I Rode Everything at Animal Kingdom. Here’s How.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom presents so many opportunities for theme park fans. You can ride so many terrific attractions AND play with the animals.
For me, Animal Kingdom has proved baffling over the years. Nevertheless, we’ve had some wonderful visits.
Then, there were others when my feet hurt, and my shirt was drenched with sweat.
We caught plenty of breaks during a recent trip – except for lunch – and managed to ride everything at Animal Kingdom. Here’s how.
The Earliest Start
I’m not really a morning person. That’s a polite way of saying that if you look at me wrong before noon, I might bite your face off.
My wife IS a morning person, which means that we’re awake about 21 hours a day between us.
When we’re at Disney, I adapt to my wife’s schedule, which means that I’m up at a time when coffee drinkers are fine…but I don’t drink coffee.
On this fateful morning, my wife dragged my grumpy carcass out of bed and took me to Animal Kingdom at 7:45, a few minutes before the park opened.
At this point, we had a choice. Should we dare to rush to Pandora – The World of Avatar, or should we ride everything else at the park instead?
Seriously, Animal Kingdom operates eight early morning attractions. You can ride four (!) of them inside an hour of Rope Drop. Well, you could do so during the pandemic.
Alas, we think the same way as most Disney fans. We prefer Pandora to everything else.
So, we followed the herd toward Pandora, reaching Avatar Flight of Passage by 8:15.
At the time, the line indicated a 30-minute wait. It wound up around 25 minutes, the sort of wait I don’t expect to witness again for MANY years.
When we departed from Avatar Flight of Passage, the wait time had swelled to 60 minutes. I say this to point out the importance of arriving before park opening.
Afterward, we did the obvious thing. We rode Na’Vi River Journey as well. I’m actually one of the VERY few people who prefer it to Avatar Flight of Passage.
I marvel at the special effects and happily waited 40 minutes to do so. The bioluminescent effects on the ride hypnotize me.
When things go right at Animal Kingdom, your day almost plans itself. To wit, we were out of Pandora at 9:30 a.m.
Anytime you ride Na’Vi River Journey and Avatar Flight of Passage in 90 minutes, you’ve done well.
We could have done anything we wanted, but we chose the attraction with the longest wait time.
I actually wouldn’t recommend this approach. We’re suckers for Kilimanjaro Safaris, though.
So, we headed straight down the path from Pandora to Africa’s Harambe Village. There, we entered a 40-minute line for Kilimanjaro Safaris.
The ride itself takes 25-30 minutes. We exited the attraction at 11 and decided to eat lunch. Here’s where we screwed up.
Common sense dictates that you should eat at one of the best places in the park. In our opinion, that’s Satu’li Canteen and Yak & Yeti Restaurant.
Instead, we took a different approach. We went to the front gate to dine at Rainforest Café. I don’t know why we keep doing this to ourselves.
Look, we’re shameless tourists. If there’s something cheesy we can do on vacation, we’re gonna do it.
Alas, Rainforest Café, with its shiny aquariums, falls into this category. Each time we eat here, we relish the ambiance, but then the food arrives.
Seriously, the flavors here are the blandest thing this side of Maroon 5. And we wasted more than an hour walking here and then eating.
Be smarter than us. Grab some Flame Tree BBQ if you don’t want to return to Pandora. It’s quick and delectable.
Since we returned to the park entrance, we took a different approach. We walked toward DinoLand U.S.A., where we targeted one attraction.
What can I say? I’m a sucker for DINOSAUR, one of my favorite overall attractions at Walt Disney World.
While we were there, we also experienced TriceraTop Spin, which gets my vote for the worst current Disney attraction. The kids really love it, though.
Afterward, my wife relished an opportunity to wave at Launchpad McQuack, who we ran into on two different Cavalcades.
Since the Finding Nemo show hasn’t returned yet and Festival of the Lion King wasn’t reopening for another month, we only watched one show.
I know it’s unpopular to say, but I find It’s Tough to Be a Bug! so charming. I like it better than the movie it’s based on, A Bug’s Life!
Afterward, we took that familiar stroll north to Asia, where we chose Expedition Everest first. Its wait time was only 20 minutes…the first time.
By the end of the ride, it had dropped to 10 minutes and was really just a walk-on. So, we rode it twice.
With our favorite Animal Kingdom roller coaster out of the way, we had but one ride left.
I know that not everyone agrees, but we tend to save wet rides until we’re ready to leave the park. That’s what happened here.
We hopped on Kali River Rapids with a lovely family who took the bullet for us. They got drenched while we walked away largely unscathed.
Ending Our Day Early
By this point, it was only 3:30, which meant we could circle back to ride anything we wanted again.
However, we chose to cut our day short so that we could get some quality time at the hotel before heading to Disney Springs for dinner.
If you’re in the park within two hours of closing, you’ll find that wait times at Animal Kingdom drop in half on many occasions. That’s the sweet spot for a visit!
Had the park stayed open into the evening, we might have approached it differently. I adore Pandora after dark, but it wasn’t in the cards on this day.
Still, we rode everything at the parks without pushing ourselves any.
Realistically, my only regret was that Festival of the Lion King wouldn’t reopen until shortly afterward.
Otherwise, that was one of my best Animal Kingdom visits ever.