Expedition Everest in Asia at Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park

8 Best Rides at Animal Kingdom

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When it comes to the best rides at Animal Kingdom, Disney’s wildest theme park offers a range of attractions that is almost as diverse as the menagerie of creatures that call the park home. This unique theme park combines thrilling experiences with educational opportunities and fascinating animal encounters, allowing guests to explore various wildlife habitats while enjoying some of the most popular rides at Walt Disney World.

While Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park can’t compare to parks like Magic Kingdom for its sheer number and variety of attractions, there is still something that everyone can enjoy, whether you love exciting thrill rides, immersive dark rides or leisurely slow rides. In this theme park guide, we’ll explore the must-see Animal Kingdom rides that you won’t want to miss on your next visit, from close encounters with the mysterious Yeti on Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain to unforgettable encounters with African wildlife during Kilimanjaro Safaris to an out-of-this-world flight through the vibrant world of Pandora on Avatar Flight of Passage.

Expedition Everest in Asia at Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park

Planning a Visit to This Walt Disney World Wildlife Park

The fourth park to open at the Walt Disney World Resort, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park is the largest theme park in the world, at a massive 580 acres in size. While a huge chunk of that is devoted to animal exhibits and care facilities, a good portion of Animal Kingdom’s giant footprint also plays host to some truly amazing rides—and we’re going to rank them all, so you know which ones to add to your to-do list for your next Disney vacation.

In general, unlike Disney World parks like Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, rides aren’t really the focus of Animal Kingdom Theme Park. And, of course, with a name like that, they shouldn’t be. So, if you go into your Animal Kingdom visit thinking that you’re just going to go on some rides, see some shows and then leave, then it is easily a half-day park. This is because there are only eight actual rides spread across each of the Animal Kingdom lands. (And by “actual ride,” we’re talking about attractions that incorporate a ride vehicle of some sort, whether that’s an open-air safari jeep, a roller coaster or a motorcycle-like contraption that “breathes” like a banshee.) Add in shows like Festival of the Lion King, Finding Nemo: The Big Blue…and Beyond, Feathered Friends in Flight and It’s Tough to Be a Bug, and that still isn’t that much of a time commitment comparatively speaking.

Asia at Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park 1

A Different, Animal-Focused Approach

As a result, you need to approach this animal-loving Disney theme park a little differently than you would its neighbors. You can’t just go in on a mission to tackle the very best Animal Kingdom rides and then be on your merry way, although that is certainly a good place to start. (That’s where this list of the best rides at Animal Kingdom comes in handy.) Rather, you need to slow things down and take some time to explore this beautiful, immersive world that Disney Imagineers have created.

Intersperse each of your must-do Animal Kingdom rides and productions of Festival of the Lion King and the A Bug’s Life show, It’s Tough to Be a Bug, with animal encounters like the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail and Maharajah Jungle Trek. Sign up for the Wilderness Explorers, Animal Kingdom’s Up-inspired scavenger hunt, and learn about the different creatures that call this Disney park home. Get up close and personal with furry friends at the petting zoo. Find out about how the park’s animal specialists care for the wildlife at Conservation Station. Whatever you do, just take some time to wander and soak it all in. This isn’t a sprint to check off all the Animal Kingdom attractions on your list. It’s a marathon with a host of incredible animal encounters to enjoy, and all the rides are simply an awesome bonus.

Close-up of Turtle carving

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Rides Ranked by Land

So, keeping all that in mind, which Animal Kingdom rides should you plan to experience during your fun-filled, animal-packed day? Aside from The Oasis, Discovery Island and Rafiki’s Planet Watch, which don’t have any actual rides, each land in the park only boasts two Animal Kingdom rides.

To help you figure out your to-do list, we first organized these immersive Animal Kingdom attractions by which part of the part they’re located in. Next, we ranked them out from must-do to can-miss, making it easy for you to prioritize each Animal Kingdom ride depending on the amount of time you have to spend and what you’re most interested in. In general, if you only have enough time for one ride in each land in addition to the shows and various animal adventures, we suggest you pick the one at the top of each section on our list. Ok, let’s get started because it’s a jungle out there!

Tree of Life at Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park

The Oasis

Located at the very front of the park, The Oasis is Animal Kingdom’s version of Main Street, USA in Magic Kingdom, setting the scene for the wildlife-focused experiences to come. With its lush, meandering paths punctuated by animal exhibits and no Animal Kingdom rides to speak of, this is the first hint that things here move at a more leisurely, less adrenaline-fueled pace.

Discovery Island

After emerging from the jungle of The Oasis, cross the Discovery River to Discovery Island, the heart and soul of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. While there also aren’t any rides here, there are some worthwhile Animal Kingdom attractions to experience. Guests can sign up to become Wilderness Explorers on the bridge over the river (be sure to keep an eye out for Disney character flotillas floating by below), while the Discovery Island stage is home to the Viva Gaia Street Band, a Caribbean-style street party.

In the center of Discovery Island is the stunning Tree of Life, with its trunk teeming with intricate carvings of creatures big and small. At the base of the Tree of Life is It’s Tough to Be a Bug, an adorable (and occasionally scary) 3D show starring Flik from A Bug’s Life, while the Discovery Island Trails, each studded with flora and fauna, weave around just waiting to be explored. This is also where you can meet Mickey Mouse and his intrepid travel partner, Minnie.

DinoLand USA at Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park

DinoLand USA

From Discovery Island, turn right and make your way over to DinoLand USA. Easily the quirkiest part of this Disney World park, DinoLand USA offers character meet-and-greets as part of Donald’s Dino Bash, hands-on activities for little ones at Fossil Fun Games and the incredible artistry of Finding Nemo: The Big Blue…and Beyond!, a gorgeous stage musical with jaw-dropping puppetry and catchy songs written by the same songwriting duo that helped turn Frozen into a worldwide phenomenon.


Are you for a prehistoric adventure into the past? Although it’s seen some changes since the park first opened in April 1998, DINOSAUR is still one of the best Animal Kingdom rides, taking guests on an exhilarating journey back in time to save an Iguanodon from the fateful meteor strike responsible for the extinction of most prehistoric life on Earth. Using technology similar to Indiana Jones Adventure in Disneyland Park, this thrilling ride features life-sized audio-animatronic dinosaurs and plenty of surprises along the way.

Your mission begins as you board a specially designed Time Rover vehicle, which will transport you millions of years into the past. As your rover navigates through ancient landscapes filled with lush vegetation and realistic dinosaur encounters, be prepared for some unexpected twists and turns that are sure to get your adrenaline pumping.

An updated take on a dark ride, DINOSAUR uses technology-advanced ride vehicles that simulate driving through rough terrain like mud patches. There are also some flashing lights, loud noises and sudden movements from some pretty scary dinos. So, if you or someone in your party is prone to motion sickness or sensitive to intense moments, you may want to give this one a pass. Be sure to smile for the Carnotaurus, we mean the camera, at the end of the ride.

Height Requirement: At least 40 inches (102cm) tall

Lightning Lane Access: Disney Genie+

Triceratop spinning ride

TriceraTop Spin

If you’re on the hunt for a more laidback experience for the toddler or preschooler in your party, look no further than TriceraTop Spin. This charming slow ride is a great warm-up for young guests who are still getting used to the whole theme park thing, offering a whimsical spin on classic carnival-style rides.

Similar to Dumbo the Flying Elephant in Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom, TriceraTop Spin sends guests soaring over DinoLand USA from the back of a colorful Triceratops. The ride’s simple controls let riders adjust their altitude during flight, allowing them to go high into the sky or stay closer to the ground, depending on their preference.

We’ll be honest. These carnival-style attractions are a dime a dozen at the Walt Disney World theme parks. As a result, although this is certainly a great ride for little kids, it’s definitely missable. On the bright side, there is never really much of a line.

Height Requirement: Any height

Lightning Lane Access: None

Asia at Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park with Expedtion Everest in the background


With bicycle tracks crisscrossing throughout the land, Tibetan prayer flags flapping in the breeze, prayer wheels to spin and tiny temples everywhere, the Asia part of Animal Kingdom boasts some of the most immersive theming in any of the Central Florida Disney Parks. You can almost picture monks strolling through in their maroon or marigold robes or a pack of mopeds careening around its streets.

Here you’ll find one of the best roller coasters at Disney World, Expedition Everest, as well as an edutaining bird show called Feathered Friends in Flight and the Maharajah Jungle Trek, an animal exploration trail where you can see majestic tigers and Komodo dragons in the crumbling ruins of an old palace.

Temple in Asia at Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park

Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain

Get ready for an exhilarating adventure through the Himalayas on Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain, one of Animal Kingdom’s most exciting attractions. Arguably as close as it gets to an Animal Kingdom thrill ride, Expedition Everest touts an 80-foot drop, plenty of twists and turns through the dark (including an especially heart-pounding stretch of track that hurtles backward) and a top speed of 50 miles per hour.

As you approach this forbidding mountain, you’ll be immersed in a rich backstory inspired by Nepalese culture and folklore. This roller coaster ride takes place in Serka Zong village at the base of Mount Everest, where local villagers believe that a fearsome Yeti guards their sacred mountain. As brave adventurers seeking to conquer the summit, it’s up to us to face this legendary creature head-on. Flying through dark caverns and over icy peaks, you’ll even come face-to-face with the mythical beast itself. Will we escape its clutches? Only time will tell.

Not just one of the best Animal Kingdom rides but one of the top rides at Disney World overall, Expedition Everest can get incredibly busy during the day. However, if you’re able to wait it out until the evening hours right before closing time, you can usually enjoy a walk-on line. A single-rider line is also available if you don’t mind riding solo.

Height Requirement: At least 44 inches (112cm) tall

Lightning Lane Access: Disney Genie+

Expedition Everest in Asia at Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park

Kali River Rapids

Brace yourself for a bracing, pulse-racing ride on Kali River Rapids, where you’ll navigate the treacherous Chakranadi River in a white-knuckle whitewater rafting adventure. Since you will definitely get wet (make that drenched), this heart-pounding thrill ride is perfect for those looking for a chance to cool off while exploring Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park.

Located near the entrance to Maharajah Jungle Trek, your Kali River Rapids journey begins as your raft floats through lush jungles and ancient ruins before plunging into gushing geysers and swirling whirlpools, encountering plenty of turbulent rapids that will leave no one dry. So, be prepared to bring a poncho (and perhaps a fresh pair of shoes) if you don’t want to get soaked from head to toe, as water splashes over the sides of your raft.

As fun and refreshing as Kali River Rapids can be—and trust us, it is—the theming can feel a little bit forced here. “Deforestation and illegal logging are bad” is basically the moral of the story for this Animal Kingdom ride, so you’ll come across burning brush piles, rush past rows of tree stumps, smell smoke and hear the sound of chainsaws through much of the attraction as a result.

That said, there’s no doubt that Kali River Rapids provides an invigorating escape from the Florida heat. If you don’t mind getting wet first thing in the morning or right before leaving the park, consider riding Kali River Rapids either early or late in the day. As the temperatures are typically cooler, the lines also tend to be shorter.

Height Requirement: At least 38 inches (97cm) tall

Lightning Lane Access: Disney Genie+

Harambe Village in Africa at Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park


Located right next door to Asia in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, Africa is just as transporting in its theming, if not more so. Here, Disney Imagineers created the bustling Harambe Village, a thriving township neighboring the Harambe Wildlife Reserve. Every nook and cranny of this part of the park is a feast for the senses.

Authentic details abound, each inspired by Imagineers’ travels around the continent, like colorful street art, jumbles of wires and signage touting the various businesses that call Harambe home. I’ll be honest—of all the parks at Disney World, this land is my favorite. As you’re walking around, it truly feels as if you’ve suddenly been whisked away across the Pacific Ocean to a quaint village somewhere near the Masai Mara. Just soaking it all in gives me a serious case of wanderlust, and I can’t get enough.

Along with the couple of Animal Kingdom rides here, Africa also boasts two other worthwhile attractions: the Festival of the Lion King and the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail. With its incredible costumes, awe-inspiring musical performances and joyful dancing and acrobatics, Festival of the Lion is undeniably infectious and a must-watch. If you only have enough time for one show during your Animal Kingdom day, let it be this one. I’d argue that it’s the best stage show in all of the Walt Disney World theme parks.

Meanwhile, the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail gives guests a chance to see some amazing African wildlife up close, like hippos and, of course, gorillas. If you have the time, we also highly recommend you take in one of the other live performances in the area, such as the mesmerizing Harambe Village Acrobats or wandering musician Kora Tinga Tinga, before setting out on your whirlwind safari.

Harambe Village in Africa at Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park

Kilimanjaro Safaris

Without a doubt, another of the best Animal Kingdom rides, and a top Disney World attraction overall, is Kilimanjaro Safaris. The centerpiece of this part of Animal Kingdom, this wildlife-focused attraction is made for those who have always dreamed of embarking on an African safari (minus the pricey plane ticket and a passport).

Though technically a slow ride, Kilimanjaro Safaris is still thrilling nonetheless, with guests exploring a savanna teeming with African animals. After boarding a rugged, open-air safari vehicle piloted by one of the attraction’s Disney cast members, you’ll set out on an unforgettable animal adventure, where you’ll witness some of Africa’s most majestic creatures. While you won’t get a chance to see each of the Big Five on Kilimanjaro Safaris (sorry, there aren’t any leopards or African buffalo at Disney’s Animal Kingdom), you will likely catch a glimpse of lions, elephants and rhinos, as well as equally enthralling animals like giraffes, zebras and various species of antelope. In other words, you’ll definitely want to have your camera ready.

The best times to go on Kilimanjaro Safaris are either first thing in the morning or later in the afternoon. This is because the animals tend to be more active during cooler parts of the day. You’ll also want to keep in mind that these are live animals with minds of their own milling about the savanna, not audio-animatronics. So, just like on a normal African safari, you never really know what you’re going to see or where the creatures will be. That’s all part of the authenticity of the experience.

Height Requirement: Any height

Lightning Lane Access: Disney Genie+

Off-road vehicle surrounded by forest

Wildlife Express Train

If you’re in search of an enjoyable and informative experience at Animal Kingdom, the Wildlife Express Train is your answer. This charming train ride takes guests on an easy-going journey to Rafiki’s Planet Watch, where they can learn about Disney’s commitment to animal conservation and even interact with some domesticated animals at the theme park’s petting zoo.

As you chug along, keep your eyes peeled for glimpses of veterinary facilities and animal housing areas. These backstage views provide an exclusive look into how Disney’s animal experts care for Animal Kingdom’s various furry, feathered or scaly friends. It’s not every day that you get to see behind-the-scenes operations in action at Walt Disney World (at least not without paying a premium for a backstage tour), so be sure to soak it all in.

Although the Wildlife Express Train isn’t one of the best rides at Animal Kingdom, it is the only way to get to Rafiki’s Planet Watch. So, if you want to explore this educational part of the park (which we recommend you do), then this is one attraction you won’t want to miss.

Height Requirement: Any height

Lightning Lane Access: None

Exterior of station building with animals

Rafiki’s Planet Watch

Sequestered away in a far-off corner of the park, Rafiki’s Planet Watch is the part of Disney’s Animal Kingdom that feels the most like a zoo. While there aren’t any rides here, Rafiki’s Planet Watch does offer plenty of engaging activities and interactive exhibits, each highlighting various aspects of Disney’s conservation efforts or giving guests a chance to meet some furry friends up close.

Conservation Station is an informative exhibit area featuring displays on the company’s global conservation initiatives. This is also where, if you’re lucky, you can get a look at veterinary procedures in action or see an animal specialist work on preparing a meal for one of the creatures in their care. Outside, the Affection Section is a petting zoo where guests can get hands-on with friendly domesticated critters like goats, sheep and pigs. Be aware that the hours for Rafiki’s Planet Watch are more limited than around the rest of the park, so refer to the My Disney Experience app for the current hours.

Floating mountains in Pandora World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park

Pandora – The World of Avatar

Finally, the perfect place to end your day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park is Pandora – The World of Avatar. With its floating mountains and otherworldly landscape that glows to life when the sun goes down, this is another of the more transporting parts of any of the Disney World theme parks. Though still beautiful during the day, the evening time is when Pandora really shines (literally). So, if you can, try to save this Animal Kingdom land for last.

Avatar Flight of Passage

Have you ever wished you could soar through the skies of Pandora on the back of a mountain banshee just like they do in Avatar? Then you definitely won’t want to miss Avatar Flight of Passage. My pick for not just the best Animal Kingdom ride but the best ride in all of Walt Disney World, Avatar Flight of Passage takes guests on a jaw-dropping adventure that is sure to give you goosebumps.

The adventure begins as you enter the queue, which winds its way through fascinating caves and laboratories. Along the way, you’ll gain insight into Na’vi culture and their relationship with nature—the perfect primer for your upcoming ride. Once inside, riders are matched with their very own avatar before being linked to a mountain banshee in preparation for takeoff. Then, brace yourself for a wild ride of swerves, swoops and dives above a vibrant alien landscape.

This next-level 3D simulator ride offers a similar experience to Soarin’ Around the World at Epcot. Only instead of a hang glider-type ride vehicle, Flight of Passage uses a motorcycle-like contraption that helps to mimic the feeling of being on the back of a banshee. Adding a whole other layer to the realism of it all, the sides of each vehicle move in and out to simulate the banshee’s breathing. Mixed with the wind blowing in your hair and the breathtaking scene laid out before you, the entire experience feels incredibly immersive, making for one of the most innovative thrill rides Disney World has to offer.

As one of the most popular rides in Walt Disney World, lines for Avatar Flight of Passage can be insanely long. Is it worth the wait? Absolutely. However, if you’d rather try and save some time, then we suggest either running here as soon as the park opens or splurging on an Individual Lightning Lane entry through the My Disney Experience app.

Height Requirement: At least 44 inches (112cm) tall

Lightning Lane Access: Individual Lightning Lane

Pandora World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park

Na’vi River Journey

While not as exciting as Avatar Flight of Passage, the beautiful Na’vi River Journey is just as mesmerizing. Another of the best Animal Kingdom rides, this slow-moving boat ride takes you deep into the heart of Pandora, where you’ll encounter fantastical glowing creatures and breathtaking sights that will leave you spellbound.

As your boat glides gently along the winding river, prepare to be dazzled by the vibrant colors and shimmering lights that surround you. The lush vegetation comes alive with radiant hues, while strange and wonderful creatures emerge from their hiding places to greet you. Your journey culminates in an awe-inspiring encounter with the Na’vi Shaman of Songs, who serenades guests with her beautiful melodies. With her voice echoing off of every leaf and stone, witness how her powerful connection to nature resonated throughout this mystical land.

Compared to the thrill of Flight of Passage, Na’vi River Journey may feel a bit subdued. However, just like the rest of Animal Kingdom, this luminous boat ride invites you to slow down and simply admire the wondrous world that surrounds you. If you only have time for one attraction in Pandora, Flight of Passage is the one you should go for. However, if you have the time to linger a little longer, then Na’vi River Journey is well worth it.

Height Requirement: Any height

Lightning Lane Access: Disney Genie+

Bioluminescent plants at night in Pandora -- World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park

What’s the Best Ride at Animal Kingdom?

So, what are the very best Animal Kingdom rides? If we had to come up with a definitive ranking, it would probably go something like this:

  1. Avatar Flight of Passage
  2. Kilimanjaro Safaris
  3. Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
  5. Na’vi River Journey

If you’re able to accomplish these five attractions, as well as Festival of the Lion King, Finding Nemo the Musical, It’s Tough to Be a Bug and other animal encounters like Maharajah Jungle Trek and Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail, then you can say that you’ve experienced the best that Animal Kingdom has to offer.

Yeti in Expedition Everest in Asia at Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park

Well, ya’ll, that concludes our tour of the best Animal Kingdom rides. What are your picks for the best rides this wild park has to offer? Let us know in the comments! Looking for even more animals? We recommend Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, which is located right next door. Then, find out how you can save some cash on your next trip to Animal Kingdom with our discount Disney World tickets.