A Detailed Guide to Animal Kingdom Park at Disney World

in Disney Parks, Uncategorized

Animal Kingdom Park entrance

Credit: Disney

Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park is a one-of-a-kind marvel boasting unique attractions and an impressive size that sets it apart from other Disney Parks.

While sometimes mixed, Disney’s Animal Kingdom reviews are generally favorable. However, nearly every visitor to Walt Disney World (Bay Lake, FL) would agree to its stark contrast to other Disney Parks that are usually known for flashy rides, bright colors, elevated noise levels, and booming fireworks. That’s because the Animal Kingdom is also an accredited zoological park, home to over 2,000 animals (300 species) on its massive 500 acres. Other animal residents are at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge—the corresponding separate Disney World Animal Kingdom Hotel and Resort of great acclaim.

Despite all its differences, you can still enjoy a vast array of Animal Kingdom rides and other attractions onsite, many of which attract visitors to the greater Orlando area who are not necessarily vacationing at Disney World. There are also several time-tested Animal Kingdom Restaurants that remain visitor favorites.

Trying to make your rounds with a grand Animal Kingdom guide map in hand can be intimidating and difficult. Perhaps an informative Park guide would be better. That’s why we at Inside the Magic have compiled this detailed Animal Kingdom parents’ guide highlighting the different Park attractions, dining options, and sections where everything is located.

May and Key of Animal Kingdom Park with Mickey pointing

Related: Animal Kingdom Gets Park-Wide Re-Theme

Park Hours and Tickets

Owing to its zoological nature, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park has shorter hours of operation than other Disney Parks. On average, the Park opens to the public at 9 a.m. Monday through Thursday. Opening time for Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays is 8 a.m. Unless otherwise indicated, closing time is typically set for 7 p.m. Disney Resort Guests and those staying at select Good Neighbor Hotels take note of an exclusive 30-minute allowance into the Park before public operating hours commence.

Current one-day ticket pricing for Animal Kingdom Park ranges between $109 and $159 plus tax. This fluctuates based on the season and any potential discounts that may apply to specific Guests.

Arriving Here

When traveling from any Disney Resort, the easiest method to arrive by is the complimentary shuttle bus service Disney provides. Note the designated drop-off/pick-up spots marked for each corresponding Resort. This also applies to folks staying at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Resort, despite any false assumptions that it adjoins Park grounds.

Those venturing in their own vehicles may park in the extended lot for a nominal fee. Disabled parking and preferred spaces are available near the theme park entrance. Preferred parking costs for cars and motorcycles range between $45 and $50 a day. Standard parking averages $25. Oversized vehicle parking spots are even available for $30 a day. An additional sales tax applies to all the aforementioned rates.

Off-property visitors who rely on alternate Resort transportation services are encouraged to check with their specific designations for traveling to and from Disney Parks.

Side-by-side images of Disney buses and Animal Kingdom's parking lot

Related: A Comprehensive Guide to Parking Costs at Disney World

Park Entry

Upon approaching the Park entrance, you will spot Rainforest Café, a Joffrey’s Coffee kiosk, security checkpoints, and those official ticket turnstiles by which to enter. There is an alternate method of venturing in via the Rainforest Café. Park reservations are still required at present time in addition to needing to purchase a ticket.

The entrance plaza is the first part of the Park and is where you will find Guest Relations, an ATM, wheelchair/stroller rentals, etc. It more or less serves as the interlude to the Park’s “official” first section—the Oasis.

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The Oasis

Aside from its serene surroundings comprised of misty glades, streaming waterfalls, and a couple of exotic animal exhibits, the Oasis doesn’t boast much in the way of attractions. If you’re lucky, though, you may glimpse the Park’s most elusive Character, DVine.

The Oasis leads Guests into the Discovery Island section of the Park, which is central to all the other land setups. From there, there is no deemed order by which to explore.

Discovery Island

Discovery Island is home to the Park’s impressive 14-story iconic Tree of Life. Featuring hundreds of hand-carved animal likenesses into the base of its trunk, the Tree of Life is an attraction in and of itself in the way of eye candy. Coincidentally, it also houses the theater attraction in its base as well. The current show, It’s Tough to be a Bug!, will soon be replaced by a new Zootopia-themed offering. Discovery Island is additionally home to its namesake Discovery Island Trail and Tree of Life Garden.

There are also plenty of dining options in this section. In the way of quick service, you have Creature Comforts (Starbucks), Eight Spoon Café, Pizzafari, Terra Treats, the Smiling Crocodile, Isle of Java, and Flame Tree Barbecue. Two great table-service establishments here include Tiffins and its adjoining Nomad Lounge.

Tree of Life at Discovery Island
Credit: Disney

DinoLand U.S.A.

While this Park section is due for a much-needed overhaul, current visitors to the site may delight in a few attractions, select animal exhibits, and several quick-service dining options. In the way of the aforementioned attractions, you have the Dumbo-like TriceraTop Spin, that thrilling fan-favorite Animal Kingdom DINOSAUR ride, and that theatrical offering of Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond!

As far as food and refreshments go, you can enjoy great offerings at Dino-Bite, Trilo-Bites, and Restaurantosaurus (and Lounge).

Related: Dinoland U.S.A. Officially Extinct as New Area Comes to Animal Kingdom


The Asia section of the Animal Kingdom features two of the Park’s wilder ride pursuits. Here you have that famed high-speed roller coaster—Expedition Everest, and the drenching Kali River Rapids. Asia is also the site of the open-air theater Feathered Friends in Flight show.

Another excellent attraction to delight in here is the Maharajah Jungle Trek, laden with a vast array of diverse Asian animal species. Watch for Sumatran tigers, Komodo dragons, Gibbons, Siamangs, Blackbuck, Elds deer, Water buffalo, and more.

Dining options comprise primarily quick-service options, including Mr. Kamal’s, Drinkwallah, Caravan Road, Warung Outpost, Royal Anandapur (Tea Company/Ice Cream Cart), Chakranadi, Thirsty River Bar, Serka Cart, Trek Snacks, and Yak & Yeti Quality Beverages/Local Foods Café. On that note, it’s also worth mentioning that Yak & Yeti presents an impressive sit-down restaurant here as well.

Expedition Everest
Credit: Disney

Related: Guests Experience Expedition Everest Without Part of the Track!

Rafiki’s Planet Watch

This smaller section of the Park is an attraction in itself. It can only be reached by riding the Wildlife Express Train and then disembarking out front of the main building—the Conservation Station. Here, you can spend hours exploring a host of onsite endeavors inside and out. Check out the Affection Section petting zoo full of the usual farm animals you know and love. You may decide to check out the small Habitat Habitat! trail while you’re at it. Then, head inside to experience the Animation Experience, where you can learn to draw animated Disney Animal Characters. Plenty of other opportunities await you here afterward.


This is the section housing the Park’s anchoring standout attraction—Kilimanjaro Safaris. It’s also home to the Wild Africa Trek and Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail. That being said, this area alone features the most animals in one location. It’s also home to that spectacular stunt show Festival of the Lion King.

Dining and snack options won’t disappoint. Some of the best-loved counter-service suggestions include Tamu Tamu Refreshments, Mahindi, Harambe Market/Fruit Market, Dawa Bar, Kusafiri Coffee Shop & Bakery, and the renowned Character Dining buffet Tusker House.

Kilimanjaro Safaris at Animal Kingdom
Credit: Orlando Vacation

Pandora: The World of Avatar

This is the Disney’s Animal Kingdom Avatar-themed land you’ve heard so much about and the newest addition to the Park. It’s also where to find both those Disney Pandora ride offerings—the calmer water-based Na’vi River Journey and intense simulator-style Flight of Passage.

In addition to the main rides, this whole area is a scenic attraction full of dazzling spectaculars and numerous callouts, including floating/hanging mountains.

As far as dining goes, your options are Pongu Pongu and Satu’li Canteen.

Mountains at Avatar
Credit: Disney Fanatic

Related: ‘Avatar 3’ Will Have a Major Connection to Disney World’s Pandora, Director Reveals

What’s your favorite part about Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park? Let us know in the comments.

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