Deciding whether to spend your park day at Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom?

It can be easy to think of these parks as Walt Disney World’s “secondary” parks, but the last decade has added so many things to see and do at both. As a matter of fact, you could spend a whole day at either one and still not accomplish everything they have to offer.

This comprehensive comparison covers everything from rides to dining and everything in between.

Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom? – The Short Answer

Animal Kingdom is best for seeing animals and live stage shows, and going on outstanding rides. Hollywood Studios is best for thrill rides, getting the Star Wars experience, and enjoying film-centric attractions. Overall, Animal Kingdom feels like a more complete experience and Hollywood Studios feels like a collection of attractions.

You’ll find that Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios both make plenty of appearances in our huge list of Disney World must-do rides, restaurants, and attractions.

Hollywood Studios vs Animal Kingdom: Rides

Winner: Hollywood Studios

Both Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom have some great rides, so this one was a difficult pick. I decided to give Hollywood Studios the nod partly due to the classics like Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and also due to the Star Wars rides that have really upped their game.

Hollywood Studios’ Best Rides

Rise of the Resistance (10/10)

Star Wars Rise of the Resistance

Since its debut, Rise of the Resistance has been one of the top state-of-the-art experiences at a theme park. We highly recommend it for anyone, whether you’re a Star Wars fan or not, since it’s the most incredible ride sequence we’ve experienced so far. This ride is so popular it has it’s own separate Lightning Lane selection that must be purchased individually as part of Genie+.

Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (10/10)

Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster has considerably high wait times on the regular, so try to get a Lightning Lane first thing in the morning. Guests love that this super fast indoor coaster takes you on a wild ride through downtown Los Angeles to get to an epic rock concert performed by Aerosmith. The band offers you backstage passes upon entry, then your limo takes off at 0mph to 57mph in 3 seconds.

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (10/10)

tower of terror scary disney world

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is a hands-down must-do at Hollywood Studios and it has the wait times to prove it. Everything from the Old Hollywood theme, the ride sequence, the right amount of spookiness and even the queue are on point. The Twilight Zone gives a unique aura around the building and a thrilling theme for this awesome drop ride. The drop is always different, so you can have a new experience every time. We recommend using Lightning Lane here if you can get it.

Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run (10/10)

Smugglers Run Millennium Falcon Star Wars Ride

Ever wanted to pilot the actual Millennium Falcon? Smuggler’s Run ensures that you can so long as you’re ready and willing to steal away important materials from the Empire. Each boarding group has job assignments, including two pilots, two gunners and two engineers. Each person plays a role in aiding the Resistance and each ride is different based on how well you perform in your role. It’s essentially like a giant interactive video game with friends.

Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway (10/10)

Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is a fun ride for the whole family. If you’ve ever seen the new original Mickey Mouse shorts, you’ll recognize this animation that covers the entire experience. You’ll begin by taking a scenic train ride through the park until your train cars dismount from the tracks for a wild journey. The cars will race from room to room which feature different themes and interactive animation before miraculously joining together again for the end of the adventure.

Toy Story Mania! (9/10)

Toy Story Mania takes you into the world of Andy’s bedroom and play area for a video game-style ride. The queue for Toy Story Mania is one of the best on property; one we don’t mind waiting in. This is a competitive adventure where riders are prompted to shoot at targets around the bedroom. The ride vehicle shifts between several screens that have varying themes and items to shoot like balloons, plates and targets.

Slinky Dog Dash (8/10)

Slinky Dog Dash is a colorful and delightful rollercoaster tailored for children and parents. It features two quick takeoffs and a high corner turn, but the ride is so slow that young ones will have a blast and not feel intimidated by it. Slinky talks to the guests as they go through different maneuvers and the coaster acts as a great way to get a glimpse of Hollywood Studios from a bird’s eye view. Lightning Lane is a must for this one because you don’t want to get stuck waiting in the hot sun here.

Star Tours (8/10)

Star Tours is a pretty unique ride and might be slightly unexpected for new visitors. Starting with the queue, you’ll quickly realize that you’re in line at a Star Wars-themed airport. The ride vehicles take civilians on flights around the galaxy for vacation or otherwise, until they encounter the Empire. From there, your job is to hold tight until C3PO and R2 can fly you to safety on a planet like Tatooine or Hoth. The destinations change with each flight, so you can have a totally different experience each time.

Animal Kingdom’s Best Rides

Kilimanjaro Safaris (10/10)

Kilimanjaro Safaris is an epic safari adventure through the African Savanna. An expert tour guide and bus driver will host your journey through multiple parts of the Savanna habitat, including the lowlands, the desert, the forest and the grasslands. On the way, you’ll see everything from towering giraffes to laughing hyenas or even lumbering rhinos. The stars of the show, if they make their appearance, are always the lions. Check out our quick guide to Kilimajaro Safaris to learn about the best time to go and other useful ride tips.

Expedition Everest (10/10)

Expedition Everest Disney

Expedition Everest is our all-time favorite roller coaster at Walt Disney World. You don’t often get a cool Nepalese theme with a ride like this and Disney made the most of it. The ride queue is chock full of museum-worthy artifacts found by sherpas who’ve climbed Everest in real life. But the main reason you want to go on the ride is to spot the Yeti itself. The coaster travels through treacherous mountain terrain on a fast track the zooms both forward and backward before escaping the clutches of the infamous Yeti at the end.

Avatar Flight of Passage (10/10)

Avatar Flight of Passage at Animal Kingdom

Avatar Flight of Passage is a state-of-the-art full-senses experience at Animal Kingdom. They combined the technology of the screen with the mechanics of the ride vehicle to produce a truly incredible experience. Riders will first be paired with an Avatar, climb on the back of a banshee simulator to fly around the beautiful planet of Pandora. Everything from the sights, sounds, smells and feelings come alive on this ride.

Dinosaur (8/10)

Dinosaur is a little older but definitely worth the visit. Guests start by walking through a museum exhibit on the cretaceous period which sets you up for your time-traveling trek to the past. This is a fun and bumpy ride where you’ll see loads of dinosaurs in their “natural” habitat. The object is to find the carnotaurus before the meteor shower hits, which means you’ll be encountering a little bit of danger on this one.

Kali River Rapids (7/10)

Kali River Rapids is a water ride where you’ll inevitably get wet. It’s a fun one to do at least once, especially if you want to cool off on a hot day and don’t mind being wet for a bit. The river rapids have some fun ups and downs along the way, but overall we feel like the ride is a little too short for how wet you can potentially get.

Na’vi River Journey (7/10)

Na’vi River Journey is another great way to see inside the world of Pandora, especially at night when the planet is all aglow. The Na’vi River Journey is a slow-moving water ride that showcases all the flora and fauna that lights up on Pandora. You journey through the jungle to the ceremonial house of the Na’vi. The ride is slightly underwhelming overall, so we wouldn’t waste a Lightning Lane on this one.

Hollywood Studios vs Animal Kingdom: Restaurants

Winner: Animal Kingdom

We consider Animal Kingdom to be the best at Walt Disney World when it comes to food, second only to Epcot. This park doesn’t have a massive number of restaurants, but it is easily superior to Hollywood Studios’ lack of good options. Animal Kingdom is number one by comparison when looking at both quick-service and table-service locations.

P.S. – We have a big list of essential Animal Kingdom tips and secrets. It’s extremely helpful for getting the most out of your time in the park.

Animal Kingdom’s Best Restaurants

Tiffins (10/10)

Tiffins is definitely the number one restaurant at Animal Kingdom. It’s considered a signature dining location and offers some seriously delicious meals. The menu has a fair mix of standard dishes and adventurous ones, mostly taking inspiration from African and Indian cuisine. Guests will also appreciate the effort that Disney Imagineers took to achieve the look of Tiffins. They went on a hunt through exotic destinations to collect museum-worthy displays and art pieces to showcase at the restaurant. Tiffins is a perfect dining option for adults and it ranks high on our list of best grownup Disney World restaurants.

Yak & Yeti (9/10)

Yak and Yeti Animal Kingdom

Yak & Yeti is a unique blend of Asian cuisines heavy on the Nepalese decor. It’s a great go-to reservation option if you’re looking for a reliable table-service location with interesting menu choices. They serve your typical Asian dishes like egg rolls, pot stickers and noodles, with a few highlight entrees like Chicken Tikka Masala and Bhaktapur Duck. Kids can also eat here with a special menu that offers more American options.

Satu’li Canteen (9/10)

Satuli Canteen Combo Bowl

Satu’li Canteen is a quick-service restaurant, but we have to put it on the list. It’s always fast and easy whether you use mobile order or counter-service, but the main reason we like it is because it serves one of the best bowls in the park. Satu’li Canteen offers a variety of options when it comes to building your custom bowl and you can almost never go wrong with any mix of their starches, protein or sauces. Plus, it’s got a huge dining room for relaxing between attractions.


Tusker House is Animal Kingdom’s only character dining experience, which is located in Africa. Families love the all-you-can-eat experience, especially since they get the chance to meet Mickey and the gang in their full safari gear. They’ll visit each table to take photos while you dine on delicious Afro-Indian inspired fare.

Animal Kingdom Quick-Service Restaurants (7/10)

Flame Tree Barbecue, Yak & Yeti Local Foods Cafe, and Satu’li Canteen are the top options for quick-service, but you can find a few home run snacks at some of the counter-service spots like pastries at the Kusafiri Coffee Shop or tacos at The Smiling Crocodile. Other quick-service locations could use an upgrade.

Hollywood Studios’ Best Restaurants

The Hollywood Brown Derby (7-8/10)

The Cobb Salad Hollywood Brown Derby

The Hollywood Brown Derby is the best Hollywood Studios has to offer for dining. And while we wish we could give this signature dining location a higher rating, the quality of the dishes are simply not worth the price. It’s a nice experience if you are looking for fine dining in the park (we highly recommend the original Cobb Salad, if so), but there are other cheaper restaurants that will give you a better experience for the money.

Sci Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant (7/10)

hollywood studios sci fi dine in restaurant

The Sci Fi Dine-In is a really cool experience with a classic American vibe. The food is fairly standard American fare, but the atmosphere is where it’s at. The restaurant is an exact replica of an old drive-in movie theater, so you’ll be eating your food in a parked car while watching the big screen. While you nosh on your burgers, fries and milkshake, you’ll be treated to old commercials and movie clips of days gone by.

50’s Prime Time Cafe (7/10)

This is another step back in time, but this one makes you feel more at home. 50’s Prime Time Cafe serves some delicious American comfort food favorites from the 1950’s and the decor reflects your grandma’s house from that timeframe. The service is an added touch to the nostalgia factor since your waiter is likely to ask you to clean your plate before ordering dessert.

Hollywood Studios Quick-Service Restaurants (6/10)

Hollywood Studios is definitely not the park to choose if you want excellent meal choices and overall it’s hit or miss. We highly recommend our favorites which are mostly in Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Story Land, but the majority of the quick-service spots are subpar.

Hollywood Studios vs Animal Kingdom: Entertainment & Attractions

Winner: Animal Kingdom

Hollywood Studios may have a better reputation for entertainment and attractions, but we actually think Animal Kingdom has two of the best shows on property. Animal Kingdom also has multiple exhibits for wild animals throughout the park which give it the top notch ranking on entertainment.

Animal Kingdom’s Best Entertainment and Attractions

Festival of the Lion King (10/10)

Festival of the Lion King

Festival of the Lion King is the first of two Animal Kingdom stage shows that I consider must-do’s for anyone visiting the park. This is a high-energy show that really gets the crowd involved, so prepare for some interactive fun. Think of a high-caliber Broadway performance with talented singers, acrobats, and dancers who invite you to celebrate the Circle of Life.

Finding Nemo: The Musical (10/10)

Finding Nemo: The Musical is a beautiful stage performance that tells the full story. This show also has some incredible singing talent along with masterful puppetry. Elaborate puppets of all sizes take the stage to put on a larger-than-life performance of Finding Nemo. We love the colorful props and scenes that make this show a can’t-miss attraction.

Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail (9/10)

Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail at Animal Kingdom

Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail lets visitors walk through the African animal exhibit to see additional animals you might not find on the Kilimanjaro Safaris. You can spot smaller animals in their native environment, along with a variety of big animals like the gorillas. The gorilla enclosure always draws lots of guests who can see them playing with each other or ogling through the windows at people.

Maharajah Jungle Trek (9/10)

Maharajah Jungle Trek at Animal Kingdom

The Maharajah Jungle Trek is a similar exhibit, but on the Asia side of the park. Visitors can walk through an intricate viewing trail where you’ll see flying foxes, gibbons and most importantly Asian tigers. The tigers are especially active at twilight and lucky guests can watch them play in the water.


Feathered Friends in Flight is a live stage show hosted by Russell and Dug from the Up film. They team up with expert ornithologists to help the audience learn about different types of birds found in Asia and Africa. Some of the birds perform tricks and others fly right overhead. This is a fun 20 minute experience for children and adults.

It’s Tough to be a Bug! (8/10)

It’s Tough to be a Bug is a 4D film that takes place inside the magical Tree of Life at the center of the park. This is a surprising show for most of the audience who don’t know what to expect. It’s a somewhat interactive show that features different kinds of bugs from A Bug’s Life movie. Children may be a little creeped out by the spiders that hang from the ceiling or the scattering bugs that move in the seats.

Rafiki’s Plant Watch (7/10)

This is an often forgotten experience but a neat one. Rafiki’s Planet Watch is an entirely different section of Animal Kingdom only accessible by train. The train takes you from the Africa section to this Conservation Station where guests can pet small animals and meet the zookeepers and learn about the animals on property. There’s also a place to try your hand at drawing some of these creatures in the Disney animator style.

Hollywood Studios’ Best Entertainment & Attractions

Fantasmic! (10/10)

Fantasmic Show Hollywood Studios

Fantasmic! is one of the best outdoor stage shows on Walt Disney World property. It has everything you could dream of, from pyrotechnics and laser lights to water projections and epic stunts. Mickey is the main character who dares to dream and fight off the antagonists who don’t want to let him succeed. In the end, heroic characters of all types can be seen on a giant flotilla. We suggest ending your night at Hollywood Studios here.

Beauty and the Beast: Live on Stage (9/10)

Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage

Beauty and the Beast: Live on Stage is a classic retelling of the animated motion picture. The show features excellent singers and dancers, along with the rarely seen Lumiere, Cogsworth and Mrs. Potts. There’s not a bad seat in the house for this performance and we try to see it almost every time we visit Hollywood Studios.

Frozen Sing-along Celebration (9/10)

Frozen Sing-Along Celebration

Frozen Sing-Along Celebration is geared a bit more towards children, but adults will like this, as well. The “Royal Storytellers” guide you through a quick recap of Anna and Elsa’s story from beginning to end while inviting the audience to sing along the way. At the end, Arendelle celebrates the sisters’ love with a beautiful performance of Let It Go sung by Elsa herself, who also sprinkles the crowd with flurries.

Muppetvision 3D (8/10)

Muppet Vision 3D gets a little lost among all the flashy attractions at Hollywood Studios. The muppets are one-of-a-kind and put on a fun musical number for the audience. The theater is always open and air-conditioned, so this is a great place to go for a rest between waiting in line.

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular (7/10)

The Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular is one big stunt performance where movie directors and Hollywood stuntmen show the crowd how these feats are achieved. They focus on the Indiana Jones Raiders of the Lost Ark movie, which has loads of fight scenes, explosives and acrobatic effects.


Wonderful World of Animation is the nighttime show at Hollywood Studios’ that closes the park at the end of the day. The show highlights 90 years of Disney animation, featuring all the most well-known and beloved movies of all time. The show is a little underwhelming and we typically advise first-time visitors to see Fantasmic! instead since Wonderful World of Animation is heavy on the virtual projections and light on the fireworks.


It’s probably evident that we think Animal Kingdom has more to offer most traveling groups, even though we absolutely love Hollywood Studios. Only in this comparison will we choose Animal Kingdom overall, but for us it really depends on the day we go and the mood we’re in – and it’ll probably be the same for you! However, we hope this guide gave you a better idea about how you can spend a full day at each park. 

Hollywood Studios’ is a really great choice for getting in those epic thrill rides and roller coasters, while also experiencing some excellent performances. We think those are the top highlights of the park, along with the great themed lands in Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Story Land. The food scene here leaves something to be desired, but you can still find some decent options at a few of the table-service and quick-service locations.

Animal Kingdom has always been a special park. It’s a unique theme park and zoo wrapped into one. For rides, Kilimanjaro Safaris, Expedition Everest, and Flight of Passage are three of the best you’ll find on the Disney World property. The general feel and atmosphere of Animal Kingdom is also noteworthy, since it’s so outside of what you get at most theme parks. It’s much more immersive than Hollywood Studios. Plus, Animal Kingdom has so much going on between rides, shows and exhibits. 

Regardless of which park you think is best, you’re going to have a lot of fun at either one and that’s what matters the most!

Looking for More Park Comparisons?

We also have comparisons for other parks. Each one goes into the same detail that this guide does.

Still in the planning phase?

We made a big resource for planning a Disney World trip on a budget. It breaks down all of the best ways to spend and save your money. Transportation, hotels, dining- it’s all covered in detail.