Animal Kingdom is a confusing place between having to make trips between Africa, Asia, and dealing with dinosaurs. If you are dealing with Animal Kingdom for the first time, here are the top ten mistakes you’ll want to avoid.
10 – Missing Rope Drop – Animal Kingdom doesn’t have any special celebrations to start the day off. However, between the other parks, Animal Kingdom is largely ignored for rope drop. If you are there at rope drop (especially on an Extra Magic Mornings), you can easily accomplish every attraction in the park without using any FastPasses before it gets crowded. This allows you to re-experience your favorites in the afternoon or to take in all of the shows and other experiences during the late morning and afternoon.
9 – Riding the Safaris in the Afternoon – Kilimanjaro Safaris is a great ride at Animal Kingdom. It is a good opportunity to get off your feet and see the animals roaming around in their habitats. The animals tend to be more active in the mornings when the temperatures and humidity are at lower levels. If you wait until the afternoon, many of the animals will be taking their afternoon naps and you might miss out on seeing them!
8 – Using a FastPass on the Festival of the Lion King or Finding Nemo: The Musical – both of these stage shows are very popular, but just because they are popular does not mean they are worthy of a FastPass! Both venues have a huge amount of seating and both run multiple showings each day, so if you miss a show, you won’t have to wait very long for the next show. You are better off using a FastPass for one of the attractions at Animal Kingdom or at another park if you are parkhopping!
7 – Skipping Flights of Wonder – I’ll admit that it took me several trips to the Animal Kingdom before I decided to take in this show and I regret it! The show perfectly melds entertainment, education, and a positive message about conservation. You will get to watch a variety of birds perform while also learning about their habitats and the challenges that face their continued survival. I keep trying to get selected for the audience participation portion of the show, but I’ve missed the cut so far! I also enjoy the show because of its proximity to some classic Disney snacks either right before or after the show!
6 – Ignoring the Walkways – Animal Kingdom is home to two self-guided walking tours: the Maharajah Jungle Trek and the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail. These walkways allow guests to see more animals and learn about them. The walkways are wonderfully themed and allows guests to see gorillas, tigers, hippos, and even bats! There are also a variety of trails on Discovery Island that are wonderful to explore as well!
5 – Not Getting an ADR at Tusker House – Animal Kingdom only has three table service restaurants, so they fill up quickly. My favorite restaurant is Tusker House, located in Africa. Tusker House features a great selection of African-inspired dishes, but still has plenty of food for guests with more traditional tastes. It also is the lone character dining option at Animal Kingdom and features Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, and Daisy at breakfast, lunch, AND dinner! Much like Hollywood and Vine and Crystal Palace, you are able to get early ADRs before park opening so you can enjoy with few other guests!
4 – Sampling the Specialty Food Items – with the recent opening of Harambe Market, the Animal Kingdom now has a great selection of places to sample authentic regional foods. Harambe Market features African street food. Mr. Kamal’s has a great selection of vegetarian and vegan options. And Yak and Yeti Local Foods Café has an array of Asian-inspired dishes. You’ll definitely want to save some room from some of these tasty treats!
3 – Missing Out on the Thrills – even though Animal Kingdom may not seem like a thrill seeker’s paradise, you need to try out at least one of the three it has to offer! Dinosaur takes guests on a time traveling adventure with plenty of twists and turns. Or you could try Kali River Rapids which culminates with a tremendous drop down a waterfall, but be forewarned, you will get wet (and not Splash Mountain wet)! Or, the crown jewel of Animal Kingdom, you can conquer the Forbidden Mountain on Expedition Everest and try and avoid the yeti!
2 – Skipping the Shopping – Animal Kingdom has a variety of different stores for your shopping pleasure. Some feature your traditional Disney souvenirs, but other has some park-specific merchandise or extremely unique items that you cannot find elsewhere. While it is tempting to bypass the storefronts when trying to get things accomplished, be sure to at least pop your head in to see what they have to offer!
1 – Thinking Animal Kingdom is a half-day park – if you are trying to truly experience all that Animal Kingdom has to offer, give yourself the full day. There are too many hidden areas and things for you to experience at your own pace to try and breeze through the park in half a day and since many people treat Animal Kingdom this way, you can use it to your advantage – Animal Kingdom usually closes between 6 and 8 PM, so people start leaving the park in the middle of the afternoon. Wait times will plummet so you can enjoy your favorites several times before having to leave (and you could still parkhop for fireworks somewhere else)!
Animal Kingdom is a great park to take your time exploring and appreciating the things you enjoy. Don’t try to tackle it quickly and move on to another park. As is true with all things Disney, the beauty is in the details and Animal Kingdom has a lot to offer, so avoid these mistakes and you’ll have a great time! What is your favorite thing at Animal Kingdom?
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Tyler is a lawyer living in South Florida who visits Disney World at least once a month. He enjoys re-living classic Disney experiences and discovering new things about the parks when he visits. Friends and family always ask him to plan their trip for maximum Disney magic!