Best Rides at Animal Kingdom: How to Spend Your Time

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BEST RIDES AT ANIMAL KINGDOM

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park may be Disney World’s most underrated park.  Although Animal Kingdom is the largest Disney park at a whopping 580 acres, it is often overlooked.  

The zoological grounds house exotic animals, entertaining shows, fantastic food and drinks and thrilling rides.  We cover the best rides in Animal Kingdom, so you can make the most of your time.

Let’s take the best rides at Animal Kingdom for a spin…

AVATAR RIDE ANIMAL KINGDOM

Avatar Flight of Passage at Animal Kingdom
Flight of Passage ride queue

Ride name: Avatar Flight of Passage.

Location: Pandora – The World of Avatar.

Restrictions: Guests must be 44 inches or taller to ride this attraction.

Avatar Flight of Passage is arguably the best ride in all of Disney World.  The 3D flight simulator gives you the sensation of riding a wild banshee through the gorgeous Pandora landscapes.  

During the flight, your senses will come alive as different scents fill the air and water splashes on your face.  You may even notice the banshee’s body pulsing.  The experience truly feels like you are flying on the back of a banshee.  

Flight of Passage is like EPCOT’s Soarin’ on steroids, but much more personalized.  Others describe it as flying on a motorcycle through a surreal world.  No matter how you describe it, Flight of Passage is amazing!

No, you do not have to be a fan of the Avatar franchise to enjoy the ride.  This section of the park is so well done and the ride is so good, you will be blown away. 

I do have a word of caution though.  If you tend to get motion sickness on simulator rides, you may need to sit this one out.

Best time to ride Avatar

This ride is popular, so the line builds quickly.  Try to ride first thing in the morningwhen the park opens or late in the day.

ANIMAL KINGDOM SAFARI

Ankole at Kilimanjaro Safaris in Animal Kingdom
Ankole at Kilimanjaro Safaris

Ride name: Kilimanjaro Safaris.

Location: Africa.

Restrictions: There are no height restrictions.

Kilimanjaro Safaris may appear to be a joyride in a large jeep.  In reality, it is so much more.  

The attraction is essentially a drive-through zoo.  You  have the opportunity to encounter many exotic animals along the way.

The ride is fun and educational.  You will learn about the animals and conservation efforts.  Animals can be observed in natural habitats.  

The ride is pretty long as you cover a lot of ground.  The terrain can be bumpy at times, adding a heightened sense of excitement.

This ride appeals to both adults and children.  Let’s face it.  We love animals!

You never know what animals you will see.  As such, Kilimanjaro Safaris is a different experience each and every time.

Best time to go to Kilimanjaro Safari

It is best to ride early in the morning or late in the day.  This is for two reasonsAnimals are more likely to be active at those times.  And, the crowds should be a little lighter.

EXPEDITION EVEREST YETI

Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom
Expedition Everest

Ride name: Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain.

Location: Asia.

Restrictions: Guests must be 44 inches or taller to ride this attraction.

Expedition Everest is a steel mine train roller coaster that takes you zipping through the mountains.  The ride is fast with lots of hills.  

As you make your way up the mountain, you head into a dark cave where  the track appears to be ripped apart.  At this point, you come to a complete stop.  Suddenly you take off backwards, trying to escape the yeti.  Soon you will rocket forward again, screaming back down the mountain.

This ride is a lot of fun.  It is considered by most to be one of the best coasters in all of the Disney parks.

The ride queue is an interesting experience.  It is perfectly decorated with mountain climbing gear and yeti sightings information.  You will feel like you are at base camp in Mount Everest.  Watch out for the yeti!

DINOSAUR IN ANIMAL KINGDOM

DINOSAUR ride at Animal Kingdom
DINOSAUR ride

Ride name: DINOSAUR.

Location: Dinoland U.S.A.

Restrictions: Guests must be 40 inches or taller to ride this attraction.

To say DINOSAUR is a wild ride is an understatement.  It feels unlike any other ride I have ever experienced.

You embark on a secret mission by traveling back in time to find an Iguanodon.  Your all-terrain vehicle bounces wildly, turns swiftly and slides uncontrollably as you cross the prehistoric landscape.

Along the way, you will encounter many dinosaurs.  The ride is bumpy and takes many turns as you try to avoid the dangerous dinosaurs and a meteor.

I absolutely love this ride!  You will be bouncing all over the place while navigating the fast turns.  It makes me laugh hysterically every time.  

Plus, I loved dinosaurs as a kid.  So, this attraction is a dream come true for me.  Even if you have no interest in dinosaurs, this unique ride is a blast.

Note that the setting is dark and loud.  It may be scary for some children.

WATER RIDE AT ANIMAL KINGDOM

Kali River Rapids at Animal Kingdom
Kali River Rapids

Ride name: Kali River Rapids.

Location: Asia.

Restrictions: Guests must be 38 inches or taller to ride this attraction.

Kali River Rapids is a whitewater rafting expedition through lush jungle vegetation.  The fast-moving rapids will sweep your large, round raft down the river.  

You will brush by waterfalls and hurtle down a steep slope along your journey.  Expect spins and small drops in the raging currents.

Kali River Rapids is fast, fun and wet.  Yes, you will get wet.  You may possibly get soaked.  This should be a good thing in the Florida heat and humidity.  Enjoy it!

It is highly recommended that you protect your cell phone on this ride.  One of the best purchases we ever made was a waterproof phone pouch.  It is waterproof and scratch resistant.  Best of all, since it is clear, you can still take pictures or videos when your phone is inside the pouch.

We have used the waterproof phone pouch for the beach, hiking in the rain, kayaking, viewing waterfalls up close and taking videos in pouring rain.  It has never let us down.

NA’VI RIVER JOURNEY RIDE

Na'vi River Journey ride at Animal Kingdom
Na’vi River Journey

Ride name: Na’vi River Journey.

Location: Pandora – The World of Avatar.

Restrictions: There are no height restrictions.

Na’vi River Journey is a slow boat ride through the mystical, glowing rainforests of Pandora.  Make no mistake, this is not a thrill ride.  However, it is so beautiful that it brings joy.

I readily admit that I am not an Avatar fan.  I respect the film.  It is good.  I am just not an avid fan.  My loyalty lies with Star Wars and Harry Potter.   

With that said, the Na’vi River Journey bioluminescent environment is fabulous.  You feel like you are really in Pandora.  The plants and creatures in this world come to life before your very eyes.  Because it is so well done, this ride is definitely worth your time.

VISITING ANIMAL KINGDOM

Best day to go to Animal Kingdom

Although Animal Kingdom is the largest Disney park, much of the space is for the animals.  It actually has fewer attractions than the other Disney World parks.  Because of this, crowds tend to be smaller here every day of the week.  In general, any weekday is a good time to visit.

Of the four Disney World parks, Animal Kingdom is the safest to visit on weekends.  It is likely to be more crowded on a weekend than a weekday.  However, it should be less crowded than the other three parks.

Best time to go to Animal Kingdom

Pandora - The World of Avatar at dusk
Pandora at dusk

It is best to visit Animal Kingdom either first thing in the morning or late in the afternoon.  The middle of the day will be the busiest time.  

Since the park has fewer attractions, crowds typically thin out in late afternoon.  The ride lines are usually shorter during the last few hours of the day.

Personally, I like going to Animal Kingdom in late afternoon.  Pandora – The World of Avatar is special at night as the bioluminescent environment comes to life.  Seeing this entire area glow against the darkening sky is a treat.  Do yourself a favor and go in the evening. 

Note that the posted park closing time is really when ride lines are closed and guests can no longer enter the park.  Since Animal Kingdom currently closes before dark, you will need to linger a bit in order to see the bioluminescent effects.  

Hopefully, in the future, Disney will push the closing time back for Animal Kingdom.  This would be beneficial for guests, as Pandora is amazing at night.

Disney early theme park entry

If you are a Disney resort guest, be sure to take advantage of the Early Theme Park Entry.  Daily, Disney World resort guests can enter the parks 30 minutes before the general public.

This is not a lot of time, but it helps to enter ride lines a little before the masses.  You will need to be an early riser, but it will pay off.

One day at Animal Kingdom

Can you see all of Animal Kingdom in one day?  Yes, you can actually see all of the major attractions in one day.  

Most experts agree this is the one Disney World park where you do not need to pay extra money for Genie+.  Due to fewer attractions and smaller crowds, you should be able to accomplish everything in a day.  Of course, you may want another day just to see the animals or experience the rides again!

Plan your trip

Check out our other theme park guides:

About the author

We are Scott and Julie at Miles with McConkey. After nearly 30 years, we took a leap of faith out of the corporate world to enjoy a life of travel and adventure. We hope to inspire you to find ways to travel more and enjoy life now.

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