Best Rides at Animal Kingdom: Ranking the Top Rides at Disney World

by | May 8, 2024 | Animal Kingdom, WDW Blog

Find out our ranking of the very best rides at Animal Kingdom, from the rides of Pandora – The World of Avatar to the more toddler-friendly TriceraTop Spin.

When you think of Disney World rides, Animal Kingdom probably isn’t the first park that comes to mind. That honor typically goes to Magic Kingdom, which has triple the amount of rides that Animal Kingdom has. Or perhaps Hollywood Studios comes to mind with the iconic Tower of Terror or the newer attractions in Galaxy’s Edge and Toy Story Land.

However, don’t sleep on the rides available at Animal Kingdom. While the diverse population of animals is the star of the show at this theme park, some of the best rides across all of Disney World are located here. 

In total, there are eight rides at Animal Kingdom that range from toddler-friendly to thrilling. And without further ado, here are my unofficially official rankings from worst to best:

What Are the Best Rides at Disney’s Animal Kingdom?

  1. Kilimanjaro Safaris
  2. Avatar Flight of Passage
  3. Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
  4. Kali River Rapids
  5. Na’vi River Journey
  6. DINOSAUR
  7. Wildlife Express Train
  8. TriceraTop Spin

1. Kilimanjaro Safaris

Kilimanjaro Safaris, safari truck with zebra

Photo by Danny Shuster

  • Location: Africa
  • Opening Date: April 22, 1998
  • Ride Duration: About 18 to 22 minutes
  • Height Requirement: N/A

While Flight of Passage is a worthy challenger for #1, I gave the honor to Kilimanjaro Safaris. After all, this is the ride rankings for Animal Kingdom. And there is no other ride that truly captures the heart and soul of this park than Kilimanjaro Safaris.

No experience will truly replace an authentic African safari. But this attraction is the closest you will get without leaving the continent. On this safari, visitors will ride an open-air vehicle and observe all sorts of free-roaming animals, including hippos, elephants, zebras, giraffes, and more.

If I had to pick just one ride that is a must-do at Animal Kingdom, it’s this one, despite how amazing Flight of Passage is. Because of the unpredictability of the animals, every safari is different. So no matter how many times you go on it, you’ll be sure to have a unique experience every time!

How to Ride Kilimanjaro Safaris at Animal Kingdom: We recommend heading here for your first ride of the day, as the line can get lengthy as time goes on. Additionally, it’s a great choice for your Disney Genie+ selection.

2. Avatar Flight of Passage

ride vehicles for flight of passage

Get ready for some spectacular views on this ride. Photo by Laurie Sapp

  • Location: Pandora – The World of Avatar
  • Opening Date: May 27, 2017
  • Ride Duration: About 4 minutes
  • Height Requirement: 44 inches

This was a tough one to put at #2. It could easily take the top spot and is definitely one of the best rides at Disney World. Some may argue it is the all-time best. From a technological standpoint, it is tough to beat. This ride puts you on the back of a banshee with 3D glasses, and it perfectly simulates flying across Pandora. From sudden drops to facing giant waves, you truly feel like you’re in the world of Avatar.

I’ve seen this ride have a wait time of longer than 4 hours. And while I personally would not spend an entire morning or afternoon waiting in line for any ride, I will say, yes, Flight of Passage is that good. Imagine Soarin’, but the next level.

How to Ride Flight of Passage at Animal Kingdom: Flight of Passage is one of the most popular rides in Disney World, so you’ll want to prepare for long waits. Opt for this being your rope drop ride of the day (if not Kilimanjaro Safaris), or you can opt for an Individual Lightning Lane.

3. Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain

  • Location: Asia
  • Opening Date: April 7, 2006
  • Ride Duration: About 3 minutes
  • Height Requirement: 44 inches

Many guests consider Expedition Everest to be the best roller coaster in all of Disney World. And it makes a good case for why it should have that distinction. First is the excellent storytelling, not just in the queue, but on the ride itself. It’s a thrilling adventure that includes an encounter with the legendary Yeti! It is also a photographer’s delight with all the Tibetan details throughout the attraction.

Everest is of course famous for the backwards portion after you face a mangled damaged track at the top of the mountain. After the backwards drop, you then have another 80 foot drop flying forward down the side of the mountain. It’s a Disney coaster, so it’s not as intense as what you might find at other theme parks, but it’s definitely one of the top thrills for Disney’s standards!

How to Ride Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom: Standby lines for Expedition Everest can get long, but tend to be lower first thing in the morning or later on in the day. If you’re okay to split up your group, the ride also has a Single Rider option.

4. Kali River Rapids

Kali-River-Rapids-Animal-Kingdom-featured-Judd

Photo by Judd Helms

  • Location: Asia
  • Opening Date: March 18, 1999
  • Ride Duration: About 5 minutes
  • Height Requirement: 38 inches

If I had to pick a ride that is overrated in Animal Kingdom, it would be this splashtastic raft ride. So why did I rank it as the 4th best ride? If you’re expecting a super thrilling ride like I was, you may be disappointed. It was much tamer than I thought it would be (which might be a good thing for others!) 

However, it is still a very fun attraction. The scenery that you pass through is filled with details, like geysers and plants. And the anticipation of the final drop (which is much less intense than Splash Mountain) and the possibility of getting soaked will bring lots of excitement and laughter throughout the ride. Be sure to bring a poncho if you don’t want to get wet!

How to Ride Kali River Rapids at Animal Kingdom: If you’re visiting during a cooler day, you will have no problem getting onto this ride quickly! For the warmer months, hopping in line before midday, or using a Genie+ selection may be worth it.

5. Na’vi River Journey

Some of the wild plants that make up the Pandoran jungle

Photo by Cliff Wang

  • Location: Pandora – The World of Avatar
  • Opening Date: May 27, 2017
  • Ride Duration: About 4 1/2 minutes
  • Height Requirement: N/A

This is the gentler of the two Avatar-themed attractions. It is essentially a boat ride through a Pandora rainforest. Just like the movie, it is a feast for the senses with beautiful colors and captivating sounds. However, when you factor in long wait times that can easily top an hour, the ride is pretty underwhelming.

But overall, it is a solid immersive experience that is friendly for the whole family, from babies to grandparents.

How to Ride Na’vi River Journey at Animal Kingdom: While the line is typically not as long as Flight of Passage, it definitely does get long as one of the few young kid friendly rides at the park. With that in mind, it’s a great Genie+ selection to make if you have bought the service.

6. DINOSAUR

Dinosaur Ride Disney World Cliff Wang

The Iguanadon wades solo in the fountain outside DINOSAUR at Animal Kingdom. Photo by Cliff Wang

  • Location: DinoLand U.S.A.
  • Opening Date: April 22, 1998
  • Ride Duration: About 3 minutes
  • Height Requirement: 40 inches

As you can see, the attractions in DinoLand U.S.A. fall towards the bottom of the rankings. Which is why it may not be surprising that Disney is planning to revamp the whole area around a new theme. DINOSAUR didn’t appear on many guests’ lists of favorites due to how rough the ride is. But despite it jerking you around a track in the dark, I will say DINOSAUR has a great story built around the attraction. Guests board a time-traveling rover to rescue a dinosaur during the final minutes before the giant meteor that caused the extinction of life hits the planet. 

In addition to the thrilling story, there are numerous dinosaurs that make appearances throughout the ride. I wouldn’t classify this as a scary ride, but some children may find it to be too much.

How to Ride DINOSAUR at Animal Kingdom: The wait time fluctuates throughout the day, so try and aim for an earlier morning or later in the day for a shorter wait.

7. Wildlife Express Train

wildlife-express-DPB

Hop aboard the Wildlife Express Train for a unique Animal Kingdom experience! Photo courtesy of Disney Parks Blog.

  • Location: Afrida
  • Opening Date: April 22, 1998
  • Ride Duration: About 12 minutes
  • Height Requirement: N/A

The Wildlife Express Train is primarily a way to get to Rafiki’s Planet Watch, where you can learn more about how Animal Kingdom works towards the preservation and conservation of animals. It takes about 7 minutes to get here from the Africa station.

If you have a little one like me, it’s also just a fun train ride for kids. You can just get back on the train at the Planet Watch station without touring the attractions there for a quick round trip journey. Animal Kingdom can also get really hot, so the train can be a great way to get some shelter from the sun. If you love trains, you’ll love this attraction. Otherwise, there’s really nothing else to bring it higher in the rankings.

How to Ride Wildlife Express Train at Animal Kingdom: The train runs throughout the day with a fairly high capacity, so your wait will depend on where it is in its journey. Just note that if you’re heading to Rafiki’s Planet Watch, you may need to wait a bit for the train to come back to get back to the rest of the park.

8. TriceraTop Spin

triceratop spin animal kingdom

Photo by Laurie Sapp

  • Location: DinoLand U.S.A.
  • Opening Date: March 31, 2002
  • Ride Duration: About 90 seconds
  • Height Requirement: N/A

Coming in at last place is TriceraTop Spin, which as you may have guessed, is located in the dinosaur-themed land of the park. It is a fun ride for young children (my 3-year-old loved it and we went on it twice in a row). But at its core, it is no different than any of the other spinning rides at Disney, such as Dumbo or Aladdin. 

You simply hop in the dinosaur and there’s levers to control movement (whether up or down or pitch forward or backward, depending on which row you sit in) as you go around in a circular pattern. It’s a good attraction if you’re visiting with little kiddos, but it’s pretty much what you’ll find in a typical carnival (hence its location in the carnival-themed Dino-Rama area).

How to Ride TriceraTop Spin at Animal Kingdom: The standby queue should move quickly, so you won’t have much of a wait.

Posts by David Lee

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David is a corporate operations leader by day and a travel writer by night. He is a lifelong Disney fan and a self-proclaimed Dole Whip enthusiast. There's a good chance you'll find him planning the next trip to take his family on, whether it's to Disney World, a National Park, or some remote island halfway across the world. You can follow his other passion (Disney World and travel photography) on Instagram at @smallworlddavid.
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Authored by
David Lee

David is a corporate operations leader by day and a travel writer by night. He is a lifelong Disney fan and a self-proclaimed Dole Whip enthusiast. There's a good chance you'll find him planning the next trip to take his family on, whether it's to Disney World, a National Park, or some remote island halfway across the world. You can follow his other passion (Disney World and travel photography) on Instagram at @smallworlddavid.
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