If we were going to spend a “perfect” day in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the plan in this post would be how we would do it. These are the attractions we would do, the restaurants at which we’d dine, the zoological exhibits we’d see, and the trails we’d explore. This post continues our series of single-day itineraries designed to answer the frequently asked question, “what would you do if you only had one day in ____ Disney park?” We call this series our “Daily Trip Blueprints,” or DTBs for short.
Animal Kingdom is a pretty divisive park, and I’ve already covered how I was wrong about Animal Kingdom, and have come around to appreciating the park. I won’t rehash all of that again, but this post is basically the practical application of that–a day of balancing different types of attractions in Animal Kingdom to have a fulfilling experience.
In this sense, Animal Kingdom is unique, and probably the park where you’ll need a “balanced” plan like this as opposed to one that aims for efficiency. Unless you’re visiting during a busy time of year, Animal Kingdom doesn’t require all that much efficiency. You’re more likely to experience “animal fatigue” than you are to run out of time to do everything you want at Animal Kingdom. As always, we aim for a fun, well-rounded day as opposed to crossing as many attractions off “the list” with this plan, and we think a well-rounded day is the key to a great time at Animal Kingdom.
It’s interesting how Animal Kingdom’s pending expansion (to be fully completed around 2017) will play into this. I think it will have a greater impact than most people anticipate. The ~2 attractions AVATAR Land brings to the table will undoubtedly be popular, but just as important is that these will be “regular” theme park attractions. I think that more normal attractions will further help to balance out the zoological attractions, making people less likely to experience animal fatigue. So, in addition to doing the 2 AVATAR Land attractions, they will be willing to do more zoological attractions because of the balance. The Rivers of Light nighttime spectacular will give guests a reason to stay late, too. All of this doesn’t really affect the here and now, it’s just random thoughts about the future.
This post assumes moderate crowds at Animal Kingdom and the park being open until 5 pm on the day of your visit; actual crowds and park hours vary. Consult our When to Visit Walt Disney World post to determine how bad crowds might actually be, or to plan your visit. If you’re looking for something more comprehensive to plan every aspect of your Walt Disney World vacation, from where to purchase discount tickets to transportation to what to pack and more, read our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide.
FastPass+ complicates our other 1-Day DTBs, but not this one (read more about FastPass+ in our MyMagic+ FAQ). We aren’t saying you shouldn’t use it for Animal Kingdom, but by arriving at park opening and staying until park close, you can easily accomplish everything in this plan without issue. Use FastPass+ at your discretion to experience more or change things up.
One of the biggest hassles about Animal Kingdom is its proximity to everything else. Staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge is very convenient to Animal Kingdom, and it’s an incredible hotel that will put you in the right mood for Animal Kingdom, but it is worth noting that this hotel is remote to every other park. We view Animal Kingdom Lodge as the perfect place to stay for a leisurely vacation during which you’re going to spend a lot of time in the hotel (if you don’t factor in location, Animal Kingdom Lodge is arguably the best hotel at Walt Disney World), but it can be a hassle if you’re spending a lot of time in the parks. Animal Kingdom Lodge is also on the cheaper end of the Deluxe Resorts, and you can save even more money on a stay here by Renting Disney Vacation Club Points.
Once you wake up from whichever hotel you choose, here’s what to do… (more…)