It’s Disney everything this week on the blog as I reflect back on my time there last week. Yesterday, I shared the details of where I stayed and my time at Epcot.
Read that post here.
Today, I’m talking about my time in Animal Kingdom!
Animal Kingdom has traditionally been a half-day park, but ever since the opening of Pandora: World of Avatar, I think it deserves a day of its own. Disney’s original slogan was “Nahtazu” or not-a-zoo. There are live animals here as part of Disney’s conservation efforts, but it is definitely so much more than a zoo!
I did a full day in two parts here: I went to the park one afternoon after a mid-day break and enjoyed the late afternoon and evening. Then, I returned another day for “rope drop” (that’s Disney-speak for arriving before the park opens) and stayed until just before lunch.
I arrived to the park an hour before rope drop, and was greeted with quite a line! Pandora is very popular since it’s still fairly new. I made my way there, and waited with the crowd for about 45 minutes until they dropped the rope.
Pandora: World of Avatar is incredible. Disney’s attention to detail everywhere is amazing, and Pandora is certainly no exception.
There are two rides here, and both are extremely popular. Flights of Passage is a virtual reality ride that makes you feel like you’re on a banshee exploring Pandora. It is incredible! Pictured below you’ll see the seats you ride on for Flights of Passage, and a snap of the stuffed banshees in the gift shop outside the ride.
Na’vi River Journey is a slow-paced ride that takes you through the bio-luminescent forest. It is enjoyable and family-friendly so that’s a win!
If you’re lucky enough to get a fast pass for either ride, woo! If not, be prepared to wait. Or, you could try what I did – I arrived at rope drop and headed straight for Flight of Passage, and I also went after the Animal Kingdom night show and got in line. For both attempts, I waited less than half an hour which was incredibly lucky. I was also able to grab a fast pass for the Na’vi River Journey ride making that wait less than five minutes.
I saw Pandora during the day and at night, and I highly recommend trying to see it at both times of day. It is beautiful during the day, and comes alive with lights and special effects making it even more magical at night.
Dinoland is another area of the park, and a must visit to ride Dinosaur, which is an adventure ride that takes you back in time in search of a dinosaur to bring back to modern times. This ride is one of my faves!
There’s also a midway at Dinoland with carnival rides and games. I didn’t spend much time in the midway, but it’s great for kids of all ages and definitely worth checking out.
Discovery Island is at the center of the park, and features the main landmark, the Tree of Life. Here you can do a variety of fun activities including watch the 3D show “It’s Tough to Be a Bug.” Parents with small children should definitely take note that this show can be scary – large spiders drop from the ceiling at one point, and there’s a special effect that makes it feel like bugs are crawling under you. But, if they’d be OK with that, it’s a fun, cute show!
The two other areas I always make sure to visit are Asia and Africa. Each of these areas of the park feature some great rides.
In Asia, you can ride Kali River Rapids (this was closed while I was there) and Expedition Everest (this roller coaster is a bit too intense for me – it goes very fast and backwards which totally throws off my equilibrium – but most people love it!). There are also some great food venues here (my favorite is Yak and Yeti).
In Africa, you can enjoy Kilimanjaro Safaris, which is incredible and gives you the chance to learn about Disney’s conservation efforts and see animals.
There are a couple great shows at Animal Kingdom: Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo: The Musical. I didn’t attend either on this trip, but I’ve seen both before and they’re both wonderful!
One area of the park that I’ve never visited is Rafiki’s Planet Watch, but I’ve heard very good things about it, so I hope to check it out next trip!
The day at Animal Kingdom ends with the Rivers of Light show. There’s an amphitheater and you can either get a fast pass to sit there, or try to get in on standby. Or, you can do what I did and find a spot just outside the amphitheater that still has views of the river and enjoy the show from there. Admittedly, I did miss out on a few of the special effects because I was slightly off to the side, but for the most part I got the full effect of the show and loved it.
Animal Kingdom is a delightful way to spend a day. It’s great for all ages, and I love the combination of rides and shows here.
More magic tomorrow! See you then!