As Walt Disney World’s fourth and final gate, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park officially opened in 1998 with one of the most unique designs of any of the Disney Parks around the world. This park is part traditional theme park with rides, shows, and restaurants, as well as part zoo with animal exhibits, a safari tour, and a conservation area. Animal Kingdom is the largest of all the Disney Parks around the world, spanning approximately 500 acres of land.
Originally, Animal Kingdom was intended to have three main areas, which were living creatures, extinct creatures, and a section for fantasy creatures. This is why the entrance sign includes a dinosaur and a dragon along with the other animals. Looking at the park today, the section based on currently living creatures can be found in the zoo element and anything else in the parks that have to do with animals that exist today, while the extinct creatures are represented by the DinoLand U.S.A. section of the park. The fantasy section detailed in the original plans, referred to as “Beastly Kingdom”, was never created, but Animal Kingdom is now home to a different fantasy-based section of the park instead, which is Pandora – The World of Avatar.
Animal Kingdom is currently divided into seven main areas:
- Discovery Island
- DinoLand U.S.A.
- Rafiki’s Planet Watch
- Pandora – The World of Avatar
One restaurant is located just outside the entrance to Animal Kingdom, which is Rainforest Cafe® at Animal Kingdom, and this restaurant leads to a secondary park entrance that is separate from the main entrance. There is also an interactive scavenger hunt type game that can be found throughout the park, which is the UP-themed “Wilderness Explorers“.
The Oasis area is the first area you will come to after entering Animal Kingdom Park. This area is mainly for animal exhibits, though there is one small gift shop, Garden Gate Gifts, and one small restaurant, Safari Bar.
Discovery Island is the center (hub) section of the park which most of the other areas are connected to, and the iconic Tree of Life landmark sits in the center of this area. This is also where the nightly projection show takes place called The Tree of Life Awakening.
Aside from several animal exhibits, the only attraction found at Discovery Island is the Bug’s Life themed show – “It’s Tough to Be a Bug!” There are a few options for entertainment, however, including several character meet and greets, Animal Encounters: Winged Encounters – The Kingdom Takes Flight bird show, and the Viva Gaia Street Band! entertainers.
There is quite a large range of food and beverage options in the Discovery Island area including:
- Creature Comforts (Counter Service)
- Eight Spoon Cafe (Counter Service)
- Flame Tree Barbecue (Quick Service)
- Isle of Java (Quick Service)
- Nomad Lounge (Table Service)
- Pizzafari (Quick Service)
- Pizzafari Family-Style Dining (Table Service)
- The Smiling Crocodile (Quick Service)
- Terra Treats (Quick Service)
- Tiffins Restaurant (Table Service)
Shops located in this section include:
- Discovery Trading Company
- Island Mercantile
- Riverside Depot
- Tiffins Cart
- Tree of Life Cart
Animal Kingdom’s dinosaur-themed area has two separate, yet related, sections. One is a section featuring a few animal viewing areas, some restaurants, and the DINOSAUR ride, while the other is a carnival-like area with dinosaur-themed games and common carnival-type rides.
Interestingly, the only entertainment located in DinoLand isn’t actually dinosaur themed, but rather it is one of Animal Kingdom’s two movie-themed musical productions, “Finding Nemo – The Musical” (the other is “Festival of the Lion King” in Africa).
There are currently three non-ride attractions in DinoLand, which are The Boneyard play area, the Dino-Sue fossil replica, and Fossil Fun Games.
There are also three rides in DinoLand, which are:
- Primeval Whirl
- TriceraTop Spin
Dining options in DinoLand U.S.A. are not as vast as some of the other areas in the park, but all four of these quick service restaurants are dino-themed:
- Dino-Bite Snacks (Quick Service)
- Dino Diner (Quick Service)
- Restaurantosaurus (Quick Service)
- Trilo-Bites (Quick Service)
Two shops and four carts are located in DinoLand and also carry a dinosaur theme:
- Boneyard Cart
- Chester and Hester’s Dinosaur Treasures
- The Dino Institute Shop
- DinoLand Cart
- Dino-Rama Cart
- Theater in the Wild Cart
Asia is home to two shows, the nightly “Rivers of Light” and “UP! A Great Bird Adventure”. Asia also has two fan-favorite rides, which are the famous Expedition Everest: Legend of the Forbidden Mountain rollercoaster and the Kali River Rapids water raft ride. There are also a few animal exhibits in this section of the park as well.
The food and beverage options located in Asia are:
- Anandapur Ice Cream Truck (Quick Service)
- Caravan Road (Quick Service)
- Drinkwallah (Quick Service)
- Thirsty River Bar & Trek Snacks (Quick Service)
- Warung Outpost (Quick Service)
- Yak and Yeti™ Local Food Cafes (Quick Service)
- Yak and Yeti™ Quality Beverages (Quick Service)
- Yak and Yeti™ Restaurant (Table Service)
Asia also has a few shops and carts, including:
- Kali Cart
- Maharajah Cart
- Mandala Gifts
- Serka Cart
- Serka Zong Bazaar
- Yak and Yeti™ Bhaktapur Market
Africa’s most well-known entertainment option is the “Festival of the Lion King”, which is Animal Kingdom’s musical version of one of Disney’s classic movies. Alongside this fan-favorite show, Africa also features the Tam Tam Drummers of Harambe.
Africa offers the most animal exhibits and encounters as it is also home to the extremely popular Kilimanjaro Safaris tour ride. The only other ride located in Africa is the Wildlife Express Train, which takes guests back to Rafiki’s Planet Watch.
There are several dining options in Africa, including:
- Dawa Bar (Table Service)
- Harambe Fruit Market (Quick Service)
- Harambe Market (Quick Service)
- Kusafiri Coffee Shop & Bakery (Quick Service)
- Mahindi (Quick Service)
- Tusker House Restaurant (Table Service)
Six shops are located in Africa, including one snack store, which are:
- Africa Hub Cart
- Kilimanjaro Safaris Cart
- Maryia’s Souvenirs
- Mombasa Marketplace
- Ziwani Traders
- Zuri’s Sweet Shop
Rafiki’s Planet Watch
This section of Animal Kingdom is more educationally based with a conservation area and a petting zoo. It is quite a long distance from the rest of the lands and can only be accessed by train.
There are no shows in this area of the park, but there are a few animal exhibits, including a petting zoo area called the Affection Section and the Conservation Station, which is an educational center with a veterinary facility. The newly added Animation Experience is also located in Conservation Station, which allows guests to draw classic Disney characters while following along with instructions from a Disney animator.
No dining options are available in this area, and only one shop, Out of the Wild, is located here.
Pandora – The World of Avatar
Animal Kingdom’s newest addition is based on James Cameron’s science fiction film Avatar. According to the storyline of this park, visitors are transported to another planet on which they encounter unusual creatures and learn more about the Na’vi civilization. Two different types of entertainment are found in Pandora, one of which is the Pandora Drummers – Swotu Waya and the other a walk-around Pandora Utility Suit, in which a cast member interacts with guests in a small show-like experience.
Pandora features two very popular rides, which often see standby line wait times well over an hour each:
- Avatar Flight of Passage
- Na’vi River Journey
Two quick service restaurants are also located in Pandora, which are:
- Pongu Pongu (Quick Service)
- Satu’li Cafe (Quick Service)
There are also two shops in Pandora:
- Colors of Mo’ara
For an overview of the other Walt Disney World theme parks, visit the Walt Disney World Overview page.
We try to update the information on this page as often as possible, but Disney frequently makes changes and updates to their parks and offerings, so this information is subject to change at any moment. We always recommend double checking the official Walt Disney World website before planning your trip. Any information in this post was current at the time of publishing. Post last updated December, 2019.