Planning an adult trip to Animal Kingdom? We’ve got you covered!

Animal Kingdom is one of our favorite theme parks for kids, but it’s also really great for going with our adult friends. There have been so many updates made over the last five years that have really elevated Animal Kingdom into a nice option for grown-up entertainment and fun.

This guide will help you navigate all the best experiences that Animal Kingdom has to offer when planning a grown-up-friendly vacation to Disney.

Introduction

Animal Kingdom is the youngest park at Walt Disney World with so many fun things to do for families, children and even adults. It’s increasingly become one of the most complete theme parks in the world over the years and we love it for the wildlife, rides, restaurants and entertainment.

This is definitely not a definite “half-day” park in the same way it used to be considered by many Disney fans. There’s a lot to take in and a lot has changed in recent years. (If you haven’t visited in a while, make sure to read through our 30 Insider Tips & Secrets for Animal Kingdom after you’re done reading this guide.)

We find that it’s very easy to spend a full day here, a half day or even to visit for dinner paired with one or two FastPass experiences. We also created an entire standalone guide to Animal Kingdom FastPasses. It’ll tell you everything you need to know about how to plan your rides, along with some important FastPass strategy.

Animal Kingdom is split into six different sections, most of which will be covered in this guide. The first you’ll come to is Discovery Island a short walk from the entrance to the park. This is where you’ll find the iconic Tree of Life, all the shops and several eateries and entertainment venues.

Africa is the large upper left section of the park and is the key section that adults should hone in on when planning a trip to Animal Kingdom. With it’s broadway performances, signature dining and thrilling animal encounters, it’s far and away the best section for adults.

The newest and most popular section of Animal Kingdom is Pandora: the World of Avatar. Known for it’s breathtaking scenery, glow-in-the-dark foliage, high-tech rides and unique food, Pandora is the second place adults should note when planning a trip to Animal Kingdom.

Asia is the large upper right section of the park and is home to some of the best rides for adults: Expedition Everest and Kali River Rapids. It’s also got a host of great quick service places for eating and drinking.

Dinoland, U.S.A is definitely the more family-friendly area of Animal Kingdom and only houses a single ride that adults should look at. And Rafiki’s Planet Watch is the farthest section of the park, and while it’s an interesting one for children, it doesn’t have much to excite a grown-up group.

Best Animal Kingdom Rides for Adults

Avatar: Flight of Passage (10/10)

Avatar Flight of Passage Ride

Avatar: Flight of Passage is by far and away one of the most technologically advanced rides at Walt Disney World – second only to Rise of the Resistance at Hollywood Studios. We rank this as the top ride for adults in Animal Kingdom for it’s spectacular use of 3D animation, combined with a life-like experience.

This is also one of our very top picks in the Animal Kingdom section of our definitive list of 110 Disney World Must-Do’s.

First, you’ll hope to get fastpasses and bypass the line altogether. But in the event that you don’t, grab a drink from Pongu Pongu and head into the line queue. The line actually has some pretty cool scenery featuring different rooms inspired by the Avatar movie.

One is the great Na’vi hall where they gather for ceremonies and has hand painted banshees on the walls. Another is the science lab where the humans house different species from around the Pandora planet and where they pair avatars with humans. This prepares you for the first phase of the ride.

You’ll be placed in a group of 12 and locked in a holding cell where a scientist will explain the avatar pairing process, then your group will be led to another chamber to learn the history of the ikran, or the “banshee” you’ll be flying.

Once you’re briefed, a cast member will take you to the experience room where you’ll be paired with an avatar that’s already aboard a flying banshee and you’ll take to the skies. For the entire ride, you’ll be wearing 3D glasses and strapped into a bike with handles.

This is not for the faint of heart, as you’ll fly through many different 3D scenes on Pandora, swooping through trees and maneuvering around dangerous situations. Adults who love thrill rides and who don’t suffer from motion sickness will thoroughly enjoy Avatar: Flight of Passage.

Expedition Everest: Journey to the Forbidden Mountain (10/10)

Expedition Everest Rollercoaster Ride

Expedition Everest: Journey to the Forbidden Mountain is fairly easy to find fastpasses for, but don’t take this to mean it’s less thrilling. We rank this second because it’s on par with the thrills you’ll experience on Avatar: Flight of Passage but in steel roller coaster form.

Expedition Everest is perfect for adults and is actually my favorite ride in Animal Kingdom. It’s so perfect for an older audience that Disney actually cautions parents when taking their kids on this ride, saying it’s best for children ages seven and older. If you’re a bit thrill-shy and wondering whether or not Everest is a good idea for your crew, take look at our Expedition Everest ride guide.

The ride is located in the Asia section of Animal Kingdom and you’ll find the entrance at the base of the Forbidden Mountain. The line queue is designed like a mini museum has some pretty interesting artifacts from the sherpa climbers, photos and findings straight from Mount Everest.

The ride vehicle is a mine train style with a rickety feel that adds to the climbing experience. It’ll start by taking you on a long hike up the mountain with many warnings to watch out for the infamous Yeti snow monster.

When you make it to the top, you’ll discover the track has been broken by the Yeti and the train will start moving backwards into the dark cave for one of the craziest G-force experiences outside of Mission Space.

For the rest of the ride you’ll be running from the Yeti, taking sharp turns, dropping 80 ft and racing 50 mph around the mountain and back down to basecamp. Adults will really enjoy the theme of the ride along with the multiple maneuvers the ride takes along the way.

Kilimanjaro Safaris (9/10)

Kilimanjaro Safaris Giraffe and Wildebeest

Kilimanjaro Safaris is just an all-around outstanding ride for all ages. Anyone who enjoys wildlife and experiencing nature will love the safari through the African Savanna, where you’ll see a multitude of African animals in replicas of their natural habitats.

Kilimanjaro Safaris is so popular that people wonder when the best time to is for riding it. We highly recommend you take a look at our post on the Best Time to Ride Kilimanjaro Safaris for more details on the best time of day to plan for this experience.

The Safari is located toward the back of Africa and is fairly easy to find fastpasses for on less crowded days, but definitely plan well in advance if you want to go at a specific time in the day, especially during the busy season.

You’ll start the ride by hopping aboard a large safari bus that has roomy seating and open windows for you to view the Savanna without obstructions. The driver is a very knowledgeable cast member and will explain every exhibit you pass on the wildlife reserve.

Throughout your journey, it’s possible you’ll see everything from antelope and giraffes, to wildabeast, elephants and even lions. On occasion you’ll be able to spot hyenas, warthogs and cheetahs, as well.

The Kilimanjaro Safari experience is different to everyone and there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to see all the animals, but the driver will at least stop for you to take photos when you approach a new herd of animals. Be sure to bring a good camera!

Kali River Rapids (9/10)

Kali River Rapids Ride

Kali River Rapids is a wild water ride through Asia’s Kali River. Be prepared to get soaked because this ride does not mess around. Disney is fully equipped with lockers outside the ride for you to house your belongings while taking a cruise down the rapids.

If you’re up for some fun, get a fastpass and wear a swimsuit under your clothing along with some waterproof shoes. Adults will love this one for the wild rapids, unexpected gushers and the falls.

The ride features waterfalls, geysers, multiple splash zones and a 20 ft drop. If you’ve managed to avoid limited water exposure during the ride, take cover when you come to the bridge as passing guests can shoot water streams at your raft.

Fastpasses are very easy to get on most days in Animal Kingdom, so if you came to have a great time add Kali River Rapids to your list of fun things to do on vacation.

Dinosaur (8/10)

Dinosaur is the only ride we’ll recommend to adults located inside Dinoland, U.S.A. This section of the park is primarily for children, featuring a boneyard dig site, fair games and dance parties, but Dinosaur is fit for the grown-ups.

The ride is based on the 2000 movie “Dinosaur” and your mission is to time travel back to the Cretaceous Period, find, capture and bring back the Iguanadon before the meteor shower destroys all the dinosaurs.

You’ll start by boarding the ride vehicle, which is designed similarly to a Jeep-like trailblazer, and serves as your “time rover”. We warn you – you can feel every bump, pothole and turn that you take in this ride, so use caution if you’re in a sensitive condition.

The ride takes you on an indoor journey through wooded areas and jolts, stops and accelerates quickly. You travel through a forest of pre-historic creatures and wildlife that starts out calm, but goes bad as the meteor shower is quickly approaching.

At the end of the ride, you’ve somehow managed to escape the jaws of an angry Carnotaurus and successfully captured the Iguanadon for the researchers back home. This ride always produces the best photos, taken at the moment you feel you might be eaten by the dinosaur that appears from nowhere.

Best Animal Kingdom Restaurants for Adults

Tiffins Restaurant (10/10)

Tiffins Animal Kingdom River

Tiffins is as good as it gets for eating in Animal Kingdom. As a matter of fact, it’s the only Signature Dining experience that Animal Kingdom has to offer with many fine dining options ranging from Surf and Turf entrees to Braised Beef.

You’ll also find Tiffins in a high spot on our overall list of best Disney World restaurants for adults.

We love Tiffins for it’s relaxed atmosphere, filled with unique finds that Disney creators brought over from South Africa, India and Latin American regions. The decor looks as though you’re walking through a cozy museum and makes a great choice for date night or dining with adults.

Reservations are required for this fine dining establishment, but they’re fairly easy to come by during slow and busy seasons. There’s a wide range of options sure to suit any palette and all meals are served with a relaxed form of sophistication.

The restaurant has it’s own full-time sommelier that will accommodate your table upon request to recommend the best wine pairing for your meal. The extensive wine list is curated by the sommelier and brings flavors from the South African, Indian and Latin American regions that inspired the food and decor.

We enjoy the Bread Service to start (similar to Sanaa’s bread service), Butter Chicken or Braised Lamb Shank for dinner with a side of Lobster Macaroni and Cheese, followed by South American Chocolate Ganache for dessert. If you are looking for a top-notch dining location for your trip to Animal Kingdom, Tiffins will not disappoint!

Nomad Lounge (10/10)

Nomad Lounge

Nomad Lounge is directly connected with Tiffins and serves as the bar area for the restaurant. There are no reservations required and seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis. We highly recommend this location if you want an even more relaxed atmosphere for dining as a couple or with adult friends.

Nomad Lounge is situated on the water on the outskirts of Discovery Island, bordering Pandora. You have beautiful views of the scenery in Animal Kingdom if you choose to sit outside on the covered patio, but indoor seating is available, as well.

We recommend coming here if you’re in the mood for small plates and drinks, for a sort of aperitif dining experience. They have a host of interesting signature cocktails like the Night Monkey made with dark rum and notes of guava, coffee and lime, along with a beer and wine list.

The small plates served here come from the Tiffins kitchen, but the Bread Service is the only menu item that both restaurants share. We really like the Nomad Sliders or the Togarashi-spiced Tuna Bowl for a single meal, or Charcuterie board, Churros or Poutine to share.

Our in-depth Animal Kingdom Dining Guide goes into even more detail with all of the park’s quick-service restaurants and bars/drinking spots.

Satu’li Canteen (10/10)

Satuli Canteen Animal Kingdom

Satu’li Canteen is a beloved new favorite that was introduced to Animal Kingdom with the opening of Pandora. It’s got a great quick service atmosphere with lots of inspiration from the Avatar movie. You’ll find it at the back of the Pandora section of the park and mobile order is available here.

We really like the bowl options available at the Satu’li Canteen. Adults will enjoy the host of exotic flavors that the canteen mixes in the bowls, like our favorite combo of Grilled Chicken with Potato Hash, veggie slaw, boba balls and Creamy Herb Dressing.

Other great combos include crispy tofu, roast beef, rice, and cauliflower. You can even order from the kids’ menu which has treats like the Hamburger Pods (steamed buns filled with cheeseburger meat) if you use mobile order.

We like to pair our delicious bowls with the adult beverages like the Hawkes Grog Ale, a green brew with peach and apricot flavors, Banshee Pinot Noir, or the Dreamwalker Sangria and catch a seat out on the patio if the weather is nice.

Satu’li is also a pretty good value, making it a good pick if you’re doing Disney World on a budget.

Yak & Yeti (8/10)

Yak & Yeti is our second favorite full table-service restaurant for adult dining, but can have a more family-friendly atmosphere than the first two we mentioned. Reservations are required to dine here and can be elusive at times, so plan ahead for this one.

Yak & Yeti is known for it’s delicious Asian cuisine and the decor inside will transport you to the village of Anandapur itself. There are many golden gilded paintings and statues along with beautifully scrolled columns and artwork around the restaurant.

Request a seat at the bar or in one of the upstairs corners to get a quieter eating experience. We also recommend starting out with one of their signature cocktails like the Pink Himalayan and a small plate of Pork Pot Stickers or the Dim Sum Basket.

The meals include a lot of traditional Asian favorites like Honey Chicken, Miso Salmon and Pork Belly Ramen. This is a great option for casual dining for adults and large menu should accommodate a variety of tastes.

Flame Tree Barbecue (7/10)

Flame Tree Barbecue has significantly less seating than Satu’li Canteen but it’s sure to hit the spot for those in the mood for good American barbecue. Flame Tree is located on Discovery Island and has a walk up counter with outdoor seating to accommodate guests.

Be prepared to fill up on one meal here or split, because in true American fashion, the portions are fairly large. They have a really good Pulled Pork Sandwich and Ribs and Chicken Combo meals. The Ribs, Chicken and Pulled Pork Sampler is a great options for sharing.

We also highly recommend the Baked Macaroni & Cheese with Pulled Pork, which comes with Onion Rings. Or try the Smokehouse Chicken Salad for a lighter lunch option.

Yak & Yeti Local Foods (7/10)

Unlike it’s table service brother, Yak & Yeti Local Foods is a counter service location just outside the main restaurant. It serves a lot of really good breakfast and lunch items and is one of our go-to places for a quick meal.

The kinds of foods you can expect to find here for breakfast include a variety of breakfast bowls, breakfast sandwiches, Yogurt Parfaits and Hash Brown Bites. It’s one of the only places open for breakfast in the morning at Animal Kingdom with delicious choices.

Lunch has more of the Asian inspired meals that Yak & Yeti restaurant does. Choose from the Teriyaki Beef Bowl, Asian Chicken Wrap or the Ginger Chicken Salad for a good lunch portion. We recommend the Local Foods stand for adults simply because it’s some of the best quick service you can get at a great price.

Kusafiri Coffee Shop and Bakery (7/10)

The Kusafiri Coffee Shop & Bakery is inside the Africa section of Animal Kingdom and has some delicious baked goods and small meals, perfect for breakfast and lunch in a pinch. They’ve also got some indoor seating for you to relax and enjoy your food.

This is another tried and true breakfast place that opens early in Animal Kingdom and has great options like the Colossal Cinnamon Roll, breakfast sandwiches, and assorted muffins. Lunch items include Chicken Curry and Shrimp Curry, Croissants, and Danishes.

Best Animal Kingdom Attractions & Entertainment for Adults

Festival of the Lion King (10/10)

Festival of the Lion King Pyrotechnics

Festival of the Lion King is one of the most exciting shows that Disney puts on inside it’s parks. This Broadway-caliber show features professional singers, lively musical numbers, acrobats and dancers who perform the popular songs from the Lion King movie.

Adults will really appreciate the costuming and talent of the performers in the Festival of the Lion King. The show appeals to people of all ages, even calling out some of the children from the crowd to join in one particular song, but the stunning performance is one that grown-ups will especially enjoy.

We recommend getting fastpasses for this experience, but showtimes occur once per hour throughout the day making it an easy one to add to your schedule if you don’t get a fastpass. There is no bad seat in the house, so don’t worry about being the last one in.

Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail (9/10)

Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail at Animal Kingdom

Gorilla Falls is located inside the Africa section of Animal Kingdom and showcases many animals native to the continent of Africa, from the lush jungle to the dry desert. This is a great trail for taking in the middle of a long day when you’re waiting for the next reservation or fastpass.

Adults will enjoy this for the splendor of the habitat’s landscape and the large variety of creatures you’ll find along the trail. Cast members are strategically placed along the way to answer any questions you might have about the animals.

You’ll get to see several species of monkeys and apes, including a family of Gorillas, which tend to be the stars of the trail. There’s a large crowd that gathers at their exhibit to interact with the family behind the glass. In addition, you’ll see zebras, okapi, water buffalo, and small creatures like African reptiles, amphibians and meerkats.

Maharajah Jungle Trek (9/10)

Maharajah Jungle Trek at Animal Kingdom

Similar to Gorilla Falls, Maharajah Jungle Trek is the Asia section’s nature trail. This one features all sorts of wildlife that you’d find in many regions of Asia, from India to Nepal and even China. Adults will enjoy the scenic trek through winding pathways to see creatures great and small.

The best part of the trek is seeing the tiger, or several tigers, playing in the streams or resting on the hillside. The tigers have their own enclosure and the best time of day to catch them is in the late afternoon or early evening, just about the time the sun is setting.

The Jungle Trek also has a komodo dragon viewing area, along with a special room to see the Malayan Flying Foxes which are much bigger than expected! You also have the chance to find gibbons, elds deer and blackbuck along the way. Every experience is different as the animals are active at different points throughout the day.

Tam Tam Drummers of Harambe (8/10)

The Tam Tam Drummers are one of multiple groups of performers that Animal Kingdom has throughout the day. We think adults will enjoy this one the most because they perform once every 45 minutes just outside the Dawa Bar on the Africa pathway.

Grab a drink from the bar and take a seat in the shade while the Tam Tam Drummers perform a variety of songs, stunts and beats that draw a large audience to the area. They encourage audience participation and will even choose volunteers from the crowd to dance with them.

Disney KiteTails (7/10)

Disney KiteTails is one of the more newly revamped nighttime shows introduced for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary. It’s a water show that features laser lights and glowing kites, as well as some new animated movie scenes projected on sheets of water.

Adults will like the relaxing atmosphere of the show as there are no fireworks (so as not to disturb the wildlife at Animal Kingdom) and passes can be booked to claim row seats in the amphitheater. Disney KiteTails also offers a bit of nostalgia with songs and scenes from well-known Disney movies like Tarzan, Bambi, Pocahontas, the Jungle Book and the Lion King.

Best Animal Kingdom Tours for Adults

Wild Africa Trek

The Wild Africa Trek is an exhilarating private VIP expedition that has many booking times throughout the day. The 3-hour journey takes you through the African Safari, similar to Kilimanjaro Safaris – only this time, you are walking through it!

As you come across and encounter many different wild animals, your guide will answer questions and teach you more about each species. This experience comes with Photopass Photographers who will capture exciting opportunities as you engage with the wildlife on the tour.

The cost is about $189 – $249 per person and each guest will receive a souvenir from the trek. Even better than that: you’ll also get snacks to enjoy throughout the tour with dried meats, brie cheese, berry yogurt and fresh fruit in the morning and chicken curry, tandoori shrimp and smoked salmon in the afternoon.

Up Close with Rhinos

Up Close with Rhinos is a more exclusive tour that takes place once per day in the Animal Kingdom park. On this tour, cast members will take you backstage to meet a rhinoceros in person, which is an extremely rare opportunity.

This is a great learning opportunity that offers you a once in a lifetime chance to come face-to-face with white rhinos, while learning from the animal caretakers who watch over them daily. The experience is about $40 per person.

Caring for Giants

The Caring for Giants tour is an hour long experience where you can meet and learn from the animal specialists that take care of Animal Kingdom’s Elephants. Tours take place once an hour and they’re easy to book on Disney’s website. The cost is approximately $30 per person.

The tour gets you about 80 – 100 ft away from the elephants in their habitat while African cultural representatives share stories about Disney’s conservation efforts and tales from seeing them in the wild.

Best Animal Kingdom Events for Adults

Savor the Savanna: Evening Safari Experience (10/10)

This exquisite guided tour takes place in the evening on the African Savanna and is the perfect date night for couples who are celebrating a special occasion or want a unique fine dining experience.

A tour guide will take you through the Harambe Wildlife Reserve for an exclusive look at the African animals at night while traveling to a private dining room located in the middle of the Savanna. Here, you’ll dine on premium African cuisine and sip on fine wines and beers from the region.

Each guest will also be given a commemorative keepsake from the journey, a beautiful souvenir for the perfect date night. The cost for this experience is around $169 per person.

Festival of the Lion King Signature Dining Package (9/10)

The Festival of the Lion King Signature Dining Package is an excellent choice for an entertaining night out with friends or for a special occasion. It includes delicious food, a broadway-style performance and a private safari for about $99 per person for the Tier 1 option.

First, you’ll receive a plated meal from Animal Kingdom’s signature dining restaurant, Tiffin’s. This three course meal includes an appetizer, entree, dessert and a complimentary glass of champagne.

Next, you’ll get VIP seating for the Festival of the Lion King show, which is similar in style to the Lion King on Broadway. It features professional singers, talented acrobats and trained dancers who perform the songs from the original Lion King movie. After all this fun, a tour guide will take you on a private safari through the Harambe Wildlife Reserve.

If you choose to go with the Tier II option, the package will cost you $74 per person (what you’d probably spend on yourself at Tiffin’s anyway) and the experience will only include dinner and the show without the safari. Both experiences are well worth it.

Circle of Flavors: Harambe at Night (8/10)

This experience is more geared towards the whole family, but can make a great outing with adult friends. You’ll start at the Harambe Train Station where a lively reception of food and music is waiting for you. You’ll enjoy a buffet of tasty appetizers and small plates, along with alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

Next, you’ll board the Wildlife Express Train and embark to meet several Lion King characters at Rafiki’s Planet Watch. You’ll also learn about the “Big Five” animals at Animal Kingdom (leopards, buffalo, elephants, lions and rhinoceroses) from cast members.

The train will bring you back to Harambe Market for a street festival filled with music and dancing. There are food stations placed around the market for dinner, featuring tandoori chicken, char-grilled steak and seafood along with vegetables, fruits and desserts. Check Disney’s site for current pricing before booking.

Planning a Trip to Disney World?

We’ve got loads of advice for planning your getaway to Walt Disney World. Don’t forget our other posts on Animal Kingdom Tips & Secrets, Animal Kingdom Dining Guide, and Disney Must-dos to ensure you and your vacation buddies have the best time on your trip!

We’ve also got additional grown-up guides for everything Disney World:

Lastly, we’ve created head-to-head park comparisons to help you through those tough decisions!

Animal Kingdom for Adults: The Insider's Guide