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)
If you plan to only spend 1 day at Animal Kingdom, I highly recommend that you start your day early, before rope drop. Rope drop refers to the time that they officially open the park. How long before rope drop you should be there will all depend on whether Flight of Passage is on your must-do list. We recommend that you show up either at least one hour before rope drop or 30 minutes before rope drop. Here are the two scenarios:
At least one hour or more before rope drop – You want to ride Flight of Passage and you do not have a fastpass for it
30 minutes before rope drop – You have a fastpass for Flight of Passage OR you do not plan to ride it
Flight of Passage is the most sought out fastpass right now and it is the one ride you should definitely try to get one for if you plan to ride it. From Pandora, you can only select one ride, either Flight of Passage or Na’vi River Journey. Flight of Passage should be the one you try to get, but if you can’t, then Na’vi River Journey is a good second choice. For your remaining fastpass selections, here are some good options:
- DINOSAUR (dark ride, height requirement of 40 inches)
- Expedition Everest (thrill ride, height requirement of 44 inches)
- Kali River Rapids
- Kilimanjaro Safari
- Rivers of Light
Early Morning Touring:
Pandora will be the first place you want to head to in the morning and most of the crowd will likely be headed that way too. If you got there early and do not have a fastpass for Flight of Passage, ride that first thing. If you are near the front of the crowd, you should be able to ride it without a long wait. If you have a fastpass, then you will want to head over to Na’vi River Journey first. If your fastpass for Flight of Passage is later in the day, then you should ride Na’vi River Journey and then continue with the rest of the park, return when it is time for your fastpass. After Pandora, here is where you will want to head next:
- Kilimanjaro Safaris
- Festival of the Lion King (check the Times Guide)
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 would be my preference as it is known to be one of the best quick-service restaurants in the park. It is a bit further than Pizzafari, but worth the walk!
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
- Finding Nemo – The Musical
**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 these rides:
- Primeval Whirl
- TriceraTop Spin
If you have some time left before dinner, then I recommend heading back to Discovery Island to catch a showing of It’s Tough to be a Bug.
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:
Rivers of Light is the nighttime show that takes place at Animal Kingdom. If you would like to see that show, you will want to check your Times Guide and make sure you get in line for the show at least 45 minutes before it is scheduled to start. The show is performed over water and it tells a story with music and lights. It is not a typical Disney show that includes any characters, but it is a wonderful celebration of the beauty of nature.