Five Family Tips for a Short Day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Disney Animal Kingdom
A rainy morning didn’t keep us away from early park entry.

Our colleague Ryan Jacobson and his family love Disney’s Animal Kingdom. They believe it is the most beautiful of the parks. But, in his family’s opinion, it’s also the park that merits the least amount of time—and that’s meant as a compliment. Read on to learn more.

If EPCOT was our sleep-in day, Animal Kingdom was our go-home-early-and-swim day (especially in early March when there’s no night show).

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is usually the least busy of the parks, and we went on a rainy Sunday morning. We’re not sure if that made it less or more crowded because it felt like everyone else had the same idea—to visit the Animal Kingdom on the bad-weather day. Here are our tips!

1. Genie+ is totally worth it—if you want to leave early.

Truth be told, the experts are correct: You probably don’t need Genie+ at Animal Kingdom. There aren’t a zillion rides, and the lines aren’t terrifyingly long. But my family wanted to leave after lunch, so we opted to purchase the add-on service. It felt like the best Genie+ usage of our trip because we were able to get Lightning Lanes whenever and wherever we wanted. We also purchased Lightning Lanes for Avatar Flight of Passage. Then we used our first Lightning Lane on Na’vi River Journey. This was, in my opinion, an excellent strategy.

Disney Animal Kingdom
The Na’vi River Journey (Pandora—The World of Avatar) at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

2. Early Theme Park Entry is a must.

About 95% of the crowd at Animal Kingdom’s early park entry is heading for Avatar Flight of Passage. If you decide not to purchase Lightning Lanes for this ride—or if you want to ride it twice—you should be among them. However, my roller-coaster-loving youngest and I discovered a better use of our early admission: Expedition Everest. Between 7:30 and 8 a.m., we walked onto that roller coaster five times—and the coaster was never full. (We tried a few different seats and decided that, yes, the back of the ride is the best.) When a line began to form at 8, we walked to Kilimanjaro Safaris, where the wait time was a mere 10 minutes. (I’m not sure if it was because of the rain, but our safari was a home run. All the animals were out and about.)

Kilimanjaro safaris giraffe featured
The animals weren’t shy on our safari!

3. Exactly 50% of all Avatar rides are awesome.

Avatar Flight of Passage was spectacular. It gets my vote for one of the five best rides in Walt Disney World. Na’vi River Journey was the opposite. If you’re a hardcore Avatar fan, you might enjoy it. I thought it was, more or less, It’s a Small World without the nostalgia (or, thankfully, the song). If I had waited in line for an hour to ride it, I might’ve been cranky.

Avatar Flight of Passage (Pandora—The World of Avatar) at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

4. Use those Lightning Lanes.

We rode the Na’vi River at about 9:20 a.m. After that, every other Lightning Lane was open to us. We were able to book and use them to fit our plan. Since we were on our way to It’s Tough to Be a Bug!, we grabbed a Lightning Lane—but didn’t need it. Then we booked Expedition Everest, followed by Finding Nemo: The Big Blue…and Beyond, and Dinosaur. (We also booked Festival of the Lion King but decided not to stick around.) All told, I think we saved about 90 minutes of waiting in line—well worth $16.

5. Disney’s best quick-service restaurant is at Animal Kingdom.

If you ask me, I’ll tell you that Animal Kingdom has better food than EPCOT. That might be debatable, but few would argue there’s a better quick-service food option than Flame Tree Barbecue. The food—which includes ribs, chicken, pulled pork, and more—is great, and the price is even better, considering most entrées can be shared by two people.

Pro tip: You can swap your baked beans for fries.

If you saved room for dessert, my family’s favorite Disney World treat is also at Animal Kingdom. Head to Dino-Bite Snacks, and get an Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich. It is of dino-size proportions, so you might want to share this too—or not.

With a little magic from Genie+, our family accomplished all of this and a bit of shopping, and we were back in our hotel room by 2 p.m.

Animal Kingdom
If we’d found these ears earlier, we would’ve made Jonah wear them all week!

Fortunately, our trip included one more day. We were able to check out of our room, leave our luggage with Bell Services (open 24 hours), and spend one more day in the Magic Kingdom. It was truly a magical trip. I hope your next visit to Walt Disney World is just as wonderful.

Ryan Jacobson is the author of more than 60 books. His most popular titles include the Constellations Activity BookCan You Survive the Call of the Wild?, and Up Where the Stars Are.

For all there is to see and do at Walt Disney World, check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, or to plan your family’s trip to Orlando, check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids

If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to our YouTube channel and sign up for our newsletter here. Be sure to follow us on ThreadsXFacebookInstagramPinterest, and YouTube.

#unofficialguide #theUGSeries


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *