An Instagrammer’s Guide to Animal Kingdom

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is more than just a zoo…it’s an immersive experience that educates guests on the care and protection of animals and the planet! In order to do so, Animal Kingdom invites guests into multiple themed areas: Oasis, Discovery Island, Dinoland U.S.A., Asia, Africa, and Pandora–The World of Avatar. These themed lands each offer a plethora of incredible details that lend way to stunning backdrops for amazing photos, many of which will be highlighted in this post. So if you’re looking for picture-perfect spots around the park, this ultimate photo guide to Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the perfect companion for your trip!

The Basics of Animal Kingdom

Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened on April 22, 1998 (Earth Day!), making it the newest of Walt Disney World’s theme parks. Not only is Animal Kingdom the newest of Walt Disney World’s theme parks, but it also ranks as the largest Disney park because of its 500+ acres! Animal Kingdom is divided into 6 distinct areas: Oasis, Discovery Island, Dinoland USA, Asia, Africa, Pandora–The World of Avatar. Pandora, which is based on Avatar, opened in 2017 (replacing Camp Minnie-Mickey) and is the most recent addition to the park.

It is important to note that a plethora of changes are coming soon to Animal Kingdom, as announced at D23 in September 2023. The biggest change, of course, is the reimagining of Dinoland USA into a “Tropical Americas” themed area, which is stated to possibly include elements from Encanto and Indiana Jones.

A Photoshoot Plan for Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom is perhaps the easiest Disney park to take photos at, not only because of how detailed it is, but because of its numerous paths and side trails. No need to worry about other people walking into the frame of the photo!

I recommend arriving at Animal Kingdom’s entrance approximately an hour before the park opens so as to get in line; Animal Kingdom has one of the smallest entrances, which means the line can get backed up quite easily. However, it’s important to note that Disney Resort guests receive 30-minute early entry into the Disney Parks, so if you’re staying off-property, you will have to wait and may have a harder time taking photos in some areas.  

Once you’ve entered the park, 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 on a counter-clockwise trek around the park, from Dinoland USA to Asia to Africa to Discover Island to Pandora.

Having Pandora as the last photo stop around the park for photos is extremely strategic. The majority of guests head to this area first for the popular Avatar Flight of Passage ride, making this area quite crowded as the line wraps around the land’s trails! Visiting this area later in the morning offers better opportunities for photos than there would have been first thing in the morning.

Photo Spots in Oasis at Animal Kingdom

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 path. The two walking paths 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 yourself walking along the path, looking at the animals, holding a map, etc.

Walking across the rope bridge in Animal Kingdom’s Oasis.

Photo spots in Oasis at Animal Kingdom include:

  • Rope Bridge: Near the end of the paths, where they both converge, is a rope bridge that leads into a cave. This bridge offers a great photo opportunity as you or a friend/family member walks across!
  • Foliage and Rock Structures: The paths along the oasis are a great spot for casual photos with the foliage or rock structures in the background!

Photo Spots in Discovery Island at Animal Kingdom

After exiting the Oasis, you’ll enter Discovery Island. Similar to Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom is designed with a hub and spoke model, with Discovery Island being the center hub with multiple spokes leading off to other areas of the park. Of course, the main icon of Animal Kingdom–the Tree of Life–also sits at the center of Discovery Island. As 145-feet tall with 300+ animal carvings, a massive amount of thought and attention to detail was put into the tree when creating it.

The bridge connecting Discovery Island and the Oasis is the main pathway that all guests will need to enter and exit the park. This means that if you want crowd-free photos, arriving as early as possible to Discovery Island is a must! If you’re following a photoshoot plan for Animal Kingdom, I recommend getting photos in the front half of Discovery Island first, then working your way to the other areas of Discovery Island later on in the day, as it is primarily the front half of Discovery Island that you will need to strategize photos due to crowds; the back areas of Discovery Island are smaller paths that aren’t high-traffic areas.

Photo spots in Discovery Island at Animal Kingdom include:

  • Storefronts: The main path of Discovery Island (near the bridge leading back to the Oasis) is full of cute and colorful storefronts that offer a great background in photos. 
  • Tree of Life: This area is 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 in this post. However, if it’s not busy, this spot is definitely an option for some great photos.
  • Flame Tree Barbecue Seating Area: This area is (in my opinion) one of the best kept secrets in Animal Kingdom. This seating area features not only a stunning fountain, but also gorgeous views of Expedition Everest, both of which you can take advantage of for photos!
Seating area for Flame Tree Barbeque with Expedition Everest in the background.
Seating area for Flame Tree Barbeque

Photo Spots in Dinoland U.S.A. at Animal Kingdom

The entrance sign for Dinoland U.S.A. at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Dinoland U.S.A.’s theming ranges between fun colors and crazy designs to neutral colors and a professional-style building. Both styles can be worked with for photos! I also highly recommend getting photos in this area while you still can; as previously stated, Dinoland USA may be getting a “Tropical Americas” retheming soon, as announced at D23 in September 2023

If you’re following my recommended photoshoot plan around Animal Kingdom, this area should be your first stop. Since most guests are rushing to ride Flight of Passage in Pandora, Dinoland tends to be near vacant after rope drop, which means that you can get plenty of photos in the area without other people in the background.

Photo spots in Dinoland U.S.A. at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Photo spots in Dinoland USA at Animal Kingdom include:

  • Dinoland USA Sign: As you enter Dinoland U.S.A. from Discovery Island, take photos underneath the large metal sign that marks the entrance to this land.
  • Restaurantosaurus: This building has a great storefront that can be incorporated into photos. This building actually goes in a bit of a “U” shape, so there’s many spots around it that you can get photos with, including a vintage airstream rv.
  • Chester & Hester’s Dino-Rama: Chester & Hester’s roadside carnival features fun pastel colors that are a ton of fun to incorporate into photos along with various structures around the area, including the large dinosaur.  
  • “Diggs County” Billboard: At the end of the asphalt road is a “Diggs County” billboard.
  • Diesel Pumps: Find these vintage-style diesel pumps next to TriceraTop Spin!
Restaurantosaurus Photo Spot | Photo courtesy of Sam of Samanthability and WDW Expert
Chester & Hester’s Dino-Rama at Animal Kingdom

Photo Spots in Asia at Animal Kingdom

Photo spots in Asia at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

As you enter this area of Animal Kingdom, you also enter the fictional Himalayan town of Anandapur, which means “place of all delight” in Sanskrit. This area is filled with a plethora of details and history, making it not only a great place to take photos, but also to learn the stories this area is designed around.

The bridge between Dinoland and Asia offers a great spot for photos with Expedition Everest in the background.

Photo spots in Asia at Animal Kingdom include:

  • Bridge from Dinoland USA to Asia: As you enter Asia from Dinoland, you pass over a bridge with a great view of Expedition Everest. This is a great spot for photos and you will sometimes find a PhotoPass photographer here to help.
  • Entrance to Asia from the Bridge: Immediately after the bridge into Asia is a great view of the flags that span the space above guests. 
  • Discovery River Amphitheater Doors: The closed doors to the amphitheater are beautifully decorated and offer a great backdrop for photos!
  • View of Flags and Expedition Everest: Stand in the walkway space between the Thirsty River Bar and the amphitheater entrance and you’ll have a great view of both Expedition Everest in the background and the flags above you.
  • Yeti Palace Hotel Mural: Next to the restrooms is a small corner with a building advertising the Yeti Palace Hotel, along with some various props.
  • View of Expedition Everest: Near the Gibbon Exhibit is an overlook of the entire Asia section of the park. It’s a great spot because you’ll also have the water in the background!
  • Coca-Cola Mural: 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.
  • Maharajah Jungle Trek: Along this trek, you will find some stunning ruins and flags that offer a great spot for photos.
  • Side Path: For a side path that offers the best unobstructed view of the Tree of Life (at least, in my opinion), walk towards the Africa section of the park. The path doesn’t have any identifiers near it, but it is lined with railings, so you’ll know you can follow it. Occasionally, there will be a PhotoPass photographer located at the end of the path. If not, there is a large crate you can put your camera on (if by yourself) with a timer to take photos.
Yeti Palace Hotel in Asia at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Maharajah Jungle Trek in the Asia area of Animal Kingdom
The side path offers a great unobstructed view of the Tree of Life.

Photo Spots in Africa at Animal Kingdom

Photo spots in Africa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Jambo! Welcome to the Africa area of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, in which you enter the fictional town of Harambe, an east-coast fishing village. This area of Animal Kingdom is absolutely massive, with Kilimanjaro Safaris taking up 100+ acres! In the Africa section, you will find Swahili architecture, many of Disney’s “Instagram famous” mural walls, and more.

The Fichwa! Fellow wall at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Photo spots in Africa at Animal Kingdom include:

  • “Fichwa! Fellow” Wall: 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.
  • “You Are Most Beautiful” Wall: 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.
  • Bike Wall: After exiting Harambe market, in front of you is a decorative building with a luggage cart and an “Accommodations and Internet Cafe” mural. 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. All 3 spots serve as great backdrops for photos.
  • Building and Vehicle: As you exit Kilimanjaro Safaris, there is a small building and vehicle nearby that make great backgrounds for photos.
  • Bridge to Discovery Island: 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.

Photo Spots in Pandora at Animal Kingdom

Photo spots in Pandora at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Pandora–The World of Avatar is based off of the popular Avatar movie, which was released in 2009. Pandora is the newest addition to Animal Kingdom, which opened in 2009 and replaced the former Camp Minnie-Mickey area. 

Pandora is home to the most popular ride in Animal Kingdom: Flight of Passage. Due to the ride’s popularity, most guests immediately head to Pandora once the park opens, making this area extremely busy first thing in the morning. However, by making Pandora your last stop for photos in Animal Kingdom, it gives time for the crowds to spread out.

Photo spots in Pandora at Animal Kingdom include:

  • Flaska Reclinata: 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 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.
  • Na’vi River Journey Bridge: Near the entrance to Na’vi River Journey (along the right-hand side) is a bridge. Stand on the bridge for a photo with the waterfall and floating mountains in the background.
  • Moss Wall: Near the entrance to Windtraders is a moss wall that offers a great backdrop for photos! This moss wall is quite expansive and is often used for stroller parking, so if strollers are in one area, you may be able to find another area of the wall that is unobstructed for your photos.
  • Paths and Trails: Pandora is filled with many paths and trails that can be used for photos with the floating mountains behind you. The foliage along these trails are also great for hiding crowds in the background!
Moss Wall in Pandora at Animal Kingdom

Final Thoughts on the Best Photo Spots Around Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom is one of the most stunning Disney Parks to visit due to its attention to detail, not only on the rides, but on the theming around the park. (Which, of course, makes it such a great place to take photos!) With this photo guide to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you now know some of the perfect photo spots to visit during your trip and the best time to take photos in order to limit the number of crowds in your photos! Don’t forget to check out my photo guides to Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, and Hollywood Studios for the perfect tour of other photo spots around Walt Disney World, as well as my guide on 5 steps on how to take great photos at the Disney Parks!

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