28 Tips for Animal Kingdom in 2023

Get in touch with your wild side at Animal Kingdom. This is arguably Disney World’s most impressively themed park. Whether it’s a giant savanna or floating mountains from an alien planet, Animal Kingdom will make you feel transported like no place else.

Our Animal Kingdom tips and tricks will help you make the most of your day at the park. Our tips are divided into the following categories.

  • Animal Kingdom Planning and Touring Tips – These are general tips and strategies for how to plan and tackle your day at the park.
  • Tips for Rides and Attractions – Get ride-specific tips, ranging from tricks on how to save time in line to recommendations on where to sit.
  • Lightning Lane & Genie+ Tips – Find out how Disney’s paid line skipping service will affect your day at Animal Kingdom
  • Animal Kingdom Dining Tips – Find out which restaurants are worth visiting.

Animal Kingdom Planning and Touring Tips

Tree of Life - Discovery Island Trails - Animal Kingdom Attraction

1) Take time to explore at Animal Kingdom. Animal Kingdom was designed with a different philosophy than Disney World’s other theme parks. The entire park was designed to cater to your sense of discovery and adventure. While AK has enough big rides to satisfy theme park fans, I find that this park is best taken in through spontaneous exploration. Yes, you should plan your day around the big attractions. But also take time to explore the walking trails and take in the intricate details.

2) Pay attention to Animal Kingdom’s closing time. Animal Kingdom used to close much earlier than other Disney World parks. When Pandora: The World of Avatar opened, Animal Kingdom’s operating hours got extended into the evenings. However, Animal Kingdom still tends to close the earliest of all of Disney World’s theme parks. Keep this in mind as you plan your vacation, especially if you’re park hopping to Animal Kingdom.

3) Take advantage of lower crowds in the mornings. As with all Disney World parks, crowds are lowest in the morning and in the evenings. You can especially get a lot done during Early Entry and the first hour of park opening.

4) Animal Kingdom Rope Drop Strategy. This strategy only really works if you have access to the Early Entry perk for Disney Resort and Good Neighbor Hotel guests. Try to get to the park 45-60 minutes before park opening. As soon as you’re in the park, head left to Pandora and get in line for Flight of Passage. You should be able to ride this with a short wait at this point. Then head to Na’vi River Journey. Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest should be your next priorities.

Gorillas - Pangani Forest Exploration Trail - Animal Kingdom Attraction

5) Animals are most active in the mornings. Another reason why it’s great to visit Animal Kingdom early in the mornings is that the animals tend to be the most active then. The animals will be eating, roaming, and playing earlier in the day. In the afternoon, many animals will seek shade or shelter if it’s a hot day.

6) Hotter and more humid at Animal Kingdom. Speaking of the heat, the final reason why going to Animal Kingdom early in the day is that this park feels hotter than the other parks. Animal Kingdom has denser vegetation than the other parks, so it has a rainforest-esque effect that blocks breezes and holds in humidity.

So be prepared! Wear cool clothes, pack a reusable water bottle, and bring a Frogg Togg cooling cloth.

7) Wear good walking shoes! While good walking shoes are a must-pack item for Disney World in general, it’s especially true at Animal Kingdom. Many of the paths at Animal Kingdom were designed to be uneven to mimic nature. Unfortunately, a side effect of this realism is that walking around AK can be unforgiving to your feet. Wear shoes with good support as you hike around the Kingdom.

8) What to do after dark at Animal Kingdom. I’ve given you several tips on why Animal Kingdom is great in the morning. But that doesn’t mean you should skip out on this park at night. The park is beautiful at night, and there are several attractions worth seeking out.

  • Kilimanjaro Safaris offers a nighttime version, with special lighting and different animals wandering the savanna. If you’ve only been on Kilimanjaro Safaris during the day, visit it at night. It feels almost like a different ride.
  • The Tree of Life Awakenings and Beacon of Magic. These are short projection shows that take place periodically throughout the evening.
  • Be sure to walk through Pandora: The World of Avatar to see the land light up with bioluminescence.

Tips for Rides and Attractions

Avatar Flight of Passage on Pandora Ð The World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom

9) Flight of Passage can induce motion sickness. While it’s not the most intense ride at Disney World, Avatar: Flight of Passage can still make some guests feel queasy. If you have issues with motion simulators or 3D rides, take caution with this attraction. You can read more about how intense Avatar: Flight of Passage is in our motion sickness guide.

10) Use the single rider line at Expedition Everest. Expedition Everest is a very popular attraction at the Animal Kingdom, so lines are often very long. Look for the single rider line. It’s located to the right of the Lightning Lane – ask a cast member if you can’t find it. Your wait will be substantially reduced!

11) The best seats on Expedition Everest. My personal favorite place to sit on Expedition Everest are the front row seats. It provides the best views, while making the backwards section feel the most intense. The back row is also a good option for guests looking for intense thrills. You can find out more of the best places to sit on Disney World’s best rides here.

Animal Kingdom - Kilimanjaro Safaris

12) The best places to sit on Kilimanjaro Safaris. If you have a camera, try to get a spot on the end of your row. Also having a zoom lens and image stabilization is key for getting good pictures on this ride! If you sit in the back row, you’ll be able to look over your shoulder to see any animals your driver zoomed past.

13) Head to Kilimanjaro Safaris if it rains. Guide2WDW reader Mark shared this awesome tip for seeing more animals on Kilimanjaro Safaris.

During warmer months, the animals come out more on the safari when it rains, so riding the safari in the rain can be fun. We found this out the hard way.”

14) Where to find Animal Kingdom’s secret animal path. As you are on your way to Harambe Village at Animal Kingdom, keep your eye out for the last path to the right after the Tree of Life and before the bridge to Africa. This is Animal Kingdom’s “secret path.” The front of path is filled with a lot of vegetation so you might have to look hard. Yes, it is open to the public. Follow the path for a close look at the Tree of Life and for some great photo spots. Not many people know about this path so you will have a lot of time to yourself and will not be interruptions when you are taking photos.

15) What if you drop something on Dinosaur (or any other ride). Guide2WDW reader M recounts a story about what happened when he lost his backpack on a ride:

“On Dinosaur in Animal Kingdom, be sure to use the net bags for any loose articles you bring into the car including backpacks. Although we weren’t even aware of it until the ride ended, our fully loaded backpack flew out. This happened on our first ride of the day and could not be retrieved until 5:30 after the ride closed. Even heavy articles on the floor will not stay in the car. This ride has cameras throughout and the staff was able to pinpoint the location of the backpack and put our minds at rest that it was out of harm’s way. All lost items found are brought to the Guest Relations building in the front of the park at the end of the day.”

16) Keep your valuables dry on Kali River Rapids. When riding Kali River Rapids, you can stash cameras or phones in a plastic bag or in the bins.

17) Bring a change of clothes if you’re planning on riding Kali River Rapids. On Kali River Rapids, one person always gets wetter than everybody else, but there is no way to tell who it will be. Bring a pair of clothes – including underwear – to change into if you plan on riding Kali River Rapids at the Animal Kingdom.

18) How to keep your feet dry on Kali River Rapids. On Kali River Rapids at Animal Kingdom, make sure your feet are above the silver ring near the bottom of the raft, otherwise water will go over your feet past your ankles. For those who want a drier trip, wear a rain poncho to minimize how wet you get.

19) An entertaining spot to watch monkeys swing around. One of my family’s favorite places to stand and watch animals is near the entrance of Kali River Rapids. There’s a large habitat where a family of monkeys will swing around and play.

Lightning Lane and Genie+ Tips

Expedition Everest - Best Disney World Roller Coaster

20) Is Genie+ worth it at Animal Kingdom? Animal Kingdom has a pretty thin lineup of Genie+ attractions. If you’re on the fence, we’d recommend skipping Genie+ and using our Rope Drop strategy to get on the best rides in the morning. If you’re park hopping, Genie+ might make more sense. You can read more about our recommendation in our Animal Kingdom Lightning Lane guide.

21) Genie+ Lightning Lane Priorities: Expedition Everest, Na’vi River Journey, and Kilimanjaro Safaris should be your biggest priorities if you buy Genie+ at Animal Kingdom.

22) Which Individual Lightning Lane is worth it: Because Flight of Passage has one of the longest lines at Disney World, it’s usually worth it to pay for the Individual Lightning Lane for that ride. However, Expedition Everest has shifted between being available through Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lane. You should never buy the Individual Lightning Lane for Expedition Everest. Either get on that ride early in the day or use Single Rider instead.

Animal Kingdom Dining Tips

23) Where to find Starbucks at Animal Kingdom. Looking for coffee at Animal Kingdom? Once you enter the park, veer left and walk towards Africa. The Creature Comforts cafe is a full Starbucks location.

Flame Tree Barbecue - Outdoor Dining Area - Animal Kingdom Dining

24) A great spot to eat outside. Guide2WDW reader Toni recommends a lovely outdoor dining area that is easy to miss.

“A very nice place to sit is behind Flame Tree Barbecue in Animal Kingdom. Just follow the path to the left of the counter. There is a lot of covered seating with ceiling fans. It was 90 degrees, and we stayed very cool. This spot is great if you’re dining or if you just want to take a break from all the walking.”

You can read more great places to eat in our Animal Kingdom Outdoor Dining Guide.

25) Get into the park early with breakfast reservations. Guide2WDW reader GiraffeGirl126 shares this tip for making the most of mornings at Animal Kingdom:

When going to Animal Kingdom, make sure you make reservations for breakfast for before the park opens. That way you get into the park way early and get first in line onto awesome rides.

Nomad Lounge - Outdoor Dining at Disney World

26) Sip by the water at Nomad Lounge. Nomad Lounge is one of our favorite bars at Disney World. They offer awesome appetizers, creative cocktails, and an amazing place to sit by the water and relax.

27) Best Counter Service and Table Service Restaurants at Animal Kingdom. Right now, our favorite counter service restaurant at Animal Kingdom is Satuli Canteen in Pandora. If you want to have a great upscale sit down meal, don’t miss out on Tiffins. It has incredible food and is actually one of the easier reservations to get at Disney World.

28) You can use a Landry’s Select Card at Yak and Yeti. Yak and Yeti is another great option for table service dining at Animal Kingdom. This restaurant is owned and operated by Landry’s, which also operates Rainforest Cafe, T-Rex Cafe, Morton’s, Bubba Gump’s, and many more restaurants. With a Landry’s Select Card, you can earn points for dining that you can redeem at locations like Yak and Yeti. You also will get a $25 gift on your birthday.

How to Plan an Amazing Animal Kingdom Day

Pandora - Exterior Plant Life - The World of Avatar Preview - Disney's Animal Kingdom

Planning a trip to Disney World? These tips are just the beginning. Get in touch with our friends at Vacationeer for free Disney World vacation planning. Their travel agents can help you plan your vacation for no extra cost. They’ll make sure you get the most out of your visit to Animal Kingdom and the other WDW theme parks. Plus, they are Disney experts, so they’ll have their own recommendations and advice.

Don’t miss our Disney World guides, which help you learn the basics of planning a WDW vacation. Our Guide 2 Disney Genie and Animal Kingdom Lightning Lane Guide will help you spend less time waiting in line for Animal Kingdom’s best rides and attractions. Plus, we have an in-depth section on Animal Kingdom for Toddlers, an Animal Kingdom Character Guide, as well as Animal Kingdom Dining and Restaurants.

Let Us Know Your Thoughts

What’s your favorite tip for Animal Kingdom? Let me know in the comments below!