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Animal Kingdom for 2020
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 2020. 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 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
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
Disney’s the 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
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.
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 this land.
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 still 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 are published about six months in advance. However, they often get extended as you come closer to the actual date! 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 system & allows you to book attractions in advance of your visit. It is essential you understand FastPass+ before your visit and the key booking windows. Failing to make Fastpass+ reservations will mean longer lines and completing fewer attractions.
The Animal Kingdom does not allow an 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 includes our top tips to have a great day.
Are you big enough to ride?
Don’t create a strategy that includes all family members riding to realize 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 although many children will find it scary
- 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
In addition, many small children do find It’s Tough To Be a Bug petrifying.
However, if the kids are too small to ride, it does not mean adults and older siblings can’t. Rider Switch, also sometimes known as child swap, allows guests with small children to take turns riding while another adult stays with the child. Our Guide to Rider Switch has all the information you need to know.
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.
We have created a Guide to Extra Magic Hours so you can learn more.
Disney After Hours at Animal Kingdom
If you are short of time when visiting Walt Disney World, Disney After Hours might be your answer! These special ticketed events have run at the Magic Kingdom for a while but started being offered at the Animal Kingdom in 2019 and will continue in 2020.
These hard-ticket events allow you to experience the park for 3 hours after regular closure. You are promised little-to-no wait for attractions, unique experiences, and character greetings. Ice cream, popcorn, and select beverages are also included in your admission price.
Current attractions which are open at the Animal Kingdom during After Hours are:
- Avatar Flight of Passage
- Na’vi River Journey
- Pandora Drummers – Swotu Wayä
- Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
- Mickey & Minnie Greeting at Adventurers Outpost
- Rivers of Light: We Are One
- Tree of Life Awakenings
- It’s Tough to be a Bug!
- TriceraTop Spin
However, Disney After Hours is not cheap.
Struggling to get a Fastpass for all your top attractions?
Expedition Everest has a single rider line that 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.
No matter when you visit the Animal Kingdom, there will be crowds. However, you can still have a great day in the Animal Kingdom, even when it is crowded. You can read tips & hints in our guide, Avoiding Crowds at Walt Disney World.
Read our guide to learn everything which you are not allowed to do at the Animal Kingdom. Make sure you note the few additional rules in place at the Animal Kingdom compared to the other parks.
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.
At the time of writing characters that can only be met in the Animal Kingdom include:
- Launchpad McQuack
- Kevin who is my personal favorite!
- The mysterious and confusing Divine.
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 before your visit to the Animal Kingdom. We have grouped a collection of the most common Animal Kingdom questions in a new Guide on Modern Life is Good.
If you have a specific Animal Kingdom question the links will take you straight to the advice:
- Available to Hire at The Animal Kingdom
- Guest Relations at The Animal Kingdom
- Accessing the Internet at Animal Kingdom
- Lost & Found at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
- Smoking at Animal Kingdom
- Baby Care Center at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
- Pregnant at Animal Kingdom
- Charging your Mobile Phone at the Animal Kingdom
- Locker Hire at Animal Kingdom
- What you should pack in your Park Bag
- Payment for Goods & ATMs
- Animal Kingdom Tours
- Translation Services at Animal Kingdom
In addition, you might find our Walt Disney World Useful Information Guide has the answer if it isn’t here.
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 the
- 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 seven 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 lead 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.
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 opened in summer 2019, with a few new enhancements celebrating the Lion King.
The Animation Experience at Conservation Station opened in Summer 2019. At the attraction, you will learn how real-life animals were used at the inspiration to bring your favorites to life. You will even learn how to draw a beloved Disney character.
It does take quite a bit of time to get to Rafiki’s Planet Watch, but as the attraction might not be available long term you should consider visiting.
This is one of my favorite 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, but evening rides offer a different experience.
- 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.
Asia opened in 1999, 1 year after Animal Kingdom’s opening. 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.
Attractions in Asia are:
- 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. The ride has recently become seasonal and perhaps this might indicate a revamp coming soon to the area.
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 and contains 2 fantastic attractions.
- 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
Disney’s 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.
Table Service locations at the Animal Kingdom fill up fast & you should arrange an Advanced Dining Reservation prior to your visit. There is also a selection of quick-service restaurants in the park in addition to various food carts serving a wide range of snacks.
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 the 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 artifacts 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.
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. Currently, the show features animals and themes inspired by The Lion King. The show is impossible to describe but you shouldn’t miss it.
Rivers of Light – We Are One
Rivers of Light was the first major night-time attraction at the Animal Kingdom. The show features water fountains, barges, music,
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
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 permanent attractions at the Animal Kingdom. However, there are rumors of additional attractions at Pandora and a Zootopia area to replace Chester and Hester’s Dinorama.
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 addition, we have created a selection of Walt Disney World Planning Tips which will help with your vacation planning.