Animal Kingdom Touring Plan
If you visit Disney World, you’ll soon learn that Animal Kingdom is a welcome relief from the hustle and bustle of the other parks. Yes, it’s still crowded, and of course there are still long wait times, but it just has a different feel. It’s more laid back, and it’s an experience that always seems to refresh. But the addition of Pandora has brought something totally different to this park, VERY LONG WAIT TIMES. As Disney gets set to release 4 new Avatar films over the next decade, expect this park to stay busy. Today we hope to help you navigate this park with our Animal Kingdom touring plan. How can you see everything in one day, with room left for relaxation? Keep reading to find out!
Animal Kingdom Fastpasses
There is no tiering system for Animal Kingdom. This means you can choose any 3 attractions in the park. But you’ll find that the two toughest tickets are the two new rides in Pandora: Avatar Flight of Passage, and Na’vi River Journey. Disney hit a grand slam with these two rides. Flight of Passage is one of the best new rides in years, but as a result, the wait times are atrocious. It’s rare to ever see wait times under an hour. A good plan is wise. And a fastpass? You’ll need to be up bright and early 60 days ahead of time to assure yourself of a fastpass for this ride. If you aren’t able to get one, try splitting up your group. If that doesn’t work, you just need to keep trying…day after day after day. It’s a tough ticket!
Ideal Fastpass Choices
Na’vi River Journey - 9:00-10:00
Avatar Flight of Passage - 10:00-11:00
Safari - 11:00-12:00
Since this is a one-day touring plan, I’m planning for you to be here all day. Pandora must be experienced at night. If you have small kids or will get tired, plan to go take a nap and come back. Don’t wear yourself out and leave an hour before sunset. Make sure you go to Pandora after dark!!
Animal Kingdom Touring Plan
I want you to get to the Animal Kingdom 45 minutes early. If your family is full of early risers, get there an hour early. If you’ve never been, make sure you familiarize yourself with the map and the layout as we’ll be heading straight to Pandora. Try to walk fast, but don’t run. Also, don’t stress when people pass you up. As long as you’ve arrived early enough, you should get on Flight of Passage within the first 30 minutes.
Flight of Passage – 9:25 – Animal Kingdom is a huge park, so the walk to this ride will take some time. But you should be able to get back there while the wait is pretty low. If it’s already 30 minutes because you’ve walked slowly, don’t worry about it. Ride this and enjoy it. Even if you have a fastpass for later on, you still want to come here first.
Na’vi River Journey – FASTPASS — 9:45 — This is a very slow-moving ride in Pandora. It’s a boat ride and it’s not meant to be exciting or thrilling. The point is to surround yourself in Pandora. That’s where this ride really knocks it out of the park.
Flight of Passage — FASTPASS – 10:10 – That’s right, you’re about to ride Flight of Passage a 2nd time with your fastpass. Don’t worry, you’ll enjoy it so much the first time that you’ll be thrilled to do it again.
Africa – 10:30 — It’s time to head to Africa. While you wait for your 11AM fastpass, enjoy the dancing, the music, the drinks and do some exploring. This is a really fun part of the park.
Safari — FASTPASS — 11:00 — Safari is the mini-zoo that makes this park tick. Elephants, giraffes, lions, rhinos, they are all there. Bring your camera and enjoy. After you’ve scanned your fastpass, it’s time to choose a 4th. Try to get Dinosaur from 2-3 if you can.
Kali River Rapids — 11:30 — At this point your wait times should be around 20-25 minutes. This is one of my favorite rides but you will get wet! So make sure and secure your valuables in ziploc bags.
Lunch — 11:45-1:00 Animal Kingdom has a lot of good and different styles of food. Right around the corner from Kali River Rapids is Yak & Yeti, which is a great chinese stand. Flame Tree BBQ has ribs and chicken and I always enjoy eating there. And while it requires a lot of extra walking, Pandora has one of the best counter service restaurants in the entire Disney World resort, Satu'li Canteen.
It’s Tough to Be a Bug — 1PM — This is a really fun (and surprisingly scary) show for children. It’s very centrally located so it should be pretty easy to get to from any restaurant.
Primeval Whirl— 1:30 PM — I hope you’ve gotten your fastpass for Dinosaur at around 2. Before you ride, try Primeval Whirl in Dinoland. It might make you a bit sick, but if you like spinning, it’s fantastic. It’s a very unique ride that I love, even though I don’t always feel great after it! Typically at this point the wait times should be under 30 minutes.
Dinosaur — FASTPASS — 2:15 pm — This is another scary ride for youngsters. The dinosaurs appear to be very close to the car and it’s loud and intimidating. But most kids love it. The fastpass should save you some time. Don’t forget to try and get a 5th fastpass once you’ve scanned in. The Lion King show in the early evening would be a good choice.
Everest — 2:45 PM — It’s time to head to Everest. At this point of the day the park is beginning to get a bit emptier. Everest wait times will usually fall to surprisingly low levels during this time. We’ve often found them to be 20 minutes or less. If the wait times are high, you can also use the single-rider line. We always used to recommend using a fastpass, but in recent years we’ve found that it’s just not worth it. The park usually clears out enough to allow for very reasonable afternoon wait times.
3PM until Nighttime
It’s 3pm and you’ve ridden all the major attractions, enjoyed a nice lunch, now what? You may feel like you’ve done it all. But don’t leave just yet! There are a lot of really cool shows. If you head towards Africa you can see the show UP! A Great Bird Adventure Show. There is also a great acrobat show themed around the Lion King. As previously mentioned, try to get a fastpass for that. Aim to get it sometime in the early evening.
We really want you to see Pandora at night, but your party may be exhausted by 3-4PM. Due to the large size of the Animal Kingdom, the walking often wears people out and they head back to their hotel. I encourage you to find a way to relax. The Animal Kingdom has a lot of spontaneous dancing events throughout the streets. Grab a drink and let your kids dance.
If shows aren’t your thing, you can go back to Rafiki’s Planet Watch. This portion of the park has a petting zoo, Rafiki, and a number of “zoo-like” activities.
In the early evening, wait times are often not too bad. Go ride Everest over and over. On one vacation, we literally rode Everest 7 straight times. It was a blast.
The key here is that you have 3-4 hours until dark and you can do whatever your family wants. Don’t stress about “missing anything”, because you’ve seen it all. Enjoy yourself!
Pandora at Night
Even without a fastpass to a ride, you must go to Pandora at night. The entire area is lit up and is simply incredible. I wouldn’t waste 5 minutes worrying about the nighttime show at the Animal Kingdom. It’s one of the worst in all the parks. To be fair, due to the animals, they can’t do fireworks. But skip that show and just enjoy Pandora. It’s phenomenal. Once you’ve seen enough, beat the crowds that are watching the nighttime show and head to your bus or car. Congrats, you’ve dominated your day at the Animal Kingdom!
Next, let’s take a look at your touring plan for the Magic Kingdom!