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Adventures in the Heart of the Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom

Explore the wild side of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Featuring sprawling trails and walking journeys through exotic wildlife, this is one park that should not be missed!

It’s a great, relaxing ride that gives kids an up-close look at behind the scenes operations at Animal Kingdom, like veterinary facilities. However, it could use more fact-filled tidbits to make it a more immersive experience.

  1. Wildlife Express Train

Aboard this rustic train, guests are taken behind-the-scenes from Harambe, Africa to Rafiki’s Planet Watch. On the way, you’ll see animal caretakers at work in their veterinary treatment room and other facilities, and learn more about how Disney helps animals all over the world.

You’ll also get to view some backstage areas like where the white rhinos and elephants are housed (as seen on Kilimanjaro Safaris). And if you’re returning from Rafiki’s Planet Watch, you’ll be able to see some of the backstage area of the park’s Asia section.

This is a great ride to take if you need to rest or if your group is too young for any other attractions in the Animal Kingdom. However, the majority of people who have ridden this attraction feel that it doesn’t offer enough scenic views to make up for its short duration and slow speed. Plus, the seats on this train face outward, so be prepared to lose some thigh space.

  1. DinoLand U.S.A.

Whether you’re encountering yetis or flying on the backs of Pandora’s banshees, all that adventuring is bound to work up a roar-sized appetite! Luckily, DinoLand U.S.A has plenty of food and drink options, including Dino Bites and the Dino Diner. Dino Diner is a roadside diner that fits in with the wacky theme of the area, complete with a snazzy-looking teardrop trailer and kitschy decor.

The restaurant is run by Chester and Hester, two local paleontologists who are trying to make a name for themselves by selling dino trinkets. The land also includes Fossil Fun Games, a carnival-style midway that features dinosaur-shaped vehicles similar to Dumbo the Flying Elephant, and Primeval Whirl, a twisting and turning ride where you can spin around in a triceratops-shaped vehicle. At the 2022 D23 Expo, it was teased that DinoLand might be completely reworked as part of a new project. No specifics have been revealed, but Disney Imagineers have discussed ideas involving Zootopia and Moana.

  1. The Festival of the Lion King

Disney’s Animal Kingdom was founded as a way to inspire guests with the spectacular breadth and beauty of nature. That’s true whether it’s a heart-pounding safari adventure, a mystical exploration of insect behavior or a larger-than-life musical celebrating the Circle of Life.

The live show is inspired by the Disney movie and Broadway musical and features colossal puppets, animal floats, stilt walkers and incredible dancers. It’s presented in a circular theater that makes every seat a great one. Each section gets a label (elephant, giraffe, warthog or lion) and the performers in that area — including your favorite character, Timon — perform their parts.

There’s also a special seating option called Lightning Lane for select Genie+ dining packages. Upon completing your meal, you’ll receive a pass that admits you to reserved seating for the show. This must be presented to a Cast Member when entering the theater 15 minutes prior to show time. Otherwise, you’ll be seated with other guests.

  1. UP! A Great Bird Adventure

This stage show formerly was called Flights of Wonder and opened on April 22, 2018. It features Senior Wilderness Explorer Russell and his furry friend Dug from Disney and Pixar’s film UP discovering bird species from around the world.

This fun, entertaining and educational experience takes place in the Caravan Theater near the bridge from Discovery Island to Asia. The cast and birds (which include exotic macaws, toucans and a marabou stork with a 10-foot wingspan) all work together to demonstrate various bird behaviors.

I really enjoyed this show and I think it’s a great replacement for the old Flights of Wonder show. The addition of Dug and Russell from UP makes the show a little less random, but I still like the fact that the main focus is on interesting birds with impressive abilities. This show also has accessible seating and sign language interpretation. It was replaced in 2022 by Feathered Friends in Flight.

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