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Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ can be difficult to navigate. There are tiers and rules and, frankly, not a ton of Fastpass+ options that suit an entire family’s interest.
This post is dedicated to helping you plan and execute the perfect Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ strategy, so you can make the most out of your day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Animal Kingdom is the youngest Walt Disney World park and is often overlooked by guests and not given the attention it rightfully deserves. It is a gorgeous park that you should dedicate an entire day to.
It can be difficult to figure out which Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ options are worth it and which ones aren’t.
Hopefully these 10 tips will help you figure out exactly what Fastpass+ options you want to select at Animal Kingdom.
Selecting the right Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ options will either make or break your day, so you really need to know what you’re doing.
The good news is that you’ll be an Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ expert by the time you’re done reading this post!
P.S.- if you’re looking for more information on all things Disney World (especially Fastpass+ information), be sure to check out my other posts to help you plan the most magical Disney trip possible:
- 10 Insanely Useful Magic Kingdom Fastpass+ Tips
- 10 Secret Magic Kingdom Fastpass+ Tips
- Magic Kingdom After Hours: Worth the Price?!
- 9 Things to Know Before Meeting Magic Kingdom Characters
- How to Plan the Perfect Solo Disney Trip as an Introvert
- 5 Tips for Visiting Walt Disney World in August
1. Get a Fastpass+ for Kilimanjaro Safaris
I always recommend you get a Fastpass+ for Kilimanjaro Safaris.
It should be a no brainer!
There are 3 main reasons I recommend everybody get an Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ for Kilimanjaro Safaris:
- It always have a really long long
- The queue area can get uncomfortably hot
- The animals decide how quickly the line moves
The Line is Always Quite Long
It is rare to see a wait time of less than 45 to 60 minutes for Kilimanjaro Safaris.
Kilimanjaro Safaris is one of the most popular attractions in the entire park, and I would argue it is the most popular attraction behind the Pandora ones.
It is also great for families with small children because there is no height limit. I’ve been in the same car as babies, so literally anybody can ride Kilimanjaro Safaris.
Which is a great thing, but it also means that it is an extremely popular Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ option, often runs out of Fastpass+ availability relatively quickly, and the stand-by line is super long as a result.
If you loath standing in lines like I do, you need to get a Fastpass+ for Kilimanjaro Safaris. It will save you a lot of time in line.
The Queue Area Can Get Super Hot
The queue for Kilimanjaro Safaris is 100% outdoors.
It has a room but no walls, and there are fans on the ceiling throughout to help cool you down a little bit.
Even with the fans, I often find the line uncomfortably hot and unbearable. This is especially true if you’re in the queue in the heat of the day.
The Fastpass+ line is the same, but it is significantly shorter and moves quickly.
I often find that I move through the Kilimanjaro Safaris Fastpass+ line so quick that I don’t have time to start getting uncomfortable from the heat.
I love Disney World, but as a lady from Northern Canada, I’m always disgustingly sweaty and try to limit the amount of time I’m standing around in an outdoor line.
The Animals Determine the Wait Time
This may be an odd concept, but it is 100% true.
The behaviour of the animals can increase your wait time, and increase it significantly.
If an animal decides it wants to stand in the middle of the road, then all the safari trucks have to wait until the animal moves off the road.
This essentially stops the entire attraction until the animal feels like moving and finds another place to hang out.
There have been many cases where a safari truck I was in was stopped waiting for an animal to move.
In many cases, it doesn’t take more than 5 or so minutes, but there are still times where it takes a long time for an animal to move.
The longest time I’ve personally been stopped in a safari truck was for about 25 minutes when a wildebeest decided to take a nap in the middle of the road.
It took an animal trainer bribing the wildebeest with food to make it finally move.
I cannot imagine how long we would have been stopped if the cast members had allowed the wildebeest to move at its own free will rather than encouraging it to move off the road.
And this can happen multiple times a day every day, and you could be stuck in a long, hot line just waiting to get on a safari truck.
In addition to both the stand-by line and Fastpass+ line having to wait for the animal to move before the attraction starts up again, people in the Fastpass+ line are given priority and are the first to get on a truck.
If you’re in the stand-by line, you’ll have to wait even longer to get on a truck because they need to speed up the Fastpass+ line and get those people on a truck quicker than people in the stand-by line.
The Bottom Line
There are so many pros to getting an Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ for Kilimanjaro Safaris. It ultimately saves you time, heat exhaustion, and gets you on a truck quicker if an animal interrupts the regular flow of the attraction.
There really is no downside to prioritizing Kilimanjaro Safaris and getting a Fastpass+ for it.
2. Know What Days Have Extra Magic Hours in the Morning (& Avoid if You’re Not Staying on Disney Property)
Extra Magic Hours are a nice benefit Disney gives to guests staying on Disney property (or with a select few partner hotels in the area).
Hotel guests are able to be in the park without the general public. Extra Magic Hours take place either 1 hour before the park opens or 2 hours after the park closes.
Extra Magic Hours are spread out across the 4 Disney World parks, and not every park has Extra Magic Hours on any given day.
You’ll be given a schedule of Extra Magic Hours when your check into your Disney hotel. They’re also displayed on the home page of your room television when you turn your tv on.
You can also view the Extra Magic Hours scheduled here if you want to plan your Fastpass+ selections around which park has Extra Magic Hours on any given day.
Advice for Guests with Access to Extra Magic Hours
It is 100% in your best interest to go to Extra Magic Hours at Animal Kingdom. They’re only offered in the morning at Animal Kingdom, but they are worth waking up early for!
This is especially true if you weren’t able to get a Fastpass+ for Flight of Passage.
The line for both Pandora rides will be the shortest during Extra Magic Hours, and the wait time will only increase from there.
The line for Flight of Passage looks intimidatingly long during Extra Magic Hours. They don’t have the entire queue open, so the line normally stretches all the way to Africa.
The wait is normally less than 20 minutes. even though the line is so long.
If you were lucky enough to get an Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ for Flight of Passage, Extra Magic Hours is still worth attending.
Most people will be in Pandora, so you basically have the rest of the park to yourself.
A typical Extra Magic Hours morning where I have a Fastpass+ for Flight of Passage looks like this for me:
- Kilimanjaro Safaris
- Expedition Everest at least 3 to 5 times
- Dinosaur 1 to 2 times
You get a lot of bang for your buck during Animal Kingdom Extra Magic Hours!
Whether you have an Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ for Flight of Passage or not, Extra Magic Hours is well worth it. You get so much done it is unbelievable.
You could basically knock out the entire park (excluding Pandora) during Extra Magic Hours.
If you were lucky enough to get a Flight of Passage Fastpass+ in the morning, you could do everything else in Animal Kingdom during Extra Magic Hours, go on Flight of Passage, and then hop to another park for the rest of the day.
Advice for Guest Without Access to Extra Magic Hours
You should try to avoid Animal Kingdom at all costs on days with Extra Magic Hours!
The park will be filled with hotel guests, and the waits are often longer than on an average day.
Most hotel guests end up staying at Animal Kingdom the entire day after Extra Magic Hours, so it is normally quite crowded.
In addition to the park being crowded, you’ll also have a more difficult time getting the Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ selections you want.
The hotel guests will have snatched up the most popular Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ options, and you won’t have much to choose from when it is your turn to make your Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ selections.
It is a lose-lose scenario for guests who don’t have access to Extra Magic Hours.
I suggest going to Animal Kingdom the day after Extra Magic Hours.
This is likely the day the park will be least busy since so many people were there the day before.
3. The Shows are a Bit Overrated
When you’re researching Animal Kingdom and what Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ options you should prioritize, a lot of people tell you that the shows are incredible and you’re missing out if you don’t see them.
You’re also told that you need to get a Fastpass+ for them in order to see them.
I disagree with that line of thought.
The shows are good, but they’re not life changing.
If you have a choice between a show and another attraction you really want to get a Fastpass+ for, you should probably get the Fastpass+ for the other attraction over the show.
I think The Lion King show is the best choice if you want to get a Fastpass+ for a show.
It is the most popular, and you have to get in the stand-by line at least 20 minutes before the show starts to ensure you get a seat.
The Finding Nemo show, on the other hand, isn’t worth getting a Fastpass+ for. The theatre is only full during peak times (like mid-Summer and the holiday season). The rest of the time you can walk up 5 minutes before the show starts and get a seat.
As a side note, most people say The Lion King show is the best show at Disney World, but I actually like Finding Nemo better.
Whether you decide to use one of your Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ selections on a show is totally up to you.
You should do what works best for you and your interest.
Just know that you’re not missing out on a superb experience just because you choose not to get a Fastpass+ for a show.
4. Mickey and Minnie are a Good Use of an Animal Kingdom Fastpass+
There are a lot of fun characters to meet at Animal Kingdom, but Mickey and Minnie are the only characters that offer a Fastpass+ option.
I think meeting Mickey and Minnie is a great use of one of your Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ options. They always have a really long line- like 45 to 60 minutes long. Mickey and Minnie are also wearing the most adorable costumes. I think their outfits at Animal Kingdom are the absolute best and cutest out of any of the Disney World parks.
I highly recommend everybody meets Mickey and Minnie at Animal Kingdom at least once in their lifetime.
Getting an Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ to meet them is the most time efficient way possible. You’ll be in and out in no time.
5. Take Advantage of Rope Drop
Rope drop is what Disney nerds call the moment the park opens. Essentially, doing park drop at a park means you get to the park at least 30 minutes before it opens and are one of the first people in the park.
Rope drop is the perfect time of day to get to Animal Kingdom.
It allows you to get to the most popular attractions and visit them before the lines get outrageously long. I’m looking at you Pandora!
You save so much time at rope drop. You get all the benefits as Extra Magic Hours, but anybody can participate in rope drop unlike Extra Magic Hours.
The biggest mistake you can make when planning Animal Kingdom rope drop is not looking at the calendar. You do not want to plan to be at Animal Kingdom for rope drop on a day with Extra Magic Hours.
The completely defeats the purpose of being at the park for rope drop.
But as long as you plan it properly and avoid days with Extra Magic Hours, you’ll get the amazing benefits of rope drop.
I don’t always recommend rope drop, but for Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, I think it is the best strategy to get the most out of your day at the park.
6. Know the Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ Tiers
Anybody who is researching the Walt Disney World Fastpass+ system has heard of the tier system.
The tier system was put in place to limit the number of Fastpass+ reservations a person could make for the most popular attractions. Every park except for Magic Kingdom has a Fastpass+ tier system.
The Fastpass+ tier system can get a little bit difficult to understand at times, but the Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ tier system is incredibly easy to understand.
You get one Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ option for a ride in Pandora and two Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ options to use for any other attraction that offers Fastpass+ in the park.
Essentially, you have to choose whether you want to ride Flight of Passage or Navi River Journey. Then you choose two additional non-Pandora Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ options.
I love how easy the Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ tier system is!
My Recommended Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ Selections
I pretty much book the same Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ selections every time I visit the park.
I’m a creature of habit and like what I like. But I think I also have a pretty good Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ strategy that allows me to get the most out of my day without waiting in many lines.
My Ideal Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ Selections
- Flight of Passage
- Kilimanjaro Safari
- Meet Mickey and Minnie
If I’m able to get the Fastpass+ options I wants, I go to the park for Extra Magic Hours and ride Everest and Dinosaur a number of times. Sometimes I’ll even ride Navi River Journey if I’m in the mood.
If I’m not able to get my ideal Fastpass+ options and get a Fastpass+ for Navi River Journey rather than Flight of Passage, I make sure to be at the park a few minutes earlier, so I can have as short of a wait to ride Flight of Passage as possible.
I find that if I’m able to get on Flight of Passage within 20 minutes of the park opening, I can still ride Everest a time or two before it starts getting to be a 10 minute wait.
7. Take Advantage of the Walking Trails Between Your Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ Return Windows
The walking paths are one of the most underrated parts of Animal Kingdom.
They’re the perfect place to kill some time before your Expedition Everest or Kilimanjaro Safari Fastpass+, but so few people take advantage of them.
It isn’t that they are quiet, but they could certainly be busier.
There are 3 trails in Animal Kingdom you can explore:
- Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail (the busiest)
- Maharajah Jungle Trek (my personal favourite)
- Discovery Island Trails (the least busy)
All 3 trails give you the chance to get up close and personal with some of the wildlife.
You get to see gorillas, tigers, bats, zebras, and so much more!
They don’t take more than 10 or 15 minutes to walk through, so they’re perfect if you get to an attraction before your Fastpass+ return window opens.
You can wander through the trails and see some animals. It is a much more enjoyable way to kill the remaining time before your Fastpass+ than standing around near the entrance to whatever attraction you’re riding next.
8. Get a Bonus Animal Kingdom Fastpass+
I always recommend that you try to get a bonus 4th Fastpass+ no matter what Disney World park you’re visiting.
You’re allowed to make 3 Fastpass+ reservations per day (they all have to be in the same park) in advance. You can make your Fastpass+ selections 60 days before your arrival if you’re staying on Disney property and 30 days in advance if you’re staying off-property.
A lesser known secret is that you can continue to book Fastpass+ selections after you have used your original 3 Fastpass+ selections.
You can only make one additional Fastpass+ at a time, but you can book as many bonus Fastpass+ as possible as long as they are available.
In order to get the most out of this strategy, you should try to book your original 3 Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ options as early in the day as possible.
This is easier said than done because you’re at the mercy of Pandora and whenever you can get a Fastpass+ for Flight of Passage or Navi River Journey.
Nevertheless, you should try to book your original Fastpass+ options as early in the day as possible.
Once you’ve used those 3 Fastpass+ options, jump on the My Disney Experience app as quickly as you can and book a bonus Fastpass+ for whatever you want.
Getting a bonus 4th Fastpass+ is easiest in Magic Kingdom where there are far more attractions to choose from. It is much more difficult at a smaller park like Animal Kingdom.
You most likely won’t be able to get a bonus Fastpass+ for the most popular attractions, but it is worth a try.
You’re most likely to get a bonus Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ for Finding Nemo the Musical or Dinosaur. But those are still great options!
You may even get super lucky and snag a last-minute Fastpass+ for Kilimanjaro Safari or Flight of Passage.
A Note About Online Safety
When you’re booking your bonus Animal Kingdom Fastpass+, you’re likely going to be using the complimentary wifi provided by Disney.
I love that Disney provides complimentary wifi! It makes it extremely easy to check wait times, book your bonus Fastpass+, and post all the fun you’re having on social media.
But using public wifi puts you at risk of having your data stolen and possibly sold.
You need to protect yourself from prying eyes when you’re using public wifi (like Disney’s wifi), and that is where a virtual private network (VPN) comes in!
A VPN protects you and your data by putting up an invisible forcefield around your devices that keeps any prying eyes away from your information.
I’ve used a lot of different VPNs in my time, and the only one I’ve every really liked is NordVPN.
NordVPN allows you to connect up to 6 devices with one account, so you can easily protect your entire family with one account!
Plus they often run huge sales where you can save up to 70%, so you can protect your family for an entire year for less than $50!!
So there is no excuse not to sign up for NordVPN before you start using Disney’s public wifi!
9. Take Advantage of Rider Switch
Rider switch is a great program to take advantage of if you have younger children.
It allows one parent to ride an attraction while the other stays behind with the child. After the first parent is done riding, the second parent is able to ride the same attraction without waiting in the stand-by line.
You simply speak with a cast member at the entrance to the attraction and tell them you want to use rider swtich.
The cast member will scan your magic band or ticket and get you all set up to use the program. When it comes time for the second parent to ride the attraction, they enter through the Fastpass+ line and not the stand-by line.
You can also use the rider swap strategy if you have a Fastpass+ for a certain attraction. When you’re making your Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ selections ahead of time, simply book a Fastpass+ for half the group or however many people want to ride a specific attraction.
When you go to redeem your Fastpass+, make sure your entire party goes with you, and they can arrange the rider switch there.
That is the best way to maximize your time.
But please don’t abuse this system! Disney has this system in place to help people travelling with young children who can’t or don’t want to ride everything. Don’t try to scam the system or hack your way into a shorter wait time. It isn’t worth it. Disney will probably figure it out, and you may even get in trouble or kicked out of the park.
10. Visit Pandora at Night if You Didn’t Get an Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ for Flight of Passage
Here we are again talking about strategies to ride Flight of Passage.
It is such a difficult Fastpass+ to get, and it often isn’t even available to people 60 days in advance it is so popular.
A lot of people can’t get a Flight of Passage Fastpass+ and need to figure out the best time to ride it.
Outside of rope drop or Extra Magic Hours, right before park close if the best time to ride Flight of Passage.
Animal Kingdom is least busy in the evening, and Flight of Passage will have a fairly short wait time compared to the rest of the day.
This is the perfect time to pop in line and ride this fabulous attraction.
The time posted outside of Flight of Passage may not be entirely accurate at park close. Sometimes the wait time displayed is significantly longer than the actual wait time, so it shouldn’t deter you from jumping in the queue.
I suspect Disney show the wait time slightly longer than it actually is as a way to deter people from jumping in the queue moment before the park closes.
But jump in that line!
If you’re in the queue for a ride before the park closes, you’ll be allowed to ride it. You can get in line one minute before the park closes and will still be able to ride Flight of Passage.
My ideal hierarchy of when to ride Flight of Passage is:
- Get a Fastpass+
- Be there for Extra Magic Hours or rope drop
- Get in line right before the park closes
I don’t recommend trying to ride Flight of Passage during the height of the day. The line is always super long, and it isn’t the best use of your time.
Animal Kingdom is the most unique park in Disney World. It is part zoo and part theme park, it has one of the most popular attractions in all of Disney World, and doesn’t have a ton of attractions with Fastpass+ options.
It is a perfect storm, and you need to make sure you have a strong Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ strategy in place before it is time to make your Fastpass+ selections.
The tips in this post are designed to get you thinking about how you need to approach making your Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ selections.
There are a lot of things to consider.
You also need to be flexible in your Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ strategy. Your entire strategy basically relies on whether or not you’re able to get a Fastpass+ for the Pandora attraction of your choosing.
Not being able to get a Flight of Passage Fastpass+ will completely change your Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ strategy, and you need to be prepared to be flexible.
No matter what Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ options you end up getting, you’ll have an amazing day at Animal Kingdom.
It is such a fun park and has a vibe unlike any other theme park I’ve ever been to. And I’ve been to a lot of theme parks.
Let me know in the comments below what your favourite Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ tip is and whether you’re team Flight of Passage or team Navi River Journey.
Oh. And don’t forget to say hi to Mickey and Minnie for me!