Size of Park: 580 acres (the biggest Disney park in the World)
Days I think you should spend there: 1 day
Number of “lands”: 5 (soon to be 6)
Best Ride: Kilimanjaro’s Safaris
Give it a miss if you don’t have time: Primeval Whirl and TriceraTop Spin
What to FastPass: Unless you have young children this is an easy one – Kilimanjaro Safaris, Kali River Rapids and Expedition Everest. The only other good options are Dinosoar (but you can usually get this after your first three have finished) and meeting Mickey and Minnie which I would recommend just queuing for or going later in the day when the queue gets shorter.
The Oasis – as you step through the gates of Animal Kingdom this is where you’ll find yourself. There’s no attractions here specifically other than The Rainforest Cafe. Most people rush through here but I think it’s worth taking some time later in the day to look at some of the animals in this area.
Discovery Island – This is where you will get your first glimpse of the Tree of Life. Fun fact for you is that the tree of life’s internal structure is actually an old oil rig. Here you can watch the 3D show “It’s Tough to be a Bug” which you will never need a FastPass for. You can also meet Doug and Russell from Up and sign up to be a Wilderness explorer to complete challenges and earn badges all around the park. Since Camp Mickey Minnie closed this is also where you’ll find your meet and greet with Mickey and Minnie in their safari clothes.
Africa – My favourite place in my favourite park. The Lion King show is the absolute must do – just get there early and you’ll be able to get a good seat. I can’t put into words how good this show is. You’ve also got Kilimanjaro Safaris which is a 20 minute jeep ride. We’ve been in this a lot and seen different animals every time. There’s the Gorilla Falls Expedition Trail which is a walk through area to see gorillas, hippos, birds and more. This allows you to see the animals at your own pace. You can also get a train up to Rafiki’s Planet watch which is an educational area with a petting zoo and all about how they keep the animals fed and healthy, with the opportunity to watch live surgery if there’s one going on. My favourite part of Rafiki’s Planet Watch was meeting Chip and Dale but unfortunately they are moving out of Animal Kingdom and making way for Disney Junior characters.
Asia – the two main attractions here are Kali River Rapids and Expedition Everest, which is often said to be the best roller coaster on Disney property. There’s the Flights of Wonder bird show and this is where you’ll come if you want to watch the evening show Rivers of Light. Finally, there’s the Maharajah Jungle Trek which is like the Gorilla Falls version but here the highlights are tigers, bats and a Komodo dragon. Be aware that Asia is pretty big with long, very hot walks between things in the summer. I’d recommend heading here early morning or evening so it’s a bit more manageable – or cool down on Kali River Rapids halfway through the day.
DinoLand U.S.A – the land that’s least suited to us but is a child’s paradise with a huge adventure playground. The Dinosoar ride is a classic with a following of people that love it. It’s a fine ride and the wait time is usually reasonable but be prepared to be thrown round a bit and it can be scary for younger children. Here you’ll also find meet and greets with Goofy and Pluto, as well as the Finding Nemo Musical – which I’ve never seen (gasp!) – remind me to go next time. The centre of DinoLand has a “fun fair” type approach with funfair rides and games (note: the games are at an extra charge).
- We used Undercover Tourist Orlando’s crowd calendar and chose to visit on a “Green Day” which was a Saturday. It was so wrong it was actually heaving and the wait times were awful. I would say never never go there on a Saturday even in low season.
It was worth getting there for rope drop – there isn’t a show like at MK but they released parrots and made us put our hands up and pledge not to run! Fast walking allowed us to get on the third safari of the day, all the animals were awake and we saw way more animals than we have in previous years. I would recommend doing the safari early morning or evening so the animals are the most active.
- This isn’t a park to rush from place to place. The people who don’t “get” Animal Kingdom are the ones that do this. It’s a park to take your time, look at the animals, let the kids become a Wilderness Explorer. Most annual pass holders love Animal Kingdom and the reason for that is that’s is so special. But, if you rush round trying to do it in half a day, you’re going to miss it.
- Make use of single rider if you can – the entrances can be hidden away but it can make a huge difference if you’re willing to split up. 10 mins rather than 45 on Expedition Everest on one day. This is an option that isn’t available in every park.
- The meet and greets here can be really special. I’ve found the characters really take their time (perhaps because it’s one of the quieter parks).
- Animal Kingdom is absolutely stunning at night. The tree of life awakenings are beautiful and the atmosphere is wonderful – a night safari is also a great way to see something a bit different. I am yet to see Rivers of Light so I can’t comment but I have watched a video and I would say of all the night time entertainment it’s nice but not crucial.