Wondering whether Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom is the right park for your crew? We’ve taken a moment to compare everything that each park has to offer so you can make the best decision.

It can be difficult to decide between Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom because both are awesome options for kids, but adults will find plenty to love, too. If you plan on a week-long Disney World vacation, you’ve got to do both! But if you only have one day available, you’ll have a tough time deciding between these parks. 

That’s why we’ve taken a deep dive into each aspect from rides and attractions to restaurants and snacks. This guide will help you understand exactly which park is the best fit for you!

Table of Contents

Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom: The Short Answer

Magic Kingdom is best for young children, families, and anyone who wants that magical theme park experience. Animal Kingdom is best for seeing lots of exotic animals, enjoying live stage shows, and experiencing outstanding rides. Overall, Magic Kingdom is for those who want a classic Disney vacation, while Animal Kingdom has a more natural environment and laidback theme park experience.

That sums it up. But the reality is that both parks have things that appeal to all ages and preferences.

There is an endless number of things to do at both parks. So buckle up, because we’ve created a huge comparison with three key sections: Rides, Restaurants, and Attractions.

Magic Kingdom vs Animal Kingdom: Rides


Animal Kingdom might have some of the more intense rides you’ll find on property, but Magic Kingdom wins by the numbers. Magic Kingdom has many rides for all age groups and thrill levels and provides a more complete ride experience for a full day of fun.


TRON Lightcycle / Run (10/10)

Tron Lightcycle / Run

TRON: Lightcycle / Run is a big step forward for Magic Kingdom thrill rides. It’s based on the original TRON: Legacy film which is inspired by a retro video game. This coaster is a highly anticipated indoor and outdoor roller coaster that features multiple twists, turns and a 60mph takeoff. The digital motorcycle ride lets you race through a pixelated track against other contestants.


Not only is Space Mountain one of our favorite iconic structures, it’s one of the best rides at Disney World. It’s a dark indoor roller coaster that operates solely on gravity. It doesn’t invert, but the track is really quick and there are tons of tight turns. Space Mountain is extremely popular and will usually have a long wait, so it’s best to get Lightning Lane for this one.


Everything about Haunted Mansion screams old school Imagineer creativity. The theme is a little spooky but lighthearted enough for children to enjoy. Even though the interior of the mansion is dark and haunting, you’ll eventually be entertained by animated dancing and singing ghosts. We elaborate a little more on the full ride experience in our post answering, “How Scary is Haunted Mansion?”


Pirates of the Caribbean ride inspired the whole movie franchise and we think it’s one of the best water rides at Magic Kingdom. It does have a couple of small drops, but overall Pirates isn’t meant to be scary. The sets are impressive and feature loads of lifelike animatronic characters, including Captain Jack Sparrow. He can be found in three different areas of the ride.


Big Thunder Mountain is my personal favorite. It is an outdoor roller coaster in Frontierland, featuring a rickety train that speeds through caverns and geysers. Like Space Mountain, it doesn’t invert , but the multiple sharp turns can be jolting. The Wild West theme is actually unique and makes the experience that much more exciting for adults and children alike.


Seven Dwarfs Mine Train has quickly become a beloved classic and has wait times of epic proportions on busy days. We definitely recommend Lightning Lane here. Once aboard, your happy little roller coaster will showcase many high-tech audio-animatronics of the Seven Dwarfs who are mining for gems before returning home. We think it strikes a good balance between exciting and tame.



Kilimanjaro Safaris is an adventure unlike any other. The trip lasts for 20+ minutes, which means it is one of the longest Disney World ride experiences. On the journey, you’ll get to see animals native to the African savanna, as well as jungle and forest animals. The tour guide will help you spot everything from pronking springbok to the towering giraffe. Check out our quick guide to Kilimajaro Safaris to learn about the best time to go and other useful ride tips.


We consider Expedition Everest to be the absolute best roller coaster on Walt Disney property. Everything from the theme and the ride sequence make this a home run in our book. The unique thing about Everest is that the track switches to reverse and forward again and also achieves speeds of 60mph. It’s arguably the most intense roller coaster at Disney, featuring a 60 foot drop, so it’s more of an adult ride.


Avatar Flight of Passage at Animal Kingdom

Avatar Flight of Passage is a groundbreaking ride at Animal Kingdom. You’ll find it in the interesting Pandora section of the park alongside otherworldly foods and experiences. The ride simulates a flight on a banshee through the alien world of Pandora and it’s such a unique experience, you just have to try it for yourself. You should also do yourself a favor and get Lightning Lane for this because the wait times can skyrocket.


Dinosaur has a little bit of unexpected thrill in an otherwise overlooked ride. We actually love this one and enjoy the fact that wait times can be pretty low during the day. Dinosaur is a dark ride on a shaky utility vehicle which is specially made for time-traveling to the Cretaceous period. You’ll drive through dino-infested forests in order to capture a special dinosaur before the meteor shower hits earth.


Kali River Rapids is an outdoor raft ride through the rivers of Asia. Guests board a huge float and are bound to get wet – but how wet is unpredictable. You could be sprinkled or soaked by the end of this one and unfortunately, the ride doesn’t last too long. Kali River’s surroundings are one of its best features of the ride since you’ll get a new view of Animal Kingdom from here.


Na’vi River Journey is an okay ride, but I honestly find it a bit lackluster when compared to the rest of Pandora. It’s a perfect fit for babies, young children and more sensitive guests who want a pleasant and calming experience. Na’vi River Journey is a dark water ride that flows through fluorescent forests of Pandora at night. The highlight of the ride is definitely the giant animatronic Na’vi shaman that you’ll see singing at the end.

Magic Kingdom vs Animal Kingdom: Entertainment & Attractions


Magic Kingdom has some of the best entertainment at Walt Disney World Resort and is everything you’d expect in a fantastical way. Home to the best fireworks display, along with daily parades, performances and fun attractions, it easily wins out over Animal Kingdom. We also love Animal Kingdom’s offerings, but there aren’t enough to compare to the magnitude of Magic Kingdom.


Happily Ever After (10/10)

Magic Kingdom usually has the best fireworks shows on Disney property, especially these days with the beloved Happily Ever After show. This impressive display can be viewed nightly inside and outside the park in select areas and has been recently revamped with improved projections on Main Street, U.S.A. Get a spot an hour beforehand if you care about your viewing location, otherwise you can appreciate the music and fireworks from most areas around the park.

Character PARADEs (9/10)

Daily character parades and cavalcades break up the boring walk around the park and feature beloved characters on some of the most elaborate floats we’ve seen. Find a spot in Frontierland, around the Hub or on Main Street to experience this fun affair. There are tons of characters that take part in these shows, from princesses to familiar heroes and heroines, so it’s a good way to see them all in one place.


At Enchanted Tales with Belle you’ll get an exclusive meet and greet with rare characters from Beauty and the Beast in an intimate setting. During the show, Belle tells stories with the help of Lumiere, Cogsworth and even the Wardrobe. She’ll also select audience members to participate in the story. Enchanted Tales is a great opportunity to get a convenient picture with Belle as most shows end with a photo op.


Country Bear Jamboree is one of the silliest and kitschy, yet beloved attractions at Disney. It’s full of audio-animatronic bears that perform a live concert of country music with visual humor. There are rarely any wait times here and the show goes on so frequently throughout the day, it makes a good pitstop between more lengthy attractions.


Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor is an interactive comedy show where the animated monsters perform in real time on a big screen. The audience has multiple opportunities to participate by asking questions or telling their own jokes. The monsters in turn respond to the crowd, which makes the humor spot-on for each audience. The jokes can be corny, but the audience interaction makes each show fun and interesting.


Mickey’s Philharmagic is a short 3D film directed by Mickey and his magician’s hat. During the show, Donald Duck steals the hat and is sent on a wild goose chase through many different movie scenes to find it. The audience will get the chance to sing along to music from Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, and more before the show’s conclusion. It’s a great excuse to get out of the hot Florida sun.



Festival of the Lion King Animal Kingdom

Festival of the Lion King is one of the most amazing performances at Disney. It’s similar to The Lion King on Broadway, with the intricate costumes and props, along with highly professional performers. This high energy show highlights the songs from the original animated film and invites audience participation. A circular theater makes every seat a good seat, so there’s never really a need to use Lightning Lane for this one unless the park is super busy.


Finding Nemo: The Musical is a stage show that features the same storyline from the Finding Nemo film in musical style. The show uses all sorts of elaborate puppets and backdrops to tell the story in a new and interesting way. The quality is really high and takes place in a cool theater. Unless (for some strange reason) you hate awesome shows, you don’t want to sleep on this one.


Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail at Animal Kingdom

Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail is a wildlife trail in the Africa section of Animal Kingdom. There are a number of animals from hippos to meerkats, but the big draw is the family of gorillas. There are two separate areas to observe them. One area is dedicated to the female gorillas and the babies with an up-close-and-personal glass viewing area. The other area is more open and contains the male gorillas, which is our favorite. It’s located along the walkway so there are fewer people jamming up the view.


Maharajah Jungle Trek at Animal Kingdom

The Maharajah Jungle Trek is the Asian equivalent of the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail. It has a good mix of animals and tigers are the main attraction. Some of the other highlights include the flying foxes, Komodo dragon, and water buffalo. An underrated aspect of the Maharajah Jungle Trek is the ambiance. There are highly detailed landscapes and buildings that help make for an immersive experience.


Feathered Friends in Flight is a lively stage show for all ages. It presents a number of exotic bird species that perform varying acts with the help of Russell and Dug from the movie UP!, as well as a few animal experts. The show focuses on one bird at a time, telling the unique things this bird is known for. Some birds will do tricks and even fly over the audience.


It’s Tough to be a Bug is an Animal Kingdom classic, but we’ll be honest – it can be tough to sit through for some folks. The cool part is that this 4D film plays in a theater underneath the Tree of Life right at the center of the park. The bad part is that the show incorporates real bugs with characters from A Bug’s Life to create a somewhat scary depiction of life as an insect.

Magic Kingdom vs Animal Kingdom: Restaurants


Animal Kingdom has some exquisite options on its top end, but Magic Kingdom has a slight edge due to the number of restaurants and dining experiences available. It’s definitely a hard choice though, as Animal Kingdom’s top few restaurants are arguably as good or better than the top few at Magic Kingdom.


BE OUR GUEST (10/10)

be our guest restaurant magic kingdom

Be Our Guest is hands down our favorite Magic Kingdom restaurant. Immediately upon entering the Beast’s castle, you’ll be enthralled by the beauty of the ballroom and perpetual snowfall outside the enormous windows. This is the main dining area, but guests can also be seated in the West Wing or the Castle Gallery. During your meal, you’ll be greeted by the Beast himself. The menu is prix fixe with lots of different French and American gourmet dishes to choose from.


Cinderella’s Royal Table is a great experience for the ultimate Disney fan, especially for little girls who want to meet the Princesses. Each party will get the chance to meet and take photos with Cinderella and four other princesses during their meal here. You’ll leave the whole ordeal with amazing memories, least of all the food. The meals aren’t terrible here but you’re definitely paying for the experience more than the menu.


magic kingdom liberty tree tavern

Liberty Tree Tavern is not normally on the top of guests’ lists, but it should be highly considered. We love that Liberty Tree Tavern serves delicious Thanksgiving food all year round. The menu includes turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, pot roast and more in family style service. The interior of the restaurant is also unique, inspired by Colonial America before the Revolution.


The Crystal Palace is a buffet-style restaurant inside a building modeled after a beautiful Victorian greenhouse. It’s one of Magic Kingdom’s classics and the food is always good for a buffet. Crystal Palace’s big draw is that Winnie the Pooh and the rest of the Hundred Acre Woods gang visit you during your meal. Always a reliable spot for a meal with the family.


The Skipper Canteen is located in Adventureland and its theme is an extension of the classic Jungle River Cruise ride. The menu is more adventurous compared to what you’ll find at other Magic Kingdom restaurants, so adults may actually prefer it. The restaurant’s most notable feature is the “Skippers” that serve you who incorporate the Jungle River Cruise’s awkwardly executed humor into the service.


Tony’s Town Square isn’t anything spectacular, but it has a really cute theme and decent food. Lady and the Tramp serve as the inspiration and you’ll even see them on a fountain in the center of the restaurant. The menu is pretty large and the food is definitely a bump up from standard theme park fare.


Magic Kingdom has some top-notch quick service stands, including Sleepy Hollow, Casey’s Corner, the Friar’s Nook and Golden Oak Outpost. There are a handful of others that are definitely worth a visit, but the majority of Magic Kingdom quick service is fairly moderate and not always worth the price.


TIFFINS (10/10)

Tiffins is currently Animal Kingdom’s only signature dining restaurant, which means Imagineers put a lot of effort into the decor and chefs created an excellent menu. The dishes work for all appetites with mostly gourmet African and Indian inspiration. You’ll find some interesting options here like charred octopus or wild game. This one is especially good for adults and it ranks high on our list of best grownup Disney World restaurants.


Burger Pods Satu'li Canteen

Satu’li Canteen is technically a quick-service/counter-service restaurant, but it’s so good we rank it among the table service restaurants. The Canteen is one of my favorite park restaurants and I’ve already lost count of how many times I’ve eaten there. We highly recommend the built-it-yourself bowls for any meal time and love to get the Steamed Burger Pods for snacks. They don’t have a lot of options, but the ones they do have are really unique and far surpass other food options inside Animal Kingdom.

YAK & YETI (9/10)

Yak and Yeti Animal Kingdom

Yak & Yeti has a truly unique Nepalese theme that spins off of Expedition Everest. The Pan-Asian food and atmosphere are both different from the norm. The menu has plenty of familiar Asian dishes and just about everything is good from grilled duck to lo mein and dim sum. Yak & Yeti should appeal to all ages with their range of dishes and extensive kids menu.

Tusker House (8/10)

Tusker House is very popular with families since it’s the only character dining location inside Animal Kingdom. The food is all-you-can-eat and has Afro-Indian inspired dishes. During your meal you’ll be visited by Mickey and friends fully dressed in their safari gear. Each table will get a chance to take photos with the characters which is definitely the main appeal of this restaurant.


Animal Kingdom has pretty decent food options around the entire park. We particularly enjoy Flame Tree Barbecue, Yak & Yeti Local Foods Cafe, and Satu’li Canteen, but also like specific snack options at places like Kusafiri Coffee House, Trilo-Bites and The Smiling Crocodile. But most people aren’t looking to snack all day, so these options do the park justice.


Summing it up, Magic Kingdom is probably the clear winner here for those visiting Disney World for the first time or those traveling with small children. However, there are many arguments that Animal Kingdom is better for other guests based on their specific interests.

Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom both have excellent rides; Magic Kingdom has many rides that are suitable for young kids like Seven Dwarfs, Mad Tea Party and Jungle Cruise, and Animal Kingdom has more of the thrills with Everest and Flight of Passage.

Magic Kingdom is home to the most memorable and popular restaurants on property with Be Our Guest, Cinderella’s Royal Table and the Crystal Palace at the forefront. But you just can’t pass up Tiffin’s Restaurant with it’s divine African and Indian-inspired cuisine in the Animal Kingdom or top-notch quick service at Satu’li Canteen.

Magic Kingdom has the most spectacular attractions, boasting an epic fireworks show in Happily Ever After and the daily character parades, alongside many other shows and experiences. While Animal Kingdom may have a lesser amount of entertainment, almost nothing compares to the Festival of the Lion King.

In conclusion, it’s up to you to determine which is best for your family. We recommend both if it’s possible, as they present very different and enjoyable experiences!

Looking for More Park Comparisons?

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

Still Planning Your Disney World Trip?

We’ve got you covered there too. We created a huge guide to walk you through how things work and help you plan the budget for your trip. It covers everything from flights and resorts to souvenirs and everything in between.