Disney’s Animal Kingdom: Full-Day Touring Strategy

By: Amy Kawa

Despite the fact that it is Walt Disney World’s newest park, Animal Kingdom has been through quite the transformation over the past year.  The Na’vi moved in, Camp Minnie Mickey moved out, and a park that once swore to never be open past dusk for the well-being of the animals now offers nighttime entertainment.  Animal Kingdom was always fourth on my list of favorite parks.  Sure, I found it to be incredibly impressive and expansive, but to me, it lacked that aspect of Disney magic.  Animal Kingdom was a half-day park, where we did our few “must-do’s” and then peaced out for the Magic Kingdom.

I have to admit, with all of the new additions, Animal Kingdom is moving higher and higher up my rankings.  Pandora will completely take your breath away and is truly immersive and other-worldly; Rivers of Light is a beautiful display of colors and music on the serene water; add all of that on top of some already amazing attractions, and you have the recipe for a full-day park.

Animal Kingdom Full-Day Plan

Fastpass+ Choices

*Try to schedule your fastpasses as early as you can when you plan on getting into any park.  This way, you can try and use your original three fastpasses and then try to score a fourth for another attraction (and maybe a fifth and sixth…) before the night is up.  Check out how to become a Fastpass+ master in one of our earlier posts.

Animal Kingdom has a tiered Fastpass+ system.  On tier one, fastpass Flight of Passage, which will have the longest wait times of the day in ANY Disney park.  This one will require you to book the full 60 days prior to your arrival, but could save you upwards of 3 hours waiting in line.

All of the rest of the attractions fall under tier two in Animal Kingdom.  On this tier, fastpass Expedition Everest and Kilomanjaro Safaris.

Arrive at the Park (as close to 9:00 a.m. as possible) 9:00 – 11:00 a.m.18766483_10207778736260393_129051849332688024_o

  • Arrive at the park and head towards Dinoland USA
  • Ride Dinosaur!
  • Walk around Chester and Hester’s Dino-Rama and go for a spin on Primeval Whirl
  • Really… just take in this area because the theming is pretty darn cool!
  • Catch the first showing of Finding Nemo: The Musical (11:00 a.m. daily)

Early Afternoon (12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.)10373998_10201471910033679_9172889986109342045_n

  • Head to Asia and use your first fastpass – Expedition Everest
  • If it’s hot and you want to get SOAKED, jump on Kali River Rapids, but be warned, you will be walking around in wet clothes for basically the rest of the day


  • Head to Africa and use your second fastpass – Kilomajaro Safaris1013458_4636030632789_1034740118_n
  • Make sure you just walk around and explore all of the hidden places within the village of Harambe. The authenticity of this area is really unparalleled throughout the park.
  • Catch a showing of Festival of the Lion King (around 2:00 p.m.)
  • Grab a quick lunch at either Pizzafari or Flame Tree Barbeque.

Late Afternoon/Early Evening (3:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.)

  • Head to Pandora and use your third fastpass – Flight of Passage22548962_10208724269498133_7811626319691197284_o
    • While in line for the ride, check the Fastpass+ section of My Disney Experience app to see what other fastpasses are available for the day (you may get REALLY lucky and someone cancelled a Na’vi River Journey fastpass).
  • Get in line for Na’vi River Journey (if the line is 60 minutes or less). The ride isn’t worth more than an hour wait, but the line is covered and has some cool things to look at.
    • You could get to the park at rope drop and head right to Pandora to get in line for Na’vi River Journey without as long of a wait, but you should have plenty of time throughout your day to give an hour up to wait in line. Plus, you can get a lot of other things done early in the morning. 
  • After you ride both of the Pandora’s attractions, make sure you really take the time to just wander in awe of Animal Kingdom’s newest land – the floating mountains, the waterfalls, and all of the greenery.  Stop in the shop, Windtraders, and buy yourself a banshee!
  • Grab some dinner at the Satu’li Canteen (particularly the Chesseburger Pods… I have some strong feelings about those, which you can read about here) and a nightcap at Pongu Pongu with the Night Blossom (which you can also read more about here).
  • Explore Pandora at night as the land glows in magnificent bioluminescence.
  • Time to hop on over to Rivers of Light (the show may be anytime 7:30-9:00 p.m. depending on the time of the year, so check a Times Guide)
    • If you were able to score a fastpass for Rivers of Light with your fourth option, you will enter the theater in Asia. If you are in the stand-by line, enter in Dinoland USA by Finding Nemo: The Musical.  Waiting in the stand-by line will require you to get to the amphitheater roughly 40 minutes before show time.

Kwaherini!  That was one full day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom!




  1. Just my opinion but once you have watched the Rivers of Light show once you have seen it sufficiently. I found that, after a long day at AK or park hopping (as we usually do), Rivers of Light had me dozing off.


    • I left the River of Lights show feeling underwhelmed. There were some really cool effects, but I felt it lacked story and connecting with the audience. It’s hard when you are comparing it to Fantasmic, Happily Ever After, and Illuminations. It just isn’t in the same league! I’m sure some enjoy it, which is part of the fun because those that don’t will enjoy shorter wait times on other attractions. -Adam


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