By Melissa Fegely
Many guests visit and enjoy the attractions, entertainment, and dining in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and some of these visitors will claim that this is only a half-day park. Walt Disney World is working on plans to expand the fun in the near future. In the meantime, there are lots of ways to get the most of this park and ensure your adventure is memorable.
8. Do the walking trails first.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom features two lush trails that you can explore at your own pace. The Pangani Forest trail highlights African wildlife like gorillas, hippopotamuses, okapi, and exotic birds. The Maharajah Jungle Trek features animals native to Asia, including tigers, blackbuck antelopes, fruit bats, and over 50 species of birds. Guests typically head to the headliner attractions first, and then check out these walking trails later. Avoid the crowds by visiting the trails right at Rope Drop, and then schedule your FastPasses for the Kilimanjaro Safari, Kali River Rapids, or Expedition Everest later in the day. Your experience on the paths will be peaceful with better animal viewing opportunities.
7. Rope Drop.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom almost has an enchanted glow to it first thing in the morning, with dew still clinging to the canopy of trees and the musical morning calls of the birds. Make sure you are there for Rope Drop and enjoy breakfast at a shady table while you watch the park wake up. Morning is also the most opportune time to view the animals before the heat of the day.
6. Picture yourself with Mickey and Minnie.
Adventurers Outpost on Discovery Island is a popular spot to meet and have your photo taken with Mickey and Minnie. The famous duo meet with you inside an air-conditioned location decorated with safari mementos, and they are sporting classic safari gear too. This is an awesome spot to get a unique photo, but the line is usually long and slow moving. Make a FastPass+ reservation to see these two with a very short wait.
5. Exotic Tours.
If you have been to Disney’s Animal Kingdom several times and think you’ve seen it all, consider taking one of the tours offered for guests. There are several options that allow guests to get a closer look at the wildlife and a better understanding of how they are cared for at the park, as well as how Disney endorses and encourages wildlife conservation. Within the last several years, Disney’s Animal Kingdom began taking guests on an adventure called the Wild Africa Trek. This tour feels like an extension of Kilimanjaro Safaris, but goes beyond what you experience from the safari truck. Guests cross a rope bridge high above the crocodiles, cross the open savannah with to get up close with rhinos and giraffes, and have a gourmet lunch looking out across the wildlife reserve.
4. Lunch with a view.
Flame Tree Barbeque is a tasty place to grab lunch or dinner in a counter service setting. The menu features great barbeque choices like ribs, chicken, or pulled pork, along with sides like baked beans or cornbread. The best part of this restaurant is the seating and views. Once you get your order, follow the winding paths down to brightly-colored gazebos that provide shady seating. Most of the tables let you enjoy your meal with a peaceful view of Discovery River or Expedition Everest. There are more seating options here than any of the other counter-service eateries, and it’s fun to explore the area and find the perfect spot.
3. Adult Refreshments.
You probably have walked right by this spot without even realizing it, but the Dawa Bar in the Harambe Village area is an excellent choice for a shady seat with a fun theme, a refreshing adult beverage, and oftentimes, live music. The drinks are strong and, besides beer and wine, the menu offers cocktails with African-inspired names. If you want a snack with your drink, there are several food kiosks in the area.
2. Delicious food without the wait.
The Yak and Yeti restaurant, located in the Asia area in the shadow of Expedition Everest, offers an appetizing menu of Asian specialties while immersing you in the comfort of an inn for adventurers and pilgrims in the village of Anandapur. If you want to enjoy the cuisine but don’t have a reservation, or don’t want to take the time for a table service meal, consider the counter service location right next door. The Yak and Yeti Local Food Cafes give you the convenience and efficiency of counter service, yet with many of the same dishes and flavors found at the full service restaurant. There is a seating area nearby with a lovely fountain in the center.
1. Take it slow.
A typical morning in Disney’s Animal Kingdom begins with guests passing through the baggage check and getting their ticket media or MagicBands scanned, then quickly traversing to the headliner attractions in Africa, Asia, and Dinoland USA. This park is meant to be enjoyed slowly and deliberately, however. Let the crowds pass you by and soak up the animal encounters in the Oasis area. Cast members are eager to share their knowledge of smaller critters they are holding, and the winding paths quietly divulge beautiful animals and lush vegetation at every turn. This is the best way to see how Disney’s Animal Kingdom shines.