at Rafiki’s Planet Watch
  • Height requirement: There is no height requirement for this activity.
  • Duration: 25 minutes
  • NOTE: To get there, you must take the Wildlife Express Train.

Avatar Flight of Passage

Photo of people riding the Avatar Flight of Passage ride at Animal Kingdom.
Photo by Meg Frost, all rights reserved.

Hands down, this is not only my favorite ride at Animal Kingdom, but also one of my top 3 favorite rides in all of Walt Disney World.

To sum it up, this simulator ride takes you on a virtual reality ride atop a banshee from Pandora.

And let me tell you, it is SUPER realistic. If you’re familiar with Soarin’ at Epcot, it’s a tad like that, but a million times more intense.

No matter how many times I’ve been on Flight of Passage, it wows me every time.

I wonder, though – with the Avatar sequels, will they ever update the ride to offer different experiences throughout Pandora?

Anyway, the average wait time tops 90 minutes for this ride (source) with averages even higher during peak times, like Summer vacation, Spring Break, and holidays.

So if you want to avoid a long wait, I recommend rope dropping this ride or buying a lightning lane pass.

  • Location: Pandora – The World of Avatar
  • Height requirement: 44 inches
  • Genie+: No, Avatar Flight of Passage is not included in Genie+.
  • Lightning Lane: Yes, you can purchase an individual lightning lane pass.
  • Duration: 4.5 minutes

Donald’s Dino-Bash

Donald’s Dino-Bash character meet-and-greet is one of the best kept secrets when it comes to character meet-and-greets at Disney World.

Not only will you get to hang with the one and only Donald Duck, but you’ll also get to shake a tail feather with his other feathered friend, Daisy Duck.

And the fun doesn’t stop there! Chip and Dale will be joining the bash dressed up in adorable dinosaur costumes.

To top it all off, the air will be filled with upbeat music that will have you dancing along while you wait in line.

Don’t miss out on this dino-riffic extravaganza!

  • Location: DinoLand USA
  • Height requirement: None.
  • Duration: Wait times will vary. Check My Disney Experience app for meet-and-greet times.

Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain

Photo of the Expedition Everest ride at Animal Kingdom, with a ride car starting to go downhill in one section.
Photo by Meg Frost, all rights reserved.

Animal Kingdom’s lone roller coaster, Expedition Everest, is an absolute blast. 

This coaster includes drops, twists, backwards runs, flashing lights, and a Yeti (No, not the cup, the legendary monster).

To learn more about this ride, check out my rider’s guide to Expedition Everest.

  • Location: Asia
  • Height requirement: 44 inches
  • Genie+: Yes, and definitely worth trying to grab on Genie+!
  • Ride photo: Yes, Expedition Everest includes a ride photo.
  • Single rider line: Yes, Expedition Everest has a single rider line.
  • Duration: 3 minutes

Festival of the Lion King

Photo of Timon and a female singer wearing a traditional African-style outfit while performing in Festival of the Lion King.
Photo by Meg Frost, all rights reserved.

There are several great shows at Animal Kingdom, and this one is my favorite.

As the name suggests, it is based on The Lion King, though more on the Broadway version than the animated or live action movies.

There’s singing, dancing, acrobatics, and of course, gorgeous, colorful costumes, plus a few surprise appearances from some characters, like Timon (seen above).

In my opinion, this is the best show out of all the shows throughout all of the parks at Disney World!

  • Location: Africa
  • Genie+: Yes, A Celebration of the Festival of the Lion King is available with Genie+.
  • Duration: 40 minutes

Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail

Animal Kingdom features several trails where you can observe a variety of animals and plant life. 

The Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail is my favorite, as it is where you can see gorillas, zebras, meerkats, and other beautiful animals.

  • Location: Africa
  • Height requirement: None.
  • Duration: This is a self-led trail, so you can go at your own pace.

Kali River Rapids

Photo of signage for the Kali River Rapids white water adventure river raft ride at Animal Kingdom.
Photo by Meg Frost, all rights reserved.

On this river raft ride, you’ll board a 12-seat round raft and float along rapids set amidst the jungles somewhere in Asia. 

You WILL get wet, no matter where you sit, sometimes soaking wet. So if you don’t want to deal with soggy wet clothes, bring a change of clothes, wear a poncho, go right before you leave, or skip it all together!

  • Location: Asia
  • Height requirement: 38 inches
  • Genie+: Yes, Kali River Rapids is included as part of Genie+.
  • Duration: 5 minutes

Kilimanjaro Safaris

Photo of giraffes wandering in the savannah at Animal Kingdom's Kilimanjaro Safaris ride.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

Embark on a safari through 110 acres with over 30 types of animals roaming free, including cheetahs, elephants, giraffes, lions, rhinos, warthogs, zebras, and much more.

There are no fences between you and the animals, and sometimes the animals will walk up to the cars to investigate. 

This happened to me on a recent trip, when the driver had to stop the car to wait for some animals to cross the road. One of the giraffes sauntered right up to our side of the car to give a sniff, before walking off.

NOTE: This doesn’t mean you should pet the animals and you definitely shouldn’t feed them. Please be respectful!

  • Location: Africa
  • Height requirement: There is no height requirement for this ride.
  • Genie+: Yes, Kilimanjaro Safaris is included with Genie+ and is worth trying to reserve.
  • Duration: 22 minutes

Maharajah Jungle Trek

This nature trail takes you on a journey through Asia where you’ll encounter some fierce tigers, a terrifying Komodo dragon, and some lively gibbons.

But don’t worry, you won’t be their lunch. The trek also includes a peaceful stroll by a serene river where you might even spot some graceful water buffalos.

Trust me, the Maharajah Jungle Trek is one of the best attractions at Animal Kingdom.

Who needs a rollercoaster when you can have a wild adventure observing and learning about all these incredible animals?

  • Location: Asia
  • Height requirement: None
  • Genie+: No.
  • Duration: Go at your own pace.

Na’vi River Journey

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

Although this ride is slow, it is still one of my favorites at Animal Kingdom due to its impeccable attention to detail. 

The scenery, the Na’vi animatronics, the music, the immersiveness – it all really makes you feel like you’re on the fictional planet of Pandora.

  • Location: Pandora – The World of Avatar
  • Height requirement: There is no height requirement for this ride.
  • Genie+: Yes, Na’vi River Journey is available as part of Genie+.
  • Duration: 5 minutes

Tree of Life

Photo looking up from the base of the Tree of Life at Animal Kingdom.
Photo by Meg Frost, all rights reserved.

The Tree of Life isn’t a ride or show that you have to wait in line for. However, as the icon of the park, it is worth noting as something to stop and enjoy while you’re visiting. 

During the day, you can admire the tree from afar from various points around the park. Or to get an up close look at the magnificent carvings in the tree, take a stroll along the Tree of Life Garden Trail.

The real magic is at night, however, when the tree comes alive with animated projections and colorful lights that appear every 10 minutes or so.

Wilderness Explorers

Photo of a young woman decked out in Wilderness Explorers gear photo overlay and Kevin from Pixar's Up.
Photo courtesy of Disney PhotoPass.

Become a Wilderness Explorer, just like Russel from Pixar’s Up in this fun, family-friendly activity that takes you around the park to earn badges.

To join in on this activity, grab an activity book from the Wilderness Explorer headquarters and complete the activities assigned to each neighborhood in the park (DinoLand, Asia, Africa, etc) to earn up to 25 badges.

  • Location: Discovery Island
  • Height requirement: There is no height requirement for this activity.
  • Duration: This is a go-at-your-own-pace activity.

What are your favorite rides at Animal Kingdom?

From fast-paced thrill rides like Flight of Passage and Expedition Everest to more heartwarming experiences like the wilderness trails, Animal Kingdom can offer something for everyone.

Whether you’re an adventure junkie or more of a leisurely sightseer, this park is guaranteed to deliver a unique experience every time you visit.

What’s your favorite Animal Kingdom ride or show? Let me know in the comments below!

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 April 22, 2022. It was last updated on March 9, 2024.

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