Embarking on a magical adventure to Disney World’s Animal Kingdom with your little explorer? Get ready for an unforgettable experience as we present Guide2WDW’s Animal Kingdom Toddler Guide, part of our ultimate Disney World Toddler Guide. Discovery the theme park’s best attractions, shows, activities, and character encounters, so you and your toddler can have a wildly good time at WDW’s animal-themed park.

As a proud parent who’s personally experienced how amazing Animal Kingdom can be for a toddler, I can vouch for the unique mix of fun and discovery awaiting your family. Our comprehensive guide answers the burning question every parent has – “What are the best things to do with my toddler at Disney World?”

Still wondering if you should bring your little one to Animal Kingdom during your vacation? You’re in luck, because that’s the first question we’ll tackle.

Update 04-17-2023 –Our guide has been refreshed with the latest insider tips and updates for an extraordinary toddler experience at Animal Kingdom, including new information on where to find characters at Animal Kingdom.

Should I bring my toddler to Animal Kingdom?

Kilimanjaro Safaris - Animal Kingdom - Guide2WDW

Yes! Animal Kingdom is an awesome theme park for toddlers. While it doesn’t have as many toddler friendly rides as Magic Kingdom or EPCOT, it more than makes up for it with unique activities, spectacular shows, and fun paths to explore. A toddler is naturally curious, and Animal Kingdom can spark their curiosity in incredible ways.

In fact, when I brought my two year old to Animal Kingdom, it was some of the most fun that my family had at Disney World.

Why should you bring a toddler to Animal Kingdom?

  • It’s an amazing zoo: Disney doesn’t love calling Animal Kingdom a zoo, because that can be a bit reductive to what it is. It’s an incredible theme park that also has a zoo brilliantly integrated throughout. If your toddler enjoys seeing animals at your local zoo, they’ll love doing it at Animal Kingdom.
  • There’s great entertainment – From Festival of the Lion King to Finding Nemo, there’s a ton of kid-friendly entertainment throughout the park featuring favorite animal characters.
  • Awesome activities – From a dinosaur dig-themed playground to Disney World’s only petting zoo, there are a ton of great activities that toddlers will adore.

Best Rides and Attractions for Toddlers at Animal Kingdom

Toddler Favorites with No Height Requirement

Triceratop Spin - Animal Kingdom Toddler Guide - Guide2WDW

Triceratop Spin (DinoLand USA) – This aerial spinner like Dumbo the Flying Elephant in Magic Kingdom is sure to be a hit with toddlers. The ride vehicles are adorable triceratops, so your toddler will have as much fun watching the ride spin around as much as they will enjoy “flying” around in their dinosaur.

Kilimanjaro Safaris (Africa) – This ride through a savanna created by Imagineering is the heart of Animal Kingdom. Guests board a large jeep and drive on a safari, where they’ll see giraffes, rhinos, lions, zebras, and much much more. Because there are real live animals surrounding you, each trip on Kilimanjaro Safaris is different, and it never gets old. Your curious toddler will love getting to see all of these animals and new environments. This ride is friendly for all ages, although there are some bumpy bits, as rough as riding on an unpaved road. Hold on tight to your little one, and don’t let them sit on the ends by the open air windows.

Na’vi River Journey (Pandora – The World of Avatar) – This is a gentle boat ride through a bioluminescent forest on the alien planet of Pandora. Toddlers love boat rides, and everything surrounding you is glowing and beautiful. The only complaint I have with this ride is that it’s a little on the short side, so it’s not worth waiting for very long for Na’vi River Journey with an impatient toddler. If you purchased Genie+, this is a good use for Lightning Lane at Animal Kingdom.

Affection Section - Petting Zoo at Animal Kingdom for Toddlers

Rafiki’s Planet Watch – Because it’s tucked in the very back of the park, Rafiki’s Planet Watch is really easy to overlook. However, there are a lot of great exhibits, and two attractions that your toddler is guaranteed to love.

  • Wildlife Express Train – You have to take a train to and from Rafiki’s Planet Watch. Kids love trains, and this is one of a few opportunities in Disney World to go on a train ride.
  • Affection Section – You can find Animal Kingdom’s petting zoo in Rafiki’s Planet Watch. Affection Section is the only petting zoo at Disney World. Kids (of the human variety) can get up close and personal with kids (of the goat variety), and other gentle animals. Be sure to wash your hands before and after at the hand washing stations, and keep a close eye on your little one, as these are animals who can be unpredictable.

Attractions to Avoid, but Use Your Own Judgment

It’s Tough to Be A Bug! (Discovery Island)- You might think that It’s Tough to Be a Bug will be great for toddlers, as it’s based on a Pixar movie. What’s more kid friendly than that? While this show is very cute, it has some parts that could scare a toddler. Also, there is a very unpleasant part where the back of your chair simulates a bee sting by poking you. Additionally, this attraction is in 3D. The American Optometric Association doesn’t recommend children watch 3D movies or games until the age of 3.

It’s your call, but I wouldn’t take my toddler on It’s Tough to Be a Bug.

Best Shows for Toddlers in Animal Kingdom Festival of the Lion King - Animal Kingdom for Toddlers

A Celebration of Festival of the Lion King (Africa) – One of the best shows at Disney World, the Festival of the Lion King features singers, dancers, and puppets all performing dazzling renditions of songs from The Lion King.

Finding Nemo The Musical - Guide2WDW

Finding Nemo: The Big Blue & Beyond (DinoLand USA) – Finding Nemo: The Musical remains a fan favorite at Animal Kingdom in its new shorter form as The Big Blue & Beyond. The stage show features live performers acting with puppets with some incredibly impressive production design. The show is a spectacle, and the songs by Frozen songwriters Kristen Andersen-Lopez and Robert Lopez are sure to get stuck in your head. But you won’t mind because they’re really good!

Feathered Friends in Flight! (Asia) – This short show features a variety of birds flying throughout the open air auditorium. Part animal trick show, part educational seminar, this show is great for anyone who loves birds.

Live Entertainment throughout Animal Kingdom – From drummers to singers to live bands, there are a ton of great performers throughout Animal Kingdom, many of whom encourage dancing! Let your little one let loose and enjoy the music throughout the park.

Best Activities for Toddlers at Animal Kingdom

A mom and a toddler walking by the Tree of Life at Animal Kingdom in Disney World

Seeing the animals – Of course, the animals are one of the main draws of Animal Kingdom theme park. You can find animals everywhere in the park, starting around the Oasis just past the entrance. However, some of the best views of animals can be found in the trails. These are great spots to let your toddler roam, while supervised of course. My wife and I really recommend packing a toddler harness/leash for these areas where a new walker will want to explore. It actually gives them freedom to move around, while preventing you from having to chase them around. The 2 in 1 Baby Leash we got from Amazon is affordable, easy to use, and gets the job done.

Gorillas - Pangani Forest Exploration Trail - Animal Kingdom Attraction

  • Discovery Island Trails (Discovery Island) See flamingos, tortoises, otters, and many other animals at this trail located at the base of the Tree of Life.
  • Gorilla Falls Trail (Africa): See hippos, gorillas, okapi, and other African animals at this trail near Kilimanjaro Safaris.
  • Maharaja Jungle Trek (Asia) Tigers, birds, and monkeys, oh my!

Animal Kingdom Tip: There’s also a great spot near the entrance to Kali River Rapids in Asia where you can see monkeys swinging around. This has been a favorite viewing spot for my family ever since Animal Kingdom opened.

Boneyard - Animal Kingdom Toddler Guide

The Boneyard (DinoLand USA) – The Boneyard is a playground themed to a paleontological dig. If your toddler has any interest in dinosaurs, or if you need to find a place for them to play, the Boneyard is a great option.

Wilderness Explorers (All Around Animal Kingdom) – This interactive and educational scavenger hunt gives you a booklet of activities. When you complete each of these little missions, you will receive a Wilderness Explorers Badge, aka a sticker. While a toddler may not fully understand every lesson taught as you earn each badge, this is a fun way to see more animals, and what toddler doesn’t love getting a new sticker?

Explora Pandora – See what I did there? Pandora is an awesome environment to wander around and explore, and there are interactive elements that make the land come to life. Your toddler will love running around the walkways of Pandora and banging on the drums located just by the entrance to Na’Vi River Journey. This is another area where a toddler harness would come in handy.

Where to Find Characters at Animal Kingdom

Donald Duck at Animal Kingdom - Animal Kingdom Characters

Character Cruises – This is Animal Kingdom’s version of a character cavalcade, which is basically a mini parade. However, these take place on the waterways that flow through Animal Kingdom. You can see some of your favorite Disney Characters on boats waving as they float by.

  • Discovery River Character Cruise – See characters from The Lion King or Pocahontas on the Discovery River
  • Goofy & Pals Set Sail – See Goofy, Chip, and Dale cruising down the Discovery River.
  • Mickey and Friends Flotilla – Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, and other friends set sail on the Discovery River.
  • Adventurer’s Flotilla – Either see Launchpad McQuack and Scrooge McDuck from Duck Tales or Russell and Dug from Up.

Animal Kingdom Tip: Character cruises take place regularly throughout the day. Check the times guide or the My Disney Experience app for the daily showtimes.

Character Meet & GreetsKevin from Up Character - Disney World Toddler Guide

  • Mickey and Minnie – You can find a Mickey and Minnie meet and greet at the “Meet Favorite Disney Pals at Adventurer’s Outpost” attraction located on Discovery Island. Lightning Lane is available with Genie+.
  • Donald’s Dino-Bash: Meet Donald, Chip, Dale, and other characters dressed as dinosaurs in Dino-Land USA.
  • Kevin from UP! – Kevin is one of the most impressive characters that Disney World has ever had. You can find the massive bird roaming around Discovery Island.
  • Moana (starting April 22, 2023) – Discovery Island

Moana Meet and Greet at Animal Kingdom

Character Dining at Animal Kingdom

One of the best ways to get good face time with characters is a Character Dining Meal. Characters roam around the dining room and come up to your table, making it one of the best ways to experience a character at WDW with no wait.

  • Tusker House – Meet Donald Duck and other friends like Mickey and Goofy in Safari outfits.

How to plan the best Disney vacation ever for your toddler

Animal Kingdom Toddler Guide - Guide2WDW

Going to Disney World with a toddler can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be! Our Guide 2 Disney World with Toddlers gives you advice on everything your toddler will love at WDW. Don’t miss the other sections:

If you want more help, get in touch with our friends at Vacationeer. Their travel agents are Disney experts who can help you plan a vacation full of magical moments for your toddler. Plus, they’ve helped tons of families, so they know a ton of advice for taking kids to WDW.

We want to hear your thoughts!

Let us know in the comments below: What’s your favorite thing to do with toddlers at Animal Kingdom?