Planning Your Disney Itinerary: Tips for Animal Kingdom

Wondering how you can possibly see all your desired attractions at Disney World? The answer is a good itinerary! I’m going to give some of my tips for plotting your exploration of each park, and today we’ll start with the beautiful Animal Kingdom.

The age-old advice for itineraries is to visit the busy attractions early. The most popular rides at the Animal Kingdom are Expedition Everest, a high-speed roller coaster located in Asia, and Kilimanjaro Safari Expedition, a safari experience located in Africa. The crowds at rope drop will probably head for one of these two attractions. Crowd-wise, these are closely followed by Kali River Rapids, a water raft ride near Expedition Everest, and DINOSAUR, an intense indoor track ride in Dinoland USA. These are the attractions you should place early in your itinerary, or plan for a FastPass.

When we visited the Animal Kingdom, we tried to hit the rides in an order that minimized walking – the Animal Kingdom is an enormous park, the biggest of the four, so be sure that your itinerary doesn’t have you criss-crossing all over the place. Start in Dinoland and then work your way into Asia and then Africa, or vice-versa.

The Animal Kingdom also has several amazing shows that deserve some itinerary space. My favorite is Festival of the Lion King in Camp Minnie-Mickey (this show will be moving to Africa in 2014). There is also Finding Nemo: The Musical in Dinoland, It’s Tough to be a Bug near the Tree of Life, and Flights of Wonder in Asia. It’s Tough to be a Bug is not usually crowded. For the other shows, depending on when you visit, you should plan to arrive 20-30 minutes before the show. The earliest and latest showings tend to be the least crowded. Remember to grab a Times Guide when you enter the park to confirm show times.

Africa and Asia each feature a zoo-like walking trail – Pangani Forest Exploration Trail and Maharajah Jungle Trek, respectively. Both trails are great experiences, but the Pangani is often crowded because of its proximity to the Kilimanjaro Safari exit. Visit the Pangani early, before the Safari really gets going. The Maharajah, being less crowded and quite shady, is a good choice for later in the day.

Unlike the other parks, the Animal Kingdom closes at least by 8:00 and as early as 5:00. Because of this, many people only visit for half a day, and so late afternoon and evening have pretty low crowds. If you stick around, you may be able to ride several attractions with little wait. Don’t save the walking trails for the evening, though – the animals have an early bedtime.

How do you plan your day at the Animal Kingdom?                  

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Elizabeth lives in Kansas City with her wonderful parents and sister. She enjoys long walks, happy thoughts, and Disney magic! Elizabeth first visited Disney as a child, and when she prepared to visit Walt Disney World as an adult, she foolishly thought she may have ‘outgrown’ Disney. Happily, Elizabeth was proven wrong. After planning a second trip to Walt Disney World, Elizabeth is now her family’s go-to resource for Disney. She even has her own blog,, with advice on how to plan your next Disney trip. Someday, she even hopes to be an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. Elizabeth’s Disney wish list is a mile long, so she’s always ready to plan her next Disney adventure.

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