Best Animal Kingdom Rides 

Discover the Top 5 Rides and Attractions at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom

Expedition Everest

What’s truly unique about Disney’s Animal Kingdom is how it combines theme park elements with zoo elements. There are hundreds of species of live animals side-by-side with dozens of more traditional theme park rides and attractions. So what are the best rides at Animal Kingdom? Below we rank the top 5 best Animal Kingdom rides so you’ll know which attractions to prioritize on your next Disney World vacation.

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As always, any “best of” list is a matter of opinion.  Different people have different priorities and will come up with different lists.

With that in mind — before we dive into our own picks, let’s check in with our favorite Disney YouTube channel, The Vacationeer, to see their top five!

Now – on with our list!

Top 5 Best Animal Kingdom Rides and Attractions

1. Expedition Everest

So, what is the best ride at Animal Kingdom? We think the answer is Expedition Everest.

Most people love a good roller coaster. Fortunately, Disney World has many great ones, and Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain ranks among Disney’s best.

Located in the Asia section of Animal Kingdom, Expedition Everest is appropriately located at the base of “Mount Everest” in a “Tibetan village.” Here you will board a train and then head straight up toward the 200-foot mountain peak. But be warned: a legendary snow monster makes his home deep inside the mountain, and he doesn’t like visitors!

After the steep climb, then your train begins its rapid descent as you hurtle back down the mountain and into a dark cave. Next, you’ll happen upon some broken train tracks, at which time the train reverses course and plummets backward into the darkness.

Soon the shadow of a gigantic (and angry) snow beast appears before your eyes! He roars, and the train races away before the Yeti makes a meal out of you.

The scenery in this attraction is spectacular, especially during the slow ascent to the top — you get an elevated view all over Walt Disney World! If you have a chance to go on this ride at nighttime, you’ll be rewarded with a dazzling experience.

Expedition Everest is a relatively smooth ride compared to many coasters (which jostle you around). However, the attraction may be on the scary side for children because of the frightening visual effects, loud noises, speeds, darkness, and drops.

For anyone brave enough to board this frantic train, then you’ll be rewarded with 3.5 minutes of fast-paced pleasure.

Category: Thrill Ride, Big Drops, Dark

Height Requirement: 44″ or taller

Good for: Kids, Tweens, Teens, Adults

Disney Genie+/Lightning Lane Pass: Included in Genie+

2. Avatar: Flight of Passage

Along with Na’vi River Journey, Avatar Flight of Passage is one of Disney’s newest attractions and one of the most popular choices for Lightning Lane reservations. We picked Flight of Passage as #2 because it’s just such an amazing experience.

The ride opened in 2017, is located within Pandora – The World of Avatar area, and is based on James Cameron’s Avatar films.

Avatar Flight of Passage is a 3D flying simulator attraction set in the Avatar universe. The ride is often described as a nice combination of Soarin’ and Star Tours and is one of Disney’s most technologically advanced attractions of all time.

Guests hop aboard the back of a powerful mountain Banshee in preparation to soar across Pandora’s landscape, Humans and Na’vi seek to restore the banshee population back to natural levels, and you, as part of the avatar program, are linked with an avatar to fly on an Ikran (or “Banshee”) in this Na’vi tribal rite-of-passage.  This thrilling expedition takes you for an up-close view of the moon’s landscape.

The flying effects of Flight of Passage are superb.  Guests are able to turn their heads in nearly any direction – up, down, and side to side – to survey the Pandora landscape as they fly. We can see why this ride gets so much attention!

Category: Thrill Ride

Height Requirement: 44″ or taller

Good for: Kids, Tweens, Teens, Adults

Disney Genie+/Lightning Lane Pass: Individual Lightning Lane purchase

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3. Kilimanjaro Safaris

Kilimanjaro Safaris is Animal Kingdom’s most quintessential ride. If there is one attraction that is an absolute must, then this is probably it. After all, who’d want to visit Animal Kingdom without seeing any animals?

The ride starts with boarding an open-air vehicle and finding a seat. Then you begin a journey that lets you experience a guided tour of Animal Kingdom’s majestic African savanna. You’ll have a chance to get up close to live animals roaming free.

The ride takes you through Harambe Wildlife Reserve, a 110-acre landscape of forests, rocky wetlands, and tranquil open plains. Your guide will point out the 34 species of animals that reside here while also sharing interesting wildlife facts throughout the journey. (The educational value alone makes this ride tremendously popular among those who homeschool at Disney World.)

This fascinating expedition is 18 minutes long. You can expect to encounter elegant giraffes, shy hippopotamuses, intimidating lions high on rocky perches, elephants, rhinos, cheetahs, okapi, zebras, gazelles, and crocodiles. You’ll feel like you’re in rural Africa, not Orlando, Florida!

As we stated before, no Animal Kingdom visit would be complete without experiencing Kilimanjaro Safaris. This is a rare ride that enthralls everyone, from toddlers to the elderly and all ages in between.

Whatever you do, don’t miss this ride, and bring your camera!

Category: Slow Ride, Small Drops

Height Requirement: Any

Good for: All

Disney Genie+/Lightning Lane Pass: Included in Genie+


One of our favorite Animal Kingdom rides is DINOSAUR because it combines action-packed fun with stunning visual effects.

The plot of this motion simulator track ride takes you back to the age of the dinosaur. It’s your mission to haul a 3.5-ton Iguanadon back to the present day. But in order to complete the task, you must dart around fearsome predators, catch the dinosaur, and get out before a giant meteor wipes you out!

DINOSAUR is a frantic, dark, and unpredictable ride. It’s filled with bumps, speedy hairpin turns, and close calls. The high-tech visual effects are some of Disney’s finest!

But while the ride is sure to be a hit with most guests, the speed, sounds, and scary predators may be too much for some children.

Category: Thrill Ride, Dark, Scary, Small Drops

Height Requirement: 40″ or taller

Good for: Kids, Tweens, Teens, Adults

Disney Genie+/Lightning Lane Pass: Included in Genie+

5. Festival of the Lion King

The last ride on our list isn’t actually a ride. Yes, we are cheating a little since the Festival of the Lion King is a stage show. However, we just had to include this one because no guest should overlook Animal Kingdom’s most popular live show.

Festival of the Lion King explodes to life with an array of amazing acting, incredible music, awe-inspiring athleticism, and creative set design. The 30-minute celebration features a variety of entertainment, including live music from Disney’s The Lion King and a whirlwind of colors and costumes. The highly talented cast includes singers, dancers, stilt walkers, and trampoline acrobatics (performed by the Tumble Monkeys) with pounding beats as the accompaniment. The moving stages and Audio-animatronic add to the spectacle, all topped off with an emotional rendition of the “Circle of Life” as the finale.

To prove our love of Festival of the Lion King, we voted it as #1 on our Best Live Stows at Disney World list And if you have time for another Animal Kingdom stage show, be sure to check out Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond!. Both shows are not to be missed!

Category: Live Stage Show

Height Requirement: Any

Good for: All

Times: 10 AM – 6 PM; shows on the hour

Disney Genie+/Lightning Lane Pass: Included in Genie+

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Animal Kingdom Rides and Attractions at a Glance

The 7 Themed Areas of Animal Kingdom

Disney World’s Animal Kingdom is a zoological theme park with a focus on animal conservation and the natural environment.  The park opened in 1998 and now hosts over 12 million guests per year. With around 580 acres, Animal Kingdom holds the title of the largest theme park in the world.

The theme park is divided into seven uniquely themed areas. These lands are Africa, Asia, DinoLand U.S.A., Discovery Island, Oasis, Pandora – The World of Avatar, and Rafiki’s Planet Watch. Discovery River acts to separate Discovery Island from the other Animal Kingdom lands.

The Tree of Life is a 145-foot artificial baobab tree and is Animal Kingdom’s most iconic feature.

Here is a map of Animal Kingdom to give you some perspective on how the park is laid out:

Animal Kingdom Map

Animal Kingdom Rides

There are currently 42 rides and attractions at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park.

Note that certain rides have a minimum height requirement but the majority of the attractions are appropriate for all ages.

Here is a breakdown of the rides by themed area (or land):

List of the Current Animal Kingdom Attractions and Rides


  • Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail
  • Wild Africa Trek
  • Festival of the Lion King
  • Wildlife Express Train


  • Expedition Everest
  • Kali River Rapids
  • Maharajah Jungle Trek
  • UP! A Great Bird Adventure

Discovery Island

  • It’s Tough to Be a Bug!
  • Discovery Island Trails
  • The Tree of Life

DinoLand U.S.A.

  • Dinosaur
  • Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond!
  • Dino-Sue
  • Cretaceous Trail
  • The Boneyard
  • Kids Discovery Clubs
  • Chester and Hester’s Dino-Rama
    • TriceraTop Spin

Pandora- The World of Avatar

  • Avatar Flight of Passage
  • Na’vi River Journey

Rafiki’s Planet Watch

  • Affection Section
  • Conservation Station
  • Habitat Habit!
  • Wildlife Express Train

Best Animal Kingdom Rides and Attractions for Genie+/Lightning Lane

Animal Kingdom Rides and Attractions

It’s unlikely that you will be able to experience all – or even most – of rides and attractions in a single day. After all, there are over 40 in total, and just about all of them have lines (no matter what time of the year you visit). With this in mind, then it makes sense to make the best rides your top priority, so you don’t miss out on the fun.

You may find it helpful to visit our Disney Crowd Calendar and Strategies to Avoid Lines pages to discover the best ways to avoid crowds.

We also recommend adding Disney Genie+ to your tickets so you’ll be able to take advantage of shorter wait times (via the Lightning Lane entrance). Here are some suggestions.

Best Animal Kingdom Rides for Genie+/Lightning Lane Passes

  • Avatar Flight of Passage
  • Na’vi River Journey

We recommend Avatar Flight of Passage as a top priority for Lightning Lane reservations.

Some other rides you should consider for Genie+/Lightning Lane reservations are:

  • Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • Expedition Everest
  • Kali River Rapids
  • It’s Tough to Be A Bug
  • Festival of the Lion King
  • Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond!
  • Adventurers Outpost Character Greeting

Based on expected wait times, we’d recommend Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest as the highest priority, followed by DINOSAUR and Kali River Rapids.

Enjoy your trip to Animal Kingdom!

Free Help Planning Your Disney World Vacation

While our online guides are helpful, we know that sometimes there’s no substitute for personalized, one-on-one assistance planning Your Disney World vacation. That’s why we recommend you contact our friends at The Vacationeer!

As an Earmarked Diamond level Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, they provide completely free help planning your trip. You’ll have a single, dedicated agent from start to finish — no bouncing around a phone tree or waiting forever on hold! You’d be hard pressed to find that level of service from some national agency or wholesaler!

Your own dedicated agent will book your hotels, make dining reservations, secure theme park tickets, and share what you need to know about Lightning Lane and Genie+.  They’ll even keep track of payment deadlines so your trip stays on track!

And because they’re frequent Disney visitors themselves, you’ll get accurate, up-to-date information and advice from someone who actually visits the parks!

Best of all, they don’t charge any planning fees! Your trip won’t cost a penny more than if you’d booked it yourself — it might even cost less!

You’re never under any obligation to book with them, so there’s no risk connecting with them for a free quote today!

We hope this helps you prioritize your list of Animal Kingdom attractions.

For more useful Disney World information, please review some of our other helpful articles. These include our Things to Do at Animal KingdomAnimal Kingdom Restaurants, Best Magic Kingdom Rides, Best Epcot Attractions, Best Hollywood Studios Rides, Disney Travel Agents, Disney Dining Plan Calculator, Disney World Map, and Disney World Weather articles.

Thanks for reading and we hope you have a magical Walt Disney World vacation!