It’s hard to believe that Disney’s Animal Kingdom is 20 years old. When I told my oldest son that fact he was taken aback. He is now 26 and his first visit to Animal Kingdom was with my parents back in either 1998 or 1999. It is the only Florida Disney park to be “born” in his lifetime, so it holds a bit of special meaning to him. It’s also funny, when you ask my parents or my boys about that first visit to Animal Kingdom, two things stand out to all of them, #1 they all miss the Discovery River Boats/Discovery River Taxis/Disney Radio River Cruise and #2 the Kilimanjaro Safari ride was very short. I never visited when the boats were running and I guess they weren’t very popular because they didn’t survive two years, even though they went through 3 name changes. I do remember the safari ride growing and morphing over the years.
Top 10 Must-Dos for your First Visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom
If you want to know more about a specific attraction I have listed, click the link, it will take you to a more in-depth post about that specific attraction.
10. Na’avi River Journey
Located in the Pandora section of the park, Na’avi River Journey is a beautiful boat ride for the whole family. On this visually stunning and mysterious river, you’ll glide through a series of caves and into a bioluminescent rainforest alive with the sights and sounds of exotic plants and creatures on all sides—even overhead.
My boys and husband love this ride…I do not. It is a dark, scary, jerky ride into the primeval past aboard the CTX Time Rover. You are tasked with going back in time to retrieve an Iguanodon and bring it back to present time. of course this is all happening as a supposed meteor is hurtling towards earth. Will you find the dinosaur? Will you capture it and make it back in time? You’ll have to ride to find out. Riders must be 40″ or taller to ride this attraction and if you have neck or back issues I highly advise you to skip this one.
8. Maharajah Jungle Trek
Over in Asia you can wander along the Maharajah Jungle Trek to see majestic Asian Tigers as well as many other animals. These well-shaded paths are a great place to slow down a bit and enjoy some of the animal life that made this park famous.
7. Become a Wilderness Explorer
As you remember in the movie UP, Russell was a Wilderness Explorer-now at Animal Kingdom, you can be one too! As you enter the park go to the Wilderness Explorer’s Headquarters which is located on the bridge connecting The Oasis and Discovery Island. Meet your troop leader and get sworn in. As you travel throughout Animal Kingdom look for outposts where you can earn badges (stickers) and move of the ranks of a Wilderness Explorer. This really is fun for all ages. It is always great to learn as a family and this is so fun, the kids don’t even realize they are learning! “The Wilderness must be Explored!”
6. Festival of the Lion King
Festival of the Lion King moved from Camp Minnie-Mickey to its new home in Africa, where it really belongs. This 30 minute show is full of all of your favorite Lion King music with the addition of my favorite Tumble Monkeys, colorful pageantry and dance. This show is fun for the whole family and the beautiful air conditioned theater makes it a nice respite from the Florida heat!
5. Expedition Everest
If you are a thrill ride enthusiast, then Expedition Everest is the ride for you. Riders must be 44″ tall to venture up the mountain in search of the elusive Yeti. This ride comes to a sudden stop at broken tracks and then careens backwards down part of the mountain! I highly recommend getting a fastpass for this attraction as it is extremely popular. This ride does offer a single rider option as well.
4. Primeval Whirl
I know a lot of Disney purists will disagree with me on this one. For my family this is a must-do every visit. Yes, you must be 48″ to ride this ride but for us this is a family coaster. We all love it and laugh throughout the ride. If you want a real laugh, visit my Primeval Whirl post which includes a video of me riding with my friend, John, who hates this ride.
3. Kilimanjaro Safari
The Kilimanjaro Safari is the signature ride of this park because, it is all about the animals. Unfortunately, IMHO this ride isn’t as amazing as it used to be. There are a lot fewer animals out on the Savannah and I miss Warden Wilson Matua. It is still a great ride to get up close to elephants, giraffe and other amazing animals. This is a must Fastpass attraction so please plan ahead.
2. Finding Nemo the Musical
Finding Nemo the Musical is my favorite live show in all four of the Florida Disney Parks. In all honesty, I like this show better than the movie! The musical version of Finding Nemo condenses the story into 40 minutes of colorful puppetry, storytelling and song. Located in DinoLand USA, this show is great for the whole family. There isn’t a bad seat in the theater but the best seats are in the front row, center of the back section of the theater.
1. Avatar Flight of Passage
Board your own mountain banshee and embark on a thrilling expedition, where interstellar explorers like you get an up-close look at this moon’s incredible landscape.
Bonding with a banshee is a crucial step in the life of a Na’vi hunter on Pandora—and flying on the back of one of these powerful creatures is an important rite of passage.
I’d love to know what your must-do Animal Kingdom attractions are. Please let me know in the comments. Are you ready to plan your visit to Walt Disney World? Email Me for a travel quote, my travel planner services are free.