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As Walt Disney World’s fourth and final park, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park officially opened 1998 with perhaps the most unique design of any of the Disney Parks around the world. This park is part traditional theme park with rides, shows, and restaurants and part zoo with animal exhibits, a safari tour, and a conservation area. There is also an interactive scavenger hunt type game throughout the park, which is Wilderness Explorers. 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. However, the fantasy section detailed in the original plans, referred to as “Beastly Kingdom”, was never created. Animal Kingdom is now home to a different fantasy-based section of the park, though, 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 has it’s own entrance to the park as well.
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 section of the park that most of the other areas connect to and it features the most iconic landmark of Animal Kingdom – The Tree of Life – where the nightly show The Tree of Life Awakening takes place.
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 show, and Viva Gaia Street Band!
There is quite a large range of food and beverage options in the Discovery Island area:
- 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-type section with dinosaur-themed games and carnival 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:
- 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 the newly added “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 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”, 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 and Buridika, a band that hosts a lively interactive dance party.
Africa offers the most animal exhibits and encounters as it is also home to the extremely popular Kilimanjaro Safaris jeep ride and tour. The only other ride of sorts located in Africa is the Wildlife Express Train, which takes guests back to Rafiki’s Planet Watch (this train, along with Rafiki’s Planet Watch, will be closed beginning October 21, 2018. It is currently unknown what will happen with this area in the future).
There are several dining options in Africa:
- 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 food store:
- Africa Hub Cart
- Kilimanjaro Safaris Cart
- Maryia’s Souvenirs
- Mombasa Marketplace
- Ziwani Traders
- Zuri’s Sweet Shop
Rafiki’s Planet Watch (Closes October 21, 2018)
This section of Animal Kingdom is more educationally based with a conservation area and a petting zoo. This area of the park is quite a distance from the rest of the lands and can only be accessed by train. October 21, 2018 will be the last day of operation for Rafiki’s Planet Watch until the foreseeable future.
There are no shows in this area of the park, though there is a character meet and greet with Rafiki. Aside from this, there are a few animal exhibits, a petting zoo area called the Affection Section, and Conservation Station – an educational center with a veterinary facility.
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 person walking around in a Pandora Utility Suit and interacting with guests.
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 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 Disney World Parks, visit the Walt Disney World Overview page.