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The Absolute Best Animal Kingdom Rides & Shows

Plan your day at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom using this guide to the best attractions and rides at Animal Kingdom.

This guide includes my top 10 favorite shows and rides at Animal Kingdom, a list of which attractions are included in Genie+, which ones have individual lightning lanes, plus a list of every single attraction available.

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

Tree of Life

Photo of Animal Kingdom's Tree of Life.
Photo courtesy of Disney.

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 Discovery Island Trails.

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

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 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.

Disney KiteTails

Closeup of Lion King themed kites from the Animal Kingdom show, Disney KiteTails.
Photo by David Roark, courtesy of Disney.

This new show at the Discovery River Ampitheater started with a bang, literally, with social media playfully roasting the intentional crashing of the kites as part of their landing.

There are 2 shows available, 1 based on The Lion King and 1 based on The Jungle Book.

While I do prefer this show’s predecessor, Rivers of Light, I will say that the kites are beautifully designed.

  • Location: DinoLand USA
  • Genie+: No, Disney KiteTails is not included with Genie+.
  • Lightning Lane: No, you cannot purchase an individual Lightning Lane pass for this show.
  • Duration: 15 minutes

Kali River Rapids

On this water 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, or skip!

  • Location: Asia
  • Height requirement: 38 inches
  • Genie+: Yes, Kali River Rapids is included as part of Genie+.
  • Lightning Lane: No, you cannot purchase an individual Lightning Lane pass for Kali River Rapids.
  • Ride photo: No, there isn’t a ride photo for this attraction.
  • Single rider line: No, there isn’t a single rider line for this attraction.
  • Duration: 5 minutes

Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain

Photo of the Expedition Everest roller coaster at Animal Kingdom from across the lake.

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

This coaster includes drops, twists, backwards runs, flashing lights, and a Yeti (Not the cup, the legendary monster).

  • Location: Asia
  • Height requirement: 44 inches
  • Genie+: Expedition Everest is part of Genie+ until August 7, 2022.
  • Lightning Lane: Expedition Everest will have an individual Lightning Lane pass starting August 8, 2022.
  • Ride photo: Yes, Expedition Everest includes a ride photo.
  • Single rider line: Yes, Expedition Everest has a single rider line.
  • Duration: 3 minutes

Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail

Photo of a female gorilla holding a baby gorilla at Disney World's Animal Kingdom.
Photo courtesy of Disney.

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
  • Duration: This is a self-led trail, so you can go at your own pace.

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+.
  • Lightning Lane: No, you cannot purchase an individual Lightning Lane pass for Kilimanjaro Safaris.
  • Ride photo: No, this attraction does not include a ride photo.
  • Single rider line: No, this attraction does not have a single rider line.
  • Duration: 22 minutes

A Celebration of the Festival of the Lion King

Photo of Timon the meerkat at the Festival of the Lion King show at Animal Kingdom.
Photo by Matt Stroshane, courtesy of Disney.

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).

  • Location: Africa
  • Genie+: Yes, A Celebration of the Festival of the Liion King is available with Genie+.
  • Lightning Lane: No, you cannot purchase an individual Lightning Lane pass for this attraction.
  • Duration: 40 minutes

Na’vi River Journey

Photo from inside the Na'vi River Journey ride at Animal Kingdom in FL.
Photo by David Roark, courtesy of Disney.

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 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+.
  • Lightning Lane: No, you cannot purchase an individual Lightning Lane pass for Na’vi River Journey.
  • Ride photo: No, this attraction does not include a ride photo.
  • Single rider line: No, this attraction does not have a single rider line.
  • Duration: 5 minutes

Avatar Flight of Passage

Artist rendering of the augmented reality ride, Avatar Flight of Passage, at Animal Kingdom.
Artist rendering courtesy of Disney.

Hands down, this is not only my favorite ride at Animal Kingdom, but also my favorite ride in all of 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 realistic.

  • 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 for Avatar Flight of Passage.
  • Ride photo: No, this attraction does not include a ride photo.
  • Single rider line: No, this attraction does not have a dedicated single rider line.
  • Duration: 4.5 minutes

Lightning lanes and Genie+ at Animal Kingdom

Check out the chart below to see which attractions are available with Genie+ and which have individual Lightning Lane passes.

RideGenie+?Individual Lightning Lane?
Avatar Flight of PassageNoYes
Celebration of the Festival of the Lion KingYesNo
DINOSAURYesNo
Expedition Everest*Yes*No*
Feathered Friends in Flight!YesNo
It’s Tough to Be a Bug!YesNo
Kali River RapidsYesNo
Kilimanjaro SafarisYesNo
Na’vi River JourneyYesNo
The Animation Experience at Conservation StationYesNo

*Expedition Everest is only available as part of Genie+ until August 7, 2022. After that date, it will only be available as an individual Lightning Lane pass.

List of all Animal Kingdom rides and attractions

We’ve gone through my favorite rides and attractions at Animal Kingdom, as well as those available with Genie+ and individual Lightning Lane passes. 

Below ALL rides and shows are listed, organized by the neighborhood they are located in. 

The Oasis

Photo of 2 black swans at Animal Kingdom's The Oasis.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

As you enter Animal Kingdom, you are in the area that is referred to as The Oasis. 

There aren’t any official rides or shops here, but there are some animals that you can see, such as anteaters, various birds, and wallabies.

Discovery Island

Closeup of a child looking through binoculars with Animal Kingdom's Tree of Life in the background.
Photo by Catie McCabe, courtesy of Disney.

The heart of the park is an island in the middle called Discovery Island. 

At Discovery Island, you can access the following attractions:

  1. Discovery Island Trails
  2. It’s Tough to Be a Bug!
  3. Tree of Life
  4. Winged Encounters: The Kingdom Takes Flight
  5. Wilderness Explorers

DinoLand USA

If you head right after entering the park, you’ll cut through Discovery Island and end up in DinoLand USA. Here you can find the following attractions:

  1. DINOSAUR
  2. Disney KiteTails
  3. TriceraTop Spin
  4. Finding Nemo: The Big Blue…and Beyond!
  5. Fossil Fun Games
  6. The Boneyard
  7. Dino-Sue

Asia

Photo of the Mt. Everest replica at Animal Kingdom's Asia section.
Photo by Courtney Di Stassio, courtesy of Disney.

Continuing beyond DinoLand USA is Asia, where you can find the following attractions:

  1. Expedition Everest
  2. Kali River Rapids
  3. Maharajah Jungle Trek
  4. Feathered Friends in Flight!

Africa

Closeup photo of the giant wooden carved doors outside Animal Kingdom's Africa entrance.
Photo by Meg Frost, All rights reserved.

Continuing in a circle through DinoLand USA and Asia lands you in Africa, where you can find the following attractions:

  1. Kilimanjaro Safaris
  2. Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail
  3. Wildlife Express Train
  4. Kilimanjaro Safaris
  5. A Celebration of Festival of the Lion King

Rafiki’s Planet Watch

Within Africa, you can board the Wildlife Express Train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch, where you can access the following attractions:

  1. Affection Section
  2. Conservation Station
  3. The Animation Experience
  4. Habitat Habit!

Pandora – The World of Avatar

Photo of Pandora - The World of Avatar at night.
Photo by David Roark, courtesy of Disney.

Last, but not least, is the newest neighborhood in Animal Kingdom, Pandora – The World of Avatar. In Pandora, you can find the following attractions:

  1. Na’vi River Journey
  2. Avatar Flight of Passage

What are your favorite rides at Animal Kingdom?

Share your favorite shows and rides at Animal Kingdom in the comments below.

For more tips on planning your days at Disney World, check out my posts about the best attractions and rides at the other parks.

  1. Best Attractions & Rides at Epcot
  2. Best Attractions & Rides at Hollywood Studios
  3. Best Attractions & Rides at Magic Kingdom
  4. Disney Genie, Genie+ & Lightning Lane Guide

A Guide to Disney Genie, Genie Plus & Lightning Lanes´┐╝ • The Park Pixie

Friday 17th of June 2022

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