Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the fourth of four theme parks built at the Walt Disney World Resorts in Bay Lake, Florida. It was dedicated and opened to the public during Earth Day on April 22, 1998.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park
9:00am – 7:30pm
Jumbo wildlife park divided into 6 sections with animal encounters, thrill rides, safaris & shows.
Address: 2901 Osceola Pkwy, Orlando, FL 32830
Tickets prices, or costs vary based packages or coupons.
Animal Kingdom pictures slideshow YouTube video
Areas Park Layout Attractions Rides
Disney’s Animal Kingdom is divided into seven themed areas
The Oasis is the park’s main entrance, providing guest services. It features several animal habitats, including African spoonbills, Australian white ibis, babirusas, bronze-winged ducks, buffleheads, Chiloe wigeons, Eleonora cockatoos, Florida cooters, giant anteaters, hooded mergansers, hyacinth macaws, lesser whistling ducks, military macaws, Puna teals, radjah shelduck, Reeves’s muntjacs, rhinoceros iguanas, ringed teals, rosy-billed pochards, ruddy ducks, scarlet macaws, spot-billed ducks, swamp wallabies, white-cheeked pintails, and yellow-billed teals. The main paths lead deeper into the park, and onto
2. Discovery Island
A Rainforest Cafe is located at the entrance prior to entering Oasis and the park proper through the turnstiles.
For the island and now closed attraction with the same name also in Walt Disney World, see Discovery Island (Bay Lake). For other islands named Discovery Island, see Discovery Island.
Discovery Island is located at the center of the park, in the middle of the Discovery River waterway. It is the “central hub” connecting the other sections of the park, with the exception of Rafiki’s Planet Watch. It was originally called Safari Village, as Discovery Island was the name for the small zoological park located in Walt Disney World’s Bay Lake, but renamed after that area closed in 1999.
The Tree of Life, the park’s iconic sculpted, man-made Baobab tree, is located in this section and is surrounded by trails and animal enclosures showcasing Abdim’s storks, black crowned cranes, black-necked swans, blue-and-yellow macaws, Cape teals, chitals, collared brown lemurs, eastern grey kangaroos, Galápagos tortoises, Greater flamingos, Knob-billed ducks, Lesser flamingos, Oriental small-clawed otters, plumed whistling ducks, red kangaroos, red-and-green macaws, ring-tailed lemurs, roseate spoonbills, saddle-billed storks, salmon-crested cockatoos, silver teal, white storks, white-faced whistling ducks, and woolly-necked storks.
The park’s largest gift shops and two of its major restaurants are on Discovery Island, each with a different design theme, such as décor based on nocturnal animals, insects and so forth. The island’s other major draw is It’s Tough to Be a Bug!, a comical 4D film featuring appearances by Flik and Hopper from Disney·Pixar’s A Bug’s Life.
Africa is one of the original areas of the park. Set in the fictional east African village of Harambe, this area contains several animal exhibits. According to Disney legend, Harambe was once part of a colony, but a peaceful revolution made Harambe self-governing in 1961. Today, Harambe is the starting point for tourists and students to observe Africa’s animals in their natural habitats.
The village is the namesake of the Harambe Wildlife Preserve, the fictional home of Africa’s main attraction, Kilimanjaro Safaris. Guests climb aboard an open-sided safari vehicle for an expedition to see numerous African animals freely roam through acres of savanna, rivers and rocky hills, including addax, African elephants, black rhinos, blue wildebeests, bongos, bontebok, cheetahs, common elands, dama gazelles, gerenuks, Grant’s zebras, greater flamingos, greater kudus, helmeted guineafowls, hippos, impalas, lions, mandrills, Nile crocodiles, northern pintails, nyalas, okapis, ostriches, pink-backed pelicans, reticulated giraffes, sable antelopes, saddle-billed storks, scimitar-horned oryx, springboks, warthogs, waterbucks, white rhinos, yellow-backed duikers, and yellow-billed storks.
On the adjacent Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, visitors trek into the forest where animals such as black-and-white colobus monkeys, gerenuks, gorillas, hippos, Kenyan sand boas, kori bustards, meerkats, naked mole-rats, okapis, tarantulas, and yellow-backed duikers, as well as an aviary, are located.
An actress performing in the Festival of the Lion King.
In 2014, Festival of the Lion King, an attraction that originated in the now-demolished Camp Minnie-Mickey section of the park, was reopened in the newly built Harambe Theater. This is part of a wider expansion of Africa which will include a new path, restrooms, and new restaurant opportunities.
4. Rafiki’s Planet Watch
Rafiki’s Planet Watch is a section for young children and with families and the only section of the park not connected to Discovery Island, and is instead connected to Africa. Guests board the 3 ft 4 in (1,016 mm) narrow gauge Wildlife Express Train for the short trip to and from the area, which consists of three sub-areas. Guests first encounter Habitat Habit!, where they can see cotton-top tamarins and learn about the efforts to protect these endangered primates in their natural homes. Along the way, guests can also learn how to provide animal habitats in and around their own homes.
Conservation Station showcases the various conservation efforts supported by the Walt Disney Company. It also gives a behind-the-scenes glimpse into Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s animal care facilities, including a veterinary examination room complete with a two-way communications system so the veterinary staff can answer guest questions. Outside, Affection Section is a petting zoo featuring goats, sheep and other domesticated animals.
Other animals seen are ball pythons, blue-and-yellow macaws, blue-tongued skink, boa constrictors, butterflies, central bearded dragons, chinchillas, chinchilla rabbits, citron-crested cockatoos, common brushtail possums, corn snakes, Costa Rica zebra tarantula, death’s head cockroach, Dexter cattle, Dominique chickens, Eleonora cockatoos, emperor scorpions, eclectus parrots, fennec foxes, ferrets, giant African millipedes, golden lion tamarins, gray rat snakes, green tree pythons, Guinea hogs, Gulf Coast Native sheep, hermit crabs, hyacinth macaws, kinkajous, llamas, Madagascar day geckos, Madagascar hissing cockroaches, Madagascar tree boas, Nigerian Dwarf goat, Nile monitors, North American donkeys, opossums, pygmy goats, rats, rat snakes, red-and-green macaws, red-cockaded woodpeckers, red-crested turacos, roughneck monitor lizards, San Clemente Island goats, savannah monitors, Solomon Islands skinks, spectacled owls, striped skunks, tamanduas, tarantulas, tawny frogmouths, tawny owls, tenrecs, Tunis sheep, two-toed sloths, uromastyx, variable hawks, and vasa parrots.
Asia, the first expansion area added to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, first opened in 1999. Like Africa, the section’s attractions are part of a fictional place, the kingdom of Anandapur (which means “Place of many delights” in Sanskrit and is not to be confused with the Kendujhar district’s municipality of the same name that is in India).
Disney legend states that during its history, the village was part of a larger kingdom, also called Anandapur, which was ruled by benevolent maharajahs. Since then, the “residents” of the village have devoted much of the outskirts to the conservation and study of the region’s animal life. Anandapur comprises two villages: a riverside village that is also called Anandapur and Serka Zong (which is in the foothills of the Himalayas). Portraits of Anandapur’s royal family (consisting of the maharaja and his wife) can be found in most of the businesses within the two villages, a map of the kingdom featuring both villages and their location relative to the mountains and river can be found on the wall of the Disney Vacation Club kiosk located there. Much like Harambe, Anandapur is now a center of animal research and tourism. At the Caravan Stage, these two “worlds” meet in Flights of Wonder, a live bird show where one of Anandapur’s bird researchers educates a tour guide with a fear of birds about natural bird behaviors and the effects of habitat loss and conservation efforts on bird species, such as the black crowned crane and bald eagle.
The Maharajah Jungle Trek leads guests through the forests and ruins outside the village, which are home to a number of animal species such as Asian fairy-bluebirds, Bali starlings, bantengs, bar-headed geese, Bengal tigers, blackbucks, black-rumped flamebacks, blue-throated barbets, collared kingfishers, common emerald doves, cotton pygmy geese, crested partridges, early bluebirds, Eld’s deer, golden pheasants, golden-crested mynas, green junglefowl, green peafowls, hooded pittas, hoopoes, Indian rollers, iris lorikeets, jambu fruit doves, Komodo dragons, Lady Amherst’s pheasants, magnificent ground pigeons, Malayan flying foxes, Mandarin ducks, Moluccan king parrots, New Guinea masked plovers, Nicobar pigeon, northern white-cheeked gibbons, orange-bellied leafbirds, pheasant pigeons, pink-headed fruit doves, pink-necked green pigeons, plum-headed parakeets, red-headed parrotfinches, Rodrigues flying foxes, sarus cranes, scaly-breasted munias, siamangs, silver-eared mesias, sooty-headed bulbuls, Timor sparrows, treron pink-necked pigeons, white-headed munias, white rumped shamas, wompoo fruit doves, yellow-throated laughingthrushes, and yellow-vented bulbuls.
Nearby, Kali River Rapids is a river rapids ride along the fictional Chakranadi River through a rainforest, past an illegal logging operation and down a waterfall.
Looming in the distance behind Anandapur is the Forbidden Mountain, the home of Expedition Everest which is a roller coaster ride through the Himalayas where passengers will encounter a Yeti.
6. DinoLand U.S.A.
DinoLand U.S.A. is inspired by the public’s general curiosity about dinosaurs. The fictitious Dino Institute and its surrounding facilities attract those with a scientific interest in the long-extinct animals, while Chester and Hester’s Dino-Rama recalls the many roadside attractions that were once scattered throughout the United States. Like the other sections of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, there are animals on display.
According to Disney lore, DinoLand U.S.A. originally started as a small highway town where an amateur fossil-hunter found some dinosaur bones in 1947. After contacting some scientist friends, they gathered their money together to purchase the site. Since then, scientist, volunteers and grad students have been living there trying to find answers about dinosaurs. The Dino Institute was founded and opened the site as a “fossil discover park”. An old fishing lodge on the property became the Restaurantosaurus. Meanwhile, the Dino Institute discovered how to warp vehicles through time, and thus started doing time tours. Chester and Hester, two locals, were determined to make a quick buck and converted their gas station into a fossil souvenir shop. Not to be out done by the Dino Institute, they created their own version of DINOSAUR named Primeval Whirl, in addition to adding Triceratop Spin and the midway games.
These particular animals, such as the American crocodile, red legged seriemas, Abdim’s stork and Asian brown tortoise, have evolutionary links to the age of the dinosaurs. They are animal species that have survived since the dinosaur era and can be found along the Cretaceous Trail along with a collection of Mesozoic plants. At the edge of DinoLand U.S.A. is the “Theater in the Wild”, which hosts Finding Nemo – The Musical, a live-action musical stage show based on the story of the Disney·Pixar feature film.
The Dino Institute is the home of DINOSAUR, a thrill ride featuring a trip through time to the Late Cretaceous Period. Just outside the Institute is “Dino-Sue”, a casting of a Tyrannosaurus rex fossil that is the most complete yet found. At the nearby Boneyard, children enjoy a multi-leveled playground area complete with a Columbian mammoth fossil to be uncovered, and a cast skeleton of a Brachiosaurus.
Chester and Hester’s Dino-Rama, on the other hand, is about dinosaurs as fun. The TriceraTop Spin is a colorful ride for families, while Primeval Whirl is a spinning roller coaster for thrill-seekers. Throughout the area are carnival games and gift shops, as well as chances to meet Disney characters.
The area was formerly sponsored by McDonald’s until 2009 when the contract ran out.
7. Future, Pandora: The World of Avatar
In September 2011, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts announced plans to partner with filmmaker James Cameron, his Lightstorm Entertainment production company, and Fox Filmed Entertainment to develop attractions based on Cameron’s Avatar film series exclusively for Disney theme parks. The first installation is planned for Disney’s Animal Kingdom in the form of an Avatar-based section of the park. While no specifics were announced, the new area was described as being several acres in size and costing an estimated $400 million to build, a scale similar to Cars Land at Disney California Adventure in California. Components from the upcoming second and third films in the Avatar series will be featured, along with new designs not seen in any of the films. Construction began on January 10, 2014.
At the 2015 D23 Expo, Disney confirmed two attractions for the area: Flight of Passage, a flying E ticket simulator attraction where guests will learn to fly with a mountain banshee, and a D ticket boat ride attraction showcasing the native fauna and flora of Pandora that may include small drops.
In conjunction with Pandora—The World of Avatar, a new nighttime spectacular, entitled Rivers of Light, similar to World of Color from Disneyland Resort, will debut at the park’s Discovery River, featuring mist screens, floating lanterns, music and lighting.
Restaurants and shops
The park contains three table service restaurants:
Rainforest Cafe, a themed restaurant chain operated by Landry’s, located just outside the main entrance (also accessible from inside the park).
Yak & Yeti, an Asian-themed restaurant located in the park’s Asia section (operated by Landry’s Restaurants) that opened on November 14, 2007.
Tusker House, located in Africa and one of the park’s original quick-service restaurants, was converted into a buffet restaurant and re-opened on November 17, 2007.
Tusker House hosts “Donald’s Safari Breakfast” and “Donald’s Dining Safari Lunch,” a character-dining event where guests enjoy a buffet while meeting Donald Duck and other Disney characters.
There are five quick-service restaurants located throughout the park:
Flame Tree Barbecue, on Discovery Island
Pizzafari, on Discovery Island near where Camp Minnie-Mickey was.
Restaurantosaurus, in DinoLand USA
Tamu Tamu Refreshments, in Africa
Yak & Yeti Local Foods Café, in Asia
As with other Walt Disney World theme parks, Disney’s Animal Kingdom has other locations and carts that offer snacks and beverages.