Spotlight on Animal Kingdom

🦒 Disney’s Animal Kingdom 🐒 opened in Walt Disney World on April 22, 1998. At the center of the park stands the Tree of Life, standing 14 stories high and featuring over 300 animal carvings. Many people think it’s just a zoo, but there’s so much more than just seeing animals!

The Oasis

As you enter the park, you’ll find yourself in the Oasis. Both paths lead the same place. You’ll see a few animals as you walk, and keep an eye out for DiVine. She’s a mysterious muse of nature and often blends right in with the landscape.

Also, be sure to watch for Floatillas with Characters on them as you pass the water areas throughout the park!

Discovery Island

Here is where you’ll find the Tree of Life. It is beautiful both night and day. The Tree of Life is the heart of Animal Kingdom, and the center iconic element of the park. This massive faux tree is designed to imitate a real Tree of Life, the Baobab, found in Africa. The Tree of Life stands over 145 feet tall and is home to over 300 different wood carvings. The immediate area surrounding the tree offers a variety of animal encounters, character meets, and attractions.


🐘 This park is by far the largest of the parks covering 580 acres, many of which encompass the savanna. Over 250 animal species are represented in the parks. The Kilimanjaro Safari covers more than 110 acres and you are guaranteed to see some animals, but never specific animals as each safari ride is different.

Africa also features the Gorilla Falls Expedition Trail where you can view more of the savanna’s inhabitants, and a train ride to Rafiki’s Planet watch. This area features a petting zoo, and lots of hands on learning experiences about the conservation and care of their animals. See the medical care being given to animals, as well as try your own skills at animating a beloved Disney character at Animators Experience. Before you leave Africa, don’t forget to stop and soak in the entertainment, from street drummers to Festival of the Lion King.


Expedition Everest is the parks unique roller coaster attraction. When creating Everest, Imagineers traveled to Nepal to study the local culture to make sure they did the ride (and the queue) justice. Beware of the Yeti!

You’ll find the Maharajah Jungle Trek here, a chance to see more of the Asian animals, and you can experience Kali River Rapids here, if you dare! On this ride, as they say, you will get wet….you may get soaked! Don’t worry, they provide lockers near the ride for your items you’d prefer to keep dry.

Dinoland, USA

Here is where you’ll find both new shows in Animal Kingdom:

Kite Tales debuted for the 50th anniversary. There are two shows per day where you can see larger than life kites soaring above the water. One show features the Lion King and the other is the Jungle Book.

The other show you can see here is the Big Blue and Beyond! A new Finding Nemo show debuting in 2022.

Dinoland, USA has a carnival type vibe, with games and smaller rides. Except when it comes to DINOSAUR – this ride is an adventure in time travel! And if you have littles, be sure to stop at the Bone Yard, where they can dig for bones and get out some energy while you take a much needed break.


Pandora is the newest addition to Animal Kingdom. Immerse yourself in the world of Avatar! 💫The World of Pandora is so detailed that it is bioluminescent even during the daytime.

This area features two amazing rides. The Na’vi River Journey takes you on a relaxing trip through the world of Pandora. Feel a sense of wonder as the full beauty of the extraordinary dreamscape unfolds before your eyes. You’ll also enjoy a chant from the Na’vi Shaman of Songs, who demonstrates her deep connection to the life force of Pandora.

Then, there’s Flight of Passage. It’s one of a kind! Flight of Passage is one of the most technologically advanced rides Disney has ever produced: a flight simulator in which you hop on the back of a winged, dragonlike Pandora banshee for a spin to take in the planet’s scenery.

In the shop, you can create your own avatar, or adopt your very own banshee! And the food is a unique experience of it’s own. Grab a snack of Pongu Lumpia or a Night Blossom at Pungu Pongu, or get a delicious meal at the quick service, Satu’li Canteen.

But wait….there’s more!

Animal Kingdom has several great food and drink options, both within the park and at the nearby resorts. One of our favorites is at Sanaa, at the Animal Kingdom Lodge – Kidani Village. Their bread service is delicious, and you can’t beat the view! You never know what you’ll see there! It makes a really great mid day break from the park.

Nomad lounge in Animal Kingdom is another great option. Like most lounges on property, and they accept walk ups. Get on the list early in the day if you want to go this route.They have something yummy for everyone, even some vegetarian options. It’s a great place to relax on the balcony, enjoy a drink, and watch the floatillas sail by!

Finally, Animal Kingdom has several private tours you can partake in. Here’s a couple of the options they have:

Savor the Savanna

Savor the Savanna takes guests deep into the Harambe Wildlife Reserve. Some of what you’ll experience includes:
🦒 You’ll be taken to a special outdoor seating area situated at the center of the grassland.
🦒 Take in the beautiful wide view of the savanna where you’ll see animals like the giraffes, elephants, wildebeests, flamigos, and more
🦒 Enjoy an array of African-inspired cuisine as well as regional wines and beers. 🦒 On hand guides to answer any questions we had and to share more information about the savanna and conservation.

🦒 a walkway with an overloowk that features a view of the majestic lions
🦒 You’ll be given a commemorative keepsake you can take home
🦒 Disney donates a portion of the tour price to conservation efforts for various animals/programs.
🦒This tour is $174 per person

Caring for Giants

This is definitely an experience you will never forget! During this 60 minute behind the scenes tour at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you will:
🐘 Meet with dedicated animal specialists who provide care and wellness of the African Elephant herd at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
🐘 Get a glimpse into the Animal specialist’s day to day responsibilities as they provide fascinating facts about the African Elephants
🐘 Learn about Disney’s conservation efforts dedicated to the preservation of wild populations throughout their homelands

🐘 Observe the African Elephants from approximately 80-100 feet away, closer encounters with the elephants than what you can experience in the park
🐘 This tour is only $30 per person!

I love elephants SO MUCH! This tour is definitely one on my to do list!

As you can see, Animal Kingdom Park is not just a zoo, and so much more than a theme park, striving to conserve the animal population and rehabilitate animals in need. Be sure to visit this park the next time you are in Walt Disney World, it’s a must see!

Ready to book your next Disney trip?

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Published by Emily Trempe

I am a mom of 2 boys ages 11 and 14, and have been married to my wonderfully supportive husband, Brian for 14 years. I work full time in the billing department of a large opthamolgy practice in Michigan. I have not just a love for all things Disney that started from birth. My boys sometimes call it my Disney problem, but my husband and I fondly refer to it as my Disney passion. I have a side gig as a travel advisor. I can help plan almost any vacation, but as you can guess, I specialize in Disney and Universal.

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