Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida is a truly unique place and it’s unlike any other theme park you’ve ever been to. The main questions people have about this park is “what are the best rides at Animal Kingdom?”.
The good news is we go to Disney and Animal Kingdom frequently so we are in a great position to answer this question. Below, we will take a look at some of these best rides and attractions at Animal Kingdom and give you all the information that you need to know before visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom!
Rather Listen vs Reading About The Best Rides At Animal Kingdom?
If you would rather listen to this topic vs reading it, you can check out an episode of the show where we discussed this very topic about Disney’s Animal Kingdom. On episode 268 we talked about our favorite and least favorite rides and attractions at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. If you like what you hear be sure to subscribe to the show to check out more episodes about Disney World.
Our Top Picks
Now to get down to why you’re here, to see what we think are the best rides at Animal Kingdom and why you should experience them on your next trip to Disney World’s Animal Kingdom.
1. Flight of Passage: The World Of Avatar
Flight of Passage: The World of Avatar is a true marvel and in our opinion is the best of the best Animal Kingdom rides. It’s a high intensity, 3-D based, screen ride that has you feeling like you’re diving and flying over different areas of Pandora. There are alien plants around in the queue area before entering an ancient cave with Na’vi pictures and writing on it. You eventually pass through a lab where there’s full size Na’vi to see as well!
In Flight of Passage: The World of Avatar, guests will be able to interact with different animals (very fitting for Animal Kingdom) as they travel through Pandora’s bioluminescent forests; floating mountains & waterfalls; glowing plants; blooming fields filled with animal life from banshees to butterflies. Guests will also find themselves immersed into another world when they fly high above breathtaking vistas across Pandoran territory on their winged mountain banshee called Ikran (a blue bird-like animal with a long neck).
The best part about Flight of Passage is that it’s not just screens. Guests will be able to feel the wind blowing on them as they get ready for flight, and also experience a sense of weightlessness when flying high above Pandora!
Some will liken this ride to Soarin’ over in Epcot, and while it does have some similarities in the way it works, Flight of Passage would be like Soarin’ on steroids! It’s definitely the best ride in Animal Kingdom and it’s still in the running as the best ride on all of Walt Disney World property as well.
It’s truly a unique theme park experience that you won’t find anywhere else… so it’s time to board your Ikran and fly through Avatar: Flight of Passage at Animal Kingdom!
2. Expedition Everest
This has been one of the best Animal Kingdom rides for a long time now. The gist of this ride is that you board a train to climb up Mount Everest only to find that tracks are broken and there is a giant Yeti on the loose, sending you spiraling backwards while encountering said yeti, just getting out alive in time before disaster strikes!
The best part about this ride for me was the first drop, because it’s so scary and you’re not expecting it at all but then once you get past that first drop there are a lot of cool surprises on the way down!
A great aspect to this ride is that even though it is one of the best rides at Animal Kingdom and one of if not the best roller coasters at Walt Disney World, there is many times very low wait times for this ride. In fact if you ride Expedition Everest close to when Animal Kingdom is closing, you have a good chance to be able to ride it multiple times in a row with no wait times.
3. Kilimanjaro Safaris
This attraction is unlike any other Animal Kingdom rides you’ll find (and at all of Disney World for that matter) as it is a life safari that takes place on an African savannah where guests are able to meet different animal species up close. You will find out how animals live, their habits, diets, social structures and so much more all while riding through on safari vehicles.
It’s easy to see why Kilimanjaro Safari has been one of best Animal Kingdom rides for many years now because not only do you get up-close views of animals specific habitats but there are also opportunities to take pictures with some very rare exotic creatures!
Because this is an attraction with live animals, no two safaris are alike so sometimes you will see certain animals more than others. Typically the best time to ride this and see the most animals is right at park open as most of the animals are at their most active first thing in the morning. This attraction really sums up what Disney’s Animal Kingdom is all about!
4. Festival of The Lion King
In our opinion, hands down, the Festival of The Lion King is the best live show not only at Disney’s Animal Kingdom but on all of Disney Property. It really is that good and you’ll find rather quickly on a normal park day that you will need to get in line for this show at least 30 min before a given show time, on a very busy day you might need to get in line an hour before a show.
The show has changed a bit since COVID but it is a wonderful show full of songs and characters from The Lion King. If you want an immersive experience full of songs from the movie though or just really like musicals and singing than this show is perfect for you!
I can’t say that I’m a “musical loving person” but this show is very entertaining and there is no bad seat in the house as you can see the show well from any seat in the little arena it’s in. The only downside to the show is that you have to sit on bleacher seats so midway through the show your butt and back could start hurting a bit but it’s a small price to pay for a fantastic show.
5. Na’vi River Journey
One of the most underrated attractions at Disney’s Animal Kingdom (even though it’s one of the newest) is Na’vi River Journey. The slow moving boat ride takes you through the dark forests and waterways of Pandora, to see a Shaman in an animatronic that’s so lifelike it feels like he could be real!
I remember when I first rode Na’vi River Journey and was so surprised by how immersive it felt as you’re sitting in a boat with nothing else around but plants and trees. It really does feel like you are in a boat on a river just floating along.
You start off Na’vi River Journey seeing different totem poles on your way to see an animatronic Shaman who is telling tales of Pandora that are meant for only Navi people. With the Shaman being so lifelike, the best part of the ride is when you see a projection on an animatronic waterfall that makes it look like there are actual fish swimming in this pool!
As your boat passes by various plants and trees, I’m always amazed by how well they’ve done with making it feel like you’re in a different world. This ride is overshadowed a bit by Flight of Passage as both opened at the same time but Na’vi River Journey is a solid ride and one that you should experience on your trip to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
I’m a big fan of anything time travel and because of that, this ride has always been one that I enjoy immensely. I like the cheesy effects and how they’ve built a whole back story of going back to the age of the dinosaurs to bring back a dinosaur with you (not sure how the logistics would have worked out on that) and of course, something goes wrong during your trip.
The best part about Dinosaur is how they have you going through in an old-school, time travel car and throughout your ride, there are animatronic dinosaurs that come out! The worst part about this ride and the compliant that many people have (myself included admittedly) is that most of this ride is very dark and at times it can just seem like you are being jostled around in the dark with the sounds of Dinosaurs and asteroids coming down around you.
If you haven’t experienced this attraction it’s worth your time as there aren’t the plethora of rides and attractions at Animal Kingdom like there are at other parks like Magic Kingdom.
7. TriceraTops Spin
If you’ve ever been to a local fair or have ridden Dumbo over in the Magic Kingdom then you will know what this ride is all about. You board an open air car and get spun around high up to the sounds of 90’s music (not sure how the music has anything to do with dinosaurs but I digress).
This is not a ride that will blow your mind by any means but it is in the kiddie area of the park referred to as Dinoland and is on our list because our daughter who just turned 5 loves this ride and wants to do it every time we go to Animal Kingdom. Most kids around her age will love this ride and at this point it is about the only attraction in Dinoland as Primeval Whirl is no longer running.
8. Kali River Rapids
Kali River Rapids is a ride that promises to cool you down when the hot summer days in Florida are too much (especially at Animal Kingdom where that park always seems to be at least 10 degrees hotter at any given time). This ride also has a story along with it and along the way, riders will go past forests that have been destroyed and burned due to deforestation- impacting some of our most important habitats for wildlife.
That means your raft may be grouped with others throughout this journey so hold on tight! You’re definitely going to want a poncho here because if not it’s possible you’ll get wet during this wild ride along Kali River Rapids which should come as no surprise given its name 😉
Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a place of beauty and wonder that is not like any other theme park you will find out in the world. It’s home to more than 1,500 animals representing 250 species from around the globe, as well as home to some of the most incredible rides that will thrill any age group. With so much to see and do here it can be difficult to choose what you want to experience first but hopefully in this article we have helped you lay out a plan of things you would like to experience on your next trip to Animal Kingdom.
In our opinion the must do attractions at Animal Kingdom are Flight of Passage and Expedition Everest, those are 2 of the best rides not only at Animal Kingdom but on all of Walt Disney World property. If you want to check out the best show on Walt Disney World property then you have to check out Festival of The Lion King as well.
Be sure to check out some other articles on all things Disney Parks like our article about the Best Breakfast At Animal Kingdom.