8 Rookie Mistakes People Make At Animal Kingdom At Walt Disney World

Tree of Life
Credit: World of Disney

Long gone are the days of referring to Disney’s Animal Kingdom as a “half day” park. Animal Kingdom is brimming with excitement and things to do, see, and taste from the old favorites to the new additions. Here are eight things rookies may do wrong when visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

8. Show Up Late

Showing up late can make a huge different in your Animal Kingdom day. With the addition of Pandora – The World of Avatar, guests flock to this portion of the park right from the start. Here you will find two extremely popular attractions known as Avatar Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey. You can expect a thrilling ride on Avatar Flight of Passage as you climb aboard a Banshee (dragon-like creature) and ride through the beautiful World of Avatar. The Na’vi River Journey is a perfect family-friendly attraction as guests boat down river and see just how beautiful the Na’vi tribe’s rainforest is with bioluminescence lighting and the latest animatronics. Unfortunately, you can only FastPass ONE of these two attractions. We recommend you FastPass one and head to the other the moment the park opens.

7. Leave Early

You don’t want to skip out early from Animal Kingdom! Now coming to life at night, guest have the opportunity to enjoy an amphitheater style show called Rivers of Light where nature is celebrated in an incredibly beautiful way! And who’s ready to dance? The Hakuna Matata Dance Time Party is a fun event to dance with colorfully costumed dancers, characters and musicians. The Tree of Life Awakenings is a perfect way to cap off the evening with its projections and music lighting up the iconic Animal Kingdom symbol. And finally, the perfect evening experience is a visit to Pandora – World of Avatar to see this beautiful land glow at night! Truly remarkable.

6. Not See a Show

Confession time, I didn’t see Festival of the Lion King the first time I visited Animal Kingdom. I regret not seeing it now, because I love it! Festival of the Lion King is one of the highlights of my Disney vacations. You are totally missing out if you don’t experience at least one of the shows in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Your other options are Finding Nemo: The Musical and Flights of Wonder. I was surprisingly impressed with Finding Nemo! Don’t miss it!

5. Not Prepared for Kali River Rapids

I once rode Kali with a jovial man who wore white shorts and claimed to “never get wet.” Needless to say, he went over the waterfall backwards, so he was the one who got the full brunt of the water. He was completely drenched! To top it off, he had star spangled boxers under his white shorts. And we all know what happened to white fabric when it’s wet. Do yourself a favor and don’t ride Kali River Rapids unprepared. Bring at least flip flops and dry underwear. But I always bring a full change of clothes, because I hate walking around all wet! Also important, bring Ziplock bags to store all your electronics! There are lockers available, but bring the bags just in case the lockers are full, or not working (as was the case on my last visit). Being prepared means you can enjoy the attraction without worrying about your phone/camera/tablet, or walking around the park with wet shoes afterward.

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4. Eat “Regular” Food

Pizzafari serves pizza. Restaurantosaurus serves burgers. Try something a little more adventurous at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Explore new tastes with Satu’li Canteen, Flame Tree Barbecue, Yak & Yeti, or Harambe Market. You can find standard pizza and burgers at any park, but you’ll find these unique restaurants at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

3. Not Explore the Park

This park was designed for exploring! There are little trails all over Discovery Island with animals to see, like anteaters and parrots. And don’t forget about Pangani Forest Trail and Maharaja Jungle Trek. That’s where you’ll see gorillas (Pangani) and tigers (Maharaja) and many other animals! These are both walk through attractions so you can go at your own pace. Take time to savor the details and watch the animals.

2. Not Apply Sunscreen

Yeah, there are a lot of trees at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. But for the love of all that is good, wear sunscreen! You will still get burnt in this park. In fact, this is the park where I usually get sunburned, because I too fall into that “it’s shady here” trap! And while you’re at it, drink some water! Sunburns and dehydration will put a huge damper on your vacation.

1. Forget Their Camera on Kilimanjaro Safaris

This is truly a spectacular attraction. Every safari is different. You will never have the same experience: the drivers are different, the animals will not be in the same location, and they may behave differently. Make sure you capture this once in a lifetime experience. You will be so sad that you missed your opportunity to photograph baby elephants, or monkeys playing, or giraffes up close and personal with your safari truck!

If you avoid these eight things, you will have an incredible day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom!

About Robin Swanson

Robin’s Disney journey began with Beauty and the Beast bedsheets, a Jasmine dress up set, and a purring Nala plush. As a child in the 1990s, the renaissance and classic animations alike captivated her imagination. In 2008, Robin visited Walt Disney World for the first time, and the obsession really took hold. Since then, Robin has enjoyed visiting the Happiest Place on Earth many more times. She lives in the Chicago suburbs where she is wrapping up a Masters in writing. When not at Disney World, Robin enjoys researching fairytales, eating ice cream, Netflix binging, reading and, of course, planning the next Walt Disney World vacation!