Flying on the backs of banshees! Being traumatized by giant ceiling spiders! Enjoying drinks while watching cavalcades float by! Sound like a good time? Then you will love to hear about all the Animal Kingdom tips that we have to show you!
If a trip to Animal Kingdom is in your near future, then consider this your guidebook of trips and tricks to getting the most out of your day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
1) First off – how to get there?
Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom is the only park that has only one Disney provided form of transportation and that’s buses – no boat, no monorail, no skyliner. Of course, if you have a car you can certainly drive yourself to Animal Kingdom, and you can always call an Uber, but as for free Disney transportation, buses are your only choice. The good news is that means mostly everyone is on an equal playing field when trying to get there for rope drop.
One of the best Animal Kingdom tips is to plan on getting to your resort bus stop at least 30 minutes prior to when you want to get to Animal Kingdom since, besides Animal Kingdom Lodge, all the other resorts are pretty far away. The lines into Animal Kingdom usually don’t get as backed up as the other parks, and that’s partially because Animal Kingdom opens earlier than the others, usually around 8am, with early park entry at 7:30am.
2) How To Ride Flight of Passage Without A Huge Wait
The main reason why you would want to rope drop Disney’s Animal Kingdom would be to ride Flight of Passage with little to no wait, and for free. Flight of Passage is a simulator 3-D attraction where you get to ride on the back of a banshee. The attraction opened in May 2017 and still racks up some intense wait times and there are several ways you can ride it. First you could purchase it as an individual lighting lane.
But if you want to ride for free, then we suggest to rope drop. If you are staying on Walt Disney World property or at a Good Neighbor hotel, you are able to enter Disney’s Animal Kingdom park 30 minutes before official opening time as long as you have a park pass. So once you are allowed into the park, make your way to Pandora and jump in line for Flight of Passage before the park is even open.
Now, that is most likely what the other 99 percent of guests will be doing, so the line will probably still be long but at least no where near when they could be at 10am.
3) Another Way To Ride With Less Wait Time
If you are not staying on Disney property or a Good Neighbor hotel, or if you would rather sleep in, you have another option. Since Animal Kingdom opens earlier than Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom most people will go to Animal Kingdom first, then park hop to another park at 2pm.
And since this park closes earlier than the other three parks, not many people hop into Disney’s Animal Kingdom in the afternoon. So the park is usually less crowded, and therefore, the line for Flight of Passage should be lower than it was midday. If you didn’t know, if you are in line for a ride and the park closes, the ride will continue to run until everyone gets to experience it.
So if the park is closing at 8pm, get in line before the queue closes off and though you may end up waiting for 30 minutes or more, the line usually moves faster at the end of the day since the Cast Members are trying to move everyone along faster.
4) Animal Trails
Everyone knows Animal Kingdom is the park you go to where you can see a bunch of wild animals. This is true when you ride Kilimanjaro Safaris, but not many people know about the other way you can view even more animals. There are three main trails around Animal Kingdom: Discovery Island Trails, Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail, and the Maharajah Jungle Trek.
Discovery Island Trail wraps around the Tree of Life and allows you to get up close to view all those beautiful and detailed carvings in the trunk and the vines of the giant tree. Gorilla Falls Exploration Trails are right near the entrance to Kilimanjaro Safaris in the Africa section of the park. There you can see animals like hippos, birds and or course, gorillas.
The third trail is the Maharajah Jungle Trek in Asia, where you can see tigers, water buffalo and Komodo dragons. Each of these trails take about 25 to 30 minutes to complete and are beautiful and usually less crowded since not many people know about them or take the time to walk them.
5) Be Like Russell and Dug
If you are venturing to Disney’s Animal Kingdom with kids (or even without) you might want to set them up for a fun interactive experience called Wilderness Explorers. If you remember from Pixar’s UP!, Russell was a Wilderness Explorer and trying to earn a senior citizen’s badge, which is how he meets Mr. Frederickson. Wilderness Explorers get to take part in fun adventures around the park and collect over 25 badges as they take on a series of challenges and activities while wandering and learning about the great outdoors.
It is free to join, and all you need to do is grab a wilderness explorer handbook from the headquarters (which is located between the Oasis and Discovery Island) and find a Wilderness Troop Leader – they’re pretty easy to spot with their orange ascots and extensive collection of badges. Just let them know that you are trying to earn a wilderness badge and they will be more than happy to help you!
This is one of the more unknown Animal Kingdom things you can do that kids and adults both love.
6) Entertainment & Streetsmosphere
There is so much to do at Disney’s Animal Kingdom besides look at animals (though that’s not a bad thing, either). It doesn’t get talked about enough but Animal Kingdom has a ton of entertainment and shows and the first one you usually happen upon is Devine. Devine usually hangs around the walkway between Africa and Asia, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll see her.
See, Devine’s appearance allows her to blend in with the surrounding greenery, and when she’s standing still, you could walk right past her. But when’s she’s walking around, you sure can’t miss her – Devine is basically a walking plant on four stilts, making her over seven feet tall, or 15 feet tall if she decides to raise her stilts in the air. Either way, she moves very gracefully and she certainly a site to see.
7) See Some Birds!
Several times a day (times vary) if you look toward the skies near the Tree of Life, you may be lucky enough to see Animal Encounters: Winged Encounters – The Kingdom Takes Flight. A flock of South American macaws fly to the area in front of the Tree of Life while resident bird care experts give tidbits regarding these beautiful birds before they fly away in a brightly colored wave.
If you want more bird encounters, stop in to see Feathered Friends in Flight! This behind the scenes look at the free-flying birds of the park is a 35 minute show that has undergone several changes in the past few years and takes place in the Anandapur Theater daily.
8) Festival Of The Lion King
If you haven’t seen Festival of the Lion King, we highly suggest you make a point in your day to see this Broadway caliber show at the Harambe Theater. Seating is limited, so make sure you check your My Disney Experience app for show times. We recommend getting in line at least 30-45 minutes before showtime if you don’t have a Genie+ reservation as this show will fill up quick.
9) Finding Nemo: The Big Blue
Another spectacular stage show is Finding Nemo: The Big Blue…and Beyond! which tells the story of the fish from Dr. P. Sherman’s dental office (42 Wallaby Way, Sydney!) who now live at the Marine Life Institute.
Other entertainment includes Chakranai, a talented musician playing the sitar in Asia; Kora Tinga Tinga in Africa; the Tam Tam Drummers of Harambe; and the Viva Gaia Street Band!, who play energetic melodies across from Flame Tree BBQ in the Discovery Island area of the park – and just try not to dance when you hear them!
11) Scary Ride By Tree Of Life
If you think the Tree of Life is as harmless as it is gorgeous, then you obviously have not been standing outside It’s Tough to be a Bug! when the show lets out and see all the crying children! It’s Tough to be a Bug! is a 4D experience based on the Pixar film Bug’s Life where you are shrunk to a size of a bug, spiders come down from the ceiling, a stink bug makes, well, a stink, and a giant animatronic Hopper makes an appearance. Needless to say, this show can be scary for young children and apparently some adults with insect phobias.
12) Rafiki’s Planet Watch
Take the Wildlife Express Train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch and enjoy the cute and cuddly Affection Section, the only petting zoo at Walt Disney World. Here you can pet sheep, goats and even pigs and instantly feel happy.
13) Animation Experience
Once you’ve had your fill of animal cuteness over at Rafiki’s Planet Watch, head over to one of the coolest Animal Kingdom things to do which is the Animation Experience at Conservation Station and unleash your inner Disney animator.
Several times a day, a talented Disney animator gives you a step-by-step instruction on how to draw your very own version of a popular Disney character. This 25-minute class happens several times a day and the characters change periodically.
Let’s not forget those cavalcade boats, or flotillas, that set sail on the Discovery River. These boats appear several times a day and carry Mickey, Minnie, Pocahontas, Miko, Chip n’ Dale in their adorable dinosaur costumes, and the Discovery Island Drummers, as well as other characters. Some of the best viewing areas to watch these cavalcades float by are the bridges, which give you a unique angle to take pictures.
15) See Kevin
Kevin from UP! She roams around Discovery Island and is just fabulous. Good luck getting a picture of her though since she tends to turn her head at the last minute. She’s such a diva.
16) Beacons of Magic on Tree Of Life
What better way to end the night at Disney’s Animal Kingdom than to stop and watch the Tree of Life come to life as one of the Beacons of Magic celebrating Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary? Warm, vibrant lights emanate from this icon as whimsical fireflies gather to call forth of the magic of nature. Who would have thought the Tree of Life could become even more beautiful?
17) Behind the Scene Tours
Want to do something truly unique while visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom? Then try out one of these four behind the scenes tours. There’s Caring for Giants, Up Close with Rhinos, Wild Africa Trek, and Savor the Savanna.
Caring for Giants is a 60-minute experience where you get a glimpse into the day-to-day care of the majestic African elephant from approximately 80 to 100 feet away. Up Close with Rhinos is another 60-minute guided tour where the white rhino keepers take you backstage to meet these massive creatures (no cameras, video equipment or cell phones may be used while participating in this tour).
If you want something a little more physical while at Animal Kingdom, consider signing up for this 3-hour privately guided tour through the Safi River Valley. You’ll walk along a grassland path, cross a rope bridge and take a safari vehicle ride through the open savanna to view African creatures and work up an appetite for some African-inspired snacks. And finally, there’s Savor the Savanna, a privately guided tour to explore the sights, sounds and tastes of Africa.
You will take a safari ride deep into the heart of the Harambe Wildlife Preserve and find yourself within one of the most secluded private viewing areas the savanna has to offer while also indulging in a sampling of African-inspired cuisine paired with regional beer and wine. All tours can be made in advance on the Walt Disney World resort website or My Disney Experience app.
18) Food, Food and More Food…OH! And Secret Menu Items
Epcot isn’t the only Disney park where you can taste around the world. Disney’s Animal Kingdom has some of the best cuisine on Disney World property, with dishes inspired by places in Africa, Asia and even Pandora. This theme park has everything from signature dining to ice cream sold out of a crazy painted truck.
Tiffins is the rather pricey signature dining restaurant in the actual Animal Kingdom park, located right before the entrance to Pandora. However, if you are looking to save some moolah and still get a taste of Tiffins, then Nomad Lounge is the place to go. Nomad Lounge is located right next to Tiffins (they share the same kitchen) and is known for its specialty cocktails.
With delicious small plates and outdoor seating that puts you close to those flotillas we talked about earlier, Nomad Lounge is extremely popular with Animal Kingdom guests, and they don’t take reservations – it’s first come, first serve. You can, however, join the mobile waiting list as soon as it opens at 11am.
Yak & Yeti
If you still want to experience a sit down service meal in a more casual and cheaper setting, consider Yak and Yeti Restaurant, which is located in the Asia section of the theme park. The food combines Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Indian flavors to produce really, really interesting and varied dishes, with lots of options for both adventures and picky eaters.
If you like some characters with your meal, then getting an Advanced Dining Reservation for Tusker House Restaurant should be on the top of your list at Animal Kingdom. Plus, where else do you get to see Mickey, Donald, Daisy and Goofy dressed in their snazzy safari outfits?
Satu’li Canteen is located in Pandora a is more than just a good quick service restaurant in Disney’s Animal Kingdom; it is quite possibly the best quick service location in all of Walt Disney World. It features international-inspired cuisine, vegetarian options, and most importantly, cheeseburger pods! Satu’li Canteen can get pretty busy during mealtimes, so it’s a good idea to order ahead using mobile ordering so you can get a return time closer to what you want rather than what you are stuck with.
Flame Tree BBQ
Need some more options for your pickier eaters? Then Flame Tree Barbeque is the place to go for pulled pork sandwiches, smoked chicken, St. Louis ribs, and mac and cheese. And to end your park visit on a sweet note, stop by Anandapur Ice Cream Truck located in Asia over by Expedition Everest. You can’t miss it – it’s cool in a literal and stylish sense.
Just be on the lookout for the bus with all the intricate artwork. That’s where you’re gonna find some tasty, tasty soft serve. And if you like ice cream cookie sandwiches, then definitely head over to Dino-Bite Snacks in DinoLand U.S.A. Here you can get creamy ice cream pressed between two soft cookies, which changes depending on the season. So good!
19) Animal Kingdom Secret Menus
Did you know that several of the restaurant and lounge locations have super secret menu items? Like at Restaurantosaurus Lounge (yes, Restaurantosaurus has a lounge) in Dino Land U.S.A., there are several secret drink items such as the Tealasaurus (Buffalo Trace Bourbon Whiskey, blue curacao, triple sec, lemon juice and lemonade), Raspberry Fizz (Bacardi Raspberry, Sprite, and cranberry juice) and Cretaceous Cooler (Parrot Bay Coconut Rum, blue curacao, Midori, and pineapple juice).
Over at Yak & Yeti Restaurant in the Asia section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, they regularly switch out their secret menu items and in the past have dished out Bang, Bang Calamari , lobster tail garlic noodles with shrimp and scallops, and hibachi steak and shrimp. so don’t be afraid to ask your server about what off menu items are available – you never know what tasty new dish you might find!
Hope this list of tricks and tips helps you plan for your ultimate day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. If you want to learn more about Animal Kingdom then check out this article about the best Animal Kingdom Secrets or our review of the Best Strollers For Disney World.