For The First Time in Forever…Animal Kingdom Is Open LATE

Tree of life at night animal kingdom
Credit: Disney

One of the best ways to get the most out of your Walt Disney World Resort vacation is to stay on property. There are dozens of Disney-owned hotels with various themes, neighborhoods, and price ranges.

Contemporary Resort

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Disney Resort Benefits

Guests receive many perks when staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel.

Animal Kingdom Resort

Credit: D23

In addition to staying inside the Disney bubble, you receive convenient (and free) transportation to and from the theme parks, can access Lightning Lanes earlier than other guests, and can get extra time in the theme parks.

RELATED: Why You Should Stay on Disney Property for the Best Trip Ever

This latter feature has changed over the years, with rotating theme parks and the time-varying. Currently, guests staying on Disney property are allowed early theme park entry and extended evening hours in select parks on certain days.

wilderness lodge pool disney

Credit: Disney Parks

Starting this fall and winter, Walt Disney World Resort will offer guests extended evening hours at Animal Kingdom. As the newest Disney park in Orlando, the theme park was often considered a “half-day” park when it first debuted in 1998 and usually closed before nightfall.

Kilimanjaro Safaris

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Even in more recent years, as the list of attractions has grown with the addition of Expedition Everest and Pandora – the World of Avatar, Animal Kingdom Park has yet to allow guests to stay late. This is in large part because the theme park has many animal inhabitants.

RELATED: Must Do Attractions at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

As such, Disney often avoids anything that would disrupt their animals from getting a good night’s sleep. This is why Animal Kingdom avoids nighttime parades and fireworks and, until recently, didn’t allow guests to stay late into the night.

Everest at Night

Credit: Disney

Animal Kingdom Open Late

Beginning November 8, guests staying at select hotels will be able to access certain rides and attractions within the theme park, including Avatar: Flight of Passage, DINOSAUR, Expedition Everest, It’s Tough to be a Bug!, TriceraTop Spin, Na’vi River Journey, and character meet and greets.

RELATED: Disney World Makes Change To Extended Evening Theme Park Hours

Since most of these attractions are at the front of the park rather than the back, this might be why Disney finds it acceptable to allow Animal Kingdom to stay open late. Since most animals are in the Africa and Asia sections of the park (with a few in Discovery Island), there are few, if any, inhabiting spaces in Avatar or DinoLand USA; as such, guests experiencing some of the attractions at night may not be that disruptive to the theme park’s animals. But who knows?

About Steven Wilk

Steven has a complicated relationship with Disney. As a child, he visited Walt Disney World every few years with his family. But he never understood why kids his age (and older) were so scared of Snow White or Alien Encounter. He is a former participant of the Disney College Program (left early…long story), and he also previously worked in Children’s publishing, where he adapted multiple Disney movies and TV shows. He has many controversial opinions about Disney…like having a positive view of Michael Eisner, believing Return of the Jedi is superior to The Empire Strikes Back, and that Toy Story Land and Galaxy’s Edge should have never been built (at least not at Hollywood Studios). Every year for the past two decades, Steven has visited either Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Aulani or went on a Disney Cruise. He’s happy to share any and all knowledge of the Disney destinations (and he likes using parenthesis a lot…as well as ellipses…)