Updated for Summer 2019 our Guide to
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Animal Kingdom for 2019
Our Animal Kingdom for Beginners Guide is an extensive guide to help plan your Walt Disney World vacation and has been updated with all the latest information for Summer 2019. It forms part of our expanding Guide to Walt Disney World for Beginners. If there is specific information you are looking for these jumps will help you find the information.
Kingdom The Basics includes park history & facts. Animal
- Essential Knowledge to Planning Your Visit to Animal Kingdom All the Essential Knowledge to have a great vacation including Fastpass+, meeting characters, Single Rider Line, Rider Switch, Extra Magic Hours & dealing with crowds.
- Disabilities at Animal Kingdom details of the services available for guest with disabilities.
- Animal Kingdom Useful Information answers to some of your most common questions including charging mobile phones, paying for goods, lost items & guest services.
- Tips, Tricks, Mistakes & Must-Do Attractions at the Animal Kingdom follow our tips to have a fantastic time at the Animal Kingdom.
- The Animal Kingdom Lands All the lands at the Animal Kingdom including Orlando’s Number 1 attractions in Pandora – The World of Avatar.
- Animal Kingdom Dining All about dining at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
- Entertainment at the Animal Kingdom What can you do at the Animal Kingdom apart from rides? There are some fantastic shows and street entertainment.
- Coming to Animal Kingdom All the latest updates from the Animal Kingdom
Disney’s Animal Kingdom The Basics
Disney’s Animal Kingdom was the 4th park to open at Walt Disney World on April 22, 1998. Attendance at the Animal Kingdom rose 15% in 2017 following the opening of Pandora – the World of Avatar. 2017 attendance at the Animal Kingdom was 12.5 million making it the second most popular park in Walt Disney World. The park’s icon is The Tree of Life a 145-foot tree sculpture. The tree was engineered from a former oil platform and has 325 carvings.
In total there are around 2000 animals representing 300 species at the Animal Kingdom. The park is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
However, animals are not all you will find in this superb park. The Animal Kingdom has some of the biggest E-Ticket attractions in Walt Disney World and after the opening of Pandora – World of Avatar this is at least a 2-day park.
Animal Kingdom Dedication
Welcome to a kingdom of animals… real, ancient and imagined: a kingdom ruled by lions, dinosaurs and dragons; a kingdom of balance, harmony and survival; a kingdom we enter to share in the wonder, gaze at the beauty, thrill at theMichael D. Eisner, April 22, 1998
Despite being the newest theme park at Walt Disney World, Animal Kingdom has plenty of interesting statistics and facts.
For example, did you know that the original plans for the Animal Kingdom featured an area called the Beastly Kingdom? Eventually, a new land Pandora – The World of Avatar was built on the land reserved for the Beastly Kingdom.
Essential Knowledge for Planning Your Visit to the Animal Kingdom
To experience the Animal Kingdom you should spend time planning your experience. In the past, it was possible to do all the major attractions in one day but following recent park expansions, this is now impossible.
The majority of guests will need 2 or even 3 days to experience the full park. Not having a plan could mean you miss your top attractions. Do not believe any blog which claims this is only a 1-day park!
There are key booking windows to secure dining reservations and make ride reservations at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. In this section, we will guide you through all the Essential Animal Kingdom knowledge you need to enjoy your vacation.
Animal Kingdom Park Hours
Park hours usually get released about 6 months in advance. However, they often change as you come closer to the actual date! Usually this is too longer hours than initially announced. Click the link to get all the latest Walt Disney World Park Hours.
Refurbishments & Closures
Walt Disney World is constantly changing and it almost inevitable there will be some refurbishments & closures whenever you visit. This handy guide contains all the current renovations and closures at Animal Kingdom.
Fastpass+ is Disney’s attraction reservation and allows you to book attractions in advance of your visit. It is important you understand Fastpass before your visit and the key booking windows. Failing to make Fastpass+ reservations will mean longer lines and fewer completed attractions. You can learn more about the basics in our Guide to Walt Disney World Fastpass.
Before arrival at the Animal Kingdom, guests can schedule 3 Fastpass reservations. Once your first reservations are used, you can plan an extra pass. You can continue booking additional selections until the end of the day or until no more Fastpass slots are available.
The Animal Kingdom does not allow equal booking to all Fastpass attractions. You can only pre-book one Tier 1 Fastpass for either Navi River Journey or Flight of Passage. Due to the popularity of these attractions do not expect to get an extra Fastpass later in the day.
We have created a Guide to Fastpass at the Animal Kingdom which will help with your planning. We have included information on how to get those Key Pandora Fastpasses and what to do if you miss out.
Don’t create a strategy that includes all family members riding to realise too late not all of you can. Many of the Walt Disney World attractions do carry restrictions and these are enforced rigidly. At the Animal Kingdom these are:
- Avatar Flight of Passage at least 44 inches tall to ride
- Dinosaur at least 40 inches tall to ride
- Expedition Everest at least 44 inches tall to ride
- Kali River Rapids at least 38 inches tall to ride
- Primeval Whirl at least 48 inches tall to ride
Also, many small children do find It’s Tough To Be a Bug petrifying & Dinosaur many young guests will find a little scary even if big enough to ride.
However, if the kids are too small to ride, it does not mean adults and older siblings can’t. Rider Switch allows guests with small children to take turns riding while another adult stays with the child. Once complete the rest of the party can enjoy the attraction.
Our Guide to Rider Switch & Height Restrictions has further details.
Guests of Walt Disney World Resort Hotels & select non-Disney owned resorts can enjoy extra time in the Animal Kingdom several days each week. Extra Magic Hours occur either before parks open or after they close to regular guests.
However; remember there are 30000 hotel rooms in WDW, plus more to open in 2019, so that is a lot of people who can attend.
We have created a Guide to Extra Magic Hours so you can learn more.
Plus, following the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge there will be Extra Extra Magic Hours at Animal Kingdom every morning from September 1- November 2.
Struggling to get a Fastpass for all your top attractions?
Expedition Everest has a single rider line which can cut your wait if you are happy to ride on your own. Read our Guide to the Single Rider Line to find out more.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom has become a very popular park following the opening of Pandora – World of Avatar. No matter when you visit you will meet some crowds.
Sometimes the crowds will be light, but on occasion, they might feel unmanageable. However, you can still have a great day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom even when it is crowded.
Avoiding Crowds at Walt Disney World is a guide we have created full of hints & tips to manage the busiest days at the Animal Kingdom.
Meeting Characters at the Animal Kingdom
Characters are probably not the main reason guests visit the Animal Kingdom. However, there are several characters you can meet which you will not find in other parks. Although not guaranteed, waits to meet the most popular Disney Characters can be shorter in the Animal Kingdom compared to the Magic Kingdom.
At the time of writing characters that can only be met in the Animal Kingdom include:
- Russell and Dug
- Scrooge McDuck
- Launchpad McQuack
In the Animal Kingdom, there is 1 Character Meal located at Tusker House in Africa. Donald’s Safari Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner offers the opportunity to visit Donald and pals in an African Safari setting. Our Guide to Character Meals at Walt Disney World has further information.
Make sure you check the My Disney Experience App to find where your favorite character is located. Our Guide to Finding Characters at Walt Disney World has further information.
The Animal Kingdom provides extensive facilities for all forms of disabilities including visual, auditory, mobility & cognitive disabilities. Guests are able to contact Walt Disney World at (407) 560-2547 or [email protected] prior to their visit to discuss requirements.
Our Guide to Disabilities at the Walt Disney World has plenty of essential information including ECV Hire, Dietary Issues and details on The Disability Access Service.
Clicking this link will take you to a copy of the current Animal Kingdom Guide for Guests with Disabilities.
Useful Information when visiting the Animal Kingdom
Sometimes it is difficult to find the answers to all your questions prior to your visit to Animal Kingdom. We have grouped together a collection of the most common questions for Animal Kingdom in this section of the guide.
In addition, you might find our Walt Disney World Useful Information Guide has the answer if it isn’t here.
Available to Hire at The Animal Kingdom
Do you need a wheelchair, stroller, locker, ECV or even an umbrella?
Many articles are available to hire inside Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Look at the park map, the Disney Experience App or speak to Guest Relations for further information.
Guest Relations at The Animal Kingdom
The Animal Kingdom has two Guest Relations locations: to your left as you enter the park and the park entrance windows.
Guest Relations provide assistance to all guests visiting Walt Disney World including help with reservations and general information. The following more specialist support is available:
- Accessibility information
- Ticket Questions
- Concerns & Complaints
- Foreign currency exchange
- Lost and Found
- Lost Guest retrieval
Accessing the Internet at Animal Kingdom
WiFi is now available throughout the
Having access to WiFi allows you to plan your day through the My Disney Experience App including making additional Fastpass+ reservations.
Lost & Found at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
It is easy to lose things at
Smoking at Animal Kingdom
There has been a recent change to park rules and smoking including electronic cigarettes are now banned inside the Animal Kingdom. There are smoking areas available outside of the park.
Baby Care Center at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
The Animal Kingdom Baby Care Center is located to the left of the Tree of Life just before you cross into Africa.
The Baby Care Center at Disney’s
Charging your Mobile Phone at the Animal Kingdom
Kiosks are located throughout the Animal Kingdom selling FuelRod portable chargers. Currently, these kits cost $30. Kits include adaptors for all Apple and most Android devices. Once your charger needs replacing you merely swap it at a kiosk for a new FuelRod at no cost.
Locker Hire at Animal Kingdom
Most guests do not need to take much into the Animal Kingdom. If there are items you must take, but do not wish to carry, lockers are available near the entrance.
All lockers are subject to availability and come with the following daily charge:
- Small $10 a day (12″ x 10″ x 17″)
- Large $12 a day (15.5″ x 13″ x 17″)
Payment for Goods & ATMs
In addition to cash, the Animal Kingdom is happy to accept most credit cards. Cards are accepted almost everywhere including the smallest mobile counters.
Guests with Magic Bands & staying in a Disney Resort can setup room charging for purchases inside the park.
ATMs are located at the Animal Kingdom and can be located on the park map and the My Disney Experience App.
Foreign Currency can be exchanged at Guest Services, but exchange rates are not good.
Tips, Tricks, Mistakes & Must-Do Attractions at the Animal Kingdom
Anybody who has ever visited The Animal Kingdom will have a list of Tips & Mistakes not to make at a future visit.
Here is a selection of our top tips which we have learned from previous visits to the Animal Kingdom. Learning from other guest’s experiences is a great way to create your Ultimate Animal Kingdom Plan.
- Our Top Animal Kingdom Tips and Tricks
AnimalKingdom Mistakes to avoid to have a great day.
- If time is tight, these are attractions we would skip at
- These are our must-do attractions when we visit
- The whole Modern Life is Good Family got together recently to decide which were our Favorite and Least Liked Experiences at Animal Kingdom.
The Lands at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
There are 7 lands at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The newest land Pandora – The World of Avatar opened in 2017. The former land Camp Minnie-Mickey closed in 2014 to make way for Pandora.
The Oasis is the Main Street, USA of Animal Kingdom and the first land guests enter after entering the park. The Oasis has various guest facilities including locker hire, stroller hire, wheelchair hire, and guest relations, plus several exhibits. Exhibits include wallabies, babirusa and a variety of birds.
The Animal Kingdom has a Rainforest Cafe located at its entrance which provides a secondary entrance to the park. This restaurant is officially outside the park & you must show tickets again to get back into the park after your meal.
The maze of paths at the Oasis all leads to Discovery Island including The Tree of Life.
Discovery Island is the main hub of the Animal Kingdom & is located around the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life is home to It’s Tough to Be a Bug! and several animal trails.
It’s Tough to Be a Bug! is a 4D adventure starring the cast from A Bug’s Life. While the film is good fun many small children do find it scary.
The animal trails are missed by many guests especially those in a hurry. Take your time there is plenty to see here.
This is one of my favourite lands in the Animal Kingdom. The theming of the land is outstanding. Africa is home to:
- Kilimanjaro Safaris a ride through animal exhibit taking the theme of an African Safari Vacation. An informative commentary accompanies your ride. No 2 rides are ever the same & the unexpected can happen. Usually, animals are more active in the morning.
- Festival of the Lion King a great sing along with the cast of the Lion King.
- The Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail formerly known as The Pangani Forest Exploration Trails. This walkthrough exhibit includes hippos, meerkats and of course gorillas.
Rafiki’s Planet Watch
Reached via the Wildlife Express Train the area has a conservation station & petting zoo.
Rafiki’s Planet watch closed in late 2018 and was rumored that it would not be reopening. However, it has been announced that it will be opening for Summer 2019 with a few new enhancements celebrating the Lion King.
It does take quite a bit of time to get to Rafiki’s Planet Watch, but as it is likely this attraction will not be available beyond 2019 you should consider visiting.
Expedition Everest & Kali River Rapids are the big attractions here. In addition, you will find the Maharajah Jungle Trek.
The land is set in the fictional kingdom of Anandapur. There are 2 villages full of old ruins and the odd historic temple. The theming is fantastic and is centered around animal conservation.
Asia opened in 1999, 1 year after Animal Kingdom’s opening.
- Expedition Everest Embark on a thrilling expedition through the Himalayas before coming face to face with the Yeti. A great fast thrilling coaster that has a backward section. If you don’t have a spare Fastpass option consider using the single rider line. Remember this ride will close during afternoon storms so try and ride early in the day.
- Kali River Rapids is a fantastic raft ride. You will get wet and make sure you store your belongings in the free lockers before you ride. There is nowhere guaranteed to stay dry on your raft and the former onboard storage has been removed. This ride will also close during afternoon storms so try and ride early in the day.
- Maharajah Jungle Trek. This stunning exhibit includes tigers, Komodo dragons & a walk through bird exhibit.
- UP! A Great Bird Adventure opened in 2018. In this show, featuring characters from Up!, you can discover some of the world’s most exotic birds.
Dinoland U.S.A. contains the excellent Finding Nemo: The Musical and Dinosaur. Make sure you check the showtimes for Finding Nemo & arrive early when the park is busy.
Dinosaur is a ride many young children will find scary but it is great fun.
The awful tacky Chester and Hester’s Dinorama contains Triceratops Spin and Primeval Whirl. Chester and Hester’s Dinorama continues to feel out of place in the otherwise stunning Animal Kingdom park.
- Triceratops Spin is a Dumbo-like ride on a triceratops.
- Primeval Whirl is a spinning coaster. Which if it had better theming would be actually a fairly good ride.
At Donald’s Dino-Bash! you can meet Donald, Daisy, Goofy, Pluto, Chip
Pandora – The World of Avatar
The newest area of Animal Kingdom opened in 2017 containing the unbelievable attractions Flight of Passage & Na’vi River Journey.
- Na’vi River Journey Guests are taken through the Kasvapan River of Pandora. On your journey, you will see native animals and bioluminescent flora. The ride is stunning and will appeal to all the family.
- Flight of Passage. Guests take a flight on a Banshee across Pandora. This 3D simulator is unbelievable and has raised the bar on theme park experiences. It does get better the more times you ride and in my opinion is one of the only rides I would consider a lengthy wait for. You should not miss it!
Make sure you leave plenty of time to explore Pandora and try to visit both during the day and night. Pandora is even more magical at night.
We have created a Guide to Pandora – The World of Avatar which has plenty of additional hints and tips.
Dining at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom has 4 table service restaurants.
- Rainforest Cafe part of the worldwide chain. The restaurant can be entered both from inside and outside the park. Click here to see our video review.
- Tusker House in Africa offers safari themed Character Meals for breakfast, lunch & dinner. Your meal is hosted by Donald Duck.
- Yak & Yeti an Asian-themed restaurant. Click to read our review of Yak & Yeti.
- Tiffins this signature restaurant opened in 2016 and has the Nomad Lounge adjacent.
Disney’s Advanced Dining Reservations are restaurant reservations made in advance of your visit. The Animal Kingdom’s restaurants do fill up and standby lines, if they exist, can be long. Our Guide to Advanced Dining Reservations has further information.
In addition, there are several excellent quick service restaurants in the park.
All restaurants at the Animal Kingdom cater for food allergies and intolerances. Our Guide to Food Allergies at Walt Disney World has further information.
Dining at the Animal Kingdom is some of the best at Walt Disney World, and only Epcot locations tend to be better. Our Guide to Dining at Walt Disney World has further information to plan your dining experience at the Animal Kingdom.
Entertainment at the Animal Kingdom
Disney’s Animal Kingdom is one of the best parks for entertainment offerings. While there is no longer a parade in the park there is plenty of other entertainment you should not miss.
There are 3 fantastic stage shows at Animal Kingdom:
- Festival of the Lion King
- Finding Nemo the Musical
- Up! A Great Bird Adventure.
Shows can be very popular and if you are not using a Fastpass you must arrive well before the scheduled start.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom is perhaps the best park at Walt Disney World to fall upon unexpected entertainment. From fantastic African Bands to the mystical Swotu Wayä Na’vi Drum Ceremony In Pandora, there is so much to discover.
Walt Disney World offers several free interactive games within the parks. Wilderness Explorers is a scavenger hunt in which guests earn badges for completing activities inside the Animal Kingdom. The games are loosely based on the film Up! Examples of badges you can earn include:
- Veterinary Badge – Help diagnose a sea turtle’s health issue
- Dinosaur Badge – Join in the exploration for dinosaur fossils
- Animal Find Badge – Check off each of the animals you see
- Yeti Badge – Find Yeti artefacts and hear about the folklore
In total there are 30 badges to collect. To get started, guests need to collect a field guide from the headquarters which is located on the bridge between the Oasis and Discovery Island.
Hakuna Matata Time Dance Party
Dance Parties seem to be the “in-thing” at the moment in Walt Disney World, and we now have another! Celebrating 25 years of The Lion King, Timon & Rafiki are hosting the new Hakuna Matata Time Dance Party in Discovery Island throughout 2019.
Tree of Life Awakenings
This show is incredibly clever and happens every 10 minutes nightly. A combination of light, projections, and music make the animals on the Tree of Life come to life. The show is impossible to describe but you shouldn’t miss it.
For summer 2019 the show is getting an enhancement paying tribute to the 25th anniversary of The Lion King.
Rivers of Light – We Are One
Rivers of Light was the first major night-time attraction at the Animal Kingdom and it is getting a refresh for summer 2019. The show features water fountains, barges, music and spectacular lighting.
We have never been great fans of Rivers of Light here at Modern Life is Good. It is just a bit boring!
Perhaps that will change with the new enhancements. Rivers of Light – We Are One debut is on Memorial Weekend and will feature classic moments from Disney Animation.
The show is located in Discovery Lagoon between Discovery Island and Expedition Everest. The show is popular, and if you don’t have a Fastpass, you should arrive at least 1 hour before the show starts. Several of the restaurants at the Animal Kingdom offer Rivers of Light Dining Packages which include reserved seating.
Coming To Animal Kingdom 2019 & Beyond
After all the new fun at the Animal Kingdom over the last few years, things feel a little quieter at the moment. Currently, there are no confirmed new attractions apart from changes to Rivers of Light & Tree of Life Awakenings. However, there will be occasional seasonal attractions including at Christmas.
Animal Kingdom News & Rumours
At Modern Life is Good we try and keep you up to date with all the latest news & rumors from Animal Kingdom. Visit our Walt Disney World News Section for all the most recent information on the
Read More Walt Disney World Tips
Our Guide to Animal Kingdom for Beginners forms part of our Guide to Walt Disney World for Beginners. The guide is a great starting place to plan any Walt Disney World Vacation including if you are a repeat visitor
In additions, we have created a selection of Walt Disney World Planning Tips which will help with your vacation planning.