Capturing the Wild: Tips for Photographing the Animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Some of the best things at Disney’s Animal Kingdom are the Animals, of course! Between Kilimanjaro Safaris, the Maharajah Jungle Trek and Gorilla Falls Trail, Affection Section, and exhibits around the park, you can see lions, tigers, monkeys, apes, rhinos, gazelles, giraffes, Komodo Dragons, gorillas, otters, crocodiles, and more.

Lion on Kilimanjaro Safaris

And we’ve got some tips on how you can capture these majestic creatures on camera! That way you can show your friends that you really did see a real lion (and you can also liven up your Instagram feed)!

1. Know When to Go

One of the biggest pieces of advice for not only photographing the animals on Kilimanjaro Safaris, but seeing them in general, is knowing the best time to ride the attraction.

Giraffes on Kilimanjaro Safaris

While no matter what time of day you go it’s going to be different (they are real, unpredictable animals, after all), there are a few times that usually yield better views.

Rhino on Kilimanjaro Safaris

We LOVE going first thing in the morning — and have had the most success with seeing animals like lions when we ride bright and early. This is likely because it’s still a bit cooler outside, and the animals are feeling frisky and energetic from their breakfast!

Lionesses — first thing in the morning!

We also recommend going right after a light rain shower, as it once again cools down the Savannah. But also, you may spot animals playing in the puddles or splashing in the rain which is v. cute.

Bongo on Kilimanjaro Safaris

2. Brr — It’s Cold in Here

While you may not have any control over the weather during your stay, you should know cooler days usually mean more animals! Like we said before, the animals often come out on the Safari during the mornings because of the cooler temps. But this is also true of the animals on the trail on crisp days.

Tiger on Maharajah Jungle Trek

Not too long ago, it was in the 40s and 50s for the majority of the day, and while I was freezing my Florida behind off, I was rewarded with the best view of the tigers on Maharajah Jungle Trek that I’ve ever seen!

And while it would be silly to plan your whole trip around the possibility of it being cold enough for tigers (or not, we won’t judge), just know if you head to Animal Kingdom on a chilly day, you’ll want to make sure you hit the trails to see who’s out and about!

3. Video is Your Friend

One of the easiest ways to ensure you’re capturing the animals is to focus on videoing them instead of photographing them. Most phones have the ability to take still shots as you’re videoing, which will allow you to quickly capture a moment.

Ant Eater in the Oasis

For example, I was recently videoing this giant Ant-Eater pacing his exhibit, and I made sure to hit the “still photograph” capture button a few times. While it may not be the most incredible or high quality photo you’ll ever take, it is an easy way to grab those action shots. And hey, it’s not too shabby!

4. Be Patient

When going through the trails and exhibits, make sure to take your time. The longer you wait and watch, the more likely the animals will do something fun and photo worthy — especially playful ones like the monkeys, gorillas, and otters. (We can’t really say the same for the lizards, but hey, give it a go.)

Gorilla Playing on Gorilla Expedition Falls Trail

5. Be Kind to the Animals

Don’t forget to be kind to the animals! Don’t yell or bang on the glass — I doubt this will yield the results you want. And if you’re up at Rafiki’s Planet Watch enjoying the Affection Section (petting zoo area with goats and sheep), try not to run after the animals.

That’s what little ones tend to do, and usually the sheep and goats keep walking. But if you can crouch down and be patient and kind to the animals, you may get a surprise!


To be fair, I had to give Maverick the goat a bunch of back scratches for this selfie, but it was obviously worth it.

What are your best tips for photographing Animal Kingdom’s animals? Let us know in the comments!

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Molly is a lifelong Disney enthusiast, and former Walt Disney World Guest Relations Cast Member and tour guide. Her Walt Disney World favorites include Festival of the Lion King, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Fantasmic!, Mickey-shaped pretzels and rice krispie treats, and anything with Buzz Lightyear! She lives in Orlando with her husband (who she met in Guest Relations) and their two rescue dogs, Kronk and Cruella de Vil (Ella for short!)

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2 Replies to “Capturing the Wild: Tips for Photographing the Animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom”

  1. One of the best tips for getting great pics of the animals is to request the last row on the ride. This allows you to turn around and take unobstructed view pics instead of just from the side!