Animal Kingdom is more than just a big zoo. The addition of Pandora—The World of Avatar has turned this park up a notch. Visitors have been flocking to Animal Kingdom like mad since May and waiting hours to get on the two newest attractions, Avatar Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey.
So obviously, Pandora is a must do. At the top of our list, actually. But what else shouldn’t be missed?
A visit to Animal Kingdom is not complete without experiencing the Kilimanjaro Safari, the Tree of Life, Festival of the Lion King, and Expedition Everest. In the afternoon, saddle up to the Dawa bar for an African beer and wait to hear the heart-thumping drums nearby. It’s almost impossible to keep still when the castmembers start playing.
If you’re a morning person, definitely get to the park at rope drop (when it opens). You’ll be able to explore and take photos without a lot of other guests in your way. You’ll also experience an hour or two of shorter lines for attractions.
If you’re not a morning person, then use the FastPass system to schedule late morning or afternoon visits to the attractions you want to visit most. FastPasses are a must for Avatar Flight of Passage unless your plan for the day is to spend half of it in line. FastPasses are tiered at Animal Kingdom, so you must choose between Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey. We concur with our fellow Disney fans when we say Flight of Passage is the better choice of the two.
For the thrill ride seekers, you have to try Expedition Everest. It is one great roller coaster forwards and backwards. If you want to get a little scare, try DINOSAUR. Another roller coaster offering is Primeval Whirl. This is a love it or hate it ride, but if you like wild mouse rollercoasters elsewhere, then you’ll be on the “love it” side.
Of course, why would you be at Animal Kingdom if you didn’t want to see the animals? The Kilimanjaro Safari is an amazing tour by truck through Disney’s own savannah. The amount of wildlife that can be viewed is worth doing this attraction more than once.
By foot, we also recommend visiting the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail and the Maharajah Jungle Trek. Two Sumatran tiger cubs born at the park in August are now old enough to be seen by guests on the Trek.
Animal Kingdom offers four great shows. Festival of the Lion King combines Broadway-worthy singing, dancing, and acrobatics. It alone is worth the price of admission to the park. Finding Nemo-The Musical is a retelling of the classic film using puppetry and song. It’s Tough to be a Bug! is a funny 3D movie in a very well-themed theatre. Finally, Rivers of Light is a nighttime light show set on the Discovery River.
Animal Kingdom has been adding more and more food options over the years. The newest, Satu’li Canteen is a huge hit. It’s located in Pandora and offers mobile ordering. (Yeah, no waiting in line.) We hear the Cheeseburger Steamed Pods are super tasty. Flame Tree Barbecue comes highly recommended for those who like smoked ribs, pulled pork, and marinated chicken. Harrambe Market offers quick-service African food, but if you’d like a sit-down experience, try the Tusker House. It’s a buffet offering both African and American food.
Pandora wins again for the best shopping spot. At Windtraders, you will find souvenirs exclusive to Animal Kingdom—for example it’s the only place you can adopt your own baby Banshee.
From the first glimpse of the Tree of Life in the morning to the glow of the Pandora forest at night, Animal Kingdom restores the spirit. And no two days there are ever alike.
Congratulations! You just had a magical day.
More stories from our First Time Visitor Series:
Part I Magic Kingdom With Young Children
Part II Epcot With Young Children
Part III Animal Kingdom With Young Children
Part IV Hollywood Studios With Young Children
Part V Magic Kingdom Without Children
Part VI Epcot Without Children
Part VII Animal Kingdom Without Children
Part VIII Hollywood Studios Without Children
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