There is so much to do when you take a trip to Disney, sometimes it can seem overwhelming. I remember going there as a little girl many times and as an adult many more and one thing that is certain, without a plan, you may not get it all in. Some people are not planners and that may work for them, but I have to know what I am expecting, what the crowds might be like and where stuff is in the park(the lay of the land), that is what makes me able to function at Disney. I think there are a lot of ‘me’s’ in the world because Disney has a Disney App that lets you track all of the things that I have aforementioned. Today’s post is about planning that trip to Animal Kingdom. This is based on my family, my knowledge and how we have managed to get through the park and still have time at the end of the day. My kids are 10, 13, 16 and we had my father-in-law with us as well as ourselves so saying that we made it through the whole park and rode all day long is an accomplishment on its own.
If you want to break into Disney, slowly, and get a feel for how the parks function, how FP+ works, and general pricing of foods, beverages and souvenirs, my suggestion Animal Kingdom as a first day visit. This park opens the same time as other parks but closes earlier making for a great day to transition into park life. The park closes before the others as they have to get all the animals back into their homes and this takes a few hours, so while the park itself is closed, the employees are all there working with their respective animals. I will suggest not being in the back of the park from 3p on as the parade happens and if you don’t care to see it and just want to get out, you will get lost in the shuffle. The parade definitely is in the back part by Asia and Africa making passing through virtually impossible as the streets are lined with onlookers.
This is my proposal if FP+ is working in your favor, if you have kids 10 & above and if you are at Animal Kingdom to ride. My husband teases me, but I go to the furthest part of the park first and work our way forward(that is the Type A in me). I love starting the day with Africa and riding the Kilimanjaro Safaris. I do this because the animals come out when it is coolest, not during the heat of the day. Children bring on the need for activity other than riding and DinoLand U.S.A. serves up a lot of fun from the Primeval Whirl to The Boneyard playground. Kids get a little bit of run around time, while mommies and daddies regroup. I consider this a lunch-time event and it seems to work well. In addition, lunch can be eaten at the Restaurantosaurus and there is something for everyone there.
Top Picks in Animal Kingdom
1) Kilimanjaro Safaris 2) Expedition Everest 3)Dinosaur(though I do think this ride needs updated just a bit) 4) It’s A Bugs Life 5) Wildlife Express Train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch where you can meet Rafiki and quite possible Chip ‘n Dale.
Park Progression IN Animal Kingdom -
Africa, Asia, Rafiki’s Planet Watch, and DinoLand U.S.A. Right in Africa, by the bathrooms you will find some of the best African-Inspired drum music. We stop every time we are there and enjoy the energy, rhythm and people dancing in the street, it is catchy, upbeat and fun(shows happen throughout the day)
One of our favorite and probably most educational stops was Rafiki’s Planet Watch. The kids learned all about tarantula’s, and the animals in Animal Kingdom. Additionally, they worked on collecting their badges as we went through the island. We met Rafiki there and took some photos. What was nice about the island was the fact that it was not over-populated with people, and you got to move at your own pace. There are no rides, other than the train ride to the island but the kids love it there. In addition, if your kids are craving animal petting, they will be able to fill that crave here.
The train ride is about 3 minutes and seems to occur about every 5-7 minutes so there is always a train back and forth to Africa. Make sure to snap some pictures while you are here, Rafiki’s Planet Watch is very lush and tropical looking and makes for some great back drops for photos.
Something Cool to know: the penny press is the best souvenir in the parks and it will cost you a whopping .51 to make it.
Grab a penny, get off the train from Rafiki’s Planet Watch and press it out before you cut back through Asia or Africa. Or create your penny while you are waiting to go to Rafiki’s Planet Watch.
Best Food Stop In Animal Kingdom? There is something you will love if you are a vegetarian or someone who consumes Hummus and Edamame – A food stop back in Asia, Mr. Kamal’s where you can find these items. The Edamame were salted with sea salt and were priced under $3.50. These were the perfect Vegetarian and Gluten Free snack. As far as lunch eats, you will have to make that decision. We have eaten all over the park, and I don’t have one favorite, but the seating is most available at the Flame Tree BBQ and if anyone in your party has allergies you can eat well here(gluten free, nut free, etc).
Traveling with food allergies is another grand problem and while you can defeat it by packing your own foods(and cut the cost down) the truth of the matter is food in the park smells so good you want to enjoy some of it and really what is a vacation without some of that park food? Solution in Animal Kingdom is a little kiosk known as the Garden KIOSK in. Here you will be provided with a list of all the places you can eat with a list of allergies they cater around. In addition, the kiosk itself offers Gluten Free snacks that will make a person happy- it sure made our daughter smile.
We love this day because it ends for us at about 5, and for many others as well. It does not need to be an all day park, and you really can accomplish it in one day. Keep your map in your hand, cross things off that you are not interested in(perhaps food stations or shopping places and just move along the map. Do make sure to look above you when you are traveling into Asia(by the Kali River Rapids) as you will see some great entertainment. As you enter into ASIA you will also find a FP+ station so you can adjust your times if you have not used your previous FP+.
Animal Kingdom is a very manageable park, and it has meet and greets throughout the day at a few different places. The Jammin’ Jungle Parade is great to watch, but it will also have you jammed into the back of the park. When it lets out it is hard to navigate from the back of the park to the front and when it is finished you will see the park drain out of people a lot. It’s Tough To Be A Bug is great to get out of a hot day, but it is also a very dark theater and many kids cry and leave(if you don’t like bugs, don’t enter this one, because you will feel creeped out from the seats to the stinging). This is the perfect park to enjoy different foods if you love BBQ, Pizza, Character Breakfasts, fresh fruits, and Asian-inspired offerings. Remember parking a vehicle unless you are an on-site guest is $15 a day, so don’t forget that. The park is open rain or shine. Have fun meeting up with your wild side at Animal Kingdom in Orlando.