Animal Kingdom vs. Hollywood Studios: Which Disney Park Should You Visit?

Disney World's Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios parks each offer unique experiences in rides, attractions and food.
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Written by Carissa Rawson
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Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, wasn't the first Disney resort to open, but it’s certainly the largest. Among its options for entertainment are four theme parks, a handful of resort hotels, two water parks and plenty of shopping.

Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios are the two newest theme parks in the Walt Disney World Resort, though visiting each yields a different experience. Here's take a look at Animal Kingdom versus Hollywood Studios, including their best rides, their biggest attractions and the food that they have to offer.

What's the difference between Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom?

They don’t share much in common. While both Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom have rides, shows and restaurants, that’s about where the similarities end. The biggest difference is their design — Animal Kingdom is a 580-acre park that focuses on animals while Hollywood Studios’ focal point is Disney’s repertoire of films.

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Exploring Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom opened in 1998. While there are other amusement parks around the world (and even in Florida) that feature animals, Animal Kingdom is one of the more popular attractions. The park was visited by 9 million people in 2022, according to Statista.

The animals

As you’d expect, Disney’s Animal Kingdom is home to several animals. Park visitors can experience them in a variety of ways, including walking trails, a petting zoo, rides and shows.

  • Giraffes. 

  • Zebras.

  • Antelopes.

  • Ostriches.

  • Tigers.

  • Gorillas.

  • Lions.

  • Monkeys.

  • Elephants. 

  • Alligators.

  • Hippos.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Rafiki’s Planet Watch is a great place to spend time indoors during the hotter, summer months.

The attractions

There are six lands to explore in Animal Kingdom, including:

  • Africa.

  • Asia.

  • Dinoland U.S.A.

  • Discovery Island.

  • Oasis.

  • Pandora — The World of Avatar. 

Each land has its own theme, shows and rides. Pandora — The World of Avatar is the newest and features the park’s most popular ride: Avatar Flight of Passage. Other major rides throughout the park include Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest. The former allows you to see animals during an open-air safari tour, while the latter is a high-speed roller coaster.

You’ll also find shows at Animal Kingdom, including Festival of the Lion King, Feathered Friends in Flight! and Finding Nemo: The Big Blue … and Beyond!

The food

Animal Kingdom isn’t known for any particular culinary creation, but there are a handful of notable restaurants in the park. The first, Tusker House, features a buffet and character interactions. The second is Tiffin’s Restaurant, described as a “culinary expedition of international cuisine at this restaurant inspired by exploration and adventure.”

You'll also find a standard range of meals throughout the park including pizza, chicken nuggets, ice cream, burgers and barbeque.

Inside Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios has been revamping its style for years, resulting most recently in the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in 2019. Themed after movies, attractions revolve around old and new Disney’s characters, including "The Muppets," "Frozen" and "Toy Story."

The shows

Hollywood Studios was designed to include an active filming studio where TV shows and movies could be filmed. Although that’s no longer the case, you’ll still see a lot of film and TV influences around the park. This is most noticeable when checking out the live entertainment:

  • For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration. 

  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!

  • Beauty and the Beast — Live on Stage.

  • Fantasmic!

  • Wonderful World of Animation.

The rides

There are nine lands within Hollywood Studios:

  • Animation Courtyard.

  • Commissary Lane.

  • Echo Lake

  • Grand Avenue.

  • Hollywood Boulevard.

  • Pixar Plaza.

  • Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

  • Sunset Boulevard.

  • Toy Story Land.

Hollywood Studios may have more lands than Animal Kingdom, but it’s not as large (135 acres). But you’ll have plenty options to watch and ride, including:

  • Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway.

  • Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. 

  • Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith.

  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. 

  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. 

These rides run the gamut, from a drop tower to an indoor roller coaster.

The food

Hollywood Studios has quite a few places to sit and eat, though there’s a lot of focus on quick-service restaurants rather than sit-down dining. Some of the best are located in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, where Ronto Roasters and the Milk Stand serve up unique items you won’t find anywhere else.

Hollywood Studios also sports its own version of Brown Derby, an iconic Hollywood establishment where movie stars would come to eat.

Hollywood Studios vs. Animal Kingdom

Both Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom have unique features within their respective theme park. Animal Kingdom is home to many animals and a land themed to the Avatar movies.

Meanwhile, Hollywood Studios focuses on film, TV and theatre. It’s smaller than Animal Kingdom, but features beloved Disney favorites within its walls.

If you want to visit Animal Kingdom or Hollywood Studios

The Walt Disney World Resort is massive, and it may take weeks to fully explore everything it has to offer. However, those looking to visit either Animal Kingdom or Hollywood Studios are in good hands at the parks. Both offer a very different experience, so if you’ve got the time, it’s definitely worth visiting each.

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