Next to the Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom is probably Walt Disney World’s most baby- and toddler-friendly park. To be sure, it has a few thrill rides sure to please parents and big siblings – but its focus on live entertainment and animal exhibits makes it especially intriguing for little ones. Animal Kingdom is full of visually engaging things to see and do!
Here are 11 can’t-miss attractions, shows, and entertainment offerings for guests visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom with a baby or toddler in tow.
1. Kilimanjaro Safaris
Most young children love seeing wild animals up close. The Kilimanjaro Safaris deliver in that department in spades. Guests embark on large Jeeps into the Harambe Animal Preserve, where animals like giraffes, hippos, lions, elephants, and zebras make their home. Make your Fastpass+ reservations in advance to minimize wait times.
2. Na’vi River Journey
Pandora, the World of Avatar, opened at Disney World in May 2017 to rave reviews. Luckily, one of the two rides within this new land is just the right speed for families with little ones. Na’vi River Journey is a slow boat ride (similar to “it’s a small world”) through the immersive world full of bioluminescent scenery. The Audio-Animatronic shaman in the ride is Disney’s best tech yet.
3. TriceraTop Spin
If your little one loves Dumbo in Magic Kingdom, TriceraTop Spin is sure to be a hit. Instead of climbing into an elephant, guests board a dinosaur that spins and can move up and down. It is just the right speed for babies and toddlers. Luckily, the line is rarely very long. It may be smart to save for a bit later in the day when kids get tired and only have the patience for short waits.
4. The Boneyard
Active toddlers need free time to explore and play, so when your little one gets tired of lines, head for the Boneyard. This open air playground is filled with mazes, climbing features, and dinosaur decor to keep them entertained.
5. Wildlife Express Train
Trains aren’t just at Magic Kingdom! Luckily Animal Kingdom has its very own train ride too. It flies a bit under the radar and rarely has lines. The Wildlife Express Train runs from Africa to Rafiki’s Planet Watch where the park’s petting zoo, Affection Section, is located. Make time to see more animals up close and personal before taking the return train trip back to the rest of the park.
6. Finding Nemo the Musical
This musical show is one of Disney’s best, retelling the now classic Pixar tale with live actors and puppets. The bright neon colors are ideal for capturing the attention of little ones. At only about 30 minutes, it won’t tax little attention spans either. Plus, the comfortable indoor theater is a great place to beat the heat.
7. Festival of the Lion King
Animal Kingdom is home to a second Broadway style musical, the Festival of the Lion King. Many toddlers already know the story and characters from the movie or Disney Junior’s The Lion Guard. Live actors, acrobats, and parade floats with animatronic animals all make appearances in a theater in the round.
8. Character Meet & Greets
Even though Animal Kingdom does not have as many rides as some of Disney’s other parks, it makes up for that by having lots (and lots!) of characters. Families who want to get character photos or less common character autographs should plan for plenty of time hopping from one character meet and greet to another.
Check the app when you are in the park to find your favorites. Common characters include classics like Donald and Mickey, as well as Pocahontas, Rafiki, Doug from Pixar’s Up, Baloo, Flik, Tarzan, and many more.
9. Tree of Life and Discovery Island Trails
You’ve probably taken many photos in front of the iconic Tree of Life in Animal Kingdom, but have you ever explored around it? Many Animal Kingdom visitors don’t know that there are trails around and through the tree where you can spot its animal carvings up close. There are real animals back there as well, from macaws and flamingos to otters and red kangaroos. Take a stroll to explore with your little ones when you need a break from the crowds.
10. Rivers of Light
Last but certainly not least is Animal Kingdom’s new night show, Rivers of Light. Even though it is hard to keep little ones up too late, Rivers of Light is well worth skipping bedtime just once. The show uses music, water, and light projections to tell the story of living creatures all over the world. You can get premium seating for better views if you splurge on one of the dining packages. That might just help avoid those late bedtime troubles and allow everyone in the family to enjoy the show.