Disney’s Animal Kingdom is not just a theme park, but also a sort of zoo, sort of a nature preserve, and more. And that means that it has some of the most unique attractions of all the Disney Parks (not to mention, one of our favorite shows, Festival of the Lion King).
Tree of Life. Sing along: “Isn’t she lovellllyyyyy”
And although there are plenty of opportunities to see animals throughout the park, what also brings guests to Animal Kingdom are the rides, and there is a variety of attractions here — dark rides, thrill rides, and everything in between. So which is the BEST of the best and which ones are…not so much?
We asked our team and BOY, did we get a lot of varied responses! To say that this topic created a debate is an understatement (Tears were shed. Friendships ruined. It was a dark day here at DFB!), so we’ve done our best to give the pros and cons — as suggested by our team — to each.
Animal Kingdom’s Top Five Attractions
These are not in any particular order and, as we previously mentioned, many of our favorites and least favorites were subject to HOT debate. So many rides that were people’s TOTAL MUST DO FAVORITE were others’ SKIP rides! Form a calming circle and let’s get into it!
1. Flight of Passage
This should come as no surprise — Flight of Passage is one of the most technologically advanced rides at Disney World. It pulls you into the world of Pandora in a way never thought possible and lets you soar on the back of a banshee.
Inside the Flight of Passage line
It usually has sky-high wait times, has one of the most unique ride vehicles of any Disney ride, and it has one of our FAVORITE Disney characters ever. That’s right, the pre-show “uh…fly” guy! If you like Soarin’ in EPCOT, this takes that concept to a WHOLE new level. It even has scents on the ride — just like Soarin’!
The ride itself is so immersive that it will make you believe that you are inside a giant blue alien-looking avatar on a completely different planet flying on the back of a living, BREATHING (seriously, that’s still SO cool) Banshee. Whether you LOVE the Avatar film or not, credit where credit is due: this ride is legit.
See How Paint Gives Animal Kingdom’s Pandora a Glow Up…LITERALLY!
2. Kilimanjaro Safaris
Next up is the ride that lets us see animals in their (more or else) natural setting — on a savanna in Africa (well, it’s Florida made to LOOK like Africa). And the beauty of Kilimanjaro Safaris is that because animals are so unpredictable, no two rides are ever the same!
Giraffes on Kilimanjaro Safaris
And depending on the time of day you ride it, you’ll get a completely different experience — some animals are nocturnal, meaning that they’re only active after dark. And we will NEVER get tired of seeing the lions, crocodiles, and giraffes! Not many of us will ever get to make the trek to a REAL African safari, so this is the next best thing.
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3. Expedition Everest
Now it’s time for a thrill ride, and Expedition Everest is one of the most exciting rides at Disney World! Where else are you going to get on a roller coaster that runs out of track and then zip through the tracks backward? And you also come face to face with a terrifying Yeti!
And although the poor Yeti hasn’t worked the way he’s supposed to in YEARS, this ride is still at the top of many of our lists.
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4. Festival of the Lion King
This isn’t a true ride, obviously, but it falls under Disney’s blanket term of “attractions” so SRY not SRY, it counts. One thing our team didn’t argue over is the Festival of the Lion King show — we all pretty much think this is the best show at Disney World, and you can catch it regularly at Animal Kingdom! It’s a retelling of the Lion King with elaborate puppets and fantastic music and choreography and is one of our top “don’t miss” items on any Disney World bucket list.
Celebration of The Festival of The Lion King
This show is fun, moving, and the production quality is phenomenal. And who can argue against sitting in an air-conditioned theater while getting some Broadway-quality entertainment? Not us!
See Photos From The Reopening of The Celebration of the Festival of the Lion King
Dinosaur over in Dinoland, U.S.A. was a controversial pick for us. Some of us absolutely love it. Some of us (especially those of us who have been on the Indiana Jones version of this same style ride in Disneyland) think it’s not quite up to par. But it IS a thrill ride, and it is a lot of fun — and even a little frightening.
Welcome to the Dino Institute
It’s a solid ride — it’s not TOO scary or thrilling, but just enough that most kids can ride it (definitely check before you ride though — it can scare some kids!). That darn Carnosaurus STILL scares us every time. It is a ride we hop on often, so we’re still going to follow Dr. Seeker when he tells us to “go get that dino.”
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Animal Kingdom’s Bottom Five Attractions
So this is where our discussion got SUPER interesting. Because we couldn’t agree that some of these really are the worst rides at Animal Kingdom. But we’re going to list what we came up with and you can decide for yourself.
1. It’s Tough To Be A Bug
It’s Tough To Be A Bug is the one attraction we all pretty much agreed on, though. Yes, it’s in an air-conditioned theater, but the show just feels a little dated, and that stink bug smell will always make us gag. This is one some of our team loves to hate while others just hated it. The pro here is killer views of the Tree of Life as you walk in and there’s rarely a wait, so it’s a great last-minute ride choice.
It’s Tough To Be A Bug
But we gotta talk about the butt poking. You basically get assaulted by your chair and it’s funny, but also offputting. Some of us that just do NOT do spiders also had words about the spider portion of the show, so keep that in mind if you’re not a fan of all things arachnid. This one still seems to be a kid-pleaser, though, so maybe that’s all that matters.
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2. TriceraTop Spin
This is where the controversy began. While some of our team members just see TriceraTop Spin as a Dumbo rip-off, others liked it because hey, the kids like it. And this is probably one of those rides that would appeal to kids and people who have kids. Or people who are in this portion of the park and have 5 minutes to kill.
But it IS like Dumbo. Did Disney World, especially Animal Kingdom really need ANOTHER stationary spinning ride like this? Probs not, but a ride is a ride. Unlike Dumbo, there’s rarely a long line to ride it, so that’s a bonus, right? Plus, rockin’ tunes from Dinoland.
See Photos From Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Reopening
3. Na’vi River Journey
Here’s another one that split our team members. Most believe that Na’vi River Journey is a pretty boring boat ride, albeit a pretty one. And many of us don’t understand why there are often SUCH long lines for this ride at all. Maybe if the lines were generally shorter, we’d see Na’vi River Journey in a better light.
This is fine
That being said, though, the animatronic of the shaman at the end of the ride is breathtaking — it’s hard to believe that it’s a robot. That is, when it actually works… . But still, this ride, while being a big hit with lots of younger guests, is VERY short. So after that loooong wait you’ll probably experience to ride it, you’ll really only be riding this for a brief time.
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4. Kali River Rapids
Here’s another one that caused a lot of debate. Some of us just don’t like to get wet on rides, and Kali River Rapids will 100% leave you SOAKED to the bone. Others love the ride just because of that, but in the end, getting a little wet and getting soaked are two different things, and if we need a change of clothes after a ride, we don’t like it all that much.
Kali River Rapids
We’re going to have to say, though, this ride has one of the best queues at Disney World. There are a lot of fantastic details in the line. If you’re like one of our water ride-loving team members, hop in and prepare to get soaked. Otherwise, you might wanna skip this one.
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5. Finding Nemo the Musical
Yes, we know putting Finding Nemo the Musical on the worst attractions list is a controversial decision. And yep, this one isn’t even currently open at this time. But many of our team members think this particular show is forgettable. Like the Festival of the Lion King, the story is told through song and puppetry, but the show itself is what many of us think as a “one and done” experience.
Finding Nemo The Musical
We know many families that adore this show — it’s quite popular with kids. But for every family HERE for the Nemo musical, you’ll see plenty with kids begging to leave before halfway cause they’re bored. But we have team members who love this show, and if you do, too, we’re sorry! We’re just going to point out that this list is completely unscientific! But we believe that one thing that is a science fact: the seats here are uncomfortable. Sorry guys, but you know it’s true. Hopefully, updating that will be part of the “reimagining” happening to the show!
See Photos Of The Beauty and the Beast Show When It Returned to Disney World
So there you have it, our takes on the best and worst rides at Animal Kingdom. We’re sure you’ll have your own list, so we’d love to hear what YOU think!
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What do you think? Which are your picks for best and worst rides at Animal Kingdom? Let us know in the comments!
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What should you not miss at Animal Kingdom?
Avatar Flight of Passage. Ever wanted to fly on a banshee like the ones from the film "Avatar"? ... .
Kilimanjaro Safaris. The safari is a definite not-to-miss for us frogs! ... .
Na'vi River Journey. ... .
TriceraTop Spin. ... .
Trails. ... .
Satu'li Canteen. ... .
Are there any good rides at Animal Kingdom?
There are three rides that we consider the best at Animal Kingdom. The best rides at Animal Kingdom that you must do are: Avatar Flight of Passage. Expedition Everest.
What rides at Animal Kingdom hit first?
Your first stop should be either Flight of Passage in Pandora or Kilimanjaro Safari in Africa. Flight of Passage has a minimum height of 44″ so keep that in mind. Kilimanjaro Safari is a great one to hit in the morning because the animals are more active earlier in the day. Photos will be better.
What is the biggest ride in Animal Kingdom?
Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain is a steel roller coaster built by Vekoma at Disney's Animal Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The ride is themed around the Yeti protecting the Forbidden Mountain next to Mount Everest.