Who doesn’t love ANIMALS!?!?! That’s right, coming in at Number One, in a shocker, Disney’s Animal Kingdom!

Now, this may be a surprise to you. It was to me! The Animal Kingdom was always the forgotten theme park at Disney. It was the one that, you know, had giraffes and stuff. But thanks to a recent renovation, it is easily the best ... at least, for now. And the reasons are pretty simple.

It has the best rides.

It has the best food.

And it has something that no other park can offer- actual live animals, from giraffes to rhinos to elephants, in a large park that you can take a real safari to, as well, as walking tours and even a petting zoo (the petting zoo has pigs and sheep, though, not rhinos).

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But in order to understand why the Animal Kingdom is now (at least for a time) the best park, you have to understand one thing-

James Cameron is KING OF THE WORLD. Well, maybe not. But the science fiction franchise that everyone forgets made all that money? Avatar? Yeah, they have a whole section in Amimal Kingdom. It looks real, and it is SPECTACULAR.

Without it, as I explain below, the Animal Kingdom was still really awesome. The addition of Pandora, though, puts it over the top. Now? Animal Kingdom is a must visit.

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Rides

Must-

Avatar Flight of Passage. You might hear people say this is a 3 hour + wait. They are not joking. You have to either fastpass this ride (before the park opens) or get to the park before it opens and sprint to it as soon the park opens. This is one of the new rides Disney is debuting (such as the Tron ride they started in Shanghai and are building in the Magic Kingdom), and this is amazing. It’s a 3D flight simulator, and it is truly awesome. Is it worth a three hour wait? Maybe not, but it’s definitely worth a two hour wait.

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Expedition Everest. One of the two best roller coasters in Disney. (The other is the Rock ‘n Roll Roller Coaster at Hollywood Studios).

Kilimanjaro Safaris. Look, if you come to this park, you absolutely have to do this. It’s not really a “ride” so much as a chance to get to explore the wildlife side of the park. Take it.

Kali River Rapids. When it is unbearably hot, nothing cools you down like getting soaked on the River Rapids.

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Other Rides & Stuff-

All of Pandora is amazing, and worth walking through. If the wait is bearable, try the Na’vi River Ride, but be warned- it is just a “It’s a Small World” ride through Pandora. A lot of people get confused between this and the Flight of Passage ride, and if the wait is 90 minutes or more, don’t bother.

Dinoland has a decent “little” coaster and a Dinosaur ride that is fine. There are some walking trails and taking the train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch is always fun.

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Food

Animal Kingdom has the only signature restaurant in any theme park- Tiffins. The food and the service there is, quite easily, the best at any theme park at Disney. Is it worth the cost? Eh. If you want one really good meal in the theme parks, this is the place to go.

Yak & Yeti is also a popular place to sit down and eat, and the food there is quite good and more reasonably priced than Tiffins. If you just want counter service, they have Yak & Yeti Cafe as well as a number of other places (I would recommend Harambe Market). Animal Kingdom, easily, has the best food options of any Disney theme park.

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Final Analysis

The Animal Kingdom was always the undiscovered gem of Disney’s Theme Parks. Sure, the whole “Africa/Asia” theming can seem a little ... off, but they do it pretty well. And the animals .... no other place at Disney can offer you this opportunity.

But the additional of Pandora has really put it over the top. If you haven’t been here since they opened it, it’s now a must-go. It’s decent during the day, but it you see what it looks like during the first rays of the morning, or at night, you will be blown away.

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Come for the gorillas and tigers; stay for the bioluminescence and food.

Recap

4. Hollywood Studios (until they finish the construction on the new Star Wars area).

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3. Epcot.

2. Magic Kingdom.

1. Animal Kingdom.