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Animal Kingdom Touring Plan – Without Fast Passes

For all the animal lovers out there this Disney park is always their favorite! Animal Kingdom is unique from the rest of the parks with its animal interactions and experiences. Sprinkle in some amazing rides, a trip to Pandora, and it’s hard to beat this park for excitement. Disney has done an excellent job of mixing the two.

The size of the park also disperses the crowds well and can be done on a weekend without the fear of overcrowding.

At Animal Kingdom you’ll see the characters on a boat in the waters that flow through the park. You can’t miss them. The music arrives long before they do. Disney has surprised us all with ways to make park days just as magical.

A couple of other key points to keep in mind are:

  • A park reservation is required to enter the park and can be made on your My Disney Experience app after you’ve purchased a valid park ticket.
  • Be sure to check the park hours in advance and double-check again the night before you plan to visit as they often vary between days and can change.
  • Wait times are often shown longer than they actually are (which is good news!)

Arrival at Animal Kingdom

On your Animal Kingdom day, try to arrive 30-45 minutes prior to the park opening time.

It is helpful to look at a map of Animal Kingdom before you visit to understand how it’s laid out. The Tree Of Life on Discovery Island is in the middle of the park with the rest of the areas as “spokes” off the middle like a wheel. This mimics Walt Disney’s spoke and wheel concept that is so well known at Magic Kingdom, however, guests can become a little confused because the Tree of Life can not be seen from the Main Gate.

When you first enter you are in the Oasis area and then proceed to Discovery Island. It’s easy to walk by quickly and miss the many animals and plants that are tucked into the area. Slow down and enjoy all that Animal Kingdom has to offer!

Once you reach the Tree of Life, turn left and head towards Pandora – World of Avatar. This is where we’ll be starting our touring plan for the day.

You’ll be anxious to stop for a Tree of Life picture, but hold off until later. Get ahead of the crowd that does make the stop.

Note: If you arrive late, skip the entire Pandora area and go straight to Africa for the Kilimanjaro Safaris. You can come back to Pandora at the end of the day and ride both Flight of Passage and Na’vi RIver at that time.

Touring Plan

  • Flight of Passage – Pandora – The World of Avatar
    • While you’re in Pandora you’ll be tempted to go to the Na’vi River ride; however, you should resist. I’ve added the Na’vi River to the end of your day because the morning crowd will ride Flight of Passage and go straight to Na’vi River causing the wait times to be long. By moving out of Pandora to Africa, you’ll get ahead of the crowd which will result in shorter waits at the rest of the rides. You can return to Pandora at the end of the day and ride Na’vi River when the wait times are short and possibly be able to ride Flight of Passage for a second time as well!
  • Festival of the Lion King
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • Wander the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trailthis is easy to miss but the entrance is right as you exit the safari ride. This is the only place to see the gorillas!
  • Wildlife Express Train
  • Up! A Great Bird Adventure (if showtimes don’t line up, skip and come back but be mindful of what time the last show of the day is)
  • Kali River Rapids – this is a water ride and you may get wet
  • Maharajah Jungle Trek – this is another animal exploration trail that is behind the River Rapids ride. This is the only place to see tigers!
  • Expedition Everest
  • Dinosaur
  • It’s Tough to Be a Bug
  • Na’vi River Journey
  • Ride Flight of Passage again – if you have time

Additional Experiences to consider:

  • Animal Encounters: Winged Encounters is a bird show conducted in front of the Tree of Life a couple of times a day. Keep an eye out as you pass by. Exact times are not published but takes place multiple times a day between 9:15 am and 3:15 pm daily.
  • Consider wandering the Discovery Island Trails around the Tree of Life if you still have time at the end of your day.
  • Animal Kingdom also has a fun interactive adventure for the kids, Wilderness Explorers, which follows in the footsteps of Russell from the Disney-Pixar movie Up!
    • This is a self-guided adventure around the park as you collect 25 different badges to earn the designation of a true Wilderness Explorer. Pick up your Wilderness Explorer handbook from headquarters as you enter the park (on the bridge between the Oasis and Discovery Island) or you can find Wilderness Explorer Troop Leaders in Africa, Rafiki’s Planet Watch, Asia, Dinoland U.S.A., and Pandora.

This is a great park for kids and adults of all ages! You can easily spend the entire day here wandering the trails, taking amazing pictures of all the different animals, and riding some really unique rides.

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Jamie Rumph
Jamie Rumph
Hi, I'm Jamie, traveling mama, entrepreneur, and travel advisor. I'm addicted to Disney, traveling and exploring the world with my family, and have a passion for helping families experience the magic of travel. My home is filled with love and chaos, 2 crazy girls, 2 large dogs, and the most spectacular architect and Disney Cast Member I call my husband. We live in Florida and spend our weekends playing at Orlando's many theme parks and visiting the beach. In 2015, after helping numerous families plan their vacations to various Disney Destinations, I started a blog to answer all of the many travel questions I received daily. In 2016, the blog grew into a travel agency, and Love of the Magic Vacations was born. With a team of nearly 20, we spend our days creating family vacations around the world. What started as a blog is now a full service, worldwide vacation destination planning service. I create custom itineraries for each of my clients that not only meets but exceeds expectations. There is no greater gift than making memories while sharing the world and its cultures with your kids.


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