Let’s face it family, Disney World’s Animal Kingdom used to be the sleeper of the Disney Parks. I thought “meh” I’ve been to the zoo, and the rest of the parks have rides, how good could it be? The answer? Animal Kingdom is truly epic!
But it can also place a lot of stress on us as parents. We want to give our family the best experience every chance we get and Disney is like the Super Bowl of parenting events. To make the most of it you need a plan for Animal Kingdom. Here is the Animal Kingdom plan we had so we could get the best of Walt Disney World Animal Kingdom in a day.
Side note: If you are wanting a 2 day schedule you could easily balance this out to 2 days. If you don’t get a Fast Pass for some of the Avatar rides you could spend quite a bit of time in line.
If you are looking for a great resource for your Disney trip? Pick up a copy of The Unofficial Guide To Walt Disney World It’s what we used and well worth the price to save you time and get all your questions answered.
Before We Begin: Read This First!
Deep breath. This is the key BIG takeaway before you leave for Disney World. Pay attention because it’s a BIG one.
You can’t see it all.
It’s impossible to see everything at Walt Disney World.
Each Disney park is HUGE and there is no way you are going to manage it all. Once you accept that then you can focus on what’s important.
What’s important is giving your kids the best memories possible. This plan should help you with that.
Pre-game: Get Your FastPasses Booked Early in the Day
Get your FastPasses used up early so you can re-book more.
There’s two mentalities to a FastPass strategy.
The first is to use your passes at a time a day when the park is at your busiest.
The other is to have your passes booked in the morning so you can continue rebooking the extra passes (you get one extra at time after you have used your first three) and try to optimize as much as you can.
This is what we did and it worked out great in the summer.
These rides have the longest wait times so you will want to see them first thing in the morning. You may even get to go on a second tim
Here are the biggest rides you should be booking with your Fast Passes for Animal Kingdom:
- Avatar Flight of Passage
- Na’vi River Journey
- Kilimanjaro Safaris
- Expedition Everest
- Kali River Rapids
- Primeval Whirl
For a better description of these rides you can check out Best Rides in Animal Kingdom
Check out these two posts to help you out with your Fast Pass Strategy
Next Cut Down on Your Time Around the Park
Your legs might be able to handle all the walking. But your little ones may feel differently after a couple of hours in the heat. You can be more efficient with your time if you break the park up into it’s sections.
The best way is to take it by the different areas. There are tons of things to do and it will feel great to have one part of the park done and know that if you have time you can always come back.
This approach is really helpful because you can focus on the area rather than zig zagging back and forth around the park.
Get On the Rides That Can Shut Down out of the Way First
We cover this in the FastPass one but I want to make special mention of it here.
The truth is that these rides need maintenance. Disney is on top of everything to make sure the rides are perfect. I’ve heard that if anything is off with the ride (even sound) they will close it to make sure it’s top notch.
Rollercoaster and water rides are typically the ones that will have shut downs. In Animal Kingdom, the rides that we saw shut down were:
- Expedition Everest
- Kali River Rapids
- Dinosaur (actually stopped working when we were on it, interesting time!)
Use your Dining Pass to Maximize Character Meetings
This is a key time saver. There are a bunch of characters and your kids will want to meet them and get their autograph (Super Parent Note: Get your autograph books here before you leave).
Character Meals are the sit down meals you get with some dining plans. They are great for meeting characters while you get a break from the day and eat some food.
It’s really killing two birds with one stone (terrible expression btw). The characters come to your table and you can meet them and get your pictures with them rather than waiting in line for up to an hour during the rest of your day.
Tusker House is a great place to see all the classic Disney characters in Animal Kingdom. As a family with allergies at Disney World, we had some issues with the food, but it was great to get to see Mickey and the gang all in one place.
Take a Midday Break
If you’re thinking, “Are you crazy?! I’m paying how much for this trip and you’re telling me to leave the park?!?”
I felt the exact same way…Until about 3 o’clock on the first day.
Then we all looked at each other and realized we were spent. By then it was too late to go back to the hotel because we had an early dinner and had to find places in Disney World to keep cool.
Taking a break in the afternoon is a great way to escape the heat and relax before jumping back into the park activities. Jump on the bus back your hotel. Take a dip in the pool, refresh and see if there are any FastPass rides you want to book. This will be key to lasting for the fireworks, which are a must see.
If you are going to stay the whole day, it’s best to beat the midday heat with shows in the afternoon. This will give you a nice break from the heat with air conditioning to help cool you off.
Book More Rides and Be Willing to Adapt
You are going to have a great time at Disney World. But your plan needs to be flexible (and by plan I mean you). Kids may want to wait in line for the rides. As I like to say, “Having a plan is essential. Following it is optional.”
By planning and having an idea of what you want to do you will be best served when you arrive at the parks. Otherwise you can get there and just be awestruck and left wondering what to do because there is so much to take in.
Here is our 1 Day Itinerary For Disney’s Animal Kingdom
With Animal Kingdom it’s a little trickier with your passes than the other parks. Pandora opened up a whole new world for people to see and the long lines that come with it.
Here is how we would organize our Fast Passes (in bold) and our 1 day plan for Animal Kingdom.
- Avatar Flight of Passage Fast Pass (You likely won’t get this first thing in the morning, but if you can’t you need to get in line ASAP)
- Na’vi River Journey (this is cool, but it’s a boat ride, I wouldn’t miss it, but going again, I would skip it)
- Kilimanjaro Safaris Fast Pass(Either first thing in the morning, or last in the evening. Try for the morning so you can get your FastPasses used up and see more rides)
- Expedition Everest Fast Pass (Roller coaster ride, this one seemed to ebb and flow with people, but it’s a good one to do early)
- Dinosaur (Get later on in the day with your extra FastPasses)
- Kali River Rapids (You will get wet so try and get this in a place where you would be ok walking around wet afterwards)
- Tree of Life/ It’s Tough to be a Bug
- Festival of the Lion King
- Finding Nemo The Musical
- Dinner at Tusker House and meet all your favourite Disney characters
- Primeval Whirl (Get later on in the day with your extra FastPasses)
- Add any other FastPasses you can put in here (We did Dinosaur again!)
- Rivers of Light Show
Looking for to cool off at Disney? Here are some great ays to keep cool in Disney World parks.
You’re Ready For Your Day At Disney World’s Animal Kingdom!
While you will never see everything in Animal Kingdom no matter how many times you go. By planning ahead and rolling with the day, you can ensure that you are getting the most out of it.
Lastly, no matter how you arrange your trip, your family is going to have an amazing time. After all it’s the happiest place on earth!
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