Animal Kingdom has seven areas of the park. There’s the Oasis, Pandora, Asia, Africa, Rafiki’s Planet Watch, DinoLand U.S.A. and Discovery Island. Discovery Island can so easily be missed. Discovery Island is the heart of the park, connecting all areas of the park together. You have to go through Discovery Island to get into any of the other areas of the park and can just end up being a passthrough. But don’t miss all the things that are happening in this area of the park. There’s shopping, dining, characters, entertainment, animal interactions and there is an attraction. So let’s dive in.
These shops are prime shopping. Discovery Island is where guests enter and exit the park, the times guests are shopping the most. So you’ll see some of the most wanted items at these locations. These shops will be open until park close and normally they are lenient on shoppers as guests are leaving the park.
This everything store is the first shop you’ll see on your left upon entering Discovery Island. Here’s where you’ll find shirts, plush toys, headgear, souvenirs, musical instruments, Goofy Candy Co candy and more. Also a great spot to stop if you’ve forgotten a necessity: sunscreen, sunglasses, water bottle and so on.
Tree of Life Cart
This small little shop is located near the Mickey and Minnie meet and greet location. At this cart you can pick up one of many hats. Both character oriented and simple. They also sell your nighttime entertainment sticks and spinners. If you’re looking to purchase one of the stuffed baby animals, they sell those here as well.
Discovery Trading Company
This boutique style shop has Lion King theming. Plush toys and clothing, both obviously Lion King and more subtle, are found in this shop. This is the place to find MagicBands for purchase. Dooney and Bourke bags adorn the walls and jewelry, both high end and cheaper, are sold at this store. Open from park open until park close.
Riverside Depot is located on your right upon entering Discovery Island. Here is where you’ll find great items for your children. Clothing, hats, toys, more Disney World general items as opposed to Animal Kingdom focused. They’re open from park open until park close.
Opens at park open, this is your Starbucks location at Animal Kingdom. Here you’ll find all your favourite Starbucks choices, whether you’re looking for that perfect latte or breakfast sandwich they’ll be serving it here. Grab your food and coffee to go and eat it while waiting in line for your first ride of the day. Creature Comforts is found in the western side of Discovery Island, as you’re making your way towards Africa.
Eight Spoon Cafe
Use some dining plan snacks at this Discovery Island counter service spot. Eight Spoon Cafe serves Baked Macaroni and Cheese on its own, with pulled pork or shrimp and chilli sauce. Don’t overlook this small spot. They open at 11am and are only open until 5pm so don’t count on grabbing food for dinner here. Eight Spoon Cafe is found across from Mickey and Minnie’s meet and greet.
Flame Tree Barbecue
Another great hidden gem, Flame Tree Barbecue has a spot to eat behind the ordering counter that’s actually covered making it a great spot to eat. It’s found in Discovery Island on your way towards DinoLand U.S.A. Flame Tree has delicious bbq options including pulled pork sandwiches, rib and chicken combo, rib dinner and a pulled pork, rib and chicken sampler. Flame Tree opens at 11am and all meals require 1 quick-service meal credits.
Isle of Java
Opens at 9am, in comparison to Creature Comforts, Isle of Java is not Starbucks. It’s also located on the other side of Discovery Island, so if you’re making your way to Asia to start your day or to DinoLand U.S.A. then this is the perfect spot to grab a quick breakfast. Plus they serve some pretty unique pastry here that you may want to add to your snack goal list: Elephant Ear Pastry. They also have muffins and your average pastry, if you’re not up for the Elephant Ear Pastry, and of course they serve coffee, iced coffee, cappuccino and espresso.
Nomad lounge is the Tiffins’ Signature restaurant lounge. It serves its own menu and offers beautiful views and design. So although you can’t order off their main menu, you can satisfy your hunger with a charcuterie board, a bread service, or sliders. You won’t need a reservation for this spot but it may require a bit of a wait. They’re open until park close.
Pizzafari is one of the best dining options at Animal Kingdom for a family with picky eaters. They currently have two dining options: quick service and table service. At lunch and dinner guests can order up anything from menu at the counter, grab a table and dine. At dinner time you can opt to try the Pizzafari Family-Style Dining. Guests enjoying this dining experience get a drink, appetizer, entree and dessert. There’s a flat rate cost and reservations are recommended. The entree is either baked ziti, fettuccine alfredo or pizza. Perfect for the family who wants to take a longer break from their park day and wants to get nourished with an Italian meal.
Found as you’re exiting Discovery Island into Africa, Terra Treats serves hummus and veggies and buffalo wings. Terra Treats is open at 11am, at this counter service spot you order up, grab and go.
Tiffins Restaurant is the Signature Restaurant at the Animal Kingdom. This menu is globally inspired, with dishes from India, Africa and Asia. The restaurant is known for its incredible design as well as its wine list. Guests can dine here for dinner between 4pm-9pm. If you’re on the dining plan Tiffins will require 2 table service meal credits.
The Smiling Crocodile
The place to grab lunch if you’re looking for a snack credit lunch. They serve a couple different sandwiches that are snack credits. They are open faced and artisan. Open during peak times, the smiling crocodile is found on Discovery Island near the entrance to Mickey and Minnie’s meet and greet.
Animal Kingdom is not going to be your park with the most characters but there are a few to be found. And it’s the only park where you can meet Mickey and Minnie together.
Mickey and Minnie
Meet Mickey and Minnie in Discovery Island, just before going into Asia. This couple is decked out in their safari gear and will take a picture with you in front of a great big map. You can get a FastPass+ for this character meet and greet but you won’t need it if you stop in first thing.
Russell and Dug
Meet this delightful pair from Pixar’s UP! They’re located at the foot of the Tree of Life, just before the entrance to It’s Tough to be a Bug! This is also where you can sign up for Wilderness Explorers, a fun scavenger hunt that has you searching for items all over the Animal Kingdom and collecting badges alone the way.
Meet Pocahontas among the animals at the base of the Tree of Life. She’s found down a winding path before you enter Africa. She’s found sporadically throughout the day, check your park times guide for the specifics on the day of your visit.
Viva Gaia Street Band
As you’re about to enter DinoLand U.S.A. stop to watch, listen and dance to this street band. Viva Gaia will play some of your favourites using guitars, drums and rhythmic sticks. Their dancers will have you and yours joining in on the fun.
Animal Encounters: Winged Encounters
Stop at the food of the Tree of Life to take in this beautiful bird show. Watch as a cast member tells you all about these winged friends. 6 difference species will be featured. This is not an amphitheatre or seated or timed show. This feels very spur of the moment and impromptu. See it taking place, stop, watch and listen.
Discovery Island Trails
Walk around the tree of life and view the wildlife. You’ll see Flamingoes, Otters, Kangaroos, Storks, Lemurs, and more. This can be a great alternative to Kilimanjaro Safaris. You don’t have to wait in line for this, you just walk the trails and watch the animals. Your little one is not stuck in a moving vehicle for twenty minutes.
Tree of Life
Take in this majestic piece of art. Discovery Island is your best place for a picture and the trails around the tree give you the best opportunity to find all the creatures carved on its trunk.
At the base of the Tree of Life there are trails upon trails, leading guests in and out of the greenery and wildlife found at Discovery Island. The animals that can be found are Cotton-Top Tamarins, Flamingos, Vultures, and Asian Small-Clawed Otters.
It’s Tough to be a Bug!
This attraction is a 3D show with the characters from A Bug’s Life. It is very funny but a little scary. There are no height requirements because it’s just a show but I find it too frightening for young ones. I remember the first time I saw it, at the age of 14 and it frightened me. If your child is frightened of insects do not bring them on this attraction, if they love bugs and they love being a little scared then bring them along. The walk into the attraction is an adventure of itself, you get beautiful views of the Tree of Life and some animal views.
Great for the whole family. If you have a family where the kids ages range from young to tween then this is something for everyone. If your kids all fall into the elementary school age and younger category then this would be a skip. Pick up your map and explore Animal Kingdom while earning badges along the way. For families who are returning to the Animal Kingdom this can be an awesome new way to discover this park. If it’s your first time don’t fill your day with too many things by adding this on your list. Because there is so much reading involved in this attraction it is not made for preschoolers but they can certainly participate.
So take your time as you’re heading through Discovery Island. I mean, it’s right in the name, DISCOVERY Island. Discover it! There are unique animals to be seen, the Tree of Life to be adored, delicious food to indulge in. For more information on planning your park day at Animal Kingdom check out these previous posts: