Top 10 Tips for Visiting Disney World Animal Kingdom. Is Animal Kingdom a zoo? Should we visit all 4 Disney World theme park or skip Animal Kingdom and go 2 days at one of them? What is there to do at Animal Kingdom?
Disney World Animal Kingdom was the 4th theme park built at Disney World and it opened in 1998. The park is a zoological theme park dedicated and themed entirely around the natural environment and animal conservation. You shouldn’t miss it if you’re visiting Disney World and there are a lot of things to do. There’s animals to see, rides, shows, and a whole lot more. Check out my 10 Tips for Visiting Disney World Animal Kingdom to make the best out of your trip.
10 TIPS FOR VISITING DISNEY WORLD ANIMAL KINGDOM
1. Explore all the areas, each has something to offer
Disney World Animal Kingdom is comprised of 6 areas. It starts at Oasis which is the Main street then the middle is Discovery Island which is surrounded by water and crosses to all other areas by a bridge. Each area features various animals but on top of that are rides, shows, attractions, and dining.
- Oasis – the “Main Street”, roam through a tropical garden pathways that is home to exotic animal exhibits.
- Discovery Island – the middle island, see the Tree of Life, It’s Tough to be a Bug 3D film, etc.
- Pandora: the World of Avatar – based on the popular film Pandora, enjoy rides like Ra’vi River Journey & Avatar Flight of Passage.
- Africa – Go on a safari & watch Festival of the Lion King, etc.
- Asia – the trill rides are here like Kali River Rapids and the roller coaster ride – Expedition Everest.
- Dinoland USA – geared more for the younger crowd. Young ones can ride Primeral Whirl, watch Finding Nemo the Musical, etc.
2. Reserve Disney World Fastpass+ ahead of time
You’re allowed to book 3 FastPass+ at Disney theme parks which allows you to skip the regular line to rides and attractions. I would suggest booking as far ahead as the ride or attraction you wish to book may no longer be available the closer you get to your planned visit to Animal Kingdom. Just note that when the theme park is really busy, even the FastPass+ line may be long. A little shorter than regular line but still long. You can also get another FastPass+ the day of your visit after you’ve use up all 3 FastPass+, so if you choose attractions that are available earlier in the day, you’ll get more chance of getting another one, and then another if you’ve use your 4th one.
Disney World Resort guests can book FastPass+ reservations up to 60 days in advance using the My Disney Experience website while non-resort guests can book reservations up to 30 days in advance of each day of their theme park visit.
While Animal Kingdom does not have a Fastpass+ tiered system, guests are only allowed to book one Pandora—The World of Avatar attraction per day. So choose between Flight of Passage or Na’vi River Journey if you’re planning to do any of those.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom® FastPass+ attractions and entertainment options:
- Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
- Avatar Flight of Passage (only one Pandora FastPass+ ride can be chosen)
- Festival of the Lion King
- Finding Nemo – The Musical
- It’s Tough to be a Bug!
- Kali River Rapids
- Kilimanjaro Safaris
- Meet Favorite Disney Pals at Adventurers Outpost
- Na’vi River Journey (only one Pandora FastPass+ ride can be chosen)
- Primeval Whirl
- Rivers of Light
3. Start with Kilimanjaro Safaris
If you wish to take the safari, do it earlier in the day when more animals are out versus when it’s already hot by midday. With Animal Kingdom’s Kilimanjaro Safaris, you get to take a safari through the lush African savanna to search for lions, elephants, giraffes, and more. Ride time: 22 minutes long. You can get a FastPass+ for this ride.
4. See things in the morning and at night
- The Tree of Life – the park’s icon is the Tree of Life, a 145-foot-tall (44 m), 50-foot-wide (15 m) artificial tree carved with over 300 meticulously detailed animal carvings. It’s very impressive but you should also visit it at night. Approximately every 10 minutes when dark begins, flickering fireflies magically appear and stir to life the wondrous animals spirits carved into the tree’s towering trunk—bringing to light a stunning visual swarming with vivid color and animated imagery.
- Pandora: the World of Avatar. Visit the Pandora area when there’s still light then make sure to be there before the sun sets so you can see the whole place slowly glowing. It was amazing!
5. Grab a drink at Pongu Pongu or a spiked Dole Whip at Tamu Tamu
Sad that we weren’t able to try the glowing drinks at Pongu Pongu (Pandora area) that happen to be really famous (we were freezing – see tip #6) but you should try them if you’re already visiting Animal Kingdom. Their drinks come with those popping balls that I really love. And if there’s still space, I think the Pongu Lumpia would have been delicious as well – a pineapple cream cheese spring roll!
If you love Dole Whip and would love it with rum, it’s available at Tamu Tamu in Africa. I should have gotten this than the Coconut Lychee Lemonade at Drinkwallah in Asia which wasn’t that great. It was $8.50 and contains Parrot Bay Coconut Rum, Lychee and Odwalla® Lemonade but it just didn’t deliver to what I thought it would taste like.
The Nachos Supreme ($7.99, seasoned ground beef, cheese sauce, lettuce, tomato and sour cream) from Dino Diner looked so good and everyone was buying one but it came out very very salty – maybe it was just during our visit, I’m not sure.
6. Bring a jacket, hat and sunblock
During our day at Epcot, I forgot to bring my hat and sunblock, we ended up buying them inside Epcot. Then at Animal Kingdom, we forgot to bring a jacket even if we can just load them under our strollers. It looked hot that morning then it just got really cold that night, so we ended up leaving early. So make sure you’ve packed all your theme park essentials before visiting so you can enjoy the theme park well through the night as you wish especially if you’re intending to see Rivers of Lights.
7. See the animals especially in Asia
Make sure to take a self-guided walking tour through the Maharajah Jungle Trek to see tigers, monkeys, bats and Komodo dragon in a Southeast Asian setting. The setting where the tigers where were really beautiful. The monkeys going from one tower to another was a sight to see as well.
8. Watch shows
Both the Festival of the Lion King and the Finding Nemo musical is a must see. No explanation needed. Watch it especially when it’s hot outside by midday.
9. Take photos with Disney characters
Disney characters are not limited to Disney World Magic Kingdom. They are available at all 4 Disney World theme parks but the ones at Animal Kingdom are all dressed up to match the setting like Mickey & Minnie wearing costumes as though they’re going on a safari. Since we were visiting during Christmas time though, they were dressed accordingly for the holidays.
The Characters at Disney World Animal Kingdom:
- Meet DocMcStuffins in Conservation Station
- Meet Mickey & Minnie at Adventurers Outpost
- Meet Goofy & Pluto and Donald Duck in Dinoland USA
- Meet Pocahontas in Character Landing
- Meet Rafiki at Rafiki’s Planet Watch
- Meet Russell and Doug at Discovery Island
10. See Up! A Great Big Adventure to see some exotic birds
I’m glad they changed the bird show at Animal Kingdom – we didn’t enjoy it. There were 2 guys talking to each other, making jokes and it was just too long and boring. This 2018, they changed it to feature Russell and Doug from the UP movie. I haven’t seen it yet but I think it would be more fun for the kids if there are characters so this is a welcome change. I did enjoy seeing some of the world’s most exotic birds at the show though so I hope the addition of Disney•Pixar’s Up characters and maybe a new storyline would do the trick! Fingers crossed! Let me know how it is if you get to visit.
Plan you Disney World Vacation:
- Disney World Packing List
- 10 Tips for Planning a Disney World Vacation
- 10 Tips for Visiting Disney World Epcot
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- The Ultimate 2 Week Orlando Itinerary
- Legoland Florida VS. Legoland California
- Tips for Visiting Kennedy Space Center
- Where to Stay in Downtown Orlando