Animal Kingdom is more than just a zoo…it’s an immersive experience that educates you about the care and protection of animals and our planet! Animal Kingdom also takes us into different continents so we truly experience what their homes are like. In fact, Animal Kingdom’s theming has so many incredible stories and details, that it’s impossible to cover them all. However, these details do provide a background for some amazing photos, which we are going to highlight in this post. So if you’re looking for some picture-perfect spots around Animal Kingdom, this Instagram Guide is the perfect companion for your trip!
Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored or endorsed by The Walt Disney Company or Walt Disney World resort. All views and opinions are my own.
The Basics of Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom opened on April 22, 1998 (Earth Day!) and is the largest Disney park (over 500 acres).
The park is divided into 6 distinct areas: the Oasis, Discovery Island, Dinoland USA, Asia, Africa, Pandora. Pandora is the most recent addition to the park (based off the movie Avatar) and replaced Camp Minnie-Mickey.
This information and more about the history of Animal Kingdom can be found here.
A Photo Shoot Plan for Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom is perhaps the easiest park to take photos at because of how detailed it is and how many paths and side trails there are. No need to worry about people walking into the frame!
I recommend arriving at Animal Kingdom’s entrance about an hour before park open. Animal Kingdom has one of the smallest entrances, which means the line can get backed up quite easily. Just like the other parks, they usually open the gates up before the official opening time to give Guests the opportunity to line up in front of the “land” they’d like to enter first, which means that you can take photos along the Oasis and part of Discovery Island before the official opening time.
Once you’ve entered the park and taken photos in these areas, I recommend your first stop be Dinoland USA. Few people head to this area first thing in the morning, which means less crowds in the photographs.
After taking photos in Dinoland, U.S.A., I then recommend going in a counter-clockwise trek around the park:
Oasis–>Discovery Island–>Dinoland USA–>Asia–>Africa–>Discover Island–>Pandora
Going to Pandora last gives the initial Pandora crowds time to spread out and move to other areas of the park, giving you better opportunities for photos later on in the day than you would have first thing in the morning.
You’ll also notice that Discovery Island is listed twice on the list. Because of how big Discovery Island is (and how many small trails there are), I recommend taking photos both before official park open and later on. There are some many small trails around the Tree of Life that it’s not hard to get a good photo, even later on in the day when the crowds are higher.
The Oasis is the area you’ll walk through as soon as you enter the park, just after the touchpoints. This area separates into two walking paths, with a few animal habitats along each. They then converge in the same spot, just before Discovery Island.
Although there aren’t any *obvious* Instagram spots along here, it’s easy to get creative! Take photos of you walking along the path, looking at the animals, holding a map, etc. If you want photos with a wilderness/green/foliage theme, this is a great spot for that.
After taking photos in the Oasis, you’ll enter Discovery Island. Similar to Magic Kingdom’s Main Street, U.S.A. and Hollywood Studios’ Hollywood Boulevard, everyone will need to go through Discovery Island and the Oasis to enter and exit the park. That means that if you want crowd-free photos, arriving as early as possible is a must!
If you’re following the photo shoot plan for Animal Kingdom, I recommend getting photos in the front half of Discovery Island first and then working your way to the other areas later on in the day; it is mainly the front half that you will need to watch out for crowds with. The back areas of Discovery Island are smaller paths that aren’t high-traffic areas.
To start off your photo shoot on Discovery Island, I recommend getting photos with the cute and colorful storefronts in the background. These will be the most difficult to do because of people entering the shops early in the morning, but it is much easier to do in the morning versus later in the day.
After taking photos in/around the storefronts, you can head towards the Tree of Life for additional photos. However, this area is super common for photos and will most likely be busy with both Guests and PhotoPass Cast Members. I recommend other areas of Discovery Island for photos with the Tree of Life, along with a spot in Asia that I’ll discuss later. But if it’s not busy, this spot is definitely an option.
I highly recommend finishing your photo shoot in the front half of Discovery Island before rope drop (the official opening time for the park) so you can line up at Dinoland U.S.A. for the next part of the photo shoot.
Dinoland U.S.A.’s theming and backstory can be a bit confusing for the first-timer, but it’s just as intricate as any other part of Disney.
According to WDW Radio, the land revolves around a feud between the scientists at the Dino Institute (which houses the Dinosaur ride) and Chester and Hester, who run a Dinosaur-themed restaurant and roadside attractions. This story explains the two divergent styles of the land: fun colors and crazy designs versus neutral colors and a professional-style building. Both styles can be worked into photos.
Interested in learning more about the backstory of the land? Just click here.
If you’re following my recommended photo shoot plan around Animal Kingdom, this area should be your first stop. Since most people are rushing to ride Flight of Passage in Pandora, Dinoland tends to be near vacant after rope drop; this means you can get plenty of photos in the land without having to worry about people in the background.
After walking underneath the Dinoland, U.S.A. sign, across the bridge, and underneath the boneyard, you’ll enter Chester and Hester’s side of Dinoland USA. On your immediate right is the first stop for photos: Restaurantosaurus. This building has a great storefront that can be incorporated into photos, as seen below. This building actually goes in a bit of a “U” shape, so there’s many spots around it that you can get photos with.
If you were to go around Restaurantosaurus and stay to your right, you’ll reach the Dino Institute. However, I recommend that this be the last area of Dinoland you visit for photos.
Instead, head over to the “amusement park” area of Dinoland, which are the roadside attractions built by Chester and Hester. This area has fun pastel colors and a 90s carnival vibe that is a ton of fun to incorporate into photos.
One of the best photos is with the entire area as a whole; you can even work the dinosaur into the photo.
On the right of Primeval Whirl is an asphalt road with a billboard for “Diggs County” at the end, another great spot to take photos.
In this area of Dinoland there are several meeting places of characters. However, if you arrive here before the characters come out, you can take photos in these areas, which have great backgrounds and even props to pose with.
If you’re wanting to get photos at the Dino Institute, you can either loop back around near Restaurantosaurus, or you can take the Cretaceous Trail. There’s also a small covered area where Daisy does meet-and-greets along this trail, another great spot for photos.
Once you reach the Dino Institute, you can take photos of/with the dinosaur skeletons and the building itself. However, if the ride is on a late open then there will probably be a line outside, which is why I recommend the Dino Institute being the last area of Dinoland to take photos in. This way, by the time you arrive, anyone going to the attraction will have already filtered into the building, leaving little-to-no people outside the building.
As you’re leaving Dinoland to head towards Asia, take the path that goes underneath the large dinosaur, towards the Nemo theater. There’s an asphalt road that lines this area, which is another spot for some cool photos if you’re wanting the rides and carnival games in the background.
As you’re entering Asia from the Dinoland side, there’s an immediate photo opportunity on your right: a bridge with a great view of Expedition Everest.
Note: Later in the day, the flowers for Rivers of Light float along this waterway and under the bridge as they get in position for the show. This is a unique opportunity for photos! However, there may also be a PhotoPass Cast Member taking photos of Guests in this same spot, so it may be harder to take photos here later on in the day. Because of this, I recommend getting the photo early in the morning just in case you can’t get one with the flowers later on.
Next up, you’ll want to head towards Serka Zong Bazaar and Expedition Everest. There are a multitude of photo opportunities along here, especially if you’re wanting some up-close photos of Expedition Everest.
Across from Expedition Everest and the Serka Zong Bazaar is the FastPass+ entrance for Rivers of Light. The decorations along the walls and doors here provide a great backdrop for photos.
Next to the restrooms is a corner with a building advertising the Yeti Palace Hotel.
Near the Gibbon Exhibit is an overlook of the entire land.
As you approach the end of Asia, you’ll pass by Drinkwallah on your left. There is a great Coca-Cola mural on the side of this building.
Near the end of Asia is Up! A Great Bird Adventure. The walls around the theater provide some additional backdrops for photos.
On the path between Asia and Africa is also my favorite spot for a photo with the Tree of Life. You can find it by walking down a small trail to your left that leads to an overlook of the Tree of Life and it’s reflection on the water. This is a beautiful spot for photos of/with the tree, as you won’t have to worry about crowds behind you. (This is a designated PhotoPass spot, so don’t be surprised if there is a line for photos here.)
As you enter Africa from the Asia exit, go to your immediate right towards Harambe Market, which is home to many of the famous “Disney Instagram Walls”.
The “Fichwa! Fellow” wall is located on the wall to the left of the Harambe Market entrance. There is also a cart and doorway here that provide another spot for photos.
Once you’ve entered Harambe Market, look towards your right, where there is a covered area of tables. There is a “We Renew Broken Hearts” mural on one of the beams.
For the “You Are Most Beautiful” wall, head directly into Harambe Market and then make a left between the “Famous Sausages” shop and the “Ribs Shop” at the end.
After exiting Harambe market, in front of you is a decorative building with a luggage cart and an “Accommodations and Internet Cafe”.
Around the corner from this building, heading towards Zuri’s Sweets Shop, is the “Children of the World” mural, as well as the “Bicycle Land” wall.
If you continue to head towards your right, you will reach Rafiki’s Planet Watch. To get there you will need to board a train, but there are several photo spots in that area. However, I recommend looping around the rest of Africa for photos before heading towards Rafiki’s Planet Watch.
Note: Rafiki’s Planet Watch is currently undergoing refurbishment.
Passing the entrance for Rafiki’s Planet Watch, you will reach the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail and Kilamanjaro Safaris. Kilamanajaro Safaris is a safari ride and gives you a great spot to get some animal photos. (There are no photo opportunities of you with the animals, however.)
As you exit Kilamanjaro Safaris, there is a small building and vehicle nearby that make great backgrounds for photos.
Continuing around Africa, you will find yourself in a marketplace of shops. Although there are no murals here, the architecture is absolutely stunning and provides many photo opportunities.
Nearby there is also the Festival of the Lion King. This area will get quite busy throughout the day, however, due to the shows popularity. It’s something to keep in mind when planning your photo shoot throughout the park.
As you walk along the bridge to Discovery Island, look to your right. Here you have a great view of the Port of Harambe. (The area where The Festival of the Lion King show is.)
On the same bridge, if you look to your left, there’s a view of Expedition Everest.
Pandora is based off the movie Avatar and hosts perhaps the most popular ride in Animal Kingdom: Flight of Passage. Due to the ride’s popularity, Pandora is often busy both in the morning and throughout the day. However, by making Pandora your last stop for photos, it gives time for the crowds to spread out.
As you first enter Pandora, there will be a large plant on your right-hand side, usually squirting mist. This is a popular photo spot and often has a PhotoPass photographer here. Rather than standing up against it for a photo, I recommend taking a photo a farther back along the trail so that you can get the full plant in frame. However, this may be difficult depending on whether people are trying to get their photo in front of it and the Guests along the trail.
For photos throughout the land, there are many trails and even bridges throughout the land that provide stunning views of the plant life, the floating mountains, and ponds. I recommend wandering around the land to see what works best for your style of photography and the type of photo your looking for.
Towards the back corner of Pandora (near Satu’li Traders) there are some walls with moss that strollers are parked by. This is where the “Moss Wall” is located, another Instagram wall that works well in photos.
Animal Kingdom is an amazing park to visit. Not only does it have rides, great food, and (of course) Instagram spots, but it teaches visitors about conservation and our planet. With this Instagram Guide to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you now know some of the perfect photo spots to visit during your trip! Don’t forget to check out my Instagram Guides to Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios for the perfect tour of other Instagram spots around Walt Disney World!