Disney’s Animal Kingdom in a day

Over on this Ask.Mefi thread I was giving advice on how to do Disney’s Animal Kingdom in a day if you’re a first time visitor. Which got me thinking, I certainly have my habits, likes, and dislikes. Perhaps I’m in a bit of a rut when it comes to trip planning.

So, I’m soliciting your plans on how to visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom in a day. What would you do first, how do you handle Fast Pass, where do you eat, what are your can’t miss attractions and shows and what can the first time visitor skip if they’re pressed for time? Please use the comments to fill us in.

7 thoughts on “Disney’s Animal Kingdom in a day”

  1. Animal Kingdom is my favorite park at WDW.

    My plan for the day is as follows:

    Get there early to watch the cute little opening ceremony with Goofy, Minnie and Pluto on the expedition truck and Mickey appearing below the Tree of Life. Head over to Everest and grab a fast pass then jump right in line. Keep the fastpass for later then go grab another one for Dinosaur when the next available time opens up. Plan to see Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo the musical as time allows. You can show up a 15-20 minutes before the Lion King and still get a good seat, but Nemo requires you to be there at least a half hour before showtime as seating is limited. I always grab lunch at the Flame Tree Barbeque and find a seat down by the waters edge looking across the lake to Everest. Use your Dinosaur fastpass. Afterward, go see the charming Flights of Wonder show. If time allows go see the Maharaja Jungle Trek or the Pangani Forest Trail or head on the train from Harame to Rafiki’s Planet Watch to see some animals up close. Next grab a seat for Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade close to the entrance to Kilimanjaro Safaris. As the parade goes on the line starts diminishing for that attraction. As soon as the parade is finishing up jump in line and you’ll have a 10-15 minute wait as everyone is out watching the parade. If there’s still time head into It’s Tough to be a Bug and have some laughs.

  2. I recently advised a friend and his family on what to do while visiting WDW for the first time and this is how I told them to go about Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

    First thing’s first: a lot of people underestimate Disney’s Animal Kingdom and automatically assume that it’s a half-day park. And because a lot of times it closes earlier than the other parks, it can be, but you also should allow yourself to spend more time there than you may first think.

    The first thing I would do when I got to the park would be to head to Africa’s Kilimanjaro Safaris. If the wait is under 20 minutes, go ahead and do it; otherwise, get your first Fast Pass here. This is an absolute must-do at DAK and because the animals tend to be more lively in the mornings, it’s good to do earlier in the day. Once you’re done with the safari, quickly head over to Asia and get your Fast Pass for Expedition Everest, a roller coaster you SURELY don’t want to miss.

    The great thing about DAK is that it has so many shows throughout the day that passing the time between Fast Passes is really easy to do. Check the show times for the day for Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo the Musical and plan to do those while you’re waiting for Fast Pass times to arrive. These are two really well-produced shows with great music and dancing that I make sure to see every time I’m in the park. Though I would advise getting to the Nemo line (between Everest and Dino-Rama) at least 40 minutes early for the best seating.

    There are also two great trails to wander called the Maharajah Jungle Trek and the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, which are both self-paced and give you a chance to get up close to jungle animals in very realistic habitats. This is also where you’ll get GREAT views of many gorillas, tigers, and my favorite: meerkats. Kids love it. And, I do too..

    Kids (and adults) also really like the Bug’s Life 3D movie “It’s Tough to be a Bug” located inside the Tree of Life. Shows run, I believe, every 20 minutes and there’s never really a line for it.

    There’s also great opportunities to meet characters at DAK. At Camp Minnie Mickey, which is located right where the doors to Festival of the Lion King let out, Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Donald are stationed in individual gazebos throughout the day. Because they have their own lines, they’re the shortest in all the parks and really give you an opportunity to have one-on-one time with the big Disney characters.

    Unfortunately I haven’t eaten much at DAK so I can’t talk about that, but I have heard from friends that the new Yak and Yeti restaurant is delicious.

    WHAT WOULD I SKIP? That’s easy, DEFINITELY the Primeval Whirl and Dino-Rama in general. Primeval Whirl is really jerky and nearly threw my back out and the Dino-Rama area of the park is very carnival-y and completely out of character with the rest of the park.

    Have a blast because Disney’s Animal Kingdom is really pretty awesome. It was always the surprise favorite when my family would come to visit.

    AND I was there two weeks ago, by myself, and made a video called “Disney’s Animal Kingdom All By Myself” to chronicle my day and what I did. You can see that here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7INe35Bz1zw

    I had a blast, and so will you.


  3. I should mention first of all that I will explain my way through the Animal Kingdom as a person who has not (yet) done Disney with small children. My husband and I only get to Disney about once a year and when we get there we tend to hit the parks pretty hard. With that being said, here’s our method:
    It is definatley a MUST to get to AK early in the morning. Get there for the gate opening and head straight to Kilimanjaro Safaris. Your wait time will be minimal, and all of the animals are out and active because the morning temperature is still cool. Right from there we head for a fastpass for Everest and then ride the rides at Dinoland. The waits are still short there because everyone goes to the main attractions first. After riding Everest, get a fastpass for Kali River Rapids so that you can get right on it in the middle of the afternoon when the temperature is the hottest. Don’t forget to make time during the day for Lion King and/or Nemo and Flights of Wonder! When it’s time for lunch (always best to make it an hour or so before or after noon to avoid the heavy lines) grab your favorite meal and eat it behind the Flame Tree Grill. There’s all kinds of seating, and it’s so beautiful you’d never know you’re in a theme park.
    In the afternoon you can go see It’s Tough to be a Bug (air-conditioned) and do some of the slower-paced walking trails since the morning has been busy!
    This way does tend to make a lot of walking through the park, but it’s always been a great way for us to see a lot of the park early in the morning before it gets too hot and the crowds get too heavy.

  4. I agree with Adam that Kilimanjaro Safaris should be your first stop. Then make your way clockwise around the park.

    Or you could start at Everest, get a Fastpass and head over to Dinosaur, and then slowly make your way counterclockwise to the other side of the park. But you risk a long line later in the day for Kilimanjaro Safaris.

    One thing is for sure: If you don’t have kids with you, avoid Finding Nemo. It’s terrible.

  5. well, i’m fairly certain no one will read this as i’m a few days late, but i wanted to give my two cents anyhow.

    first off, animal kingdom is very easily doable in a day, even with the shortened hours in comparison to other parks.

    you definitely want to get there early, because that’s when the animals are most active. because of this, heading over to the safari is usually my first stop, as several of the other commenters above mentioned. if the line is prohibitively long (say, greater than 30-40 minutes), then i’ll get fast passes and maybe walk the pangani trails in the meantime. the other strategy i’ve used is just sucking it up and waiting in the safari line, which can be short if you’re quick and the park has just opened… breeze through the oasis and tree of life, and come back to them later in the day when you need to get out of the heat. and send one person over to asia with all your tickets to get fastpasses for everest. unless it’s a super busy time of year, the safari and everest are the only attractions that you should have to use a fast pass for.

    then, after the safari, hike the pangani trail if you haven’t already, and head out to rafiki’s planetwatch. make sure you check out the binaural audio show, as it’s pretty neat, and sends chills down the spine. see what’s going on with the animals out there, and catch the movie if you like.

    then back on the train, and over to asia. if you’re a bird person, definitely catch a show of “flights of wonder”, and everyone should stop to watch the monkeys for a bit. use your everest fast passes whenever they become active, and also make sure to hit kali river rapids (you could stay completely dry, but i’ve also been *soaked* before). dry off along the maharajah jungle trek, and then start scheduling around the next nemo show. if there’s one soon, go. if not, head to dinoland and keep an eye on the time.

    if it’s lunchtime, there’s no other option but the flame tree barbecue (unless you’re vegetarian, i suppose). by far, one of, if not the, best quick service restaurant at disney world.

    when you hit dinoland, go straight to dinosaur and check the wait time. if the wait is too long, get more fast passes, using them whenever they become active. if not, hop on, and then work your way back over towards the tree of life, making sure to walk through dinorama, and taking a spin on the primeval whirl, and any other rides that look appealing to your group. don’t forget the finding nemo show, although if you don’t have kids in the group and don’t like musicals, it’s skippable.

    make your way back to the tree of life, walk around, take all the pictures, shop if you want. take in “it’s a bug’s life” as long as you don’t have young kids that are scared of the dark. though the characters are from a kids movie, there are some pretty startling portions. normally, the timing works out that parade is coming through either just before or just after i catch “bug’s life”, and after that, the only thing that i consider a “do not miss” is festival of the lion king. i normally catch the last show of the day, and then the attractions are all closed by the time it lets out, so you can make your way out of the park, stopping to see anything you missed in the oasis on your way out.

    *phew* that ended up being way longer than i thought it’d be. but it’s a tried-and-true strategy for me. i’d say i’ve used it at least a half dozen times with resounding success. it follows my general all-parks strategy of heading to the back of the park first where it’s least busy, as most guests break either left or right when they enter the park, and then work their way around to the back. heading all the way to the back of the park first, i find, really helps avoid the early morning crowds.

  6. I don’t think Animal Kingdom is a one-day park unless you have been there a number of times and already know what your personal must-see list is. I like most everything about this park, so it’s rough for me to narrow it down, but here goes –

    1. RUN don’t walk at rope-drop back to Everest. Grab a Fast Pass and then get on the standby line.
    2. Since you got there at rope-drop, you are starved, and quite possibly caffeine deprived, so go get something to eat at the tea place you passed while running to Everest.
    3. Your Fast Pass has matured, go again!
    4. Grab a fast pass for Kali River Rapids
    5. It’s still early, there won’t be a huge line for the Kilimanjaro Safari, so go for it.
    6. When you are done with the Safari, do the Pangani trail. Make sure you have your camera ready at all times!
    7. OK, you’re pretty hot now, time to cash in that Fast Pass for Kali, and then maybe grab some lunch. Might want to try the new Yak and Yeti restaurant.
    8. Now you can do the Maharajah trail; same advice about the camera.
    9. I need a drink! Back to Africa and the Dawa Bar for something frosty with a straw. Check out the live entertainment there – it’s awesome.
    10. Hmmm, is that a shopping opportunity across the way? Why yes it is! Let’s go in and grab some air conditioning, and maybe a bauble or a t-shirt or two.
    11. Check out the long fruits hanging from the trees. There’s a shady little nook around the corner from the shop and restrooms, a little courtyard with tables and chairs. Perfect place to escape from the sun and rest for a while. You can also watch the character meet in progress in the archway.
    12. OK, I have no desire to see the parade, but I do want to see the otters! So now I head for Discovery Island and walk the paths around the Tree of Life (camera ready, of course) until I’ve had my fill.
    13. Off to Camp Minnie Mickey for the Lion King live show.
    14. I’m ready to leave the park now.

    Animal Kingdom is my second fave park behind EPCOT. I’ve spent lots and lots of time there since it opened and I really love it. It’s so lush and beautiful, and there is always something new and exciting to see because animals can be unpredictable. Hope everyone enjoys!

    Tink *~*~*
    My Mobile Adventures *~*~*

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