The parks at Walt Disney World are fantastic because they offer so much to see and do. That said, the huge number of offerings can make a visit to one of these parks overwhelming, and it’s incredibly easy to overlook certain things. This is true in all of the parks, and Animal Kingdom is no exception. This beautifully themed park features a number of hidden gems that most guests simply don’t know to look for. This is unfortunate because many of these things are well worth seeing. If you’re planning a trip to Animal Kingdom in the near future and want to ensure you see these gems, this is the article for you. Read on to learn about the things you may have missed during your last visit so you can be sure to add them to your to-do list this time around.
1. The Oasis
Let’s begin at the beginning. The Oasis is the first place you see after walking through the gates of Animal Kingdom. Many people skip over the Oasis in an effort to reach the rest of the park more quickly, but we recommend against doing so. This area of the park is home to a few interesting animals, and sometimes you can even catch Cast Members feeding the birds!
2. Wilderness Explorers
One of our favorite things about Animal Kingdom is the Wilderness Explorers program. This fun set of activities is modeled off the scouts program Russell is a part of in the movie Up, and it is absolutely adorable. Kids are given an activity booklet that includes a map of Wilderness Explorer stations throughout Animal Kingdom. Each station helps Explorers complete the required activities so they can earn a “badge” sticker to put on that page. This is a great learning activity that kids love!
3. Discovery Island Trails
Animal Kingdom is all about animals. Unfortunately, many people forget this fact and forget to stop and enjoy the animals. We already mentioned the habitats located in the Oasis that you should stop and see, but we also highly recommend walking the Discovery Island trails to see even more amazing creatures and maybe even learn a thing or two.
4. Character Boats
We all love seeing Disney characters in the Disney parks. While character meet-and-greets might be on hold for now, there are still ways to wave hello to your favorite Disney friends, and in Animal Kingdom this means watching the water for boats. You see, while the other three parks have random mini-parades that go by throughout the day, Animal Kingdom makes use of its waterways by having the characters ride by in boats. Anytime you’re on a bridge, look down. You might just get to wave to Mickey, Rafiki, or another beloved character!
5. Wildlife Express Train and Conservation Station
The Wildlife Express Train and Conservation Station at the end of the train’s route often goes completely unnoticed by guests. If you’ve never checked these things out, we highly recommend doing so. The train ride is lots of fun for little ones, and the Conservation Station offers a number of educational and exciting activities for all ages.
6. Plants and Animals of Pandora
Pandora – The World of Avatar is the newest land in Animal Kingdom, and it is well worth a visit. The two rides in this land are absolutely incredible. That said, many people skip over the other amazing things in this land in order to get to those rides quickly. Don’t do this. Take your time walking through Pandora and really observe the amazing plants and animals placed throughout the land. The place comes even more to life as the sun goes down, so you might even stop through twice to see both of its “modes”. The attention to detail here is incredible, and something that deserves to be appreciated.
7. Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail
So far we’ve mentioned the Oasis and the Discovery Island trails. We’re going to add to this list of animal stops you should make, because the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail is 100% worth walking as well. This trail features a variety of amazing and interesting animals—including, of course, the mighty gorilla.
8. Maharajah Jungle Trek
Yes, this is another trail, and the last one on our list. Like the others we’ve mentioned, this one shouldn’t be skipped. This particular trail is located in the Asia area of the park. It is home to animals such as tigers and bats, and is one that kids absolutely adore.
9. Flame Tree Barbecue
If you’re looking for something good to eat while in Animal Kingdom, look no further than Flame Tree Barbecue. Many people pass up this restaurant because it does not offer indoor seating. Others don’t feel that quick-service barbecue would be any good. Let us tell you, the food here is good, and while all of the seating is outdoors, it is covered and plentiful. We’ve certainly never minded dining outside here.
10. Feathered Friends in Flight
You may be rushing off to enjoy A Celebration of Festival of the Lion King in Africa, but there is one show not to be missed. “Feathered Friends in Flight” is one of those attractions that is often skipped over because it’s located in such a remote area of the park. That said, we highly recommend making the trek to Asia to see this spectacular performance, which features some seriously cool birds.
11. Winged Encounters
The “Winged Encounters” performances that take place in front of the park’s iconic Tree of Life offer another opportunity to see some seriously cool birds. Most people will stop and watch this show if they happen to be passing by while it’s going on, but we recommend actually making a plan to see it. It’s a very well-done performance, and the macaws featured in those shows are simply amazing.