Of the four theme parks in Walt Disney World, Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the largest and most unique. Transporting guests into nature and the environment around them, the park offers glimpses into exotic lands, lush landscapes, playful animals, and the beauty of planet Earth. Guests are able to travel across continents like Africa and Asia, and even back in time for adventures with the dinosaurs. A day in Disney’s Animal Kingdom can definitely be wild, and with so much to do and see it is a great idea to have a touring plan in mind before arriving at the park. Here is the perfect touring plan to ensure a great day in Disney’s Animal Kingdom!
Getting to Disney’s Animal Kingdom first thing in the morning is advantageous for several reasons. First off, it ensures that guests will be some of the first into the park and avoid the rush of heavy crowds and long lines. It also ensures cooler temperatures which can make all the difference since the park is massive and often features pathways in direct sun. The quiet cooler morning hours are great for both guests and the animals living in the park, so be sure to arrive first thing in the morning.
Pandora – World of Avatar First
Pandora – The World of Avatar is the newest land in the Animal Kingdom theme park. This is exactly why you’ll want to head to this part of the park as soon as you arrive in the morning – due to huge crowds! Here you will find two extremely popular attractions known as Avatar Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey. You can expect a thrilling ride on Avatar Flight of Passage as you climb aboard a Banshee (dragon-like creature) and ride through the beautiful World of Avatar. The Na’vi River Journey is a perfect family-friendly attraction as guests boat down river and see just how beautiful the Na’vi tribe’s rainforest is with bioluminescence lighting and the latest animatronics. Unfortunately, you can only FastPass ONE of these two attractions. We recommend you FastPass one and head to the other the moment the park opens. Outside of these two attractions, the land is almost like an attraction itself with stunning beauty and ability to interact with guests. Expect large crowds to be flocking to this area for quite some time!
Kilimanjaro Safaris Next
After Pandora, a great touring plan is to head straight to Africa in the back left corner of the park and board Kilimanjaro Safaris. This flagship attraction takes guests onto the Harambe Reserve for a two week excursion through the forest and African savannah. Visiting Kilimanjaro Safaris first thing in the morning will ensure low wait times and the best chances to see animals like lions, giraffes, and zebras active. The morning hours offer cooler temperatures and feeding times for the animals on the reserve, which ensures that guests will see the animals up close and have some amazing encounters.
Festival of the Lion King
After disembarking Kilimanjaro Safaris, head back into Harambe Village and visit the Festival of the Lion King which combines live acting, singing, acrobatics, aerial dancing, and characters from the beloved animated film. Guests are encouraged to sing along and will love the heartfelt renditions of classic songs from the film including “Circle of Life” and “Hakuna Matata.” The show is one of the best on Disney property and can’t be missed, but be sure to check a times guide when entering the park as it only plays several times a day.
Explore the Trails
Located in Africa and Asia are two different self-guided walking trails which allow guests to enjoy beautiful architecture, exotic birds and animals, and tranquil landscapes. The Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail in Africa primarily features gorillas in a massive hilly enclosure and the Maharajah Jungle Trek in Asia highlights Asian Tigers living in beautiful temple ruins. These trails are generally quiet, and offer up a peaceful place to explore in Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Single Rider Everest
Expedition Everest in Asia is one of the most popular and thrilling attractions in Disney’s Animal Kingdom as it takes guests deep into the forbidden mountain where they ultimately end up enraging the fabled Yeti and rushing to escape his clutches. A great touring plan for experiencing the attraction with a lower wait time is to take advantage of the single rider line. Throughout Walt Disney World, there are several attractions with single rider lines, and as long as parties don’t mind being split up they can experience these popular attractions in a fraction of the wait time. By using the single rider line on Expedition Everest, guests can experience the attraction without losing time waiting on a long line.
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Lunch at Yak & Yeti Restaurant
Disney’s Animal Kingdom is home to several full service dining locations, and Yak & Yeti Restaurant in Asia is one of the most popular. Serving up Pan-Asian inspired dishes, the restaurant is based upon a family from Southeast Asia who extensively traveled throughout the region and collected artifacts and objects along the way. Every wall of the restaurant is beautifully decorated with the authentic collection and guests can enjoy dining on options like Tempura Shrimp and Fried Wontons. Guests who are looking to enjoy a lunch at the restaurant should definitely make Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs) as far in advance as possible to ensure seating.
Another very popular attraction in the park is Dinosaur located in the Dinoland. The attraction is housed in the Dino Institute where the technology to time travel back to the era of the dinosaurs has been developed and guests are offered the chance to take an adventurous tour through time. Thanks to a scientist who is looking to bring a dinosaur back to modern times, guests find themselves on a thrilling journey a little too close to the massive asteroid impact. Since Dinosaur is so popular, a great touring plan tip is to book a FastPass for the attraction ensuring that guests won’t have to spend a lot of time waiting on line to experience it.
Finding Nemo The Musical
Located just outside of Dinoland is a massive theater that is home to a wonderful production which tells the story of the Pixar classic Finding Nemo. Featuring larger than life puppets and the original song “Big Blue World,” Finding Nemo The Musical is a Broadway caliber performance that guests definitely can’t miss on a day in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Like the Festival of the Lion King, the show only runs several times a day, so be sure to check a times guide when entering the park for show times.
Enjoy the Tree of Life
After heading back towards Discovery Island, a great way to spend some time in the park is to simply enjoy the view of the massive Tree of Life. The park’s icon is intricately carved with hundreds of lifelike animals, and even includes a few Hidden Mickeys. Guests should take a few moments just to enjoy the artwork on the tree before heading into its roots to enjoy It’s Tough To Be A Bug. This 3D show is nestled in a theater in the roots of the tree and shrinks guests down to the size of a bug. Flik from A Bug’s Life shows guests how bugs aren’t gross, but rather an integral part of the environment.
Wander The Oasis
While heading towards the exit of the park, guests should take the time to wander slowly through The Oasis. Unfortunately, this area of the park tends to be overlooked as guests who are starting their day breeze past it to head to other attractions and many guests who are leaving are tired and heading straight to the exit and buses. While exiting the park, a great touring plan is to slow down for a while and really take the time to enjoy the lush shady area which is home to several animal exhibits and beautiful plants. A few tranquil minutes in The Oasis is the perfect ending to a day in Disney’s Animal Kingdom!
Stay For Animal Kingdom’s Evening Hours
You don’t want to skip out early from Animal Kingdom! Now coming to life at night, guest have the opportunity to enjoy an amphitheater style show called Rivers of Light where nature is celebrated in an incredibly beautiful way! The Tree of Life Awakenings is a perfect way to cap off the evening with its projections and music lighting up the iconic Animal Kingdom symbol. And finally, stop back by Pandora – World of Avatar to see this beautiful land glow at night!