The “Top 5 Attractions” series really is one of the hardest to write – partly because picking favorites is always a little painful, but also because the parks are constantly changing! With my next Disney trip right around the corner (less than a week!), I’m hopping in with both feet, though, to list off my Top 5 Attractions at Animal Kingdom.
5. Tree of Life Awakenings
Ok, my first “attraction” is technically “entertainment,” but since I’m the author, I’m going to say this deviation is allowable. Spoiler alert, but you’ll notice that Animal Kingdom’s actual nighttime spectacular isn’t on this Top 5 Attractions list, but Tree of Life Awakenings made the cut.
From after dark until park close, the Tree of Life glitters and glows (approximately) every 10 minutes for this beautiful projection show, which brings the gorgeously-carved animals in the Tree to life. To see the approximate start time before your trip, check out Disney’s info page on this show here!
I personally think this is a much better way to bring the Tree of Life alive than to have It’s Tough to be a Bug inside of it (to find out how I really feel, check out why this creepy crawly attraction made the top of my “skip list” here).
This show makes my Top 5 Attractions list because of the goosebump raising music paired with the vibrant colors that show the Tree of Life in a whole new light. Because the show is so frequent and can be seen from such a wide area, you’re always guaranteed to get a good viewing spot. Plus, the short show means you can always squeeze it in, no matter how busy the rest of your day is. I think it’s majestic and peaceful and reminds me how connected we all are.
I’m excited to hear that there’s a temporary Lion King overlay on this show and can’t wait to see what that looks like next week!
4. Festival of the Lion King
I will argue any day that Lion King is objectively the best Disney animated movie (I also loved the live action remake and don’t understand why haters gotta hate).
I have extremely vivid memories of seeing Lion King live on Broadway when I was a much smaller version of myself and seeing Festival of the Lion King brings back quick memories of that awe and wonder. (I also saw the live presentation of Lion King again a couple of years ago in Rhode Island, and I’m happy to say it’s still just as incredible as it was all those years ago in New York!)
Festival of the Lion King is a 30-minute live stage show with periodic scheduled start times throughout the day. It’s a great place to sit down and cool off for a bit, sure, but it’ll surely keep you captivated for the whole show. This show has it all – audience interaction, enormous animatronics, incredible singing and performing, flying Tumble Monkeys, acrobatics, and more.
Even if you know the story of the Lion King backwards and forward, take the time to watch this show — you won’t regret it.
3. Kilimanjaro Safari
I’ll admit it – Kilimanjaro Safari can be a real hit or a miss. Still, it made my Top 5 Attractions list because when it’s a hit, it’s a HIT. I strongly encourage you to carefully choose your FastPass time for the Safari — avoid mid-day. It’s just too hot for the animals, so they’re hiding from the sun, too. I’ve had some incredible runs in the morning (before 11) and around sunset, but by far the best was in the pouring rain.
This attraction is so unique because it will unavoidably be different each and every time. You never know what the animals will feel like doing as you wander through their homes! Once, I saw a whole herd of Rhinos go running just to play in a puddle! (slightly terrifying, mostly amazing.) I also saw a baby elephant having the time of his life splashing in a lake (I mean it — the rain safari was unbelievable).
There is so much of this planet that I know I’ll never get to see, and I love how the safari can give me a glimpse into the different ecosystems that make our planet what it is. I always feel so humbled after (and a strong need to donate to preservation societies). Kilimanjaro Safari might only be third on my Top 5 list, but it’s a must-do every trip.
4. Expedition Everest
I love big coasters; the bigger, the better. Expedition Everest is no exception, here. I can, and have, ridden it over and over again without getting bored. Especially since the opening of Pandora, it’s a great attraction to visit during Extra Magic Hours, because you can often repeat-ride it as a walk-on attraction!
I know, it’s a bummer the Yeti is stationary (Joe Rohde, you’re on that, right? Also, you so obviously totally read this blog), but this coaster is still such a thrill. I actually didn’t realize you don’t go upside down for a LONG time because of how intense the dark part of the ride is! (I admit I should have realized there was no way Disney would flip us upside down with just a lap bar, but…oops.)
The length of this ride makes it so satisfying even if you do need to wait a bit for it. So, make sure to tack it on to your agenda, even if you can’t grab a FastPass for it!
1. Flight of Passage
I can be one prone to dramatics, but I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that my first time riding Flight of Passage was life-changing. I was awed speechless by the care and stunning craftsmanship that went into every single detail of this attraction.
I’ve never seen Avatar and I’m still left jelly-legged every time I get the honor of riding Flight of Passage. I mean, the attraction vehicle BREATHES under you. Seriously‽‽!? Who puts that kind of care into an attraction?? (Answer: Disney.) The sights, smells, sounds, and visuals of this ride are unparalleled by anything I’ve experienced before outside of reality. Here, for the duration of the ride, fiction becomes reality.
I remember stalking the My Disney Experience app after Pandora opened and being shocked by the 6-hour-long lines for Flight of Passage. While I wouldn’t wait 6 hours for any attraction, I kind of get it. For this ride, I’ll wake up to catch the first bus (even when there’s EMH).
By the way, that’s the way to get on this ride if you can’t snag a FastPass. Get up early enough to get on the first bus (usually departing Disney resorts one hour before the park opening or EMH). Line up on the shortest line you can find near the left side of the park and scoot right to Pandora. As of my last visit, they were still opening the gates a bit early to help with Pandora crowds.
Yeah, it’ll seem like EVERYBODY is going that way, but you can still get on Flight of Passage shockingly quickly. Using this strategy, I’ve done park arrival to stepping off Flight of Passage in 40 minutes. That’s not bad if you ask me.
What do you think? Did your favorites make my list? Do you hate what I picked? Either way, I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or reach out on Instagram @castleboundkim!