Last year I did a post about Magic Kingdom, which you can find here. And tips for first timers here. But for now I want to talk about the park that I feel we spend the most time in, this second time around. That would be ANIMAL KINGDOM. I feel this park has so much to offer and it’s quite one of our top favorites if not the top one.
If you are looking for some Disney Animal Kingdom top insides like Fastpass tips, food suggestions, best rides, secret shortcuts you have come to the right place.
Animal Kingdom Top Attractions
When planning your day the best tip is having the app downloaded to your phone. My Disney Experience App will guide you with the park map, rides and their wait times, the park hours, PhotoPass, FastPass and so much more. When considering your attractions focus on whether you want to prioritize in low waits or getting everything done in one land and moving on to the next. We like to focus in the order of our FastPass and keep them back to back even if requires a lot of walking from one attraction to the other.
I think this is one of the most popular must get on rides in the park. Aside from Flight of Passage this is my kids ultimate favorite ride. There is a height requirement of 44″. It is located in Asia and it is a thrill ride with big drops for kids, teens, and adults. This is the ride you want to prioritize for a FastPass and you want to try and experience it more than once because it is that good. We have always done it during daylight but this visit we got to experience it twice during night time as well and what an experience. It definitely made it more full of thrill and scary in my opinion. Tip to be added: don’t have a FP?, skip the lines by going through the single rider lane.
It is located in Africa and for all ages. This was the first time experiencing this attraction. It was so relaxing and peaceful and I recommend it when starting your day at the park. I been told by cast members that the best time to go on it is morning time and at dusk when the temperatures are nice and you have greater chance at seeing all the animals during their most active peak times.
It is located in Dinoland and it’s a 40″ height requirement. We got on this ride the most since I was able to hack FastPasses on this one multiple times. It is our favorite ride in Dinoland with such a cute small shop at the end of the ride that my kids kept taking advantage of and we ended getting a lot of dinos for Luke to add to his extreme dinosaur collection. The ride is dark all the way through with lots of jumpy and bumpy quick shift movements but I wouldn’t describe it as scary but something to consider, so hang on tight.
Located in Dinoland as well with a 48″ height requirement. I think this ride is one of the few with more restrictions on such a high height requirement for kids for the reason on how you are locked in to the ride, it comes from your head down to your hips and locks versus from your legs and up. It was a first time for me and I had my son walk me through the ride since he had experienced before with his dad. My daughter and I had not been on it and we definitely had our few screams with the fast turns and drops. Overall we loved it. I would say a thrill ride for sure.
KALI RIVER RAPIDS
It is located in Asia and it’s a 38″ height requirement. Last time my kids and husband got on this ride they came out completely wet and it was the first ride of the day. We had to buy extra clothes at their nearby shop because I was not expecting this and didn’t pack extra clothes that day. So lets just say lesson learned and this time around we waited to get on it at the very end of the night before leaving the park. If you don’t get a FastPass on it my best advice is wait closer to the night you can quickly hack it and also there is no long lines towards the end. And another added tip: I noticed many will bring in a poncho and sandals to the ride and change right after to avoid getting their shirts and shoes wet.
RIVERS OF LIGHT
We got to experience Rivers of Light up close in the up front reserved seats by doing a dining package. We had lunch at Tusker House and it came with tickets to the ROL show that gives you preferred reserved seating for you and your party. It is a good way to sit down, relax a bit from the park day and enjoy a show with full on lights and music right from the view of the river that features classic moments from Disney Animation. A must experience show, it was completely magical from beginning to end. Tip to be added: do not add this as your initial top 3 FP (it will block you from being able to finish your first 3 FP and use the unlimited passes throughout the day), hack it as it gets closer to the night if preferred seating is a must for you otherwise you can watch it from the side of the lagoon if you are passing by.
IT’S TOUGH TO BE A BUG
This show is one you need to make some time for and it always has low wait times so take advantage. You may not even need to use a FastPass for it because waits are usually under 30 minutes. It is a 4D experience with fun surprises here and there and also there is AC. After being hot at the park seating down and enjoying a fun show with a cold fan sounds perfectly ideal to me.
NA’VI RIVER JOURNEY
Located in Pandora- The World of Avatar and it is for all ages. Take a mystical journey on boat deep into Pandora’s glowing rain forest. We had not experienced this boat ride and it was on my list. So we waited until park closing time and got in line 4 minutes before it closed and it was such a nice way to end our second park day at Animal Kingdom with zero waits. This ride is one of the ones with the higher wait times (Flight of Passage is usually double though) so my advice is waiting for closing time if you were not able to get a FastPass on it. It is definitely a ride you want to experience at least once, not sure if I would do it again.
FLIGHT OF PASSAGE
Located in Pandora- The World of Avatar with a 44″ height requirement. It is said to be the ultimate best ride in all of Disney World. I think the overwhelming wait times speak for itself. On the days we were there the wait times peaked to 280 minutes. The Pandora land was overly crowded with lines that circled endlessly. Anyone will tell you that getting a FastPass to this ride is a must. I cannot stressed that enough in the importance of making it a FastPass to your visit (because lets be real no one wants to actually wait 4 plus hours)
Best ways to experience Flight of Passage during your visit is by rope dropping that early morning, getting a FastPass, or getting in line right before the park closes. We ended up doing two out of these options above. I had a FastPass for 8:05 AM on one day and on the other day we decided to get in line about 10 minutes before the park closed and had a quicker wait time as the lines moved up fairly quickly.
As you may know when booking your FastPass it is designed by Tiers. You have Tier 1 and Tier 2. You are only allowed to choose one ride from Tier 1 and then two from Tier 2.
Tier 1: choose one
- Na’vi River Journey
- Flight of Passage
Tier 2: choose two
- Expedition Everest
- Primeval Whirl
- Kilimanjaro Safaris
- Kali River Rapids
- Rivers of Light
- Primeval Whirl
- It’s Tough to Be a Bug
- Finding Nemo- The Musical
- Festival of The Lion King
- UP! A Great Bird Adventure
- The Animation Experience
- Meet Favorite Disney Pals
When deciding on your Tier 1 and then your Tier 2 it is best if you get them back to back. Schedule them all as close together as you possible can. Ideally one hour apart is the best you can do. So when you are finished with one you can head straight to the other. You want to be done with all 3 FastPasses as early as possible so you can start hacking your next one (4th FP) and so on. They are unlimited and you ca do as many as you are able to for the rest of your park day.
I will share more details and in depth strategies to use unlimited FastPasses here on the blog soon. My motto this time around was IF I HAVE TO WAIT IN LINE I AM NOT DOING IT.
SECRETS AND SHORTCUTS
- You can enter the park before it opens (yes shocker!) okay maybe not, but surprisingly many people do not know this. If you book breakfast reservations in the early morning you can access the park early before opening. A place we got to try and completely recommend is Tusker House. Plus it is the only character dining restaurant at Animal Kingdom. You will get to meet Minnie, Daisy, Donald Duck, Goofy all in one seating with a full on breakfast spread buffet.
- There is a “secret” entrance to Animal Kingdom that many do not know about. You can skip and avoid the large rush of people trying to go in by entering through the Rainforest Cafe entrance. You will find it in your left side with a sign to the restaurant. Once you are in go through the gift shop and exit the back doors. There will be a security spot where they quickly check you to enter the park.
- Looking for the best spot opportunity with Everest Expedition in the background? As you enter Asia from Discovery Island turn to the right passing Yak & Yeti towards Everest you will come to a corner by the lake and will most likely find a cast member here, perfect photo spot with Everest in the background as you can see down below.
- Hidden walkway to Pandora? You most likely find yourself entering from Discovery Island which let’s be honest can be crowded and busy. We accidentally (not on purpose) found this trail as we were leaving Africa. You will find this trail starting as you pass Tusker House towards the back where Festival of the Lion King is, passing a restroom building and going under a bridge it will take you straight to Pandora.
- Use Mobile Order for Quick Service. Skip the lines and go straight to the front to pick up your food. It is a no brainer! You want to maximize your park time!
FOOD FAVORITES AT ANIMAL KINGDOM
- Flame Tree Barbecue– located in Discovery Island close to the Tree of Life and it is the best Quick Service at AK. I have heard nothing but good things about this place so we had it three times while at AK. It’s so good and a park favorite by everyone. You can’t go wrong with pulled pork, barbecue, ribs, chicken, loaded fries and onion rings with cornbread. Good use of Snack Credits as well.
- Satu’li Canteen– located in Pandora. Another park favorite, made to order bowls for adults and good options to use for Snack credits (cheeseburger steamed pods are a must try)
- Pongu Pongu– located in Pandora. One of the best places to use your Snack Credits. ( exmaple: Pongu Lumpia and Night Blossom are a must)
- Pizzafari– located in Discovery Island. I think this is a great spot for kids and for those that love Pizza plus it has indoor sit down tables. It came in great when it was pouring rain and we needed a place to feed the kids, sit and wait.
- Tusker House– located in Africa. Only character dining in AK and offers American and African cuisine buffet style. You will be able to meet and take photos with Donald Duck, Daisy, Minnie/or Mickey, and Goofy. Overall we had an amazing experience here. We had a reservation for lunch (I suggest you get one to avoid being on the wait list) so there was zero waits, the food was delicious and kid approved.
- Rainforest Cafe– located by entrance. We experienced it on our first visit in 2018. I personally think compare to other Disney table services this is fairly good but since there are other locations all over the country it can be one you can pass on while at Disney. Although it can be one of the more affordable compare to other sit downs.
- Tiffins– It is AK fine signature dining restaurant. We haven’t experienced it ourselves yet but it is definitely added to my list. (2 TS for this one if you are using the Disney Dining Plan DDP)
- Yak & Yeti– located as you are leaving Discovery Island. Offers Asian cuisine. another one that has been added to my list for our next visit.
- Starbucks– I needed to add this one to the list. Located on Discovery Island near the bridge to Africa. This was the perfect spot for us and we used a lot of our snack credits by getting Venti Starbucks drinks (so worth it)
Fun Fact- Did you know there are approximately 320 animals carved into the Tree of Life ( tree is not real although my kids refuse to believe that)