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The 9 Best Rides at Animal Kingdom Disney World

As you are planning your Walt Disney World trip you are likely planning on visiting all Disney four parks: Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. When you get to Animal Kingdom you really need to think of this Disney park a bit differently…It’s a different animal (excuse the pun).

There are rides like the other Disney parks (which we will explore in a bit) but they are combined with great shows, character meet and greets and above all, animal experiences. 

Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park is part zoo and part rides and attractions. This causes your planning to be less “conquer every ride” and more of a focus on experiencing all that Animal Kingdom has to offer.

This post is primarily focused on what we feel are the best, not to miss rides, as well as tips and tricks for visiting Animal Kingdom.

Strategy for Your Day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom 

Animal Kingdom does have some wonderful rides that you definitely need to plan for. Use your Genie+ Lightning Lane options to make sure you hit everything you want, but just remember there are not as many rides as the other parks.

Because there are fewer rides, some think of Animal Kingdom as a half day park, and it can be! That being said, we feel you won’t really do it justice if you are focused on only the rides.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom has fantastic trails and shows that take longer to do. There is live music, characters, bird shows, and animals hanging around in surprising spots! This easily makes Animal Kingdom a place where you can spend a full day.

Kevin at Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom is also a great place for kids who love animals. Feathered Friends in Flight and Nemo the Musical are especially wonderful for adults, toddlers and little kids. If you’re bringing a toddler to Animal Kingdom, we have a full post with experts tips on what to do with them!

Wait Times at Disney’s Animal Kingdom  

In every good Disney World planning schedule, we need to take into consideration what the wait time of each attraction is. It is impossible to predict exactly what that wait time will be, however, using our crowd calendar and other resources, you will be able to narrow it down.

In the ride listing we will simply give a High, Medium or Low overall wait time to give you a starting point.

Avoid Long Lines With Early Entry

If you are staying at a Walt Disney World Resort you can get into Disney’s Animal Kingdom 30 minutes early. This will give you a head start over all the other guests. If you are able to get into the park early and knock off a couple of these rides we suggest doing so!

The Animal Kingdom attractions that are available during early entrance are:

  • Avatar Flight of Passage
  • Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
  • It’s Tough to be a Bug!
  • Na’vi River Journey
  • TriceraTop Spin

It is important to note that sometimes these are not available. On our last visit, Expedition Everest was not available until official park opening. We were still able to get on with a 10 minute wait, but it did mess up our schedule a bit!

Now let’s get on to the fun part! We’re going to share some of the best Animal Kingdom rides! Let’s get started.

Best Animal Kingdom Rides

Here are the best Animal Kingdom attractions:

1. Avatar Flight of Passage

  • Category: Thrill Ride
  • Height Restrictions: 44 inches or taller
  • Who would love this: Kids to Adults
  • Notes, Tips, and Tricks: This a 3D simulator ride which can cause motion sickness. Some have referred to it as Soarin on steroids so be aware of this if you are prone to getting motion sickness or have little ones that meet the height requirement but might get a bit scared.

Avatar Flight of Passage, located in Pandora – The World of Avatar, is an exciting ride where you are riding on a banshee, exploring the world of Pandora. It’s ok if you don’t know anything about the movie.

You will be amazed at how Disney is able to present such an incredible technologically advanced ride! It is a must experience ride! Riders say that this ride truly makes you feel like you are flying and some say this is the best ride in all of Walt Disney World. This is a not to be missed attraction if your stomach can handle it.

Wait Time: Very High (expect a long line!) Most say this ride is worth the wait.

2. Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain

  • Category: Thrill Ride
  • Height Restrictions: 44 inches or taller
  • Who would love this: Kids to Adults
  • Notes, Tips, and Tricks: This is a roller coaster that has darkness and backwards motion which can be intense for those with motion sickness.

Expedition Everest ranks at the top of the list of Disney’s best roller coasters! The queue starts you out at base camp where you prepare to go to everest.

There are a lot of visual aids to see while you wait in line, making the wait as enjoyable as it can be.

Expedition Everest

Where this great ride loses in huge drops and bumpy cars (it is fairly smooth) it makes up in great visual effects, scary moments in the dark, sound elements and speed. In case you haven’t heard, there is a Yeti that isn’t happy you are on his mountain and he is after you.

This is one of Dave’s daughter’s favorite rides! Keep in mind that it does go backwards for a time, in the dark.

Expedition Everest sign

This is a great ride to take advantage of the single rider queue in order to ride it twice. There are a lot of visual effects happening in this ride that are easy to miss the first time.

Wait Time: High

3. Kilimanjaro Safaris

Kilimanjaro Safaris is a 20 minute ride in a realistic African savannah and is a must experience at Animal Kingdom. How often do you get to see exotic animals in their natural environment or that is conducive to where they normally live?

Disney has set this ride up to make you feel as if you are truly on a safari. The barriers for the animals are hidden so that you are both completely safe and “in the wild!”

Kiliminjar Safari

This attraction is guided by an experienced and knowledgeable driver, you will be able to not only hear and see these wonderful animals but you can ask questions and take photographs.

This is a not to be missed attraction. We make a point to go on the safari every visit to the Animal Kingdom. This ride is perfect for the entire family, so everyone from toddlers to grandparents can enjoy this together.

Wait Time: High

4. Dinosaur

  • Category: Thrill Ride
  • Height Restrictions: 40 inches or taller
  • Who would love this: Kids to Adults
  • Notes, Tips, and Tricks: Scary dinosaurs in a dark environment make this a bit scary for younger children.

Dinosaur is a motion simulator track ride that is filled with (as you would imagine) dinosaurs! You sit in a 12-seat Time Rover and try to save an iguanodon before a meteor hits the earth.

Fantastic Dinosaur animatronics and clever use of lighting, sound and effects make this ride thrilling and intense!

This ride is dark, very bumpy and jerks you around quite a bit (you are in prehistoric times, after all!). This is not a ride for those with sensitive stomachs.

Dinosaur attraction

The fear factor on this ride is higher than many attractions at Walt Disney World. If you love being startled, get on this ride! If not, pass this one.

Wait Time: High

5. Na’vi River Journey

  • Category: Slow, easy going ride
  • Height Restrictions: None
  • Who would love this: Kids to Adults
  • Notes and Tips and Tricks: A second attraction to Pandora that has fantastic animatronics.

Na’vi River Journey is a slow moving, relaxing boat ride into a bioluminescent rainforest. It is dark and peaceful with a zero scare factor.

As you are amazed by the technology and how Disney brings the movie scenes from Avatar to life, the best is at the end with movements so realistic, you will think the characters are real.  

Na'vi river journey entrance

Fans of the movie Avatar say that this is a fantastic ride and well worth the wait.  If you have not seen or don’t care for the movie this may be one to miss or use Genie+. 

Wait Time: High

6. Festival of the Lion King

photo credit Alexis Lariscy

  • Category: Live Stage Show
  • Height Restrictions: None
  • Who would love this: Kids to Adults
  • Notes, Tips, and Tricks: This is a 30 minute stage show of the Lion King

Festival of the Lion King is an original interpretation of the Disney film, The Lion King. This is less a re-telling of the story and more a celebration of the Lion King. This musical incorporates live performers who sing, act, stilt walk, do trampoline acrobatics and unbelievable dancing! 

photo credit Alexis Lariscy

There is beautiful, vibrant and tribal attire/costumes along with moving floats and audio-visual special effects that will blow you away! This show is best seen in person as describing it just doesn’t do it justice.

There are no bad seats in the auditorium. This is a show to come back and see every time you are at Walt Disney World – it is simply that good. Do not miss this one.

photo credit Alexis Lariscy

Wait Time: Medium

7. Finding Nemo: The Musical

  • Category: Live Stage Show
  • Height Restrictions: None
  • Who would love this: Kids to Adults
  • Notes and Tips and Tricks: Similar to Lion King in that it’s a live stage show

Finding Nemo: The Musical is a 40 minute live stage presentation with human performers pairing with huge creative puppets. It is an amazing concept to watch as the original story of Finding Nemo is condensed to make it fit in the time of the show.

Children, teens, and adults alike are captivated by the puppetry, sound and music of this unique performance. The theater is air conditioned which makes this a welcome break in your day! 

Wait Time: Medium

8. It’s Tough To Be a Bug!

  • Category: Theater presentation
  • Height Restrictions: None
  • Who would love this: Kids to Adults
  • Notes and Tips and Tricks: Found in the Tree of Life, this is a wonderful 3-D show
Its Tough To Be A Bug

It’s Tough to be a Bug! Is more than just a 3-D animation. This is a 9 minute “show” based on characters from Disney’s “A Bug’s Life.” You will have a full sensory experience with sight, sounds, and smells throughout this show.

Disney knows how to add spice to what could be a bit routine 3D show. Did they add too much spice? Some young children may say an emphatic, YES! The Bug’s Life show is super cute but has some scary moments in the dark and letting your little ones know about that can help. 

tree of life and buffalo

The queue for this line is fantastic, and the show takes place inside the Tree of Life. All in all, this is a show we recommend you try out at least once, especially for older kids!

Wait Time: Low (Expect short lines!)

9. Kali River Rapids

  • Category: Water Raft Ride
  • Height Restrictions: 38 inches or taller
  • Who would love this: Kids to Adults
  • Notes and Tips and Tricks: A river rapids ride that is a lot of fun but you will get wet!
Kali River Rapids Entrance

First thing you need to know is Kali River Rapids isn’t for everyone. We will say that right from the beginning. If you don’t like getting wet or if it is a cooler day you may want to not consider this attraction, however, if it’s a blistering hot Florida summer day and you have some options (like a swimming suit on under your shorts), then it could be just what the doctor ordered!  

Our warning is this…you will get wet and you may get completely soaked! We highly suggest consider giving it a thumbs down if it’s cooler out, early morning or you don’t enjoy walking around with squeaky sneakers and wet undergarments. 

Kali River Rapids

If it’s a hot summer day, Kali River Rapids will get some attention. If you do get a lightning lane it or just decide to go on it, some suggestions from us is wear a swimming suit under your clothes with some waterproof shoes, put on some good rain gear, and/or put dry clothes in a bag to change into after the attraction.

On the Kali River Rapids Ride will take you on a whitewater rafting adventure full of twists and turns and a 20 foot drop at the end. You’ll board a brightly colored wooden raft that fits 12 people. You’ll see waterfalls, rock formations and lots of jungle foliage throughout the water ride.

Wait Time: Medium

Best Rides At Animal Kingdom FAQ

What rides not to miss at Animal Kingdom?

Most people say the top 3 rides at Disney’s Animal Kingdom are:
1. Avatar Flight of Passage.
2. Expedition Everest.
3. Kilimanjaro Safari

What’s the most intense ride at Animal Kingdom?

The most intense ride at Animal Kingdom is Expedition Everest. Dinosaur is the scariest ride at Animal Kingdom.

Which ride should you do first in Animal Kingdom?

As soon as you enter Animal Kingdom ride Avatar Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey. These are right next to each other.

These are the best rides at the Animal Kingdom! Of course, there is much more  to do while you are in this amazing park.

Be sure to plan to go slow in this park and take in all it has to offer. You will find Disney cast members out with drums, animals, and more! Stop and get some our favorite fries and take in all this park has to offer. For a quick lunch or dinner check out our favorite options!