Hey y’all! Today is an exciting day for all Disney lovers, because Animal Kingdom park at Walt Disney World is 20! Animal Kingdom was the last of the four Disney World theme parks to open. It opened less than 27 years after the Magic Kingdom. So it’s kinda crazy that it’s been two decades since there’s been a new theme park at Walt Disney World in Florida. In honor of the Animal Kingdom 20th Anniversary, I thought I would share a few of my must-do’s here.

Now, keep in mind that A LOT has changed at Animal Kingdom in just the two and a half years since my last visit. The Pandora/Avator section of the park had not opened yet. So I have not experienced the infamous Flights of Passage ride that people currently wait hours for. I definitely look forward to checking it out on my next visit, hopefully with a Fast Pass!

Animal Kingdom 20th Anniversary
I love the elephant on this entrance sign at Animal Kingdom! Without further ado, here a few things I must do on every visit:

The Tree of Life

Animal Kingdom 20th Anniversary
The Tree of Life is the iconic symbol of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Taking a picture of it is a must-do for sure! I mean, did you really go if you didn’t get a Tree of Life pic? There is a 3-D show called “It’s Tough to be a Bug” based on “A Bug’s Life” inside the Tree of Life, but I’ve never seen it before.

Expedition Everest

So I don’t have a good pic of Expedition Everest, but it is hands down my favorite at Animal Kingdom. (Subject to change after I experience Flights of Passage some day.) It’s a super fun roller coaster. Expedition Everest doesn’t turn you upside down, but it does have some big drops and is definitely wilder than Space Mountain or Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Most of Expedition Everest takes place outside, but there is one dark tunnel. There’s also an unexpected surprise on the ride, but I’m not going to say what it is. You will have to wait and experience for yourself. But rest assured it’s not anything that goes upside down!

DINOSAUR

Animal Kingdom 20th Anniversary
DINOSAUR is another must-do for me at Animal Kingdom. This is a dark thrill ride, and while there aren’t any big drops, it is VERY rough and jerky, and dinosaur animatronics pop out at you. Funny story-when I went to Animal Kingdom with my family back in high school, my mom asked what DINOSAUR was like. (I had been on it before and she hadn’t). My response was, “It’s kinda hard to explain, but it’s not that bad.” Well, my mom rode it and she was traumatized. I wasn’t trying to trick her-I genuinely didn’t think it was that bad. I guess I forgot that my mom and I had different thresholds for what makes a ride tolerable. Definitely never going to live that one down!

Kilimanjaro Safari

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Kilimanjaro Safari might be the marquee ride of Animal Kingdom. While it doesn’t have the thrill of some of the other rides, it definitely has the best views. You get to ride through the habitat of the African animals that call Disney’s Animal Kingdom home (at a safe distance of course). Because you are viewing live animals and not animatronics figures, no two rides are the same. I got some really great pics on my last Animal Kingdom Safari, and was especially happy to get some good shots of the elephants. They were definitely my favorite. There were all taken with my Canon Power Shot point-and-shoot digital camera. I can’t wait to take my Canon Rebel DSLR camera with me next time and get even better pics.

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Go Tigers!

Animal Kingdom 20th Anniversary
Seeing the live tiger is another one of my favorite things to do at Animal Kingdom. The North Carolina zoo only has African and North American animals, so I don’t have as many opportunities to see live tigers. As much as I love getting pics with the Clemson Tiger and Tiger Cub mascots, it’s fun to see a live one every once in awhile. Some tiger cubs have arrived at Animal Kingdom since my last visit, so I hope to see them on a future trip.

Character Meet & Greets

Animal Kingdom 20th Anniversary
There’s also plenty of character photo opps at Animal Kingdom, and they wear super cute safari outfits. I never got to meet Daisy Duck on any of my childhood Disney World trips, so I took full advantage of the chance to see her at Animal Kingdom.

Cheers to 20 Years!

It is really tempting to write off Animal Kingdom as a glorified zoo. But it is so much more than that. I will confess that my past couple trips to Disney World I haven’t spent a ton of time in Animal Kingdom because there aren’t as many rides. And the North Carolina Zoo is really nice and not too far from my home. But I definitely want to be intentional about spending more time at Animal Kingdom my next trip to Disney World. Not only is there a completely new Pandora/Avator section of the park now, but there are a couple shows I have never seen in all my visits to Animal Kingdom. I somehow have never seen “Festival of the Lion King” or “Finding Nemo the Musical” and I have heard great things about both!

Happy 20th Anniversary to Animal Kingdom! I hope this post has been helpful to those of y’all who may be planning a trip to Disney World soon!

For those of y’all who have been to Disney World- what are your must-do’s at Animal Kingdom? What major attractions have you not done yet at Animal Kingdom, but want to do in the future?

-xoxo Liz

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