Are you planning a one day Animal Kingdom itinerary? This Animal Kingdom touring plan will help make sure you don’t miss all the best rides and attractions, and plan your best day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
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Animal Kingdom is located at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. It is a unique theme park in that it has rides as well as animal attractions. At Animal Kingdom you can ride through Everest on a roller coaster and take a safari ride to get close to the animals.
When planning Animal Kingdom in one day you should consider a few things before you arrive at the park.
Take a look at a crowd calendar to get an expected idea of how busy the park will be. If it is a busy day you may not be able to see and do everything as opposed to a less crowded day.
You should also look at the rides and attractions at the park before you arrive. Are there ones you want to skip? Does everyone in your group meet the height requirements? Check out our best Animal Kingdom rides to get you started.
Do you have FastPass or dining reservations during your one day at Animal Kingdom? You should book both in advance and plan your day around your reservations. Read this article that goes into details on Animal Kingdom FastPass reservations.
The weather is also something to look at when visiting Animal Kingdom. It is unpredictable in Florida and can often rain unexpectedly. Summer is also very hot and humid, especially mid-day, you may want to plan an indoor attraction during these hours.
One Day Animal Kingdom Itinerary
Before you visit Animal Kingdom take a look at the map of the park to get an idea of the layout as well as where the attractions, characters, and dining are that you want to see.
I also suggest purchasing your tickets for Animal Kingdom before you arrive at the park. You can check discounted ticket prices here.
Check the Disney World website for the park hours for your visit. These change depending on season. Animal Kingdom also has special after hours events that may have the park closing early. These can be found on Walt Disney World website as well.
One last thing to check is Extra Magic Hours. Extra Magic Hours allow on-site guests extra hours before or after regular hours to enjoy the park. This is one of the reasons we like to stay on-site at Disney World.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and all of the Disney parks, offer a Disney Private VIP tours that give guests exclusive access to the parks as well as a personal guide for your visit. Learn more in this article, What to Expect on a Disney Private VIP tour.
Animal Kingdom Layout
Animal Kingdom layout is much like Magic Kingdom. It has a central area and the lands branch out from there. The difference is that Animal Kingdom is huge and you will do a lot of walking.
If you are planning to do Animal Kingdom in one day be prepared to do a lot of walking. It is a beautiful and immersive park that makes exploring it seem like you are at a park, and not a theme park.
There are 5 distinct areas at the park. They are Discovery Island, Pandora, Africa, Asia, and Dinoland U.S.A.
Discovery Island is the center where you will find the Tree of Life. Inside the Tree of Life there is a 3D it’s a Bug’s Life attraction.
Pandora-The World of Avatar has two of the most popular attractions at the park. Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey. It also has one of our favorite quick service dining options, Satu’li Canteen.
Africa has Kilimanjaro Safari. This is a family ride for all ages that takes you on safari to see real animals. It is a must see during your visit. Africa also has Festival of the Lion King show and the Gorilla Falls Exploration Tour.
Gorilla Falls is a self-guided tour of gorilla, hippo, and exotic birds exhibits. Throughout Animal Kingdom you will find areas to learn more about the animals and get a closer look.
Asia has Expedition Everest which is a thrilling roller coaster through the mountain. There is also a water attractions Kali River Rapids and the Maharajah Jungle Trek. Maharajah Jungle Trek is a self-guided tour to see tigers, monkeys, bats, and a Komodo Dragon.
Dinoland U.S.A has the Finding Nemo show, a kids playground called The Boneyard, and Dinosaur. Dinosaur is a thrilling dark ride to save dinosaurs.
Now that you have a good idea of what to expect at Animal Kingdom you can start planning your Animal Kingdom itinerary.
Arriving at Animal Kingdom
All guests arrive at the same central Animal Kingdom parking lot. You can either take the bus from your Disney resort or drive yourself to the park.
Guests will them make their way to security and bag check and arrive at the entrance. I suggest arriving at the entrance at least 30-40 minutes before posted opening time. This will allow you to be one of the first guests into the park and maximize your park time.
At times they will open the gates before the posted opening time allowing guests to enter the park early. Rides and attractions will begin operation at opening time.
Where to Start Your Animal Kingdom Touring Plan
The most popular area at Animal Kingdom is Pandora and that is where most of the guests will start their day. If you want to ride the Pandora attractions you should plan on arriving early and go directly to them.
Flight of Passage is the most popular attraction at the park. If you are wanting to ride it you should try to get a FastPass or be one of the first to get in line. The line can often see 2-3 hour wait times.
If you are not planning on visiting the Pandora area you should start with Kilimanjaro Safari. After that we will typically walk to Asia to ride Expedition Everest and then stop for lunch.
We always try to ride our must ride attractions before lunch, even if it means a little more walking. We do this to limit our time waiting in long lines. If you would rather do less walking you can explore each land before moving on to the next.
Dining at Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom has many awesome dining options for your visit. It has one of the best quick service options at any of the parks. We always recommend using Mobile Ordering at the parks to save you time.
Some of our favorite dining options at Animal Kingdom are:
- Satu’li Canteen (Pandora, quick service)
- Yak & Yeti Local Food Cafe (Asia, quick service)
- Yak & Yeti Restaurant (Asia, Need Reservations, Table Service)
- Flame Tree Barbecue (Discovery Island, Quick Service)
Shows at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
There are a few different shows at Animal Kingdom and all of them are great. The most popular shows are Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo: The Musical. If you can see both you will not regret it. They are impressive.
There is also a bird show themed to Pixar UP!. It is called UP! A Great Bird Adventure. Rivers of Light is the daily night show on the water that celebrates animals and nature.
Characters at Animal Kingdom
There are no parades at Animal Kingdom to see characters but you can meet a few through the park. On a recent visit we met Scrooge McDuck and Launchpad. You can learn more in this article about characters at Animal Kingdom.
Character times and locations are listed on the My Disney Experience app and can change. Check when you arrive at the park to see who you want to meet.
Another fun activity at Animal Kingdom is the Wilderness Explorers. This is a free scavenger hunt activity with stops through the park. It is easy to include this in your itinerary and is really fun. Read about our experience with the Wilderness Explorers.
Sample Animal Kingdom 1 Day Itinerary
This is an example of an Animal Kingdom itinerary for families with school age children. The night before your Animal Kingdom day pack your bag, lay our clothes, and decide on a time to leave for the park.
7:30am-7:45am: Take the bus or drive to Animal Kingdom. Arriving early is a huge advantage.
8:00-8:30am: Arrive at Animal Kingdom. Go through bag check/security. We always eat breakfast and have our coffee as we are waiting in line to enter the park.
9:00am: Park Opens!! Be ready to walk. Animal Kingdom is huge and you will do a bit of walking to start your day. Start walking directly to Pandora: The World of Avatar. If you are skipping the attractions head to Kilimanjaro Safari. You can explore Pandora later in the day.
On this visit we went directly to Pandora and had FastPass reservations for some of the most popular attractions.
- Na’vi River Journey
- Flight of Passage (FP 9:00-10:00am)
- Kilimanjaro Safari (FP 10:00-11:00am)
- Gorilla Falls Explorations Trail (Animal Exhibit)
- Maharajah Trek (Animal Exhibit)
- Expedition Everest ( FP 11:30-12:30pm)
- Lunch- Flame Tree BBQ or Satu’li Canteen in Pandora
- Festival of the Lion King or Finding Nemo: The Muscial
- Meet Characters at DINOLAND U.S.A.
- Triceratops Spin
- It’s Tough to Be a Bug
This is a packed schedule and you will do a lot of walking around the park. It you prefer not to back track through the park explore each land fully without moving on. This approach works best if you have FastPass for your must see rides.
If you want to include the Wilderness Explorers scavenger hunt in your day pick up your guide early in the day, and stop at the stations through the park as you go.
Animal Kingdom Itinerary for Toddlers
- Include more time at The Boneyard playground.
- Meet Mickey & Minnie
- Include a Character Meal at Tusker House to meet Donald Duck and friends.
Animal Kingdom Itinerary for Adults
- Ride Expedition Everest and Dinosaur a few times.
- Stay late to explore Pandora at night. It glows!
Animal Kingdom is an incredible park that offers so much for the entire family. The best part is every visit is different because it is always changing and there is so much to see. This Animal Kingdom itinerary will help you plan the best day for your group during your Disney vacation.
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