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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!