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  • Writer's pictureBrenda

Animal Kingdom - Tips for Planning Your Day

Every family is different, so instead of giving you a step by step plan (that may or may not work depending on so many factors) we will provide you with some tips and tools to make your own park touring plan. See our general planning post over here, for Animal Kingdom specific tips read on.


Starting Your Day

One of the most popular attractions at Disney World right now is Avatar Flight of Passage, with the wait time often exceeding 2 hours. Guests staying on-site can take advantage of Early Theme Park Entry and be-line for Pandora to ride it with a significantly shorter wait. If you decide to make this your plan, we recommend getting to Animal Kingdom at least 30 minutes prior to the start of early entry, an hour would be even better, to make sure you are at or near the front of the crowd heading to Pandora. This is because most of the people who rope drop Animal Kingdom will also be headed for Flights of Passage. If you manage to be near the front of the crowd you have a greater chance of riding it with a 15-20 minute wait (or less if you really are close enough to the front of the crowd) and then be-line for another attraction while everyone else is still queuing for Flight of Passage.

If you are not planning to rope drop Flight of Passage, whether it’s not your cup of tea because you get motion sick, you have littles who can’t ride it, or you grabbed an Individual Lightning Lane (ILL) for it later in the day, you can take advantage of the Early Theme Park Entry by veering toward Kilimanjaro Safaris or Expedition Everest. Lots of people will hit up Kilimanjaro Safaris after riding Flight of Passage, but it will take a little bit for them to trickle toward Africa so you can likely get on Kilimanjaro Safaris with little to no wait. And as an added bonus the animals tend to be more active in the morning while they are being fed and before it heats up.

The other good alternative is to wind your way to the back of Asia to ride Expedition Everest. It takes even longer for the crowds to matriculate over to Everest, so if you play your cards right, you could easily hop on Everest twice in a row if you wanted to with virtually no wait.

Early Theme Park Entry Rides:

  • Avatar Flight of Passage


  • Expedition Everest - Legend of the Forbidden Mountain

  • It’s Tough to be a Bug!

  • Na’vi River Journey

  • TriceraTop Spin


Navigating the Crowds

Some areas of the park, and rides, are busier at specific times and for specific reasons. Below are some examples of how the ebb and flow influence how crowded an area feels.

The main walking area in Africa always feels excessively crowded. Between it being the main pathway to Kilimanjaro Safaris, the location of the bathroom in that area, the entrance to the popular character dining experience, Tusker House Restaurant, and the location where the Tam Tam Drummers play, the pathway often becomes an overcrowded bottleneck. To avoid it when heading to Kilimanjaro Safaris, we recommend hooking a right after you get over the bridge from Discovery Island, and then hooking a left and going by the Harambe Market. You’ll be walking a little longer, but you’ll avoid the bulk of the crowd.

The intersection where you can go left for Pandora or right for Africa on Discovery Island is a bottleneck, with lots of people heading in both to and from each land. There is not an alternative if you are coming from Discovery Island going to one of the two lands. However, if you are heading from Pandora heading to Africa, or vice versa, there is a path between the two that goes virtually unused.

If you are heading to get in line for Expedition Everest from late morning through early evening, be prepared to wade through a crowd. Part of this is because the entrance and exit to the ride are very close together, so people coming and going are weaving around each other. To the right, not far from the entrance and right by the exit, is where people can go to watch other guests riding. This is a popular area for people to hang out while waiting for family members to ride which further exacerbates the congestion in this area. The only way to really avoid this is to get Expedition Everest done early in the day and not return to that section of the park.

When you are on the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail there is a viewing area for the gorillas where you can get right up close to the animals. This is where they feed the female and baby gorillas, so you can get really good views of them for most of the day. However, this viewing area is almost always super crowded. To get to the windows in front you have to battle through the crowd and be willing to shove your way in front of people because it is a bit of a free for all there. If you are okay battling through the crowd it’s really neat to see them up close. For guests who are not cut throat enough, or just don’t want to deal with the crowd, further up on the trail you can get some great views of the male gorillas. The views aren’t as close up but still decent. Plus, since most people just waded through the crowd to see the gorillas at the windowed area, very few people stop to see the male gorillas so you won’t be fighting the crowd.

Making Genie+ Choices

Animal Kingdom is the least popular of the parks, but as it has fewer headliner attractions, the wait times for a number of the rides can get quite long throughout the day. If there was a park we would recommend saving money and skipping Genie+ at it would be this one, but if you are willing to spend the money then it will make your day smoother and quicker. Avatar Flight of Passage is an individual lightning lane purchase, and we suggest either rope dropping that attraction or just grabbing the ILL. Below are our recommendations for which Genie+ selections to grab first:

Most Popular Rides (make these selections first):

  • Na’vi River Journey

  • Kilimanjaro Safaris

  • Meet Favorite Disney pals at Adventurers Outpost

  • Expedition Everest

Moderately Popular Rides (good for after you’ve made the initial reservations):

  • Kali River Rapids


Low Priority Rides (really don’t need to use Genie+ on unless you have nothing else to book):

  • It’s Tough to be a Bug!

  • Animation Experience at Conservation Station

Shows (generally make little sense to book on Genie+ because you can almost always just walk in at the start of the next show):

  • Festival of the Lion King*

  • Finding Nemo: The Big Blue…and Beyond!

  • Feathered Friends in Flight

Random Tidbits

Both the animal trails, Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail and Maharajah Jungle Trek, and Rafiki’s Planet Watch are generally not open at the start of the day. These attractions will become available between an hour and an hour and a half after park opening. Check your MDE app for specific timing.

There is not a whole lot of shade in the Animal Kingdom and consequently it gets really hot in the park as the day wears on. Make sure you drink lots of water and take breaks. You can take breaks while simultaneously taking in some of the shows held in AC, like Festival of the Lion King, It’s Tough to Be a Bug, or Finding Nemo. Alternatively, there are tables in the shade that are available for anyone to grab a few different places around the park. Generally you need to order to sit at one of the quick service locations, but even ordering just a fountain drink counts and then you can get a table in the AC for a bit. Satu’li Canteen has both indoor and outdoor covered seating, Pizzafari has indoor seating, Harambe Market has some outdoor covered seating, Yak & Yeti Local Food Cafe has some covered outdoor seating, Restaurantosaurus has indoor seating and some covered outdoor seating. There are some covered tables available to anyone over by DinoRama (next to where Primeval Whirl used to be located), and there are a couple covered areas along Discovery River between Africa and Asia where you can often find seating.

If you ride Kali River Rapids it is more than likely that you will get very wet, if you don’t want to walk away soaked to the skin, don’t ride. There is no trick to avoid getting wet and rain ponchos typically won’t do much to protect you here. There are lockers along the left side as you are walking toward Kali River Rapids. You can rent a locker to put any belongings you absolutely don’t want getting wet. There is a central area on the raft with a plastic covering, but I’m not sure I would trust that to be completely waterproof. If you do want to ride, we recommend at a minimum bringing flip flops to wear and putting your normal shoes in one of the lockers so that you are not walking around in socks and shoes afterwards. You can also bring a change of clothes and do the same thing if you would like dry clothes.


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