Tips and Tricks for Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Ready for the ultimate adventure at Disney’s Animal Kingdom? This park is a treasure trove of wonder! Immersive theming, thrilling rides, and plenty of animal exhibits! With so much to see and do, planning your visit can be overwhelming!

This image features the iconic Tree of Life, the majestic centerpiece of Disney's Animal Kingdom, standing tall with its lush green canopy and intricately carved trunk. The tree's elaborate carvings of animals celebrate the diversity of wildlife and nature's interconnectedness. A gentle waterfall flows at the base of the tree, adding a serene sound and movement, enhancing the tranquil atmosphere of this oasis.

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! In this guide, we’ll provide you with all the tips and tricks you need to make the most of your time at Animal Kingdom.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a unique Disney park that combines the magic of Disney with real-life animal conservation and education, making it a must-visit destination for any Disney fan. The park is divided into six distinct lands. Each with its own theming and attractions that will transport you to different parts of the world.

  • Oasis
  • Discovery Island
  • Pandora – The World of Avatar
  • Africa
  • Asia
  • DinoLand U.S.A.

Animal Kingdom is home to some of Disney’s most popular attractions, including Avatar Flight of Passage, Expedition Everest, and Kilimanjaro Safaris. It’s also the only Disney park with a focus on animal conservation and education, making it a unique and educational experience for visitors of all ages.

Planning Your Visit

Before you visit the parks, it’s important to do a bit of planning to make the most of your time in the park. Here are some tips to help you plan your visit:

Tucked among the lush greenery of Disney's Animal Kingdom, a rustic sign welcomes explorers to the "Valley of Mo'ara" in Pandora – The World of Avatar. With the phrase "Oel Ngati Kameie" ("I see you" in the Na'vi language), the sign embraces visitors with the promise of an immersive journey through this alien landscape, where adventure and the wonders of nature's bioluminescence await.
Pandora – World of Avatar is an immersive land in Animal Kingdom. You’ll feel like you just stepped into the movie!

Best time of year to visit

Animal Kingdom gets busy during the Summer and Holidays, just like the rest of the Disney World Resort. Unfortunately, many of the slower times of year have even been fairly busy in recent years.

Increased interest in the parks, combined with more RunDisney and sports events, have driven a lot more annual visitors.

There are still times of the year that are better to visit than others, early Spring and mid-late Summer are some of the best. Our best recommendation, though, is to check a crowd calendar.

Park hours and crowd levels

Check park hours and crowd levels before your visit, to plan your day. Arriving early or staying late can help avoid the busiest times. Keep in mind that Animal Kingdom closes much earlier than the other Disney World park, usually at 7:00 pm.

Rope Drop

Enthusiastic guests congregate for rope drop of Disney's Animal Kingdom, ready to embark on a day filled with discovery and enchantment. The entrance is marked by a striking elephant topiary above the name of the park, beckoning visitors into a world of wildlife adventures. The vibrant green foliage in the foreground frames the bustling scene, highlighting the natural beauty that is a hallmark of the park's immersive atmosphere.

One of the best ways to maximize your time in Animal Kingdom is rope drop. Guests staying on property at a Disney World resort, or a participating hotel in the Disney Springs or Epcot area, are able to enter the park 30 minutes before the posted opening time.

However, you’ll want to arrive at the park even earlier still! We recommend being in line outside of Animal Kingdom at least 1 hour before the posted park opening.

Once the gates open, you’ll be able to enter the park and head to your favorite part of the park.

Non-Resort Guests

Unfortunately, guests staying off property are at a BIG disadvantage for rope drop. Resort guests will already had 30 minutes to get in line, before non-resort are even able to enter the park.

It may not seem like a large amount of time, but the queue for Avatar: Flight of Passage jumps to 45 minutes, plus, almost immediately.

Animal Kingdom tends to have higher morning crowds than the other parks. Between the early park close time, and most of the animals being more active earlier in the day – rope dropping is a popular strategy.

Which attractions to prioritize

Inside the queue for "Avatar Flight of Passage" at Disney's Animal Kingdom, a mural captures the essence of Pandora – The World of Avatar. It depicts a Na'vi rider harmoniously bonded with a majestic banshee, soaring through Pandora's skies, while the silhouettes of Na'vi warriors stand resolute, evoking the deep cultural connections and adventurous spirit that await guests on this immersive attraction.

The top priority at Animal Kingdom is Avatar: Flight of Passage. This is still one of the most popular rides in all of Disney World. If you are a non-resort guest, skip this.

At the entrance to the Na'vi River Journey in Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom, a towering and intricate sculpture greets guests. This artistic piece, crafted with woven materials and vibrant hues, depicts a Na'vi figure surrounded by Pandoran flora, symbolizing the connection between the Na'vi and their environment. This beacon not only marks the gateway to the attraction but also embodies the creativity and ecological spirit of the land.

Next you’ll want to pick between Na’vi River Journey and Kilimanjaro Safari. Na’vi River Journey will be closer, but Kilimanjaro is infinitely better in the morning than any other time of day.

Genie+ Strategy

One of the newest systems at Disney parks is Genie+, which allows you to skip the regular lines for a fee. Here’s how to use minimize wait times with Genie+ at Animal Kingdom:

How to use Genie+

Genie+ can be purchased through the My Disney Experience app. The price varies based on the day, crowds, and the park you are visiting. Animal Kingdom tends to range from $15-25 per person, per day.

Guests are able to make a Lightening Lane reservation for select attractions. Essentially this gives you a window when you’ll return to a ride and be able to board with little to no wait.

Avatar: Flight of Passage is not included in Genie+. An Individual Lightening Lane must be purchased to ‘skip the line.’ Again, the price will vary from day to day but $20 per person is common.

Ride Priorities for Genie+

The most popular Lightening Lane in Animal Kingdom, is the meet and greet at Adventures Outpost. This experience closes before the park and is a great chance to say hi to Minnie and Mickey. It’s the only place you’ll find them in their Safari outfits!

This vibrant image captures the mystical Shaman of Songs animatronic, a highlight of the Na'vi River Journey ride in the Pandora – World of Avatar area at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Illuminated by the bioluminescent glow of the surrounding flora, the Shaman connects with visitors through her enchanting music, creating a mesmerizing experience that celebrates the harmony between nature and the Na'vi.

Na’vi River Journey is our second priority. Morning return times will go fast! We recommend grabbing this one early in the day to stack for the afternoon.

A train car full of excited riders ascends the steep tracks of "Expedition Everest" at Disney's Animal Kingdom, just before the adrenaline-pumping drop. The coaster, ingeniously built into a mountainous structure, offers a glimpse of the thrilling journey that simulates the treacherous Himalayan expeditions. Verdant foliage frames the scene, emphasizing the wild and adventurous spirit of the park's Asia section.

After securing these two popular Genie+ attractions, Expedition Everest is the next priority.

Kilimanjaro Safaris

A graceful giraffe wanders through the savanna on the Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney's Animal Kingdom, showcasing the park's commitment to creating authentic wildlife encounters. The towering trees and lush greenery of the habitat frame the giraffe, highlighting its impressive height and the serene environment of the Harambe Wildlife Reserve. This scene invites guests to admire the natural beauty and observe the giraffe's gentle demeanor up close.

Another popular attraction, but timing matters. On Kilimanjaro you’ll board an open air vehicle and drive through large expanses of animal habitats. These animals are most active early in the morning and near sunset.

Genie+ return times are too difficult to predict, to ensure a good window for the safari. You can book this one as an alternative to those above, or after them, and modify the return time throughout the day. Or check out the next section for later afternoon strategy.

Tips for maximizing your Genie+ reservations

Use your Genie+ reservations strategically to minimize wait times. For example, if you have a reservation for Expedition Everest at 10:00 AM, try to get another reservation as soon as you scan into the queue. You can also use the My Disney Experience app to check wait times for other attractions and make additional Genie+ reservations throughout the day.

Maximizing Your Time

Animal Kingdom is a sprawling park, and it can be easy to luxuriate walking from one attraction to another. Here are some tips for avoiding crowds and minimizing walking:

Overview of Animal Kingdom layout

Familiarize yourself with the layout of the park before your visit. Animal Kingdom does not have the hub-and-spoke design of many other Disney parks.

Late Afternoon Strategy

Maybe the best kept secret at Disney World is afternoons at Animal Kingdom. The park closes early and is home to one of the most popular attractions.

People go early. Animal Kingdom is a rope-drop park and morning is one of the busiest times of the day. But, it’s a half day park.

Lots of guests leave after lunch or even for lunch. Taking the Disney bus to eat at Sanaa is one of my favorite day plans.

Late afternoon is quite possibly the slowest time of day at Animal Kingdom.

Ride Priorities

Guests are greeted by the 'Theater in the Wild' signage at Disney's Animal Kingdom, indicating the entrance to the captivating "Finding Nemo – The Big Blue... and Beyond" show. The theater's façade is adorned with tropical fish carvings, while the marquee below showcases vibrant artwork from the show, inviting visitors to experience the underwater adventure that awaits inside.

Popular shows like The Lion King and The Big Blue and Beyond, last performance of the day are early. You’ll want to see these first, and check the schedule ahead of time.

A majestic African elephant stands serenely in its habitat on the Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney's Animal Kingdom, illustrating the park's dedication to wildlife conservation and the authentic safari experience it offers. The elephant's impressive stature and calm demeanor provide a captivating sight for guests journeying through the Harambe Wildlife Reserve.

Try to time a ride on Kilimanjaro Safaris near sunset, but before it gets dark. You’ll need to keep an eye on the queue wait time. Entering the queue about an 1-1.5 hours before sunset, works well.

Gazing upward in Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom, visitors are captivated by the awe-inspiring Floating Mountains. Suspended high above, these massive rock formations are a testament to the park's ingenuity, entwined with native Pandoran flora that sways gently in the sky, creating an otherworldly vista that leaves guests spellbound.

Save Avatar: Flight of Passage for last! Make the most of your time by entering the this line within the last hour of park close. As long as you enter the line before the park closes, you will get to ride. Maximize the hours Animal Kingdom is open for everything else, and move the longest wait to after close

Which is the Best Strategy?

Each strategy works well, it just depends on how you like to roll!

We do NOT recommend Genie+ for Animal Kingdom unless it is a peak day. Spring Break, Christmas time – sure. But there are not enough attractions or long enough waits to justify it.

DO buy the Avatar: Flight of Passage Lightening Lane, if it’s within your budget to do so. You’ll save more time than using Genie+.

So how do you do Animal Kingdom? Are you an early bird?

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