Do you have one day in Animal Kingdom? Not sure how best to tackle the day? Here are some of my suggestions, tips, and tricks for how to design your Animal Kingdom itinerary.
Some things to keep in mind…
- No plan is foolproof. Tons of outside factors will affect how long it takes for you to do the parks, what attractions might be closed for refurbishment, etc. Be willing to go with the flow and don’t feel like you have to stick to your schedule.
- Time of year will greatly affect crowds, so keep that in mind.
- Extra magic hours will influence the amount of people in the parks – this blog post is written assuming you go on a day that does not have extra magic hours.
- Fastpasses are essential to make the most of your Animal Kingdom day. Book them as soon as possible!
- This is assuming a full day at the park, from opening to closing. Adjust according to your plans!
- This itinerary does not include every attraction and show in Animal Kingdom, just what I believe are the biggest highlights. With young children, things like Rafiki’s Planet Watch may take on more of a priority over thrill rides like Dinosaur and Expedition Everest.
- This is my opinion on what I prefer… yours may vary 😉
- Flight of Passage (Navi River Journey if it’s unavailable)
- Kilimanjaro Safaris
- Expedition Everest
- Rivers of Light (unless you do a dining package)
And now, my Animal Kingdom Itinerary:
The newest land of Animal Kingdom, Pandora: the World of Avatar should be your first stop. I would head straight to Flight of Passage first thing. I recommend this even if you do have a fastpass later in the day – it’s a wonderful ride that you’ll probably want to do more than once. If you don’t have a fastpass and want to ride it, you definitely want to do it first thing. Even getting there right at opening, you can still wait about an hour to get on. After Flight of Passage, visit the other ride in Pandora – Navi River Journey.
By the time you’ve gone on the two rides in Pandora and taken photos of this beautiful area, it’s probably somewhere around 10-10:30. This is a great time to ride Kilimanjaro Safaris if it’s not too long. Earlier in the day when it’s still a little cooler is when the animals are more active, so the earlier you can get there the better. Walk the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail once you’re done, it’s right by the exit of the ride.
Get out of the heat and crowds when they’re at their worst by booking a table service, sit down lunch. I highly recommend Tiffins if you can splurge for a signature meal – the food is outstanding. If you’re looking for something a little less costly, the buffet at Tusker House is fun, and Yak and Yeti is a great choice as well. Tiffins and Tusker House both currently offer a Rivers of Light dining package, so book that if you can get it to reserve seating for the show and give you a little more time in the evening.
Let your food digest for a bit before hitting up any big rides by catching a performance of Festival of the Lion King. Shows usually run every hour or so. Once the show is over, head to the other side of the park to enter Dinoland USA. Ride Dinosaur, a thrilling adventure through time. Head over to Expedition Everest for more thrills (or, if a Finding Nemo show time is starting soon, watch that first). Then take in Finding Nemo: the Musical during one of the last showings of the day. If you didn’t go Everest before Nemo, head there now. If your party doesn’t mind splitting up, the single rider line can save a lot of time, though hopefully you may have booked a fastpass for it! Oh, and make sure to grab a snack sometime in the afternoon too. I recommend an item from Zuri’s Sweets Shop or a dole whip (add rum if you want, they have dark rum and coconut rum!). Finally, if time allows, take a walk through the Maharajah Jungle Trek to see the tigers.
There are some very good counter service options in Animal Kingdom, including Flame Tree Barbecue and Harambe Marketplace. But I recommend heading back to Pandora for dinner and visiting Satuli Canteen. They have customizable meals that are absolutely delicious. And depending on what time it is and when it gets dark, you’ll also have the opportunity to see Pandora at night, which is a totally different experience.
Now is a great time to catch up on anything you didn’t hit earlier in the day due to time constraints, or anything that didn’t make my itinerary that you still want to try, like It’s Tough to be a Bug or Primeval Whirl. For a different experience of something you’ve already done, consider a nighttime safari or Expedition Everest at night. Try to get a moment to walk by the Tree of Life to catch the Tree of Life Awakenings. Animal Kingdom at night is wonderful!
End the Day
End your time in the Animal Kingdom by viewing their new nighttime show, Rivers of Light. Some people love it, some people hate it, but you don’t know until you try it! If you’ve got a dining package or a Fastpass for it you probably want to arrive about half an hour before showtime, but if you’re looking to watch it standby you’ll want to line up earlier – seating is limited.
Flights of Wonder
It’s a good show, but not a must-do unless you’re a bird lover in particular.
Rafiki’s Planet Watch
This might be a good one if you have very young kids or you’re really interested in learning more about conservation efforts. The biggest downfall of this area is that you have to take a short train ride to and from it, so the area is inconvenient.
Kali River Rapids
Many love this ride, but you will most likely get soaked. I almost never ride it unless it’s extremely hot out and I know I’ll dry quickly, or I’m planning to go back and change right after.
It’s Tough to be a Bug
It’s a cute 3D show, but the technology is a bit old and many of the jokes feel like they fall flat.
If you’ve been to any sort of smaller amusement parks, odds are you’ve been on a coaster similar to this one.
It’s identical to Dumbo and the Flying Carpets of Aladdin, just with dinosaurs.
Character meet and greets
I love character meet and greets, but they can be hard to predict. I encourage stopping if you see one you’d like to meet, or working it into your itinerary when you get your times guide in the morning! Highlights at Animal Kingdom include Tarzan, Flik, Pocahontas, Russell from Up, and Mickey and Minnie in their safari outfits.
Finally, don’t feel like you have to stick to an itinerary. Sometimes the best experiences are from going with the flow and just taking in all of the little details that Animal Kingdom has to offer!
Do you use an Animal Kingdom itinerary? What do you make sure you do on your Animal Kingdom day?
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!
Patricia Mickus says
Tiffins is one of my favorite restaurants at Disney. The food is amazing!
Becky @ Disney in your Day says
Mine too – I’ve eaten there 3 times since it opened!
Julie Bigboy says
I’ve yet to have the chance to spend the entire day at AK. I’ll definitely Pin this post for later!
Becky @ Disney in your Day says
Animal Kingdom is my favorite park! I hope you decide to spend a full day there, I really think there is so much to do and see!
I haven’t been to Animal Kingdom in a while so I have yet to see Pandora. This is a great itinerary to try out and the new food places look so cool!
Becky @ Disney in your Day says
I hope you get the chance to visit Pandora soon – it’s beautiful and so much fun!