Disney's Animal Kingdom Attractions
Before describing the attractions in Animal Kingdom, I think
it's necessary to point out some issues regarding small children and the
attractions in this park. This park is much more "tame"
than some of the others, however, you must remember that wild animals
are wild...and not domesticated pets. It's very likely that you
and your children may see behavior among the animals that is perfectly
natural, but disturbing. Be prepared to explain, for example, why
some of the animals are "dominating" others, don't be surprised
to see mating activities, and don't be surprised to see other animal behavior
that is different than the zoo-picture-book that your child is expecting.
Beyond that, of course, don't forget that young children will be restricted
from some attractions due to height and age requirements and that some
of the park's attractions are very intense. Countdown to Extinction
(realistic dinosaurs), The Legend of the Lion King and Tarzan Rocks (very
loud presentations), It's Tough to be a Bug (realistic insect effects),
and Flights of Wonder (low flying birds in close proximity) are examples
of attractions that may startle children. Beware!
There's a lot more information on this issue in the section
Considerations for Park Touring" earlier in the planning guide,
including a complete list of the height
requirements and "fear
factors" that you will want to be aware of for the various attractions.
There's also a description of the "baby
swap" policy that will be helpful for families with smaller children.
If you have kids under the age of thirteen that will be going on your
trip, I encourage you to read through that information in detail before
leaving for Florida. For disabled guests, there's a brief amount
of information that you may find helpful on the page titled, "Touring
the Parks with Disabled Guests."
Discovery Island (formerly Safari Village)
The Tree of Life dominates Discovery Island. Click
here to see a great photo tour of the Tree!
It's Tough to be a Bug
Besides being the icon of the Animal Kingdom park, a
theatre is located inside the tree in which a spectacular 3-D film
called "It's Tough to be a Bug", is shown.
Tree of Life Garden
The garden is an area surrounding the Tree of Life which
includes habitats for several smaller animals and birds. The
landscaping is beautiful...and the area is well worth a stroll.
"Festival of The Lion King" at Lion King Theater
Take a photo
tour of the Festival!
Festival of the Lion King is a fantastic production
that is based on the popular animated feature, but is NOT a retelling
of the story of the Legend of the Lion King. Instead, it is
a colorful, musical, fantastic display of all the showmanship that
the Walt Disney Company is famous for. Don't miss this, you
won't be disappointed!
"Pocahontas and her Forest Friends" at Grandmother
Pocahontas and Grandmother Willow team up to solve some
problems in this show. As the Lion King show above, this is
NOT a retelling of the story of Pocahontas.
This is a dinosaur-themed childs playground, ala "Honey
I Shrunk the Kids Set Adventure" at the Studios. Fun for all
ages, but mostly designed for the younger set.
This is one of Animal Kingdom's premier attractions.
As you enter the attraction building, you find that you are visiting
a dinosaur research facility. Frankly, the place looks just
like a dinosaur museum display...and it's supposed to. As you
wind through the queue you can check out several displays and boards
with information on the reptilian giants of years ago.
Eventually you enter a room in which you are told the
secret of this institution. Not only are you able to enjoy
the displays, but through a modern breakthrough in technology you
can go back in time to when the dinos dominated the planet.
The catch is that a renegade scientist wants you to bring a dino back
with you when you return. You exit the presentation room and
make your way down a corridor and down some steel grid stairs into
a laboratory in which the time vehicles are loaded...and off you go.
Obviously there is a good foundation for a lot of adventure
here. Unfortunately, I think that the setup for the attraction
is all too much like Universal's "Back to the Future" attraction.
Frankly, Universal did a better job that Disney for once. Also,
although the technology of the ride vehicle itself is tops, I think
that Imagineering could have been done a lot better with the visuals
during the search for the dinosaur. There is a lot of motion
through black space in which there is nothing to see. The other
effects are great, but the overall experience is disappointing.
Having said that, be aware that this IS an extremely
intense attraction with an advanced ride system...be warned.
Folks with health problems and easily frightened kids (and adults)
might be wiser to refrain.
For those among us that need pacemakers (perhaps after
riding "Countdown" we all will) this is a luscious, tropical
walk populated with plants that ostensibly survived from the Cretaceous
era. Frankly, I was disappointed with the shortness of the walk
and the lack of good labels on the plants. The park designers
seemed to be more interested in telling the story of the fictitious
students and professors that are excavating the area that the advertised
emphasis on plants was missed.
This attraction is the second WDW knock-off of the Dumbo
ride in Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom (the other being the Magic
Carpets of Aladdin in Adventureland).
This is a "wild mouse" roller coaster attraction.
The one unique feature of the ride is that the cars spin as they move
along the track. The ride is thinly themed with 2-D dinosaur
"Tarzan Rocks" at Theater in the Wild
Another live action stage production, this one is based
on the characters from Disney's latest animated Feature. The
show is a half hour of singing, dancing, gymnastics, and extreme sports
that rivals "The Festival of the Lion King" for top honors
as best stage show at Walt Disney World.
The jungle set, costuming, and music all set the mood
for the high energy show. Five songs from the movie are featured
as the show is presented.
Take a photo
tour of Kilimanjaro Safari!
This is the parks premier E-ticket. I expected
a San Diego Zoo-like tram ride and ended up exiting the ride totally
flabbergasted. To say that this is a half-hour tour of the African
wildlife in the park is true, but a severe understatement. More
correctly, it is a fantastic experience. You'll see zebras, hippos,
gazelles, giraffes, many birds, elephants, rhinos, and other inhabitants
of the Serengeti (if you're lucky you might even get a glimpse of
the lions that typically sleep twenty hours or so per day even though
the odds are obviously against you). The last part of the journey
gets a bit hectic as you and your guide drop the regularly scheduled
tour to ensure that elephant hunters remain unsuccessful in their
attempts to poach some ivory.
We enjoyed the safari twice...both times during the
evening (after seven pm). The animals were out and about in
abundance. In fact, we were held up by a giraffe that thought
eating some leaves on the tree in front of us was more important that
letting us pass. The beautiful animal was no more than two feet
away from us for five to ten minutes munching away at the foliage.
In discussing this attraction with other guests, we
were told that early morning and mid-day experiences were much less
enjoyable that the evening ones. I have no personal experience
to back that up, but our evening tours were definitely top notch!
Pangani Forest Exploration Trail
This is a self-guided walking tour of many of Africa's
animal specimens. An aviary and aquarium round out the land-lubbing
wildlife with some air and water living creatures. Of course, the
gorilla valley, with gorilla research station, is the gem of this
Wildlife Express to Rifiki's Planet Watch
This is a train ride through the behind-the-scenes-areas
of the Animal Kingdom park. You'll also enjoy another view of the
scenic Africa area on this excursion. I thoroughly enjoyed the
high level of themeing of the train...right down to the conductor's
reminder that "absolutely no cooking is permitted on the train."
We ended up taking the train for a round trip without even stopping
at Conservation Station, so you can enjoy the train by itself if you'd
Rifiki's Planet Watch
Rifiki's Planet Watch (formerly Conservation Station)
is the park's research and education center. Originally conceived
as a new pavilion for Epcot's Future World (this idea was eventually
rolled into the concept of an entire new park as Animal Kingdom was
developed), this area includes several hands-on exhibits based on
the overall theme, of course, of environmentalism. The approach is
Among the things to see and do are the "Affection
Section," which is a a petting zoo with several smaller, and
completely safe, animals; "Animal Cams," where you can operate
remote video cameras so you can see the animal care staff of veterinarians,
researchers, and animal keepers at work; and several interactive displays
that teach about conservation and animals and their habitats.
Take a photo tour of
Animal Kingdom's Asia!
"Flights of Wonder" at Caravan Stage
Bird lovers will enjoy the live shows presented here
which is a drama feature overhead free-flights of our avian friends.
Kali River Rapids
This is a fun, but extremely abbreviated, white water
rafting ride. The queue might be the most impressive part of
the attraction, since it is an extremely detailed example of South
East Asian architecture. The ride itself is very short.
You also have about a fifty-fifty chance of getting drenched.
After strolling through the temple, you walk down a
flight of stairs to a rotating loading platform. The rafts,
which seat twelve people in individual seats, are very secure as you
enter them. There is a place in the center of the raft to place
cameras and so on, but it didn't appear to be much more dry than the
rest of the raft.
The ride begins with a leisurely voyage down a lovely
rain forest enclosed river. Mist floats through the air, ancient
ruins punctuate the tranquil landscape, and a sense of serenity pervades
A small area of rapids lends a bit of excitement just
before you round the corner and find that a huge clearing has been
made in the rain forest by loggers. Burning timbers block
the river, the noise of chain saws scream through the air...then the
drop occurs. It's not a big drop, as flume rides go. Certainly,
it's nothing like Splash Mountain's tumble. Rest assured, though,
that the folks that are doomed to go down backwards will be enveloped
in a wall of water. Plan on it. Take it to the bank.
It WILL happen.
Maharajah Jungle Trek
The jungle trek is similar to Pangani Forest Exploration
Trail, but features animals that are native to Asia, including some
wonderful Indian Tigers, a collection of bats, and a smattering of
gibbons, antelope, and other creatures.
Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide