Our Guide to Animal Kingdom for Beginners contains the latest information to plan your Walt Disney World Vacation. Our family-focused tips and tricks will ensure a great vacation, whether a first-time or repeat visitor. Remember, even if you have visited the Animal Kingdom before, there are many changes to how you plan your vacation in 2023. Our Guide to The Animal Kingdom has been updated and includes all the latest information for 2023.
Jump Right Into Our Guide to
A lot changed when the Animal Kingdom reopened in July 2020. Many of our regular tips and tricks on planning your Walt Disney World Vacation were no longer valid and still aren’t. However, one thing that has not changed is the need to plan your day at Animal Kingdom.
We have updated this guide with all the latest information for 2023. If you are looking for specific information to help plan your trip to Animal Kingdom, click on these handy jumps to take you straight to the advice:
Kingdom The Basics, including park history & facts. Animal
- Essential Knowledge to Planning Your Visit to Animal Kingdom All the Essential Knowledge to have a great vacation, including Disney Genie+, Disney Park Pass, Single Rider Line, Rider Switch, & dealing with crowds.
- Animal Kingdom Useful Information answers 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 Animal Kingdom was the 4th park to open at Walt Disney World on April 22, 1998. 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.
There are around 2000 animals, representing 300 species at the Animal Kingdom. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredits the park.
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 Facts
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
On March 16th, 2020, Animal Kingdom closed due to COVID-19 Pandemic. The resort reopened in the summer of 2020 with significant changes to the guest experience. In 2023, the resort will be in regular operation, or at least the new normal.
To experience the Animal Kingdom, you should spend time planning your experience. Most guests will need two or even three days to experience the full park. Not having a plan could mean you miss your top attractions.
Traditional key booking windows at Walt Disney World, including how you make dining reservations, have changed in recent years. We will guide you through all the Essential Animal Kingdom knowledge you need to enjoy your vacation.
Disney Park Pass Reservation System
Just turning up at Animal Kingdom is no longer possible. A new park reservation system is in place. Disney introduced Disney Park Pass during the reopening of Walt Disney World. Guests must present their park reservation and a valid park ticket to access their first park daily. Guests who do not have either will be refused entry, including if they have a dining reservation.
To learn more about the Disney Park Pass System, visit our dedicated Guide.
Park Hopper tickets allow guests to visit more than one park at Walt Disney World daily.
Guests 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 can then enter a second park during Park Hopper Hours.
Visit our Guide to Park Hopping to learn more.
Refurbishments & Closures
Walt Disney World is constantly changing, and it is almost inevitable there will be some refurbishments & closures whenever you visit. This handy guide contains all the current renovations and closures at Animal Kingdom.
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.
Early Theme Park Entry
Early Theme Park Entry are additional theme park hours exclusively for guests of Disney Resorts and other select hotels.
Early Theme Park Entry is available for all Walt Disney World Resort guests and other select hotels. Guests can gain 30 minutes of early entry to Animal Kingdom daily. However, you will need a Disney Park Pass.
Extended Evening Theme park hours are currently not available at Animal Kingdom.
To learn more about Early Theme Park Entry, visit our Guide.
Disney Genie+ is the new paid replacement for FastPass+. Disney Genie+ is optional, allowing guests to make reservations to join a much shorter line at select attractions. Guests will enter the attraction via the Lightning Lane entrance.
Selections can be completed one at a time throughout the day, but you can only use Genie+ for each attraction once each day.
Visit our Guide to Genie+ to learn more.
Individual Lightning Lane “á la carte.”
Some of the most popular attractions are not available on Disney Genie+. An individual fee is required to access the lightning lane for these attractions. Individual Lightning Lane is available for all guests, including those who have not purchased Disney Genie+. You can buy up to 2 attractions daily, booked one at a time. However, you can still join a standby line for these attractions without paying extra.
Avatar Flight of Passage is the only attraction currently attracting this fee as Animal Kingdom.
Our Guide to Genie+ also covers Individual Lightning Lane purchases.
Single Rider Line
Want to avoid a long wait without buying Genie+?
Expedition Everest has a single-rider line that can cut your wait if you are happy to ride alone. Read our Guide to the Single Rider Line to find out more.
Height Restrictions at Animal Kingdom
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 carry restrictions, which 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 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, sometimes called 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.
My Disney Experience
My Disney Experience is a free online guide to Walt Disney World that allows guests to plan their vacations. All guests visiting Animal Kingdom should ensure they can access the App and enable notification and location. Through this free service, you can:
- Keep track of your plans & reservations, including those of your family & friends.
- Make Dining & Ticket Reservations
- Use the new Disney Genie service, including Disney Genie+
- Order in advance and pay for your food at Quick Service Locations
- Access maps, wait times, showtimes, park hours, and essential information via the App.
Our Guide to My Disney Experience provides more information, including how to get the App.
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 that you will not find in other parks.
One Character Meal is located at Tusker House in Africa in Animal Kingdom. 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.
Disabilities at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
The Animal Kingdom provides extensive facilities for all disabilities, including visual, auditory, mobility & cognitive disabilities. Guests can contact Walt Disney World at (407) 560-2547 or email@example.com before their visit to discuss requirements.
Our Guide to Disabilities at the Walt Disney World has plenty of essential information.
After your initial research, you will want to write down your vacation plans. Our Free Walt Disney World Planners are a great resource to help create a perfect Walt Disney World Vacation Plan.
Our Planners include new sections for the latest changes at Walt Disney World, including Disney Genie+ and Early Morning Magic. Our Free 2023 Walt Disney World Planners will ensure you miss nothing out on your vacation plans.
We have redesigned these planners for 2023; make sure you download this free resource.
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 the most common Animal Kingdom questions in a separate guide.
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 answers to additional questions.
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 on a future visit.
Here is a selection of our top tips which we have learned from previous visits to the Animal Kingdom. Please note, however, a few of these guides are in need of updating. Learning from other guests’ experiences is a great way to create your Ultimate Animal Kingdom Plan.
- Our Top Animal Kingdom Tips and Tricks
AnimalKingdom Mistakes updated for 2023 to avoid to have a great day.
- These are our must-do attractions when we visit
- Modern Life is Good Family got together recently to decide which were our Favorite and Least Liked Experiences at Animal Kingdom.
- Disney World Park Bag, what you really need.
- Walt Disney World Weather tips.
The Lands at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
There are seven lands in 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, guest relations, and exhibits. Exhibits include wallabies, babirusa, and a variety of birds.
The Animal Kingdom has a Rainforest Cafe at its entrance, providing a secondary entrance to the park. This restaurant is officially outside the park & you must show tickets again to return to 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 find it scary.
Many guests, especially those in a hurry, miss the animal trails. Take your time; there is plenty to see here.
Rafiki’s Planet Watch
Reached via the Wildlife Express Train, the area has been rumored to close for several years.
Guests who journey will discover some trails, a conservation section, and a petting zoo.
The Animation Experience at Conservation Station opened in the Summer of 2019. At the attraction, you will learn how real-life animals were used as 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 areas of the Animal Kingdom. The theming of the land is outstanding.
Africa is home to:
- Kilimanjaro Safaris is a ride-through animal exhibit taking the theme of an African Safari Vacation. An informative commentary accompanies your ride. No two 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 is 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 two villages full of old ruins and an 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. Remember, this ride will close during afternoon storms, so try to ride early in the day.
- Kali River Rapids is a fantastic raft ride. You will get wet, so store your belongings in the free lockers before you ride. This ride will also close during afternoon storms, so try to ride early in the day.
- Maharajah Jungle Trek. This stunning exhibit includes tigers, Komodo dragons & a walk-through bird exhibit.
Dinoland U.S.A. contains the excellent Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond! Musical(an updated version of the previous show) 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 previously contained Triceratops Spin and Primeval Whirl. Chester and Hester’s Dinorama continues to feel out of place in the otherwise stunning Animal Kingdom park. Primeval Whirl has closed, and we suspect the land will soon be redesigned.
- Triceratops Spin is a Dumbo-like ride on a Triceratops.
At Donald’s Dino-Bash! You can meet Donald and his friends.
Pandora – The World of Avatar
The newest area of Animal Kingdom opened in 2017 and contains two 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, it 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 with plenty of additional hints and tips.
Dining at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Disney’s Animal Kingdom has 4 table service restaurants.
- Rainforest Cafe is 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. Donald Duck hosts your meal.
- Yak & Yeti is 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. Read our review.
Table Service locations at the Animal Kingdom fill up fast & you should arrange an Advanced Dining Reservation prior to your visit. Dining reservations open 60 days before your visit. There is also a selection of quick-service restaurants in the park and 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.
We have created a Guide to Dining at Walt Disney World with all the latest information.
We also have two additional guides which contain helpful information:
- Mobile Ordering at Walt Disney World. Perhaps the most fantastic time-saver at Walt Disney World order your food in advance at quick-service restaurants.
- Food Allergies and Intolerances when visiting Walt Disney World.
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, and nighttime offerings have mostly stopped, there is plenty of other entertainment you should not miss.
There are two fantastic stage shows at the Animal Kingdom:
- Festival of the Lion King
- Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond! Musical
Shows can be very popular, and you must arrive well before the start.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom is perhaps the best park at Walt Disney World to fall upon unexpected entertainment. There is so much to discover from fantastic African Bands to the mystical Swotu Wayä Na’vi Drum Ceremony In Pandora.
Tree of Life Awakenings
This show is incredibly clever and happens every 10 minutes nightly. A combination of light, projections, and music makes the animals on the Tree of Life come to life. Currently, the show runs seasonally in the winter months.
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 of 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 must collect a field guide from the headquarters on the bridge between the Oasis and Discovery Island.
Coming To Animal Kingdom
After all the new fun at the Animal Kingdom over the last few years, things feel a little quieter. Currently, there are no confirmed new permanent attractions at the Animal Kingdom. However, there are rumors of additional attractions at Pandora. Disney has also announced a potential Zootopia area to replace Chester and Hester’s Dinorama.
At Modern Life is Good, we keep you updated 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 Animal Kingdom Tips
To learn more about Walt Disney World, visit our 2023 Guide to Walt Disney World.