9 Essential Disney’s Animal Kingdom Tips from an Expert

A lot of people overlook Disney’a Animal Kingdom and don’t go into their park day with a plan. That’s a huge mistake and will cost you a lot of time waiting in line. To help you plan the most magical day in the park, I’m sharing my top Animal Kingdom tips and tricks.

From somebody who has definitely spent more time at Animal Kingdom than most people.

I love Animal Kingdom, but it isn’t always the easiest park to navigate.

If you don’t know what you’re doing, you could end up spending half your day in lines and not get the full experience of how magical the park is.

However, if you take notes and follow these Animal Kingdom tips, you’re guaranteed to have a great day.

You’ll know exactly how to get the most out of Animal Kingdom, and it might just become one of your favourite parks!

Plan your perfect solo trip to Disney World

1. Get to the Park Early

Animal Kingdom opens early in the morning. You may think that you want to sleep in and relax a bit in the morning and get to the park a few hours after it opens.

That is one of the biggest Animal Kingdom mistakes you can make!

There aren’t a ton of attractions at Animal Kingdom, and the lines can get busy quickly.

If you’re like me and try to avoid standing in lines at Disney, you’ll want to be at the park as soon as it opens.

Actually, you’ll want to arrive before it opens, so you can get through security and be at the front of the line to get in when the park opens. I recommend being at the park at least 30 minutes before it opens.

If you’re staying at a Disney hotel or a good neighbour hotel that offers early morning hours, take advantage of them! You’re able to enter the park 30 minutes before the normal guests.

It is well worth getting up for.

You’ll be able to get so much done in the first few hours and will be very thankful that you got yourself up out of bed early. If you’re tired, you can always go back to your hotel and nap in the afternoon.

I know a lot of people don’t like being at the parks right when they open, but being there for rope drop is one of the best Animal Kingdom tips I can give you.

Disney's Animal Kingdom

2. You Don’t Need Disney Genie+

Disney Genie+ is the new version of Fastpass+. It is a paid option, and it costs $15USD per person per day. One of the best Animal Kingdom tips I can give you is to skip Disney Genie+ for the day.

Disney Genie+ allows you to skip the lines at the most popular attractions and can save you lots of time during your Disney day.

The system can be quite confusing, and you need a full understanding of how it works before you get to Disney World.

Read my in depth Disney Genie+ review here

I don’t think you need to pay for Disney Genie+ when you visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom. There aren’t enough attractions to make it worth the $15, and the most popular attractions run out of return times quickly.

I say save your money and get to the park for rope drop.

I’ve never had an issue getting on all the attractions before noon when I get to the park right when it opens and take advantage of early morning hours.

If you do arrive to Animal Kingdom later in the day and want to purchase Disney Genie+, be sure to check the return times before you purchase Genie+.

You don’t want to be in a situation where you won’t get to skip the line at any attractions because they’re either sold out or the return times don’t work around your schedule for the day.

3. Prioritize Flight of Passage

Flight of Passage is the most popular ride at Animal Kingdom, and it always has the longest line.

Rightfully so because it is an incredible ride!

To avoid standing in an absurdly long line, you should prioritize Flight of Passage when planning your day at Animal Kingdom.

If you’re like me and get to the park for rope drop, head right to Flight of Passage.

The line will look super long, but don’t let that fool you. They keep the line mostly outside at the start of the day, and once you’re inside, you’re almost at the front of the line.

Most of the time, I have to wait between 20 and 40 minutes for Flight of Passage when I rope drop Animal Kingdom.

That may sound like a long time, but the line can often be upwards of 3 hours during the day.

If you don’t like getting up early, then you’ll want to stay at Animal Kingdom until the park closes. The second least busy line for Flight of Passage is right before the park closes.

Most people have already left for the day, and the line will be closer to 45 or 60 minutes. Not quite as short as it is at the start of the day but still a reasonable wait time.

Remember, if you get in line for an attraction before the park closes, you get to ride it even if you don’t get on the ride until after the park’s closing time.

For example, if Animal Kingdom closes at 7pm, you can get in line for Flight of Passage at 6:55pm and still be able to ride it even if the wait times is listed at 60 minutes.

As long as you’re in the line, you’re good to ride.

Animal Kingdom

4. Line Up Early for Festival of the Lion King

Festival of the Lion King is the most popular show at Animal Kingdom, and every performance is full.

One of the best Animal Kingdom tips I can give you is that if you want to see the Festival of the Lion King, get in line at least 30-45 minutes before the start of the show.

Otherwise you risk not being able to get into the show.

The show runs multiple times a day. Check the My Disney Experience app the day of your visit for the most up to date times.

I know it may sound extreme to line up for a stage show super early, but that’s just how popular this show is.

If you want to reduce your wait time as much as possible, try to see the first show of the day or shows closest to popular timing times (like noon or 5pm).

Fewer people will try to see these shows, so you can probably get away with showing up 20-25 minutes early.

The good news is that they often let you into the theatre 10-15 minutes before the show starts, so you won’t be standing the whole time.

While Festival of the Lion King is a good show, I personally don’t think it’s worth the wait. I’m definitely in the minority with that opinion though.

If you don’t have someone in your group that is dying to see the show, I honestly think it can be skipped.

I prefer the Finding Nemo show between the Asia and Dinosaur Land areas of the park. I think it’s a cuter show, and you can show up 5-10 minutes before the show and most likely find a seat.

No guarantee though!

Top Epcot tips and tricks

5. Be Internet Safe

I love that Disney World provides free internet access to everybody at the parks. It makes navigating the parks super convenient.

Especially nowadays where you basically have to do everything on your phone.

However, there is a dark side and risk that comes with using Disney’s complimentary wifi.

Disney’s wifi is a public network. This means that every single person who wants to can connect to the wifi network.

If someone wanted to, they could easily hack into your phone and steal all your personal online information and data.

Your banking information, your personal identity information, and anything else you keep on your phone.

It’s quite scary when you think about it.

The only way to keep your personal online data safe when you travel is to install a VPN on your devices.

A VPN essentially puts a forcefield around your phone that makes it impossible for prying eyes to access your private information.

A VPN makes using public wifi just as safe as using your home wifi where you’re the only person who knows the password.

Installing a VPN is a really simple thing you can do but gives you huge peace of mind knowing all your personal information is safe and secure.

My Favourite VPN

I’ve used a lot of different VPNs during my many years of travel.

Honestly, most of them suck and slow your internet down to such a slow speed that I ended up turning off my VPN and putting my online data at risk of being stolen.

The only VPN I’ve ever used that didn’t have that problem is NordVPN.

It is the fastest VPN on the market. That’s why I love it and why I recommend it to all my fellow travel lovers.

It allows you to have the security of having your personal online data protected without giving up too much in terms of internet speed.

I’ve been using NordVPN for years and don’t ever plan on switching providers. In fact, I just renewed by subscription with them!

NordVPN is also super affordable.

A two-year plan costs less per month than a single latte at Starbucks. It doesn’t break the budget, and it gives you peace of mind any time you use a public wifi network.

I always say that if you can afford to travel, you can afford to protect yourself with a VPN.

6. Don’t Rely on Table Service Food

There aren’t too many table service restaurants at Animal Kingdom. Most of them are either super upscale and expensive (looking at you Tiffins) or have more unique food options.

They’re also quite hard to get dining reservations at.

On the flip side, the quick service options at Animal Kingdom are excellent. I would say behind Epcot, they have the best quick service food.

You can get anything from Asian food to pizza and everything in between.

No matter what you’re craving, you can find a quick service option for you in Animal Kingdom. Plus it is normally quite delicious.

So, if there isn’t a table service restaurant you’re dying to try, maybe skip the reservation, save a little money, and go for a quick service meal.

Some of the best options to consider are:

  • Eight Spoons Café
  • Flame Tree Barbecue
  • Mr. Kamal’s
  • Satu’li Canteen
  • Yak & Yeti Local food Cafes

You can’t go wrong with any of these options. They’re quick, inexpensive, and tasty.

Lion King Animal Kingdom

7. Consider Visiting Animal Kingdom Lodge

Animal Kingdom lodge is one of my favourite hotels on Disney property, but it is quite out of the way most of the time.

The good news is you can easily take a free bus directly from Animal Kingdom park to Animal Kingdom Lodge.

And this is one of the best Animal Kingdom tips nobody is talking about.

Taking the time to visit Animal Kingdom Lodge is well worth the effort. The theming is stunning, the gift shop has items you can’t find anywhere else, the food is great, and you can get a closer view of the animals than inside Animal Kingdom.

The hotel doesn’t have all the animals you can see at Animal Kingdom. But you can see zebras and giraffes as well as a number of other grazing species.

Plus if you’re not thrilled by the dining options at the park, you can’t go wrong with eating at Sanaa. It is one of my favourite restaurants at Disney.

Please get the bread service.

From Animal Kingdom Lodge, you can take a free bus to any of the theme parks or Disney Springs.

So, while it is a little out of the way to visit Animal Kingdom Lodge, it actually isn’t much of a hassle.

The free bus service Disney offers is great, and makes getting from Animal Kingdom to the hotel and back fairly painless.

If you have a dining reservation, just be sure to leave yourself a little more time than you think you need. Just in case you have to wait a little longer for a bus or have trouble finding the restaurant.

Click here and use code TRAVELSWITHERICA for 10% off my favourite travel Instagram presets!

8. Have Afternoon/Evening Plans Outside Animal Kingdom

As much as I love Animal Kingdom, it isn’t a full day park for most people.

I arrive at the park for extra magic hours 30 minutes before official park opening and am normally out of there between 1pm and 2pm.

I suggest you don’t plan on spending the entire day at Animal Kingdom and make plans for the afternoon or evening outside of the park.

This could be park hopping to another park, exploring Animal Kingdom Lodge, or enjoying Disney Springs.

If it’s your first time at Animal Kingdom, you’ll probably send the majority of the day there, but you’ll likely not stay past dinner. You can make a dinner reservation if there is a restaurant you’re dying to try, but be sure to make it an early dinner.

I know this may sound like the weirdest of all the Animal Kingdom tips on this list, but I want to make sure you’re having a good time and getting the most out of your Disney vacation.

If you plan to spend the entire day at Animal Kingdom, you may be a bit disappointed and feel like you’re not getting every bit of magic out of your Disney vacation.

I personally like to plan a more relaxing evening at Disney Springs or a hotel on my days at Animal Kingdom.

You get up so early, and it is nice to be outside the hustle and bustle of the parks after a long day.

You could also make a dinner reservation at one of the many restaurants at Epcot. There is so much food that you won’t be able to try them all on your trip.

There are free buses that take you between parks, so you can easily jump on one of those. You can also get on a free bus to Beach/Yacht Club or Boardwalk Inn.

Those hotels are walking distance from Epcot.

But, not matter what you choose to do, it’s best to have a plan in place and not expect to be there the entire day.

Animal Kingdom Tree of Life

9. Consider Paying for a Tour

This is one of the best Animal Kingdom tips out there but so few people are talking about it.

Of course Disney offers tours and add ons to pretty much everything they can. Normally they are very expensive and not always worth the price.

That is definitely not the case at Animal Kingdom!

There are a number of tours you can take, but there are two in particular that are a steal of a deal and well worth the extra cost.

Plan the best day ever at Magic Kingdom!

Tours

The two tours you should consider doing at Animal Kingdom are:

  • Caring for Giants
  • Up Close with Rhinos

Each is an hour long tour that takes you behind the scenes and gives you closer access to the animals than normal guests get.

The tours also include a knowledgable guide that will answer all of your questions. The guides are honestly one of the best parts of the tour. They know so much, and you leave with a much deeper understanding of the animals.

Caring for Giants gives you access to the elephants, and Up Close with Rhinos (unsurprisingly) gives you access to the rhinos.

Caring for Giants is offered multiple times per day but Up Close with Rhinos is only offered once a day.

Both tours are less than $50USD per person! Up Close with Rhinos is a bit more expensive than Caring for Giants, but it is the better tour in my opinion.

This is current information but is subject to change. Be sure to check the Disney World website for the most up to date information.

You can find all the current information on the Enchanted Extras portion of the Disney World website.

You need to book your tour in advance because they sell out very quickly. Reservations open 60 days in advance, and you want to book them as soon as they open. Reservations open at 5:45am EST every day.

Grab that cup of coffee and look awake!

These tours at Animal Kingdom are some of the best deals at Disney World, and I highly recommend you try to go on one!

Conclusion

There you have it! Those are my top Animal Kingdom tips.

Knowing these tips will help you better plan your day at Animal Kingdom and get the most out of your day.

It’s an amazing park and doesn’t get as much love as it deserves.

There is tons to see and do. Even outside the typical attractions.

There are animal walking trails in Asia and Africa where you get a great view of the animals. You can see tigers and gorillas! There is even an otter trail near the park entrance you don’t want to miss out on.

I hope these Animal Kingdom tips were helpful to you! I hope you have an amazing day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Be sure to say hi to Mickey and Minnie for me!

10 Life Changing Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ Tips

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:

Animal Kingdom Tree of Life

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.

Kilimanjaro Safaris Animal Kingdom

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.

Pandora Animal Kingdom

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.

Lion King Show Animal Kingdom

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.

Mickey and Minnie Animal Kingdom

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
Expedition Everest Animal Kingdom

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.

Jungle Trek Animal Kingdom

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!

Lion King Animal Kingdom

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.

Donald's Dino Bash Animal Kingdom

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.

Pandora Animal Kingdom

Conclusion

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!