Disney’s Animal Kingdom is one of our favorite parks. Not only is the theming amazing, but it has terrific food and some of the best rides at the Disney parks. Plus, animals!
I also love that if you do this park right, you can enjoy a relaxing and fun day and still have time in the afternoon to head back to the resort to enjoy the pool. We’ve got this park down pat and I almost hate to share our secrets, but if you follow this guide, you’ll see it all without stress!
Ready for a perfect day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom?
Begin your day at the hotel
How you start your day is key to enjoying Animal Kingdom stress-free. It is imperative that you get to the park half an hour before it opens. I’m not going to lie, this isn’t easy as it tends to open pretty early, but if you only do one part of this agenda, make it this one. Then the rest of your day will go smoothly.
Insider tip: If you are staying on Disney property, the parks often open early for Disney resort guests, so ask the concierge or front desk to make sure you time your arrival accordingly.
Since you are headed out early, make your coffee in your room and bring it with you. Also, grab a granola bar or some other easy breakfast you can enjoy while you drive to the park (or wait for the Disney bus).
Buses are the only Disney transportation to Animal Kingdom, and aside from Animal Kingdom Lodge and Kidani, this park is pretty far away from the rest of the resorts. Therefore, if we have a car, we typically drive. But, if a bus is your transportation, make sure you catch one early enough to get there before the park opens.
The first ride
As soon as you enter the park, head left and go straight to Avatar. If you’ve never been on this ride, you’ll be blown away. In order to avoid lines throughout the day, it’s critical to ride this one first. Most people will be headed this way, so it will appear to be a long line, but if you were one of the first people in the park, the line will move continuously and shouldn’t take that long.
Wasn’t that amazing?
After Avatar, head over to the Na’vi River Ride (to the left of Avatar as you exit) and hop on it. This ride often gets waits of an hour or more, but if you hit it early in the morning right after Avatar you shouldn’t have to wait more than 20 – 25 minutes.
Insider tip: Although Pandora is pretty cool to wander around and take pictures, I’d suggest leaving it for now and coming back later in the day.
It’s time to head out on a safari
Leave Pandora and head over to Africa to enjoy the safari ride. By now the park has been open for about an hour, so there may be a short line for the safari (or maybe not!), but it won’t be bad. Most people are waiting in line at Avatar, but not you!
The safari is one of my favorite rides at Animal Kingdom – especially if you get a good guide. Another bonus of enjoying it early in the morning (besides the short wait) is that the animals tend to be active and you’ll probably see more of them moving around.
Enjoy a few thrill rides
By now you’ve completed the three rides that tend to have the longest lines later in the day. And if you started on time, it’s probably around 9:30. Plenty of time to complete the rest of the park without spending hours in line.
To be on the safe side, this is when we typically enjoy Expedition Everest and/or Kali River Rapids. We did both on our last visit, first the River Rapids (you will get wet) and then Everest. Sometimes, the kids will turn around and ride Everest again immediately!
If you are feeling hungry, grab a small bite to eat. Animal Kingdom has wonderful food and even the kiosks are quite yummy. Since it’s still breakfast, one of our favorite options is at the Yak & Yeti’s counter service. They have a delicious breakfast bowl full of potatoes, eggs, peppers, and more. Perfect for sharing too!
Take your pick and then relax!
Your next scheduled stop isn’t until 10:45, so take this time to just wander around and enjoy the atmosphere of Animal Kingdom. Watch the monkeys near Everest – they are really funny- or browse a few shops. If the lines are short you could even ride TriceraTop Spin or Dinosaur.
At 10:45, head back towards Pandora and get in line at the Nomad Lounge (located right next to Tiffins). It opens at 11, and typically you can get in if you are there 15 minutes early. If it’s a super busy day, then go at 10:30 or wait until 11 on the dot and then put your name on the waiting list.
We prefer sitting outside on the deck. Even on a hot day, the overhang and fans keep the area comfortable. You probably aren’t that hungry if you grabbed something earlier, but that’s perfect as the menu consists of small appetizers. It’s the atmosphere and the drinks that I love at Nomad Lounge!
We always enjoy a fun cocktail and the kids get mocktails too! Then we’ll share a few appetizers. Since you’ve been running around since early morning, it’s nice to get off your feet, relax and start slowing down.
Enjoy a show
Keep an eye on the schedule and try to time the Lion King Show for right when you finish up at the Nomad Lounge. Give yourself time to walk over there and then have fun singing along!
Insider tip: use the Disney World App to keep abreast of showtimes, wait times, etc.
If you can’t time that quite right, catch the train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch and learn how to draw your own Disney Character – makes for a fun and FREE souvenir too!
At this point, you’ve ridden all the rides that have long lines, so you could head over to Dinoland to ride Dinosaur (if the lines are not too bad – keep your eye on this one as it fluctuates wildly) or watch It’s a Bug’s Life.
It might also be time for a refreshing drink – coffee or otherwise!
We often end our day here (it’s probably about 2:00), but if you want you can either ride something again, walk the trails to see the animals (I especially like the Gorilla Falls trail), or watch one of the other shows. Even if you decide to stick around, you aren’t in any rush and can take your time wandering around the park – after all, you’ve just completed the perfect day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom!
Looking for more Disney Fun? Check out these related posts:
Pin for later: