Disney’s Animal Kingdom seems to have the reputation of being a “half day” theme park. To that I say
phooey!! Just because there isn’t E-Ticket attractions every where you turn doesn’t mean there isn’t enough to occupy you for a full day. In fact I would argue that since the hours are shorter at Animal Kingdom that there is almost no way you can do everything in only one day if the park is busy. Animal Kingdom is meant to be a park that you slow down and explore, which could be a very welcome change of pace from your Disney World vacation bouncing from ride to ride in some of the other parks. In this post I’m going to explain to you how and why Animal Kingdom is a full day park.
Ok, let’s go ahead and say the hours at Animal Kingdom are 9am-7pm and you are going to arrive right at rope drop after grabbing breakfast at your hotel. In the park you go at 9 am and you really want to run over to Kilimanjaro Safari while the animals are really active. Make your
way through the park over to Africa and brave what may be a 5 minute wait and you will be off the ride before 9:40 and then you can make your way to the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail. So many people skip right past the trail because they just want to get over to Expedition Everest as quick as they can. Don’t worry you will get back to Asia, but take your time and go check out the coolest Gorilla exhibit you will ever see. Even if you blew through the trail pretty quickly it will already be after 10 and you can make your way out of Africa and board a train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch. Now I would not say that Rafiki’s Planet Watch is something you have to do every time you go, but if you are a first time visitor definitely go check it out…you could see a bengal tiger being operated on! But for argument’s sake let’s say you skip Rafiki’s Planet Watch and head toward Asia.
Animal Kingdom is huge, the walk from Africa to Asia may not seem like much on the map but all of the
walking adds up! Before crowds get high you can jump on Expedition Everest and face the vicious Yeti! Go ahead and jump in the stand by on this one early when it is 20 minutes or less and use your Fastpass later because you will want to ride this one again, and the queue is a must see! Ride one of, if not the best ride in Disney then use your Fastpass and hop on again. Now for what I believe is one of the most underrated attractions in Disney because it is a show, Finding Nemo the Musical. Finding Nemo the Musical is unbelievable! Broadway quality and the music is all original (since of course Finding Nemo isn’t a musical) but it is done so well you begin to think oh yeah I remember when they sang that in the movie. You are going to have to show up at least 20 minutes early for this show if you want a decent seat.
As you leave the theatre your stomach will probably be screaming at you for the bbq smell off in the
distance. Follow your stomach over to Flame Tree Barbecue and grab a seat by the water with Expedition Everest looming in the distance while you enjoy your delicious pulled pork sandwich (one of the best counter service restaurants on property and always so helpful with Victoria’s Gluten allergy). After lunch it will probably be close to 1 in the afternoon but you will still have so much to do and see. Head on over to Dinosaur and see if you can survive time traveling to bring back an Iguanadon. After Dinosaur, make your way over to Cretaceous Trail for a few minutes and take a break from it all on a nice hidden pathway filled with great vegetation and facts about dinosaurs. Ok so now you have hit 3 headliner attractions, watched a broadway caliber show, and had a great lunch all while going at a slower pace. Its getting close to 2 in the afternoon and you want to catch Mickey’s Jungle Parade at 3 so explore a few shops and maybe catch A Bug’s Life since it is pretty close by. A Bug’s Life is a creepy crawly 4-D show welcoming you into the bug world…if you hate bugs beware things may get creepy for you!
Head back over to Dinoland and catch Mickey Jammin Jungle Parade and maybe grab a Mickey Bar to cool
off while you’re at it. It’s already getting close to 4 and you still have so much to do! The Mickey Bar didn’t quite cool you off as much as you wanted, well its time to go get wet over at Kali River Rapids! Make sure you have a Fastpass if it’s summer time because this attraction can build quite the line when it is hot. Once you get off of this ride you are going to want to walk around and dry off and what better place to do it than the Maharajah Jungle Trek! The best of the trails in my opinion, where you will explore an old abandoned royal hunting ground where you will come in contact with a Blood Python, Komodo Dragon, fruit bats, and Bengal Tigers plus much more! So you have hit all of the trails rode a majority of the attractions but you absolutely have to run back across the park to catch the last showing of Festival of the Lion King before the park closes. Festival of the Lion King is a fun-filled show where you see talented singers and acrobats celebrate
another day in the circle of life with Simba.
So you saw 2 of if not the best shows in Walt Disney World (Finding Nemo, Festival of the Lion King), rode 4 headliner attractions (Expedition Everest, Kilimanjaro Safari, Dinosaur, Kali River Rapids), saw Mickey’s Jammin Jungle Parade, had a great counter service lunch at Flametree Barbecue along with walking through a few wild trails (Maharajah Jungle Trek, Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, and Cretaceous Trail) and were welcomed in to the world of Bugs. Seems like a full day of activities to me and that was without going to Rafiki’s Planet Watch, without a sit down lunch, and without exploring this huge masterpiece of a park.
Now that it’s time to leave head towards the park exit and head over to the Animal Kingdom Lodge and complete your wild day with a dinner at Jiko or Sanaa.
Thanks for reading, now let me hear why you think I’m crazy or why you agree with me down in the comments section 🙂
By: Kyle Newton
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