Every day spent in Animal Kingdom is full of possibilities. There are so many things to see and experience, whether you are looking for the thrills of Expedition Everest or you’d like to learn about how cast members care for the animals in the park. From the food to the shows and attractions, there’s a lot to explore in Animal Kingdom, but there are a few things no one tells you about visiting. Here are 8 things you should know:
8. The Heat
Animal Kingdom boasts the largest “tree” on Disney property. The shade of over 100,000 leaves can be great to block some of the Florida sun, but apart from the Tree of Life there is not much else in the way of shade. The Oasis heading into the park has some covered trails, but the trees throughout the remainder of the park are not particularly tall. As you head into Asia, Africa and Dinoland U.S.A., Animal Kingdom has a climate that reflects the heat of the African Savannah. The animals in the park love the heat, but it can sometimes feel quite hot for the guests walking around. As long as you take breaks when you need them and cool off, the heat won’t be unbearable.
7. Cool Off
If you need to cool off, there are a few perfect places to do so. The Festival of the Lion King, Finding Nemo – The Musical, and even It’s Tough to be a Bug are shows that take place throughout Animal Kingdom and are great ways to cool off, since the buildings they are in are air-conditioned – and that’s not even the best part! The shows themselves are vibrant, filled with tons of color and lots of fun. As your body cools down, the music heats up and you’ll likely find yourself singing along to some of your favorite songs as well as learning some new ones. You can also find shelter on rides with inside queues.
6. Kali River Rapids
If the air-conditioned shows aren’t enough to cool you down, Kali River Rapids can be a great way to speed up the process. Most people expect to get a little wet on the ride, but one of the things no one tells you is that it’s extremely likely you will get soaked. While it’s possible to avoid some of the water as it crashes over the side of your raft, it’s just as likely that you will be in the perfect seat for the biggest splashes. As long as you expect to get soaked and plan accordingly (i.e. bring a change of clothes), then you won’t find yourself having to air dry for the next three hours.
5. Discovery Island Trails
Discovery Island sits in the very heart of Animal Kingdom. The iconic Tree of Life dominates the skyline as you walk onto the island. What few people will tell you is that the intricate trails that run around the roots of the tree are some of the quickest ways to get from one side of the island to the other. As long as you know where you’re going, the trails can take you there quickly.
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4. The Safari Animals
While the tour guides for the Kilimanjaro Safaris will tell you that each trip is different, it’s not something you could know ahead of time when making your FastPass+ selections. Typically while the morning is a little cooler, more of the animals will be up and walking about. As the day heats up, the animals will be more inclined to rest in the shade, but depending on where they pick for their afternoon naps, their spots might be prime locations for picture taking. Nigh-time rides are a toss up depending on the temperature that day and when the sun sets. Each tour is definitely different since the animals can be unpredictable, but for the full experience, try to go through Kilimanjaro Safaris at two different times during the day.
3. Expedition Everest
As the tallest mountain in Walt Disney World, Expedition Everest also holds the record for the most expensive roller coaster ever built. Those two elements add up to make it the most popular attraction in the park. One thing that no one tells you about Expedition Everest is that it will always be busy. The only exception to that is at rope drop, when the guests who get there within the first hour after the park opens have a much shorter queue to contend with. Don’t fear, however, since Expedition Everest also has one of the most interesting queues to walk through. Tons of artifacts and information about the lore of the Yeti ensure that you always have something to see and learn about as you wait to get on the ride.
Dinosaur is also an incredibly thrilling ride, but unlike Expedition Everest, the line for is usually quite reasonable. Any time the wait for Dinosaur sits around 15-30 minutes, you know you’ll be able to get on fairly quickly. The Time Rovers have a fast load and unload and can carry 12 guests at a time. If you’re looking for a thrill, sit in the back row in the outside seats to get jostled around.
1. The Best Restaurant
While there are a number of different restaurants to choose from at Animal Kingdom, there is one that stands out as a gem in the park. The people who won’t tell you about this restaurant have either never eaten there, or they are keeping the secret to themselves to leave more food for them. The restaurant of course is the Flame Tree Barbecue on Discovery Island. This quick service restaurant is one of the best restaurants in all of Walt Disney World. The Pulled Pork here is incredible, as are the St. Louis Ribs and the Chicken. You really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, but time and time again, the Flame Tree Barbecue never disappoints.
What are some of the things you wish people had told you about visiting Animal Kingdom? Let us know in the comments!