What Are The Most Overlooked Attractions at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom?

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Since opening in 1998, Disney’s Animal Kingdom has been in a perpetual struggle to shed an unfair reputation as a “Disneyfied” zoo. Truth be told, Joe Rohde and his fellow Imagineers have perfected the art of expressing conservation and preservation through storytelling, making Animal Kingdom perhaps the most immersive park in Walt Disney World. Despite the beautifully immersive surroundings, guests immediately flock to Kilimanjaro Safaris, Expedition Everest, and Pandora to hit the most popular attractions in the park. But several other attractions, often overlooked by guests, perfectly capture the spirit of Animal Kingdom. Don’t miss them on your next trip.

Rafiki’s Planet Watch

More than just an attraction, Rafiki’s Planet Watch is actually a miniature land unto itself. This area suffers as an overlooked attraction for two reasons. First, it is often perceived as being relatively inaccessible. The only way to get there is by taking the Wildlife Express Train. While the train ride is brief and quite pleasant, the added step can be a deterrent to impatient guests. This mental barrier also discourages guests from visiting Tom Sawyer Island in Magic Kingdom. Second and more importantly, guests don’t realize how much there is to see and do there.

Rafiki’s Planet Watch is broken up into four individual experiences. 1) Wildlife Express Train. This short seven-minute trip takes guests behind Kilimanjaro Safaris, and along some of the animal barns. Lucky guests may see several furry friends along the trip. 2) Conservation Station. This is the main building, which offers several animal exhibits and learning activities.  3) Affection Section, where guests can enjoy a closer experience with some of the more tame residents of Animal Kingdom. 4) Animation Experience. A 20-30 minute class where guests can learn to draw a Disney animal character.

Guests who are interested in animals and their care will definitely enjoy this experience. Due to the hands-on nature of the experience, guests can expect to spend as little as 45 minutes, or upwards of two hours. This hidden gem is 100% worth the effort.

Wilderness Exploration Trails

For inquisitive guests who like a break from the attraction rush, Animal Kingdom’s exploration trails give just the right combination of entertainment and animal Zen. 

While in the Africa neighborhood, guests can stroll down the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail. Don’t let the name fool you. While the trail clearly features gorillas, guests can also encounter many other animals, including meerkats, zebras, hippos, monkeys, and many species of birds.

Over in Asia, the Maharajah Jungle Trek takes guests by an assortment of furry, feathered, and scaly friends, including tigers, gibbons, water buffalos, Komodo dragons, and over fifty species of birds.

Each trail can take as little as five minutes to see, but guests should plan about 20-25 minutes to get the full experience. Cast Members are sprinkled along each trail to help guests appreciate what they are seeing.

Feathered Friends In Flight!

Few performance moments can elicit an immediate smile as much as watching a trained animal carrying out a specific task. Feathered Friends in Flight! is an entertaining and educational stage show featuring an assortment of well-trained free-flying birds. Disney’s talented trainers wow guests with a host of amusing bird tricks, ranging from untying shoes to grabbing a twenty-dollar bill from a guest in the audience. To see a bird of the wild perform such a specific trick successfully is always gratifying, and this open air performance is full of those moments.

Image: Laughing Place

A bit of behind-the-scenes magic: The trainers for this show are not teaching the birds entirely new behavior. They are really just guiding the birds to perform actions that are similar to their natural survival instincts.

While technically not an attraction, the show takes place in an outdoor (but thankfully shaded) theater. It’s easy to find, being right in the middle of the park – across the bridge from the Tree of Life and nearby to Kali River Rapids. The show lasts about 25 minutes, so it’s not a huge time sink.  

Take the time to sprinkle these overlooked gems in among the big monster attractions, and you just might find a new favorite! Because the stars of these attractions are alive and ever so unpredictable, guests are always in for something new and unexpected.

Check out our picks for the most overlooked attractions in Walt Disney World’s other theme parks, including Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

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Pirates & Princesses (PNP) is an independent, opinionated fan-powered news blog that covers Disney and Universal Theme Parks, Themed Entertainment and related Pop Culture from a consumer's point of view. Opinions expressed by our contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of PNP, its editors, affiliates, sponsors or advertisers. PNP is an unofficial news source and has no connection to The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal or any other company that we may cover.