Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a fantastic park. Following the opening of Pandora – The World of Avatar, you must have a plan on how to tackle the park. How you plan your visit has changed in 2021 with several changes due to social distancing. Our Top Animal Kingdom Hacks for 2021 include Tips & Tricks to make sure you have a great vacation.
Not everything is currently available at the Animal Kingdom
You can have a great time at the Animal Kingdom in 2021, but things are a little different. The following regular shows and entertainment is not available:
- Donald’s Dino-Bash!
- Festival of the Lion King – Reopening Summer 2021
- Finding Nemo the Musical
- Fireworks & Nighttime Spectaculars
- Harambe Village Acrobats
- Kora Tinga Tinga
- Meet Favorite Disney Pals at Adventurers Outpost
- Meet Pocahontas on Discovery Island Trails
- Meet Russell and Dug at Discovery Island
- Meet Timon and Rafiki at Discovery Island
- Pandora Drummers – Swotu Waya
- Pandora Rangers
- Tam Tam Drummers of Harambe
- Up! A Great Bird Adventure
- Viva Gaia Street Band
We hope as 2021 develops, more options will become available and suspect this will become the case as we approach Walt Disney World’s 50th Birthday.
Be prepared for extra safety checks and differences in how you plan your day
There are a number of changes throughout Animal Kingdom to keep you safe:
- All Guests ages two and up, and Cast Members, are required to wear face coverings. Make sure you don’t forget it!
- Temperature screening will occur. Any guest recording 100.4 F or above will not be allowed entry.
- Physical distancing and limited contact will be in place throughout the resort.
Also, your planning process will be different as the following are not currently available at Animal Kingdom:
- Single Rider Lines
- Extra Magic Hours(this isn’t returning)
- Disney Dining Plan
- Character meet and greets
- The majority of tours and special experiences
Check park opening times.
Park opening times vary daily throughout the year. Currently, the opening times of the Animal Kingdom are very flexible! Check My Disney Experience for the latest information.
Check the My Disney Experience App before you visit
Not every day at the Animal Kingdom is the same. Attractions close for refurbishment, showtimes vary & park hours can change. Times can even vary on different days of the same week.
It seems almost inevitable that changes will happen throughout 2021, assuming the pandemic comes under control. Make sure you don’t miss out if suddenly FastPass restarts. Keep checking My Disney Experience for all the latest information, including park hours.
Book a Disney Park Pass
Forget FastPass+; the key booking now you must obtain as soon as you get your ticket is your Disney Park Pass. To access a park, you will need to prebook a reservation online through the new Disney Park Pass System. To access the Animal Kingdom, guests will have to present both their park reservation and a valid park ticket. Remember, to dine in any theme park restaurant, you must also have a Disney Park Pass.
The Animal Kingdom is not just about rides and shows
There aren’t many shows happening at the Animal Kingdom, but there is still plenty to see. Take your time; there is a lot to see and explore. Many guests miss the animal exhibits, and with reduced crowds, now is an ideal time to see them. The theme of the park is spectacular and easily missed if you rush.
The Animal Kingdom has also become one of the best places to experience street food and snacks. Keep your eye out for a delicious lunch as you explore the park.
Don’t attempt to do it all in 1 day.
The problem with the Animal Kingdom is the whole park is excellent. Apart from 1 or 2 exceptions, you will want to do it all. Since the opening of Pandora- World of Avatar, this is no longer a 1-day park. If you have time, visit for 2 or even 3 days.
Check the latest information on Park Hopping
When Walt Disney World reopened, Park Hopping was suspended. However, Park Hopping will be available in 2021, but it will be slightly different. For those readers unfamiliar with Park Hopping, Park Hopper tickets allow guests to visit more than 1 park at Walt Disney World each day.
Guests will still need to make a Disney Park Pass Reservation for their first park each day, and they must enter this park before trying to enter another. Guests will then be able to enter a second park during Park Hopper Hours. Park Hopping Hours are subject to change, but initially, they will be between 2 pm to close at all parks. Park Hopping will be subject to park capacity, and Disney advises you to check My Disney Experience for the latest information.
Make sure the kids are big enough to ride!
Don’t create a plan to realize too late not everyone can ride. Disney does enforce height restrictions rigidly. At the Animal Kingdom the attractions which have height restrictions 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
However, if the kids are too small it does not mean older children and adults can’t ride. Visit our Guide to Rider Switch for more information.
Have access to the park Wi-Fi.
Online access is essential at Walt Disney World during 2021. We recently reviewed our top Walt Disney World Tip and named having the ability to access wifi as our number 1 for 2021.
Having access to WiFi allows you to access My Disney Experience. My Disney Experience is a free online guide to Walt Disney World that allows guests to plan their vacation. Through this free service, you can:
- Keep track of your plans & reservations, including those of your family & friends.
- Make FastPass+, Dining & Ticket Reservations
- Order in advance your food at Quick Service Locations
- Access maps, wait times, showtimes, park hours, and much more essential information via the app.
- Grab a spot in the virtual queue for Rise of the Resistance.
Walt Disney World encourages all guests to have downloaded the latest version of My Disney Experience on their mobile device before entering parks. Also, they recommend having location services, and notifications enabled.
Only pack essential in your park bag
What are the things you must take into the park? Remember, you will be carrying your bag all day, and there is a lot of walking at the Animal Kingdom.
Make a list of what you need, e.g., camera, autograph book, poncho. Pack your bag the night before and check it before you leave in the morning. We have created an updated guide to what we think you should include in your Walt Disney World park bag.
Don’t Miss Pandora – The World of Avatar
You probably already know this, but Pandora – The World of Avatar should not be missed when you visit the Animal Kingdom. Pandora opened to the public in May 2017 and is believed to have cost $500 million. The land is inspired by James Cameron’s Avatar, which recently regained the title of the highest-grossing film of all time.
The area contains 2 main attractions Avatar Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey. Both attractions are superb and should not be missed. Also, there are Avatar inspired shopping and dining options throughout the land.
Plan meal and drink breaks
The Animal Kingdom always seems hotter than the other Walt Disney World Parks. Make sure you have plenty of breaks and drinks when in the park.
Dehydrated & tired kids, or grown-ups, are not fun.
Book dining reservations in advance & use mobile ordering
During the reopening period of Walt Disney World, not all restaurants will be open, and some will subject to reduced capacity. A new 60-day Advanced Dining Reservation window applies. Make sure you make your reservations as soon as possible as they book-up fast. There are no guarantees you will get a reservation on the day.
If visiting a counter service location, if available, use mobile ordering. It is a brilliant time-saver.
Don’t miss the shows at the Animal Kingdom(if they are open)
There are some sensational Broadway Style shows at the Animal Kingdom, and they are some of the best at Walt Disney World. A show also offers the opportunity for a rest and some time out of the sun.
Unfortunately at the moment they are all closed, but hopefully they will return soon.
Don’t miss the animal trails at the Animal Kingdom
Many guests skip the animal trails at the Animal Kingdom, but they are fantastic exhibits with informative cast members available to assist. There are three main trails to explore in addition to a selection of smaller exhibits around the park:
- Discovery Island Trails
- Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail
- Maharajah Jungle Trek
Our Guide to the Animal Kingdom has further information.
Ride Kilimanjaro Safaris in the morning
Typically the animals are more active in the morning.
However, no two safaris are the same if you have time, ride twice.
Use the lockers for Kali River Rapids
There is no longer storage for belongings on the ride.
Yes, We made that mistake!
Your belonging will get wet perhaps very wet. Lockers are free and located near the entrance to the attraction.
Consider skipping some attractions
If time is limited at the Animal Kingdom, you may need to skip the odd attraction. It is better to plan these than miss your must-do attractions.
Here is our list of attractions we would skip at the Animal Kingdom if time is short.
Be ready for every type of weather
Sunscreen, hat & waterproof all might be needed on any day. Have a plan for what to do it weather turns.
We have created a Guide to the Orlando Weather which has further information.
Experience Animal Kingdom at night
Don’t miss it & make sure you visit Pandora at night. At night Pandora offers an entirely different experience. It is magical!
Do you have any other Top Animal Kingdom Tips? Why not leave us a comment below?
To learn more about Walt Disney World visit our 2021 Guide to Walt Disney World.
This Guide is part of our “Road to 2021 at Walt Disney World” series. Check out the rest of the guides for the latest information.