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Your One-Day Guide to the Best of Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Your One-Day Guide to the Best of Disney's Animal Kingdom Disney's Animal Kingdom Secret Animals Disney's Animal Kingdom Secret Animals Disney's Animal Kingdom Secret Animals

This weekend, we are taking a moment to round out the East Coast in our One-Day Guide series to the Walt Disney World theme parks. We’ve already hit the Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and EPCOT. Now it’s time to turn our attention to the youngest theme park in Walt Disney World, Disney’s Animal Kingdom! When you don’t have a lot of time, you might be trying to fit all the best bits of this park into one day. We are here to help with your guide to navigating your way through Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Get Started With a Safari

The big draw card for Disney’s Animal Kingdom that sets it apart from the other Disney parks is the emphasis on animals and the natural world. Here is your chance to get up close and personal with some of your favorite animals and feel like you are exploring their world on the other side of the globe. I like to see these animals in the coolest part of the day when they are usually the most active, which means as soon as the park opens, I make a beeline for Kilimanjaro Safaris in the Africa area of the park. Later in the day, the line for this attraction can be long, and the interaction with the animals is less as the heat rolls in.

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Decide Your Pandora Fate

One of the longest waits in the park is always the Avatar attraction, Flight of Passage in Pandora – World of Avatar. Guests will sometimes wait hours to ride this attraction; that is time you don’t have to waste standing in line. If Avatar is a must-do for your family, purchasing an Individual Lightning Lane for this ride is worth it, even if you don’t worry about Disney Genie+. Get this one booked as soon as reservations open during the morning to ensure you can come, enjoy, and be on your way with time to see everything else.

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Choose a Show

Even though shows are part of the experience at most Disney Parks, Disney’s Animal Kingdom is home to a few Broadway-style shows that will knock your socks off. There are a few to choose from, though two that I would highly recommend above all else. Festival of the Lion King is so impressive that you won’t believe you are still sitting in a theme park as you watch it. Consider hitting this one as soon as you finish Kilimanjaro Safaris, which is close by in Africa. Later in the day, somewhere in the afternoon, I like to see Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond! Professional puppetry and performances will make your jaw drop, and the mid-afternoon break in the strongly air-conditioned theatre is a well-timed pick-me-up!

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Spend Time in Asia

The Asia area of the park is phenomenal. After you’ve enjoyed your Safari and show in Africa, make your way around to Asia, where you will find Expedition Everest, Feathered Friends in Flight, Kali River Rapids, and Maharajah Jungle Trek. However, the best part is arguably the walk-through. If you aren’t booking a trip to Nepal any time soon, take time to appreciate Disney’s take on Mount Everest with every detail, from the prayer flags to the landscape on point. From there, it’s only a short trip over to DinoLand USA for your afternoon Nemo show and a spin on Dinosaur!

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Don’t Miss Pandora After Dark

When you’ve finished with your rides and shows, visited your character friends in Discovery Island and the Oasis, and are just looking to absorb the last of the beauty in the park before your trip home, make your way back into Pandora’s World of Avatar and watch the natural environment come to life. This area is a whole different experience after dark. Don’t miss seeing the landscape light up on one of the most impressive transformations I’ve ever seen.

Other than the Flight of Passage attraction Lightning Lane, this might be one part where you are less likely to need Genie+ in order to see everything in one day, though it does make everything less stressful. It’s easy to spend hours wandering through this park with its walking trails and natural feel. Don’t make the mistake of thinking this is a half-day park. The people who say that tend not to be first-timers and have already identified their favorite aspects. If you have never been before, take the day to see everything there is to enjoy.

Earlier In This Series:

Zoë Wood is a travel writer from Sydney, Australia. Since her first visit to Disneyland at the age of 6, she has spent her years frequently visiting Disney Parks and traveling around the world.

Join Zoë as she lets you in on all the tips, tricks, anecdotes, and embarrassments that arise from her family adventures.


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