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Animal Kingdom Vacation Tips

Updated on July 5, 2016

The Animal Kingdom is unique in that it is both a theme park and an animal conservatory. The design incorporates nature, so a lot of vegetation is planted throughout the park, making it feel like a nature trail as you navigate between the sections. The resulting shade is a mild relief from Florida’s heat as well as a small eye protection from the brightness of the sun. If you keep your eyes open, photo opportunities are hidden throughout the park to jump at you, especially the Tree of Life where hundreds of animal shapes are carved into the trunk.

Animal Kingdom Time Management

The Animal Kingdom has one major disadvantage over the other three main theme parks of Disney World. The park’s hours are set for the benefit of the animals and the caretaking thereof; so Animal Kingdom closes earlier, at five in the evening. This earlier closing time makes it difficult to visit everything in the park in a single day. If you are a guest at a Disney Resort, you can take advantage of Extra Magic Hours to extend your visit; but even with this advantage the park will still close before the others. It would be beneficial to have a park hopper pass at least on the day you plan to visit Animal Kingdom.

One of the most crucial strategies for time management is to get a Fast Pass for the Kilimanjaro Safaris tour. The Kilimanjaro Safaris is a ride that takes an oversize jeep though the animal preserve. The rest of the park is kept mostly separate from the wildlife so this ride is the best way to see them. The horrible part is that the line for the ride is zigzagged through a mile long trail obscured by bamboo and other vegetation that deceives you in its length. You could unwittingly be standing in a two to three hour line for an exhausting and frustrating wait. Using the Fast Pass option for this attraction is absolutely essential.

Animal Kingdom Comfort Tips

Sunscreen and insect spray is also essential, as is loose, light, and cool clothing. Animal Kingdom may have more shade than the other parks; but it is still hot, humid, and more of it is located outdoors. Research the map of the park and choose which attractions you want to attend. If one of the attractions you choose is the Kali River Rapids, I strongly recommend that you make it the first ride of the day. The Kali River Rapids is an oversize inner tube fitted with seats that drifts down a winding trail of rapids. You will get wet on this ride, you will most likely get completely soaked on this ride. You will spend a couple of hours in cold soggy clothing drying out in the hot sun. It is better to get that over with than to wait closer to the evening when the temperatures begin to drop. An alternative option, if you don’t mind looking silly, it to outfit yourself in a poncho and feet bags before getting on this ride.

Animal Kingdom Line Clogs

The other two popular attractions that offer line congestion are the rides Dinosaur and Expedition Everest. Both attractions use Fast Pass, a kiosk that you slide your admission ticket or room card into to receive a return receipt to enter a shorter line. Dinosaur is a fast paced indoor ride that features characters from the movie Dinosaur. I won’t reveal the surprise, but if you choose to ride this attraction, keep a smile on your face, it will be worth it at the end. Expedition Everest is an extreme roller coaster that moves forward and then goes backward to the origin point. Parents with children may have to take turns babysitting to enjoy this ride. Expedition Everest also has another feature, it is extremely photogenic, especially on the bridge connecting the Discovery Island and Africa sections of the park.

Animal Kingdom Tips

If you want to take pictures of people in character costumes, the best places to find them are in Camp Minnie-Mickey and Rafiki’s Planet Watch. Rafiki’s Planet Watch also has the benefit of being the only place in the park other than the Kilimanjaro Safaris where you can see animals. It even includes a petting zoo.

There are not as many dining places, especially restaurant dining places, as there are in the other parks. As a result, they tend to be overcrowded and uncomfortable. Eating at odd hours may help with the congestion a little, but it will still be crowded. Hopping over to one of the other parks for your major meal of the day is to your advantage, I recommend the Epcot Center with its selection of international culinary delights. Another option is to simply bring your own food and bypass the cluster.

You have got your work cut out for you to visit everything in the short amount of time available, but remember, it’s your vacation so relax and have fun.


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