The fourth gate at Walt Disney World opened in 1998 and since its opening has been routinely criticized as not having enough for guests to see and enjoy. Many refer to Animal Kingdom has a half-day park, but there is so much for guests to see and do that Animal Kingdom can be a full-day park. Here are our ten reasons why Animal Kingdom is not a half-day park!
10 – Multiple Entertainment Options – Animal Kingdom is home to several great shows for you and your family to enjoy. Guests can take in the Festival of the Lion King, Flights of Wonder, and Finding Nemo: The Musical. All are great choices and each offer a variety of showtimes every day, so you definitely can experience all three of them on your next trip to Animal Kingdom!
9 – Self-Guided Experiences – Animal Kingdom allows guests to explore the park in there own way and there own time. You have a lot of choices when it comes to exploration at your leisure. You can check out the animals of an African jungle on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail or the animals of Asia on the Maharajah Jungle Trek. You can also wander around the trails surrounding the Tree of Life on Discovery Island and see different animal exhibits there!
8 – Re-Rideable Rides – at Animal Kingdom guests can enjoy the rides multiple times with small lines – after riding Expedition Everest, guests can ride again with a short wait if they take advantage of the single riders line. Guests can also get a completely different experience on Kilimanjaro Safaris by riding twice since the animals continue to move around and relocate all day in their habitats! You should also be able to conquer all of the rides at Animal Kingdom on your visit if you’re there all day!
7 – Unique Shopping Opportunities – the shops at Animal Kingdom offer unique collectibles and goods that are not similar to what you would find at any of the other parks. We particularly enjoy the new Riverside Depot that just opened on Discovery Island, as well as Island Mercantile. If you are looking gifts that are handmade, be sure to check out Ziwani Traders located in Africa near the entrance/exit to Kilimanjaro Safaris!
6 – Sit-Down Dining Options – currently only home to two sit-down dining locations inside of the park, Animal Kingdom has two good options for your family to choose from. Yak and Yeti offers a pan-Asian menu with tremendous portions and plenty of seating. If you are looking for character dining, check out Tusker House which has characters at every meal of the day and offers a great buffet with an African flair!
5 – Park Hours – during slow times of the year, Animal Kingdom is open for 8 or 9 hours a day. Even if you go to the park for the entire time it is open, you still have plenty of time to explore another park at night. Some people may even write off Animal Kingdom because of the small number of hours it is open (as compared to the Magic Kingdom), but if you have the park hopper option and your vacation allows you time at Animal Kingdom, you need to stay the entire time – a lot can be done in 8 hours!
4 – Wilderness Explorers – this game allows guests to explore different areas of the park and learn new things about animals, the environment, and conservation. There are over 30 stations all around the park and guests earn a sticker to put in their passbook at each station. Taking this challenge at your leisure can take a long time and give you the opportunity to explore every corner of the park AND learn new things!
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3 – The Dawa Bar – the Dawa Bar is located outside of the Tusker House in Africa. Guests are able to grab a drink and go, or if you want to relax and take in the live entertainment, you can sit at the bar. They serve a variety of beers, ciders, and alcoholic beverages. On a recent trip, my father-in-law and I sat there for 2 hours enjoying a wonderful new concoction known as the “Beermosa” – a combination of Tusker Lager, orange, and pineapple juice! Sounds weird, but tastes DELICIOUS!
2 – Character Interactions – in addition to classic Disney characters, guests visiting the Animal Kingdom can meet other characters – Pocahontas, Tarzan, Baloo and Louie from the Jungle Book, Flick, Rafiki, Russell and Dug, and Chip and Dale! If you’re trying to find and meet them all, make sure you grab a Times Guide when entering the park to make sure you can find them all!
1 – Low Crowd Levels – since Animal Kingdom has the reputation that it does, crowds tend to avoid Animal Kingdom in favor of Epcot or Magic Kingdom. Take advantage of that fact and experience all that there is to offer at Animal Kingdom!
Crowds are going to flock to Animal Kingdom in the near future once new elements are introduced with nighttime safari rides at Kilimanjaro Safaris, the opening of the nighttime entertainment feature, “Rivers of Light,” and the soon-to-be-completed new area of the park, Pandora: The World of Avatar in 2017. These additions will be sure to make Animal Kingdom worthy of even more time on future trips and make it a multi-day park!
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