Animal Kingdom is a park that has a lot of area to cover, but with 1 day, you can definitely see the best it has to offer. This itinerary is for a full day at the park, however you can take a break in the middle or cut the day short if you feel it is too long for your family. Just note that if you do not plan to spend the full day in the park, you will have to cut out some of the attractions on the itinerary. Please note that these itineraries are based on a moderate crowd level and you may not be able to get everything done if you visit on a higher crowd level day.
**Make sure to check out my Animal Kingdom Rides Guide to help you pick out which rides you want to plan for at the park.
Park Map: (click for larger view)
I highly recommend that you start your day as early as you can. If you are a Disney Resort guest, then you will have access to the park for 30 minutes before official park opening. With that in mind, aim to arrive at the park an hour before official park opening and be ready to head to your first ride of the day so you can maximize that extra 30 minutes.
If you are not staying on-site, then I recommend you arrive approximately half an hour before rope drop. Rope drop refers to the time that they officially open the park.
Genie+ can be a hit or miss at Animal Kingdom. If the cost of it doesn’t bother you, then by all means, go ahead and buy it. I don’t think it is essential for this park though.
When scheduling your initial Lightning Lane selections, I would recommend trying to start them around 1 hour after park opening. That will give you a chance to ride other attractions on stand-by while they still have short lines during that first hour. After the first hour, lines start to get longer and that is when your lightning lane selections will come in handy. For your first Lightning Lane selection of the day, I would choose one of the following:
- Na’vi River Journey
- Kilimanjaro Safari
**ALSO, I highly recommend purchasing Lightning Lane access to Flight of Passage. Otherwise, it will be hard to ride it anytime during the day without at least an hour wait. If you are also willing to purchase the Lightning Lane access for Expedition Everest, that will save you more time throughout your day without having to worry about that ride’s stand-by line. You can however head straight to Expedition Everest as your first ride of the day and have a short wait in the stand-by line.
**You will want to make sure you know how to use Genie+ and how to purchase those extra Lightning Lanes for the premium rides. You can take a look at my tutorial at How to Use Genie+ at Disney World.
Early Morning Touring:
Depending on what you scheduled for your first lightning lane, you may need to change the order of this itinerary. Also, as you go throughout the day, the order may change depending on when you are able to grab additional Lightning Lane rides. Make sure you read my tutorial (linked above) and know EXACTLY when you can schedule your next Lightning Lane. The more Lightning Lanes you can schedule in the day, the less time you will spend waiting in lines.
If you are not using Genie+ and are a Disney Resort guest with access to early entry hours, this is the order of rides I recommend:
- Flight of Passage
- Na’vi River Journey
- Kilimanjaro Safaris
- Festival of the Lion King
There are a couple of options for snacks in Africa. Tamu Tamu Refreshments sells the famous Dole Whip and other ice cream snacks. At Harambe Fruit Market, you can find some fresh fruit, pretzels and shaved ice.
Late Morning Touring:
Since you are in Africa, I would suggest one of two options for the late morning. Either walk the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail or visit Rafiki’s Planet Watch. I would only suggest a trip over to Rafiki’s Planet Watch if you have young children as that area caters more to that age. You may even get a chance to watch a live surgery that they perform on one of the animals that they care for at Animal Kingdom.
If you plan on making a table service reservation for this day, you will be right in the area where Tusker House is located. It is a great character meal, the selection of food is delicious. The characters you will meet here are Mickey, Donald, Goofy and Daisy.
If you prefer a quick-service option, then I would recommend either Pizzafari or Flame Tree BBQ. Flame Tree BBQ is a bit further of a walk, but totally worth it though!
After lunch you may want to check your Times Guide to see if a showing of Flights of Wonder is coming up soon. From there, I would recommend the other following options:
- Kali River Rapids (you will get soaked!)
- Maharajah Jungle Trek
- Expedition Everest
- It’s Tough to be a Bug
**Quick Tip – make sure to use the free lockers provided before boarding Kali River Rapids and you may want to bring some dry clothes with you in your park bag (underwear included)
In Dinoland, you can find two good options for snacks. I would recommend checking out Dino-Bite Snacks and Trilo-Bites
Late Afternoon Touring:
DINOSAUR might be the next ride you want to check out. This ride is dark and can be scary, so beware if you have young children. There is also a playground called The Boneyard in this area of the park where parents can take a break while young ones play. Then you may want to move on to:
- TriceraTop Spin
- Kite Tails
I would recommend heading back to Pandora at this point to eat at Satu’li Canteen. You will want to be in that area when the sun goes down and this quick-service restaurant has some really interesting options on their menu.
For the evening, my recommendation would be to first walk around and check out Pandora at night. That area of the park has a completely different feeling once the sun goes down, so take your time to enjoy it lit up. You will then want to head over to the Tree of Life so that you can catch the Tree of Life Awakenings. Make sure to check your Times Guide for the schedule.
End of Day:
Since Animal Kingdom does not have an evening show, it is usually the park where you will have the earliest finish of your day. Take that opportunity to head back to the resort and maybe have an evening swim!