Disney Animal Kingdom for Adults: The Definitive Guide for Your Trip

What is there to do at Animal Kingdom for adults?


When it comes to exploring Disney World, my suitcase never rests. The latest notch in my Walt Disney World for grown-ups belt was Animal Kingdom (DAK).

Animal Kingdom park is the newest addition to the Disney family in Florida. It is also the most misunderstood park. Think of it and several questions pop into mind.

Is it a zoo? It sure has a lot of exotic animals.

Does it have rides? Nine of them.

But the loudest question that thumps at the back of the mind remains – is Disney’s Animal Kingdom for adults.

Luckily, when it comes to Walt Disney World (WDW), age is just a number. I mean you don’t have to be 13 to live your childhood dreams.

However, for those adults who still feel self-conscious or a little iffy about going to the Disney parks, Animal Kingdom has good news for you.

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Animal Kingdom Discovery Island

What to expect at Animal Kingdom?

This park has exotic animals from all over the world, but runs low on the thrill rides when compared to most theme parks. That does not mean it is boring or any less entertaining than the others.

On the contrary, what makes it great for adults is that it has so much more to enjoy among the attractions.

However, lesser rides do not mean you won’t need the FastPass+ for the Animal Kingdom. Remember, it has Avatar’s Pandora inspired land.

In fact, the new Pandora – World of Avatar attractions witness the longest waits and why not? Riding in them is like losing yourself to another world.

Animal Kingdom World of Avatar Floating Trees in Pandora
Animal Kingdom World of Avatar Floating Trees in Pandora

There are tier 2 ride levels like the Kilimanjaro Safari that constantly need a FastPass+ reservation as well.

So, if you asked me which is one of the best Disney park for adults and solo adult travelers, I’d totally recommend the Animal Kingdom.

If it makes more sense, you can approach the park as a day at the zoo instead of a theme park to feel more comfortable as an adult.

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Can I do Animal Kingdom in one day?

Since the park is easy to explore within a day, you can split your Disney trip between Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, another great option for adults.

Many people scoff and claim it is a “half-day” park, and like many, I believed them when I planned my first trip to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. But with its natural landscapes and relaxing walkways, it was hard to rush through.

Animal Kingdom River overlooking Harambe Village in Africa
Animal Kingdom River Overlooking Harambe Village in Africa

Plus, with additions of night-time entertainment and Pandora, there is no way you could enjoy the park if you were rushing trying to do it.

Being the youngest among the four, it certainly has a unique feel.

Designed with wider sidewalks and a variety of nooks with hidden treasures, the park is meant to be strolled leisurely, at a slower pace, possibly with beer.

Here is a list of things to do in Animal Kingdom with additional tips to plan the perfect day.

6 Tips to Plan an Adult Disney Trip to the Animal Kingdom

Despite being a bit further away from the other Disney parks, the park is popular, which means managing time and planning your day becomes vital to creating the perfect trip. The on-going expansion in the park also makes research and planning essential.

Animal Kingdom Asia Shrine
Animal Kingdom Asia Shrine

While some might remember Animal Kingdom as the “half-day” park, today it is four times the size of Magic Kingdom. The sprawling massiveness alone can cause a bout of jitters to an easily-overwhelmed person like me.

Strategies to Follow

To ensure you don’t have to worry about it, I have listed the best Animal Kingdom tips that I found on the Internet or learned during my own trip to the park.

  1. Plan your Animal Kingdom itinerary around Pandora – The World of Avatar
  2. Always save a FastPass+ for one of Pandora’s rides, preferably Avatar Flight of Passage. Here’s a guide to FastPass+.
  3. Expect to spend more time in Pandora than planned with the shops and the restaurants, and be okay with it
  4. Do not get locked in on rides or restaurants – spend time interacting with the animals even after finishing the Kilimanjaro Safari
  5. Wear comfortable shoes because a 580-acre landscape of the park will require lots of walking
  6. Use the My Disney Experience app to examine the map of the park and develop a walking path beforehand to ensure you manage your itinerary from attraction to another without having to walk extra

Read: 5 Incredible Disney World Packing List Tips for Adults

The Unmissable Animal Kingdom Rides for Adults

Although the park is a great choice for Disney adventure for adults and has a lesser number of rides, not all of them are exciting for the grown-ups. You’d still want to be picky about which one to spend time riding.

Flight of Passage Queue

Here is a list of all must-try rides at the kingdom for grown-up visitors like us.

  • Flight of Passage
  • Na’vi River Journey
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • Expedition Everest
  • Kali River Rapids

Hipster Power Tip: Expedition Everest coaster has a single-rider line, which can be good for adult-only or solo trips.

As for the other rides like Primeval Whirl and TriceraTop Spin, most adults will be fine skipping them.

Animal Kingdom Dinoland USA Primeval Whirl Roller Coaster Ride

Primeval Whirl is a seasonal attraction that operates infrequently, while the TriceraTop Spin is an aerial carousel that is more geared towards kids.

Even though most people skip Primeval Whirl, I enjoy this attraction on my visits to Disney World.

Best Disney Animal Kingdom Shows

The park boasts a lively street-like ambiance that frequently rings with music. It is hard to explore the park without getting sucked into the magical world of Disney with the talented Cast Members.

There are acts like the Viva Gaia on Discovery Island and Tam Tam Drummers in Harambe that make you dance.

Animal Kingdom African Village men in Harambe singing

Perhaps, the best shows are those that are live. The park hosts three indoor live shows.

  • Festival of the Lion King (widely praised and totally unmissable)
  • Finding Nemo: The Musical (a puppet show interpretation of the movie with great costumes, bubbles, and songs is a must-watch)
  • Up! A Great Bird Adventure (good but missable for those on a tight schedule)

Not only are live shows entertaining and creative to watch, but those performed indoors offer a break from the heat.

Finding Nemo cast at animal kingdom Disney Solo Trip
#DisneySide with Animal Kingdom’s Finding Nemo Cast

However, tagging them all in a single-day schedule will be a struggle as they all run for a bit longer duration.

Also, there are some awesome nighttime shows to juggle too! (Told you, not a half-day park).

Nighttime Shows

The recent addition of nighttime shows has given the park a completely new dimension. Though the park already teems with storybook charm, it becomes truly fantastic past the sundown.

Pandora World of Avatar at Night Disney Animal Kingdom Waterfall
Pandora World of Avatar at Night Disney

There are four of these Animal Kingdom nighttime shows that are all absolutely unmissable. Some of them are a harlequin glow-in-the-dark version of the park’s morning shows.

Riding Expedition Everest at Night

Apart from these, there’s the nighttime show of Expedition Everest too. The ride takes you through a glowing Everest.

Lagoon overlooking Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom

It is short and you might want to enjoy this eye-popping nighttime version of it if you have extra time on your hands.

The Rivers of Light Show

Rivers of Light is the revival of the original Rivers of Light show, which ended in May 2019. Having become an Animal Kingdom attraction, it is now even more beguiling with upgraded technology and special effects.

However, the show has limited seating, which is why I would recommend you to either save a FastPass+ or buy the Rivers of Light dining package for premium seats.

Pandora at Night

Topping the sundown charm is Pandora. It is a show that you will want to watch during the day as well as at night. This gorgeous Avatar-themed area is heavy on details with its floating mountains and immersive Valley of Mo’ara.

Valley of Mo'Ara Sign in Pandora World of Avatar

There is no denying the lush beauty of Pandora under the sun. However, Pandora at night takes on a completely different vibe when the plants shimmer in its Bioluminescent forest.

It is so enchanting that I lost myself to its ethereal glow.

A Safari Night Ride

If you only want to ride the Kilimanjaro Safari once, I’d suggest you do it during the sunset.This way you get to watch the animals under the dimmed sunlight, while still see nocturnal creatures.

Animal Kingdom African Safari with Momma and baby giraffe

Tree of Life

Among all the nighttime shows in the park, the most easily accessible is the Tree of Life.

At night, the Tree of Life Awakenings transforms the tree with mystical music and imagery. It happens every 10 minutes until the park is closed.

So, you can adjust a walk to it anytime you want.

Must-Visit Animal Kingdom Attractions

For you, visiting the Disney World and not meeting the characters is like traveling Paris and missing the Notre Dame. It is the best childhood memory that actually comes to life.

At Animal Kingdom, you do not want to leave it to chance on meeting with the iconic Disney characters.

Up Show at Animal Kingdom in Asia Section

If you are anything like me, you’d want to rush to the Discovery Island at least once before setting out. You can check the Characters section on the My Disney Experience app to know who is greeting.

You will most likely find out that it is Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

The Animal Kingdom boasts many interactive spaces too. Among those, the following are the once I’d highly recommend:

  • Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail in Africa
  • Maharajah Jungle Trek in Asia
  • Discovery Island Trails
  • The Oasis Exhibits
  • Wilderness Explorers
  • Rafiki’s Planet Watch

What makes Animal Kingdom unique?

When it comes to entertainment, Disney is always booming and offering more than we would anticipate. But at the Animal Kingdom, the list just seems to go on.

This is what makes the Animal Kingdom a unique park in the WDW family. With lesser rides and attractions, the park offers plenty to do even when you’ve think you’ve explored them all.

Festival of the Lion King Entrance Animal Kingdom
Festival of the Lion King Entrance at Animal Kingdom

If you are running tight on schedule and can manage only one themed area, I’d say go for the shows in Africa. After all, it is here that the drum-thumbing, groovy Tam Tam Drummers of Harambe, and Kora Tinga Tinga are performed.

The vibe of Africa in The Animal Kingdom is a pure mix of care-free, fun-geared, and somewhat bold. Even if you are a shy solo traveler, you’d not be able to help but dance and clap along with the drum beats.

The second in line for the best entertainment area in the Animal Kingdom would be Asia with its Bollywood beats.

Food and Drink Scene at The Animal Kingdom

With the two main themed areas dedicated to Asia and Africa, the Animal Kingdom restaurants offer a diverse menu. Although the dishes are adapted to appeal to the American palate, they impress by incorporating authentic international ingredients and flavors.

Mr. Kamal’s Fries Animal Kingdom
Mr. Kamal’s Fries Animal Kingdom

The other themed parks serve a range of standard American park fare.

The best overall Animal Kingdom dining option is the open-air Harambe Market in Africa. It offers a variety of street-food inspired selection.

On hot days, the air-conditioned Tiffins or the Yak and Yeti Disney restaurants come to the rescue with their worldly delicious mishmash of Indian and Southeast Asian dishes.

Tiffins Restaurant White Wine with Juicy Beef at Animal Kingdom
Tiffins Restaurant White Wine with Juicy Beef Short Rib at Animal Kingdom

Head straight to the Tamu-Tamu for refreshments with dark rum on the top, and to the Smiling Crocodile for healthy salads. For the familiar taste, head to the Starbucks masquerading as Creature Comforts.

If you are a visitor on a special diet or with allergies/aversions, then Terra Treats is your best bet in The Animal Kingdom. Here you will get delicious vegan, dairy-free, or/and gluten-free food, including the gluten-free Omission beer.

5 Best Drinks for Adults at Animal Kingdom

  1. Maharaja Lime Margarita: Sauza Silver Tequila, Triple Sec, Agave Nectar and Lime Juice at Warung Outpost
  2. Himalayan Ghost: Snow Leopard Vodka, Guava and Odwalla® Lemonade at Thirsty River Bar & Trek Snacks
  3. King’s Cooler: DOLE Whip® Pineapple with Watermelon, Strawberry and Coconut-flavored Syrup served with Plantation Dark Rum or Parrot Bay Coconut Rum at Tamu Tamu Refreshments
  4. Lamu Libation: Starr African Rum, Cruzan Banana Rum, and Guava Purée with Orange, Lime, and Pineapple Juices topped with Gosling’s 151 Rum at Nomad Lounge
  5. Ngumu Jungle Juice: Snow Leopard Vodka, Bols Peach Schnapps and Tusker’s famous Jungle Juice
Nomad Lounge cocktails at Animal Kingdom
Nomad Lounge cocktails at Animal Kingdom

Unforgetable Adult Friendly Things to do at Animal Kingdom

  • Eating Your Way Around the Globe at Animal Kingdom: I recommend that you create your own version of foodie tour around the world at this incredible park. Read how here.
  • Savor the Savanna: Evening Safari Experience: During the evening hours, Disney offers a private safari, African-inspired tapas, beverages and more. This is one of the BEST tours you as a solo traveler can enjoy on a visit to Animal Kingdom.
Animal Kingdom Safari with Elephants next to tree.

Hipster Power Tip: Visit Nomad Lounge for the ultimate adult experience at Animal Kingdom. You’ll be welcomed with incredible cocktails, great conversation with Cast Members and a relaxing ambiance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Now that you know how to conquer this Disney park as a grown-up, let’s go through some of the most common questions.

Expedition Everest at Disney's Animal Kingdom
Expedition Everest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Can I explore Animal Kingdom in half-day?

Yes, you can but you might miss some great attractions or get all huffy-puffy. I’d recommend taking your time on the walkways, food sections, and themed areas.

Which is the best weekday to visit Animal Kingdom?

Wednesday is the best with lower wait times on rides. Skip Mondays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Should I get early to the park?

With all the half-day and low-ride claims, Animal Kingdom may come off as an unpopular park. However, it sees as much crowd as the Magic Kingdom or Epcot. S

o, you might want to reach at least 30 minutes early to beat the crowd.

Flight of Passage Queue Giant Avatar at Disney Animal Kingdom

Which rides are tier 1 at The Animal Kingdom?

Both Pandora rides – Avatar Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey are tier one.

Ready to start planning your next Disney World vacation? Listen to the latest podcast episode on Apple or on your non-Apple device now!

Let’s Wrap It Up

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is as much fun and engaging as any other multi-day Disney park. Despite having heard and read many disappointing reviews, a visit to it is totally worth it.

It’s actually becoming one of my favorite Disney parks.

If anything, the low number of rides at this kingdom only makes the experience unique and more entertaining if you know where to head off to.

disney animal kingdom for adults
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Take full time, relax, and enjoy exploring the park at a slower pace, that is the key to having a whale of a time here.

Until next time, Happy Park Hopping Hipster!

UP NEXT: 13 Pro Tips For Disney’s Animal Kingdom to Make Your Day Easy

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