Insider Tips for Tackling Disney World’s Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom _ Disney Fanatic

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is one of the most unique theme parks in the world. Part live-animal experience and part-family thrill rides, there is so much more that goes into making a day in this park one of the best you’ll ever have. Keep reading to learn the most important tips for tackling Disney’s Animal Kingdom and discover how you can make the most out of your visit to the park.

1. Arrive early

Arriving early to spend the day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is important for a couple of reasons. As with any Disney theme park, crowds are much smaller in the morning meaning you’ll be able to experience your favorite rides with little or no way. More for Animal Kingdom specifically however, early mornings means that the animals are more active, so you will likely see more of them out and about on the walking trails and on Kilimanjaro Safaris.

2. Pick up an Animal Guide

You can check the My Disney Experience App or pick up a hard copy of an Animal Guide as you enter the park (you’ll find them on the same display as the maps and times guides). These helpful guides provide you with a complete list of which animals are located where within the park and they can help you see the most animals possible during your visit.

Animal Trails _ DisneyFanatic

3. Walk the animal trails

Speaking of animal trails, there are more places to see animals than on Kilimanjaro Safaris alone. Follow your Animal Guide and explore some of the animal walking trails. Yes, it will involve more walking that you may not necessarily want on a Disney vacation, but it’s so worth it for the change of pace compared to typical attractions and to spend some time seeing the animals.

4. Become a Wilderness Explorer

Whether you have small children or you are visiting the park with a group of adults, the Wilderness Explorer program is a wonderful interactive way to learn more about the animals and countries represented in the park. Complete various challenges around the park to earn badges and become an official Wilderness Explorer at the end of the day. You even get to keep your guide book and sticker badges as a souvenir!

Expedition Everest

5. Make some FastPass selections in advance

Making some FastPass selections in advance can make your trip to any Disney theme park stress-free, but with Animal Kingdom only having a handful of rides where FastPasses are really worth your while using them here is even more important. Attractions like Flight of Passage, Expedition Everest, and Kilimanjaro Safaris regularly draw long waits, and if you’re looking to experience them (especially in the middle of the day) making FastPasses for them is the way to do.

6. Enjoy a meal in the park

You may think of Epcot as the ultimate foodie Disney park, but Animal Kingdom is really getting up there. Whether your snack around the park, stop for a quick service meal, or enjoy signature dining at Tiffins, there is really something for everyone at Animal Kingdom. Rainforest Cafe is perfect for picky eaters and you can even meet Disney characters while dining at Tusker House.

7. Ride Kilimanjaro Safaris more than once

Every ride on Kilimanjaro Safaris is different and unpredictable due to the animals. As a result, you may want to experience this attraction more than once. Different animals come out and are seen on the attraction based on the time of day and the weather, so even riding just a couple of hours apart can offer an entirely new experience.

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8. Don’t skip the shows

In addition to rides and animal encounters, Animal Kingdom is home to some of the best shows at the Walt Disney World Resort. Don’t Miss Festival of the Lion King (which now has its own dinner package), Finding Nemo the Musical, or Up! A Great Bird Adventure. For a 3D experience, be sure to check out It’s Tough to Be a Bug!

Pocahontas _ Photo credit Disney

9. Meet some favorite characters

Animal Kingdom is home to some characters that you won’t find in any of the other theme parks. You can meet Pocahontas right on Discovery Island, and right now during Donald’s Dino Bash you can meet a whole host of ‘rare’ characters like Chip and Dale in their dinosaur costumes, Launchpad McQuack, and more. Find all of the characters available during your visit on the My Disney Experience app.

10. Check out the street entertainment

Animal Kingdom has some of the best street entertainment of any theme park. While exploring the park, keep checking the times guide and take your time strolling through the different lands. You may come across live music, acrobats, dance parties, and more!

11. See Rivers of Light

Rivers of Light is entirely different from all of the other nighttime spectaculars in Disney, but that doesn’t make it any less magical. Grab a seat early, or use a dinner package or book a dessert party to get the best view of some beautiful floating lanterns, dancers, and water projections as they light up the river and close out a night at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

About Brittany DiCologero

Brittany is a New England-based writer focused on the history of the Walt Disney World Resort. She is the author of "Red, White, and Disney: The Myths and Reality of American History at the Walt Disney World Resort," and "Brittany Earns Her Ears."

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