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A One Day Plan: The Must-Do Attractions at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Guests who visit Walt Disney World love to spend time in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, losing themselves in nature and exotic worlds. The park celebrates the beauty and importance of our planet and aims to teach guests about conservation and preservation in fun and entertaining ways. Guests who spend time in Disney’s Animal Kingdom can travel back in time, come face to face with beautiful animals, go on an African safari, conquer intense river rafting, and become honorary bugs. With so many amazing experiences to be had in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, it is impossible to experience it all in one day. Guests who follow a simple plan for one day in the park can definitely experience plenty of must-do attractions without running out of time. Here is a one-day plan to see the most must-do attractions in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.


Editor’s Note: Lightning Lane Attractions

In the article below, the author gives tips on times of the day when guests should visit attractions to make the most of their day. Guests who purchase access to the Lightning Lane by either Disney Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lane will have their day dictated by the selection times offered on the day of their visit (you will be given the first available time).

If you are purchasing access, then you’ll be able to make your selections the morning of your visit and not before. For Disney Genie+ attractions, all guests can make their first selection at 7:00 am. For Individual A la Carte Lightning Lane attraction, resort guests can make their first selection at 7:00 am, and non-resort guests can make their first selections at park opening. Here is the list of Lightning Lane attractions at the park.

Disney Genie+ Attractions:

    1. Dinosaur
    2. Expedition Everest
    3. Feathered Friends in Flight!
    4. Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond!
    5. It’s Tough to be a Bug!
    6. Kali River Rapids
    7. Kilimanjaro Safaris 
    8. Na’vi River Journey
    9. Meet Favorite Disney Pals at Adventurers Outpost
    10. The Animation Experience
    11. The Festival of the Lion King

Individual A la Carte Lightning Lane Attraction:

    1. Avatar Flight of Passage (very popular, purchase early as it may sell out)

Keep in mind that you do not have to purchase either of these options to enjoy these attractions. The regular standby queue is always an option. 

1 – Pandora – The World of Avatar

Guests who want to make the most of their day in Disney’s Animal Kingdom should arrive immediately when the park opens and head straight to Animal Kingdom’s newest land, Pandora – The World of Avatar. The land, the largest expansion in the history of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, is based on Oscar-winning filmmaker James Cameron’s record-breaking box-office hit, Avatar, which was released in 2009. The film was insanely popular due to Cameron’s amazing special effects. The movie is a science fiction film about humans attempting to colonize on a habitable moon called Pandora. While living on Pandora sounds like an excellent opportunity for this cast of humans, they are met with resistance from the local tribe of Na’ vi. Animal Kingdom’s lush world of Pandora is set a generation after a great conflict, the Na’ vi and humans are at peace, and the land is experiencing a rebirth. Pandora now welcomes Disney guests as eco-tourists. The land is a fantastic spectacle of Disney Imagineering, creativity, and storytelling. As you explore the vibrant terrain sprawling beneath mountains that appear to float in the sky, you’ll see waterfalls cascading down the mountainside into meandering streams and pools. Then you’ll discover two thrilling expeditions: Avatar Flight of Passage and Na’ vi River Journey. Grab a bite to eat at the quick-service restaurant Satu’li Canteen, or grab a drink and snack at Pongu Pongu. There are so many amazing things to explore. Visiting Pandora an absolute must-do on your trip to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

2 – Kilimanjaro Safaris

The Africa section of the park is home to the village of Harambe. There guests can enjoy Kilimanjaro Safaris, which brings guests on a two-week safari through the Harambe Reserve, where they can enjoy up-close encounters with animals like elephants, cheetahs, giraffes, zebras, and lions. Kilimanjaro Safaris is a must-do experience in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and guests should make it a priority to visit the attraction in the morning or late evening when there are few crowds, low wait times, and low temperatures, which generally result in the animals being more active.

3 – Kali River Rapids

A thrilling adventure that is guaranteed to leave guests soaking wet can be found in the Asia section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Kali River Rapids is a must-do attraction that brings guests on a white-knuckle rafting tour down the Chakranadi River. While the journey starts out peacefully, guests soon experience firsthand the devastation of illegal logging and deforestation. Since Kali River Rapids is incredibly popular in the hot months with guests who are looking to cool off in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, guests consider purchasing Disney Genie+ and making a selection for the experience to avoid a long wait on the standby line.

4 – Expedition Everest

Also found in the Asia section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom is an attraction that brings guests deep inside the Forbidden Mountain. Expedition Everest begins as a quiet tea train tour in the foothills of the mountains but soon turns dangerous as guests find themselves deep inside the mountain, desperately trying to escape the clutches of the Yeti. Expedition Everest is very popular amongst guests in Disney’s Animal Kingdom and tends to have long wait times on busy days in the park. Guests who want to enjoy the attraction while not spending a lot of time waiting in line should opt to use the Single Rider line, which offers the same experience with a usually shorter wait time so long as guests don’t mind being split up at the loading area. If you don’t want to purchase Genie+, if you keep an eye on wait times, you should be able to enjoy the attraction without purchasing access. 


5 – Dinosaur

Dinoland in Disney’s Animal Kingdom brings all things prehistoric to life thanks to the nearby Dino Institute. Guests can enter into the facility where the technology to travel back to the time of the dinosaurs has been perfected. Dinosaur is supposed to bring guests to a quiet prehistoric time but turns into a thrilling adventure when guests find themselves very close to a massive asteroid impact. With darkness, scary dinosaurs, and sudden twists and turns, Dinosaur is an exciting must-do attraction in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Even with Dinosaur’s popularity, the wait time tends to be fairly reasonable unless you visit during a particularly busy period.

6 – Maharajah Jungle Trek

In addition to the thrilling attractions in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, some experiences take guests into the heart of nature and allow them to explore the beauty of foliage and animals. The Maharajah Jungle Trek can be found near Kali River Rapids and invites guests to embark on a self-guided walking tour through lush temple ruins and beautiful details. Along the way, guests can encounter animals like Fruit Bats, Gibbons, and Asian Tigers. Since the Maharajah Jungle Trek is a little off the beaten path, it tends to be quiet and very enjoyable for guests on a day in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Tiger at M Trek

7 – Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail

Like the Maharajah Jungle Trek, there is another self-guided walking tour near Kilimanjaro Safaris’s exit. The Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail features lush forest scenes, beautiful waterfalls, and quiet areas for guests to enjoy. Guests can encounter meerkats and other animals along the way before reaching a massive gorilla habitat with rolling hills and gushing waterfalls. With beautiful views and quiet areas, the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail is a must-do attraction in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.


8 – Festival of the Lion King

One live show in Disney’s Animal Kingdom is so amazing that it cannot be missed on a day there. The Festival of the Lion King is housed in the Harambe Theater near Kilimanjaro Safaris. It brings the story of the classic Disney animated film The Lion King to life with aerial ballet, acrobatics, fire dancing, song, and familiar characters. Guests absolutely love singing along to classic music from the movie and seeing the story told in a whole new way. The Festival of the Lion King is extremely popular with guests in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, so guests who want to enjoy the show should consult a times guide for showtimes and arrive at least a half-hour early at the theater to ensure a seat inside. We don’t suggest you use this for a Disney Genie+ selection unless you want to ensure you’ll have a seat inside or it’s crazy busy. If you arrive early, you almost always can get into the theater. 

For a no obligation, FREE Quote on a Disney vacation package, please contact our travel partner Magical Vacation Planner at 407-442-0227 (407-442-0215 for Spanish). You can also request a FREE quote online by Clicking HERE.



Katy is a huge fan of Walt Disney World and has been visiting yearly since she was an infant. With many trips under her belt, she loves to take her time in the parks and discover lots of small details and secrets in between attractions.
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