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Animal Kingdom

8 Awesome Experiences You Might Be Missing at Animal Kingdom

It’s true that Animal Kingdom doesn’t have nearly as many rides and attractions as the Magic Kingdom, and it doesn’t have the nighttime hours or entertainment that the other three major parks have (yet). These factors have given Animal Kingdom the reputation of being a “half-day park” for many guests. If you’re someone who feels there isn’t enough to do at Animal Kingdom to occupy most of your day, you may be missing out on some fun experiences. Surely you’ve ridden the Kilimanjaro Safaris, FastPassed Expedition Everest, and seen Festival of the Lion King, but there’s much more to the park than these experiences. Here are 8 things that you might want to check out on your next trip!

1. Animal Viewing Trails

Take your time and wander through the amazing animal viewing trails. On the Maharajah Jungle Trek, you’ll be transported to Southeastern Asia on a quest to find majestic tigers, birds, and incredible giant fruit bats. The Pangani Forest Exploration Trail is often missed by guests who are rushing off of the Safari and heading to the next big attraction. Home to the park’s native African animals, you’ll get to see gorillas and hippos on this trail. If you’re lucky, a hippo may be swimming when you visit, and that means and up-close and personal view of the hippo from the eye-level under water tank!

2. Discovery Island Trails/It’s Tough to Be a Bug

These walking paths allow you to get extremely close to the base of the Tree of Life- in some cases, passing under the roots. As you meander through these trails, you’ll also see lemurs, flamingos, and other interesting creatures. Take some time to study the details on the Tree of Life! You can also get close to the tree and as you approach and exit the multisensory attraction, “It’s Tough to be a Bug” (another attraction you might have missed)!

3. The Boneyard

If you read our article, 10 Things Your Kids Desperately Want to do on Vacation, you’ll recall that kids are always asking to play in play areas! Here’s a great dinosaur themed one for your little ones to enjoy. This is less of a playground, however, and more of a simulated dig site for fossils. Don’t miss Dino-Sue, a full-size T-Rex skeleton that towers over the area.

4. Dining Experiences

When people think of Animal Kingdom, “dining” probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind, whereas it may be at the top of the list when thinking of the other parks. Animal Kingdom boasts some worthy dining experiences, however, so if you haven’t experienced some of these perhaps it’s time to try! Does your family love character dining? You’ve probably experienced Chef Mickey’s and Cinderella’s Royal Table, but have you tried Animal Kingdom’s Tusker House? Tusker House features a buffet of African and American dishes, and hosts Animal Kingdom’s character dining experience at breakfast and lunch. During the meal, you’ll see Mickey, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy. (Dinner does not have characters.) Definitely make advance reservations for this one. In the mood for a nice sit-down meal? You probably have some reservations for the World Showcase restaurants, but save a spot for the Yak and Yeti Restaurant, too. Yak and Yeti is a beautifully decorated Nepalese-style sit-down restaurant that offers a wide variety of delectable Asian food.

5. Character Greeting

Animal Kingdom has some really fun and unique character greeting opportunities. Animal Kingdom is the only regularly-scheduled meeting place for Baloo, King Louie, Dug and Russell from Up, Pocahantas, and Rafiki. You’ll also find Chip and Dale, Donald and Daisy, Goofy and Pluto, and of course, Mickey and Minnie.

6. Finding Nemo: The Musical

This fantastic show certainly isn’t a secret, but I think that many people might pass it up because The Festival of the Lion King has such a stellar reputation. By early afternoon folks are making a choice about what show to see, and many may opt for Festival of the Lion King over Nemo. Then, they may not feel like sitting through another show performance, possibly missing out on this one. If you haven’t seen it, make it a “must-do” for your next trip. The show takes the animated story, Finding Nemo, and transforms it into a musical told through beautiful puppetry. The show includes 14 original songs, as well as 2 favorites from the animated feature.

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7. Flights of Wonder

Here’s another show you might be missing. Want to hear a parrot who can sing 7 songs? Or one who can do math? Would you like to see a Bald Eagle up close? This live bird show offers all of these experiences and more. Unless you’re afraid of birds, this show is great for all ages. If you can, try to catch the bird presentation that occurs just outside the show, usually about 30 minutes before show time.

8. Street Performances

Adding to what Disney refers to as the “streetmosphere” are several musical acts that appear in the park throughout the day. Although not lengthy shows with formal locations or seating, they include some of the more authentic cultural acts and are fun to catch if you are in the area. Some favorites include the Tam Tam Drummers of Harambe, Burudika, Chakranadi, and the foliage-clad stiltwalker, DiVine.

I think that Animal Kingdom is sorely underrated! Have you experienced all that Animal Kingdom has to offer? What is your favorite way to spend a day there? Let us know!

BONUS TIP: Consider planning and booking your next Disney trip with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner you can trust like Mickey Travels. They’ll help you get the best price for your vacation, share expert advice and their services are totally FREE! It’s genius!

About Meredith Smisek

Meredith Smisek is a kid at heart who works as an elementary school counselor. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, son, and corgi. Meredith is a DVC member who loves music, podcasts, crafting, and "talking Disney" with anyone and everyone.