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The Animal Lover's Guide to Walt Disney World

by Lily on April 21, 2023 Orlando

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Hi, froggy friends! It's Lily, and I gotta joke for you! Why do tigers always beat cheetahs at hide-and-seek? Because they’ve never been spotted! Are you roaring with laughter yet? Now that I've got you smiling, it's time to talk about one of my favorite things ... ANIMALS. I'm a huge animal lover. Did you know that you can see tigers, cheetahs and a ton of other animals at Walt Disney World? In this post, I'll be taking you along on a virtual animal trek to show where you can find, meet and interact with animals on your next Disney trip. Grab your safari hat and binoculars — it's going to be a wild good time!

Animal Disney - Affection Section

Wildlife at Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park

Africa

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park is the perfect destination for those looking to experience the wonder and beauty of Africa's wildlife. Take a leisurely walk along the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail to spot some of the most awe-inspiring animals in Africa, including mighty gorillas and one of my favorites, the fabulous zebras. For a more immersive experience, take an excursion on the Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction, which takes you on a tour of sprawling wildlife habitats. You can catch a glimpse of magnificent animals including lions, giraffes and hippos. If you didn't know any better, you'd think you were really out on the savanna in Africa. Be on the lookout for other African animals, including elephants, flamingos, meerkats, rhinos and even African hogs!

Asia

Flights of Wonder

The Maharajah Jungle Trek is a walking trail where you can spy awe-inspiring creatures at every turn.  Keep your eyes peeled for Asian tigers, gibbons, water buffalo and Komodo dragons. There's even an aviary that is home to over 50 species of birds!

For some fun entertainment, head over to the Anandapur Theater and witness the amazing Feathered Friends in Flight show. You'll get a behind-the-scenes look at the free-flying birds at Animal Kingdom, along with animal behavior specialists to share interesting facts about the birds and their care.

Discovery Island

Discovery Island is the hub of Animal Kingdom, where you can explore wilderness trails brimming with fun details. Take an exciting walk along the Discovery Island Trails, featuring tranquil pathways around the iconic Tree of Life, and keep an eye out for the incredible animals that call this area home. Discover flamingos, invertebrates, kangaroos, lemurs, otters, tamarins, vultures and more. This immersive experience will take you up close to some of the park's most fascinating creatures and allow you to appreciate their beauty in an unobtrusive setting.

Animals Disney - Lemur in Disney's Animal Kingdom

The Oasis

The Oasis exhibits is an immersive experience that begins as soon as you enter the park. As you make your way through tropical garden pathways, you'll find yourself surrounded by lush flora, meandering streams and gentle waterfalls. Look out for animals such as anteaters, babirusas and colorful birds as you roam through this tranquil paradise.

Under the Sea at EPCOT

SeaBase

EPCOT may be more well-known for its futuristic technology and international pavilions, but it also home to an incredible display of aquatic life at SeaBase. Here you can immerse yourself in an underwater world and discover over 2,000 aquatic animals, ranging from vibrant reef fish to gentle giants, such as dolphins, manatees and sea turtles. At EPCOT's SeaBase, you and your tadpoles will have a splashy good time as you marvel at the grace of sharks and rays as they glide through the water. If you're a marine enthusiast or just looking for a unique experience, SeaBase at EPCOT is the perfect place to discover incredible aaquatic life.

For tadpoles or younger froglets in your crew, be sure to pick up a Finding Dory’s Friends: A Fin-Tastic Scavenger Hunt booklet from the kiosk on the first floor. It's free! As you explore the pavilion, you'll learn about various marine life. The scavenger hunt features rhyming puzzles and clues that lead you to different areas of the pavilion. As you complete the challenges, you'll place stickers in the corresponding spot in the guidebook to help Dory remember her friends. This is a great souvenir to take home after your trip!

Walt Disney Animals — Interactive Experiences

At Turtle Talk Theater, you can take a seat and have a candid conversation with Crush the sea turtle, where he'll answer questions about marine biology, his favorite foods and his underwater pals. Or, explore Bruce's Shark World, an interactive exhibit filled with fish-friendly fun where you can test your undersea expertise with quizzes from Nemo's teacher, Mr. Ray. Just remember that fish are friends, not food!

Meet More Disney Animals at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

Would you believe me if I told you that you could wake up to giraffes right outside your bedroom window? Or dine among zebras and gazelles? At Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, those statements are very much a reality!

Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge is home to a variety of animals from Africa. Guests can visit the Arusha Savanna, where they may spot animals such as zebras, giraffes, ostriches and gazelles roaming freely. The Uzima Savanna is another area to explore, where you can see hippos, crocodiles and a variety of birds.

The lodge also features unique dining options, such as Sanaa where guests can enjoy African-inspired cuisine while observing animals. The best part is that you do not have to be staying at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge to view the animals. Simply hop on a Disney resort bus to Animal Kingdom Lodge, take a rideshare or drive your own vehicle. Just keep in mind that you may need to book a dining reservation to park in the hotel's parking area.

Our Frog Favorite Disney Animal Experiences

Elephants

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you can experience the wonder of elephants through various experiences, including the guest-favorite attraction, Kilimanjaro Safaris, and the fascinating backstage tour, Caring for Giants.

Animals Disney - Elephant sighting at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Experiencing African elephants at Disney is not just about viewing them as entertainment. It's about gaining a deeper understanding of these amazing creatures and the important role they play in the ecosystem.

Horses

At Disney World, you can experience the magic of horses in a variety of ways. From the majestic Percherons, Clydesdales and Belgians pulling trolleys down Main Street, U.S.A. to enjoying pony rides and trail rides at Tri-Circle D Ranch at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort, there are unique experiences available for every horse-loving fan. We love taking a scenic carriage ride along the Sassagoula River at Disney's Port Orleans Resort - Riverside. And for those who love Halloween, the Headless Horseman riding a specially trained mount is a must-see during Mickey's "Boo-To-You" Halloween Parade.

Lions

If you're a fan of "The Lion King," you won't want to miss the opportunity to see these majestic Disney animals in person during your visit to Animal Kingdom. As one of the most popular attractions, Kilimanjaro Safaris takes you on a thrilling ride through the African savanna where you'll have the chance to spot lions lounging in the sun or taking a nap in the shade. Be sure to look out for Dakari, the sole male and leader of the pride. He's a real sight to see, and if you're really lucky, you might even get to hear him roar!

For a more intimate experience, the Savor the Savanna private safari offers a guided tour of the savanna, complete with delicious tapas and beverages to enjoy while you take in the stunning views. And if you're feeling extra adventurous, the Wild Africa Trek takes you on a 3-hour journey across rope bridges and along rugged terrain to get up close and personal with the lions and other wildlife.

Guide to Animal Kingdom - Lions at Kilimanjaro Safaris

Manatees

Manatees are a beloved part of the aquatic wildlife at EPCOT. The gentle giants are known for their slow movements and docile nature, making them a favorite among visitors. At The Seas with Nemo & Friends, you can observe these special creatures up close and learn about the importance of protecting their natural habitats. Disney animal care experts work hard to provide a comfortable and enriching environment for the manatees during their stay. The real target is preparing them for their eventual return to the wild. It's an incredible opportunity to see these animals in person and learn about the important conservation efforts being made to protect them.

Close Disney Animal Encounters

Affection Section 

Visiting the Affection Section at Animal Kingdom is an unforgettable experience for animal lovers. From playful goats and sheep to friendly pigs and cows, you'll have the opportunity to make some new furry friends! My favorite part is being able to brush and pet the goats!

To visit the Affection Section, you will need to hop on the Wildlife Express Train to Rafiki's Planet Watch. The last train of the day departings from Harambe Station at 4:30 p.m. so make sure to plan accordingly. As you make your way to Rafiki's Planet Watch, you'll get a backstage view of the care and homes of some of the Disney animals.

Horseback Riding

If you're looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the theme parks, a horseback ride through the tranquil woodlands of Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground might just make for the best day ever! Guests 9 years and older can enjoy a 45-minute guided trail ride through beautiful natural trails. This price is $65 per person and reservations are highly recommended. Reservations can be made up to 60 days in advance on the Disney website or through the My Disney Experience app. Same-day reservations and walk-ins are also possible but subject to availability.

Fort Wilderness - Horseback Riding

Be sure to check in at the Tri-Circle-D Ranch near the front parking lot of Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. Riders must be over 48 inches tall and weigh under 250 pounds. Closed-toe shoes with a back strap are also required.

Wild African Trek

For the ultimate animal experience at Disney World, the 3-hour Wild Africa Trek is the way to go! Accompanied by a knowledgeable guide, you'll explore the Safi River Valley. You'll get close views of towering giraffes, powerful rhinos, hippos and even crocodiles. Crikey! In addition, you'll also receive a complimentary souvenir as a memento of your safari. What's more? A photographer will capture all the exciting moments of your adventure.

Animals Disney - Tree of Life

Walt Disney World is not just a theme park but also an opportunity to learn and appreciate different animal species. Who knew?! The park's commitment to conservation and animal care is evident in how they promote awareness and education about these animals. Now are you ready to come and meet all the different Disney animals? Let us know in the comments!

Related: Our Wild Guide to Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

Love,

Keep hopping, Lily!
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