8 Must Do's at Animal Kingdom

September 26, 2019

Ok, I'll admit it. Animal Kingdom used to be my least favorite park (emphasis on the past tense there). I just felt like there wasn't as much there as some of the other parks. I'm still a Magic Kingdom girl through-and-through but Animal Kingdom has definitely grown on me. Maybe it's the fact that I'm a little older, a little wiser, and a lot more observant. 

Animal Kingdom is one of those parks that has so many hidden gems, underrated attractions, & epic photo spots. I used to be able to fly through the park in just a couple of hours, but now, I could probably spend (close to) a full day there if I wanted to - and still probably not see & do everything it has to offer. So that's why I wanted to jump in here & tell you guys the best way (in my opinion) to tour Animal Kingdom & share with you how I spent my day there.

1. Rope Drop for Flight of Passage
Animal Kingdom is home to Flight of Passage, which probably has the longest line of any ride at Disney (and for good reason). Flight of Passage wait times can easily climb to several hours, and fast. So if you have your heart set on experiencing this attraction, rope dropping is your best bet. We arrived 30 minutes prior to the opening parking time and they had already started letting people in early and the wait was already at 60 minutes. However, the queue was constantly moving and it ended up being closer to 30-40. Save exploring Pandora & Navi River Journey for after FOP, and skip River Journey altogether if the wait is over 20 minutes (because it's not really worth it in my opinion).

2. Starbucks & the Lion King Wall
I'm one of those people that has to have coffee in the mornings, and there is something magical about grabbing a Starbucks at the parks. I don't know if they're drugging the brew with some extra pixiedust or what, but to me, it just always tastes better in the parks. So after conquering Pandora, head to the Starbucks around the corner, grab yourself an iced caramel macchiato, and squeeze in a quick photo sesh at the Lion King Wall. You never know who you might run into (I've often seen some pretty big Disney instagrammers gathered here! I just creep from a safe distance because #starstruck). I always bring my Etsy shop merch with me to the parks (photo ops, what can I say?) and we found the most epic Dad decked out in his AK gear. Kudos to Britney for not being shy about asking random strangers to model for me! Also sidenote: whenever I look at this wall, I instantly hear that famous opening line of Circle of Life, "NAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAsowhenyaaaaaaaah..."

3. Tackle the big attractions
Next, we headed to Everest and Kilimanjaro Safaris. The big bonus of getting to AK early in the morning is beating the long lines and the heat. By doing the safari in the morning, you have a much better shot at seeing way more animals than if you wait until the afternoon. It gets too hot for the animals and they tend to hide. If you're early enough, sometimes you can even ride twice in a row (Everest usually doesn't have a long line at all in the morning. I've ridden 3 times in a row once!) And as for Kilimanjaro, not all safari guides are created equal. Some get really into it and crack jokes along the way (the cheesier the better), and others are just very monotone and kind of...boring. A great guide can really make or break a trip around the savanna here.

4. Maharajah Jungle Trek
Speaking of animals, definitely check this one out! I had actually never done this before, which is surprising with as many times as I've been to Animal Kingdom. It just flew under the radar because I wanted to be running around the park, riding as many rides as I could. I think the Trek is probably one of the most underrated attrractions at Animal Kingdom. It's a beautiful trail through the Anandapur Royal Forest and has so many photo ops and animal sightings, including the Golden Girls (fun fact: these 3 water buffalo found here are named Rose, Dorothy, & Blanche)! Pick up one of the guides to be sure you scope out all there is to see.

5. Dinoland USA
I feel like a lot of people really dislike this part of Animal Kingdom, but I love it! It's kitschy and reminds me of the state fairs & carnivals I went to growing up (which I'm pretty sure was their intent). It's usually not that busy, and has a ton of cute photo ops! To take on Dinoland, I would start with riding Dinosaur, Primeval Whirl (if you're not prone to motion sickness), and Triceratops Spin for good measure. Then just spend some time wandering around. The carnival games and Dino Diner make the perfect backdrop for a cute picture. There's also a true photobooth here (the kind that still print the little photo strips), and makes for a pretty great souvenir. And if you're feeling froggy (er, Dinosaury?), check out Donald's Dino Bash dance party. Chip & Dale are decked out in their dino-finest and it's actually really fun to jam out to the music with them.

6. Drink around the Kingdom
Animal Kingdom has never been my favorite in terms of food options, but I will throw down on some drinks here. If you're a dole whip girl, you've got to try the boozy version in Harambe Market. At Tamu Tamu refreshments, you can fine dole whips with rum (get it with coconut rum)! It will set you back $8.50, but it's really refreshing on a super hot day. Plus...rum. Next up, make a stop over at Nomad Lounge. It's a cool (literally) atmosphere to go chill out for a little bit and the drinks are really good! I got the Snow Leopard Salvation the last time I was there (Snow Leopard vodka, Belle de Brillet pear liqueur, mint, and lime juice topped with ginger beer), but all of their cocktails sound delicious! Lastly, grab a Night Blossom on your way through Pandora. You can get this one either non-alcoholic or topped off with some alcohol ("Rum Blossom")!

7. Get lost
Every time I go to Animal Kingdom, I discover something new. Like I said before, had we not been wandering around AK, just taking our time, I never would have stumbled into the Maharaja Jungle Trek. I love taking time to just notice all of the details that goes into the incredible theming around each of the lands. And don't forget about the famous Fichwa Fellow Mickey wall! Just spend some time wandering around. After all, the wildnerness must be explored! Which brings me to...

8. KEVIN!!!
Ok, this is a must-see for sure. Guests can now meet Kevin from UP! at Animal Kingdom. Since Kevin is a wild bird, she doesn't have a set location or time where/when you can meet her. She roams around Discovery Island, so if you hang around long enough, you're sure to spot her. She's really fun to interact with (& watch her interacting with other guests).

So there you have it. My 8 sort-of-kind-of-undiscovered/underrated must-do's for Animal Kingdom. Sure you have the absolute classics like Festival of the Lion King, the Nemo show, and It's Tough To Be A Bug, but I wanted to highlight some other things I love doing at AK. Hopefully on your next trip, you'll be able to check a few of these off your list too!

Post a Comment

Latest Instagrams

© Cake After Midnight. Design by FCD.