Today we continue our attraction rankings series, moving on to Animal Kingdom. If you missed any of the series thus far you can catch up here. Before we get to the rankings, let’s quickly brush up on the rules.
- No Meet & Greets. These are impossible to rank as each experience is unique. Also, I don’t particularly like them.
- No Live Shows. Nighttime shows are almost always better than rides, in my eyes. Also, big stage shows are impressive and don’t fit the profile of a typical ride. I will include 3D movies though. Basically you have to physically ride or walk through something. I’ll include walking trails at Animal Kingdom because I think they are vital to the park and are more attractions than entertainment (unlike live shows). I won’t be including any of the Rafiki’s Planet Watch ‘exhibits’ as I don’t think they’re exactly rides or walk-throughs.
- These are all my opinion. Lou Mongello constantly says that “every attraction is someone’s favorite.” While that is corny and seems a little silly, I think the sentiment is mostly true. I can’t account for other people’s memories in these rankings and will try (probably unsuccessfully) to take some of the nostalgia out of my views of these attractions. You’ll likely disagree with these rankings. Please let me know what you disagree with in the comments.
Like Hollywood Studios, this post will be shorter than the Disneyland and California Adventure posts because there are fewer attractions. Animal Kingdom has legitimate reasons for this as there aren’t many theme parks like it in the world. The park isn’t about racing from attraction to attraction but instead is best experienced taking a leisurely pace and exploring the vast grounds. If you’re just doing attractions at Animal Kingdom and are skipping the live entertainment, the trails (which we do include in this list), the smaller animal exhibits and just soaking in the atmosphere, I’d highly recommend you adjust your touring plan. While I’m sure the park isn’t for everyone, I think slowing down would make any experience at Animal Kingdom better. That is the reason why attraction rankings at this park don’t tell the full story.
With all of that being said, Animal Kingdom could use a few more attractions to ride. Pandora certainly helped. Another expansion, an upgrade at Rafiki’s Planet Watch or a quality replacement for DinoLand would do wonders and make this a top tier park. Hopefully that comes in the future.
On to the rankings!
11. TriceraTop Spin – A dumbed-down version of Dumbo. Instead of elephants though there are Triceratops. Triceratops are really cool, but that can’t offset the feeling that this could be ridden at your local fair. I don’t have much against this spinner ride but the attractions take a significant jump up in quality after this one.
10. It’s Tough to be a Bug! – A wild, weird 4-D movie featuring characters from A Bug’s Life. The queue is wonderful, taking you under and around the Tree of Life. Loyal readers know that I’m terrified of this ride/movie. It’s the ride I’m most scared of at Disney Parks. No, this isn’t justifiable but I don’t go on it anymore. All that aside, I do think this is a wacky and fun attraction that’s pretty strong overall.
9. Na’vi River Journey – Pandora’s second attraction is largely a disappointment. Having said that, there is a gigantic jump from number 10 to number 9. Na’vi River Journey certainly looks impressive, unfortunately there isn’t anything more to the attraction. Guests ride down a river and look at Pandora’s bioluminescent forest. There are worse things to look at but the attraction has no plot to sink your teeth into. Still, this makes for a very solid top-10 in the park.
8. Kali River Rapids – If the theming of the actual attraction met the standards of Kali River Rapids’ queue then this attraction would easily be in the top 3. Unfortunately, the ride is lackluster after the significant buildup of a beautiful queue. This river rapids ride has a few thrilling moments but the story falls flat, as do the visuals throughout the ride. Still, I have a soft spot for river rides and this is a fine attraction even if it could improve.
7. The Boneyard – The Boneyard is a playground on the outskirts of DinoLand. This is the best themed playground in any Disney Park and is fun to explore. The Boneyard acts as an archaeological dig site with bones to uncover and little tunnels throughout. Now, if you’re on an adults-only trip then spending half an hour here isn’t advisable but I do think it’s worth walking through. If you’re a kid, or a parent with a kid, I think spending a decent amount of time here is a good option. There’s much to explore while still offering what a standard playground has.
6. Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail – This would be a near perfect trail in a zoo. There are a ton of animals to showcase. The trail loops around nicely and is a great length. The animals here are interesting, blending some obscure ones with favorites. With that being said, this attraction comes in 6th place because there isn’t as much of a theme here as elsewhere in the park. While I think this is definitely worth your time, I don’t think Gorilla Falls transcends being anything more than a walking trail to see some cool animals. The gorilla section is absolutely beautiful though.
5. DINOSAUR – With an awesome ride system and being a story about the world’s best extinct creatures, Dinosaur should be even better than it is. The story is pretty fun, going back in time to grab a dinosaur to bring back to the lab. Naturally, everything goes wrong before it’s solved. I thoroughly enjoy the attraction but it’s not without its faults. The attraction is a little bit campy and doesn’t have the thrills that its counterpart, Indiana Jones Adventure (in Disneyland), has. It’s also incredibly dark. Overall though, this is an extremely fun ride in a park that needs one.
4. Maharajah Jungle Trek – There is a pretty big jump from DINOSAUR to the top-4. Maharajah Jungle Trek isn’t your typical theme park attraction, but it is magnificent. This animal trail tells the story of a beautiful land that was eventually overrun with poachers. Over time, animals and the people of the area ousted the poachers and learned to live in harmony. All of these stories are told through sculptures and murals on old ruins throughout the path. Intertwined with these ruins are amazing animals that you can get really close to. The path culminates in a few great areas to see tigers. I think the trek is one of the most beautiful areas Imagineers have ever developed. While I can understand people being more excited about thrill rides, this is an incredibly unique and beautiful attraction.
3. Expedition Everest – I have always thought Expedition Everest was a great roller coaster that was a step below some of Disney’s classic mountains. Then I rode this at night and it became one of my favorite attractions anywhere. Mind you, this is all with an audio-animatronic in the middle of the ride that is broken. If they ever figure out how to get the yeti in Expedition Everest working again then this attraction will be one of the best in the world. As is, I still love this roller coaster that’s augmented by the queue and surrounding Asia themed area. The prayer flags throughout Asia, the queue, and the actual ride makes the experience feel more authentic. Many people would have Everest as number one on this list and I wouldn’t argue. Animal Kingdom has a top-3 set of attractions that are unrivaled at Walt Disney World.
2. Avatar Flight of Passage – Flight of Passage is Walt Disney World’s recent E-ticket addition and is the best attraction addition in decades. This ride takes guests on the back of a banshee (those flying creatures in Avatar, the movie no one remembers). The ride system is similar to Soarin’ but in a different vehicle. Flight of Passage is certainly more thrilling than Soarin’ though. Visually, the ride is stunning and that starts in the queue of the attraction. This attraction boasts the best queue I have ever been in. If you are more of a thrill seeker than animal lover then this is a pretty clear number one.
1. Kilimanjaro Safaris – Kilimanjaro Safaris is one of of my favorite attractions in the world. The scope of this attraction that takes guests on a journey to see nearly 100 different types of animals is unheard of in theme parks. In fact, this attraction is nearly the size of some theme parks. Kilimanjaro Safaris is the perfect blend of entertainment and education in a ride, as the skipper has plenty of facts to go along with the sights. On top of that, the ride experience is never the same making this one of the most re-rideable attractions around. Kilimanjaro Safaris is the flagship attraction of Animal Kingdom and has more than earned that title.
Animal Kingdom has 11 attractions and 10 of them are definitely worth your time. On top of that, there is some incredible entertainment and atmosphere throughout Animal Kingdom that’s not to be missed. All in all, Animal Kingdom could use a few more attractions but is becoming the most complete park at Disney World. Headlined by Kilimanjaro Safaris, Flight of Passage and Expedition Everest, the attraction lineup is very solid.
What do you think of our Animal Kingdom Attraction Rankings? Let us know your thoughts or any questions you might have in the comments below. Planning a trip to Walt Disney World? Check out our Disney World Trip Planning Guide to help you out. If you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney please share this post with your friends, as well as like our social media pages. You can also subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email. All of those links are on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!