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10 Things You Need to Know Before You Go to Animal Kingdom

Lauren Repei

Having even a little bit of knowledge before you head to Animal Kingdom will make your visit more enjoyable, and you’ll make better use of your time. Here are 10 things you need to know before you go to Animal Kingdom.

10. Nahtazu

Years ago Disney created a marketing campaign that heavily used the word ‘Nahtazu’, and it means just what it sounds like it means. Animal Kingdom is not a zoo. Yes, there are beautiful animals you might otherwise only see at a zoo, but Animal Kingdom is more than that. Animal Kingdom has thrill rides, incricately themed lands, opportunities to learn more about our world and conservation and of course there are exotic animals. Guests can learn about all these things in unique and fun ways, like at Rafiki’s Planet Watch, Kilimanjaro Safaris and by becoming a Wilderness Explorer.

9. Bring a Poncho

Not only will a poncho be a good thing to have on hand if you get caught in one of those frequent Florida rain showers, but it’s a great item to bring with you if you want to ride Kali River Rapids, but not get wet. Chances are good on this ride that you will get a little wet, but there is also a chance you will get soaked! If you odn’t want to spend the rest of your day in wet clothes, wear a poncho.

8. Height Requirements

If you are visiting with little ones, look up the height requirements for the rides. It is helpful to know this information before making your FastPass+ selections. You wouldn’t want to make all your selections only to discover when you arrive at the park that not everyone in your party can ride the attractions. The height requirements are available online on Disney’s website and on the My Disney Experience app.

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7. Characters

There are characters at Animal Kingdom that you can’t find at any of the other parks at Disney World. Guests can meet Pocahontas, Baloo and King Louie, Tarzan and Dug and Russell. These are just some of the characters you’ll find at Animal Kingdom. It’s good to know which characters you’ll find and where before heading to the park so you don’t miss out!

6. Winged Encounters

On Discovery Island near the Tree of Life, a bright and colorful group of macaws can sometimes be seen soaring overhead. These encounters happen at unscheduled times, but when you are lucky enough to see these incredible birds fly just above you through the park, it truly is a beautiful sight! Keep your eyes peeled for one of these encounters. I have had the most luck seeing them early in the morning when the park opens. It never hurts to ask a cast member on Discovery Island if they know when an encounter might be happening that day.

5. Tours

Animal Kingdom has tours available for those who love animals and adventure. The Wild Africa Trek is a privately guided VIP tour that offers guests close encounters with the wildlife, and it also includes an amazing meal. The Backstage Tales tour takes guests backstage to show them how the animals are cared for at Animal Kingdom. These tours require an advance reservation.

4. Secret Entrance

To the left of the park entrance is the Rainforest Café where you can walk through the gift shop and find yourself at the ‘secret’ entrance. Once you walk through the gift shop you will come to some turnstiles where you can enter the park and often avoid some lines.

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3. Rivers of Light

Animal Kingdom now has a nighttime spectacular show called Rivers of Light. Don’t forget to look up show times, or look into booking the River of Lights Dining Package, which is available at both The Tusker House and Tiffins. This is a great way to have a wonderful meal, and get a VIP voucher for the show.

2. Single Rider Line

Expedition Everest has a single rider line, which is the perfect option if you want to ride multiple times, or don’t have a FastPass+. The single rider line moves quickly and will save you a good deal of time, and sure beats waiting in the standby.

1. It’s Not a Half Day Park

People have often said that Animal Kingdom is a half-day park, and this has always been a mystery to me. It may not have as many attractions as Magic Kingdom, but there is enough to fill a whole day here. There are restaurants to dine at, attractions to ride multiple times, some amazing entertainment including Finding Nemo the Musical, Flights of Wonder and Festival of the Lion King. The self-guided walking tours are worth exploring and shouldn’t just be rushed through or skipped all together. Even before the recent additions to the park, such as Rivers of Light, and the new land Pandora, Animal Kingdom is a full-day park that guests can easily get lost in the wonder of nature and the Disney details.

About Lauren Repei

Lauren lives in Hamilton Ontario, but dreams of one day moving to Orlando to be closer to the Magic Kingdom. She loves the atmosphere, the history, the magic of the parks and Dole Whips, so she’s always in the midst of planning her next vacation. In the meantime, she spends her days working for the family business as a barista and baker, being active in the independent theatre scene and working part-time as a professional personal assistant to a writer. Lauren’s most memorable Disney moment is by far when she became engaged in front of Cinderella’s Castle making it her best Disney vacation to date.