By Melissa Fegely
Disney’s Animal Kingdom has a great variety of attractions to please guests young and old. Many guests’ favorite rides are the headliner attractions, and if you want to ride Expedition Everest, Dinosaur, Kali River Rapids, or Kilimanjaro Safaris, it’s a smart idea to have a FastPass+ reserved or head for the standby line right after rope drop. In the near future, the Animal Kingdom will expand its list of amazing attractions to include Pandora – The World of Avatar. My personal list of must-do things at this park, however, includes experiences that don’t require a FastPass+ and are often overlooked. The next time you’re visiting the lush tropical jungles and wide savannahs that make up Disney’s Animal Kingdom, consider trying out a few of these underrated attractions for a completely different experience.
1. Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail.
This trail highlights African animals such as hippopotamuses, okapi, gorillas, and exotic birds. The tropical foliage provides a shady peaceful walk, and no two experiences on this trail are the same. I recommend checking the area out first thing in the morning and then hopping on the Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction.
2. The Maharajah Jungle Trek.
This trail showcases animals native to Asia, including blackbuck antelope, fruit bats, over 50 species of birds, and tigers. Schedule your FastPass+ for Expedition Everest later in the day and make a point to take a walk down these paths earlier in the morning for the best animal viewing.
3. It’s Tough to be a Bug!
Past the intricate animal carvings and massive roots, there is a theater hidden in the base of the towering Tree of Life. This attraction is more than just a show about bugs, but rather an amazing 4D performance filled with thrilling effects and surprises. The Audio-Animatronic figures put on a cute performance about the tough life of insects and how they are actually beneficial to humans. I recommend taking the time to relax and enjoy this show as you past through Discovery Island.
4. Flights of Wonder.
It’s easy to walk by this attraction on your way to your next FastPass, but it’s worth your time to stop and experience this amazing and humorous show. The show features many species of exotic birds, including falcons, hawks, macaws, parrots, and eagles. Flights of Wonder is unique in that the birds entertain with their natural behaviors and skills in the wild, and there is a message of habitat conservation tied throughout the show as well. It’s a great place to sit down, relax in the shade, and enjoy a spectacular performance as the birds soar overhead. The show is scheduled several times a day.
5. Rafiki’s Planet Watch.
Hop on the Wildlife Express Train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch for conservation fun and unique animal experiences. There are great character meet-and-greets here, as well as animals to observe and learn about, and a small area to pet and brush domestic animals. Occasionally you can see a veterinary procedure being performed and you can watch how cast members prepare food each day for the animals. Don’t forget to chat with the cast members throughout the area that are animal experts and more than willing to answer your questions.
6. The Oasis.
Many people rush past this lush area on their way to the headliner attractions, bit the Oasis is worth strolling through at a slower pace and appreciating the true intent of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The winding paths reveal beautiful animals and their habitats at each twist and turn.