A One-Day Plan for Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World

So you’ve only got one day, huh? Maybe it’s a weekend getaway, a last minute escape, or this Park simply got voted off the island. If you only have one day to enjoy and experience Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park, you have to be strategic. Here’s my advice for a one day plan for Animal Kingdom:

1. FastPass+ Early

This is essential. Seems obvious to some, I know. But if you only have one day in the park, you should secure FastPasses as early as humanly possible. In terms of which ones to grab, go for anything Pandora related first. Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey go super quickly. If you have room, snag a Safari too. Everything else in Animal Kingdom you can do Standby without much trouble.

2. Arrive in the Morning

For some, this might mean doing rope drop. For others, it means having a leisurely breakfast and coming in when you’re ready. I don’t find rope drop to be necessary at Animal Kingdom – in fact, it kind of stresses me out. But some people swear by it, so that’s up to your style. If you arrive to the park early, you can check off a lot of your “must-do” list in the morning.

3. Do Kilimanjaro Safari Either First or Last Thing

The animals on the reserve are most active in the cooler weather, so you have a must better chance of seeing them either first thing in the morning, or at sunset. These are the times when guests are more likely to see the lions moving around (or roaring!) and the cheetahs out in the open.

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4. Determine if DinoLand is Necessary for You

Here’s the thing: I’m not a DinoLand fan. I always skip it, which makes my Animal Kingdom day shorter/easier to fit in all I want to do. Some people love DinoLand. The DINOSAUR ride is thrilling, the smaller coasters are great for kids, the fair-type games are unique to this park, and the playground is fantastic for youngsters. But if you’re not into those things, you can skip this part of the park and save a bunch of time.

5. Single Ride Expedition Everest

If you’re a diehard thrill seeker, you have to sneak in a ride on Expedition Everest. Here’s the snag. If you’ve gotten FastPasses for things in Pandora, you probably didn’t get one for Everest. Luckily, Expedition Everest is one of the few rides that offers a Single Rider option. The downside is that you’re not guaranteed to ride with your family. The upside is you’ll have a much shorter wait.

6. Quick Serve for Meals

Animal Kingdom has lots of little carts and quick serve food options. It also has three sit down restaurants choices: Yak & Yeti, Tusker House, and Tiffins. All are fantastic. Eating at any of these restaurants is great, but with so little time in Animal Kingdom, I’d argue that Quick Serve is good enough. Some of my favorite spots are Flametree Barbeque, Yak & Yeti Local Food Cafes, and Satu’li Canteen.

7. Take a Break in Festival of the Lion King

You’ve had a long day already. Feet tired? Can’t stop sweating? Yeah, we get you. Head on down to Africa to enjoy this 30-minute, Broadway-style retelling of the Lion King. It’s consistently a fan favorite.

8. Make Time for the Trails

It can be easy to get swept up in Pandora, or head straight for the thrill rides in Animal Kingdom. But Animal Kingdom started simply, and it started with animals. Make sure to take time in your hectic day to slow down and wander down some side trails. Meander through the Maharajah Jungle Trek and Gorilla Falls to truly experience these creatures.

9. Snap a Tree of Life Picture

It’s a necessity, right? Right in front of the Tree is a photo spot with Disney photographers. The trouble with this is it’s usually busy, which means long lines and people in your shot. If you don’t mind ditching the Memory Maker photo, head to the designated smoking area of the Park on the trail from Africa to Asia. Directly across from this is a gorgeous view of the Tree of Life. Not many people consider it, but it has views of the water and the Tree without being bombarded with people.

Photo Credit: Disney

10. End the Day with Rivers of Light

Now that Animal Kingdom is open later, it provides guests the perfect ending: Rivers of Light. This incredible water and light show dazzles guests nightly. With two nightly performances and a massive arena, everyone can be a part of this event.

About Molly Elias

Molly Elias has been a dedicated Disney fan since she was 18-months old. She has grown up with and learned from Disney her whole life. As her family's main vacation spot, Disney World is a place of love and laughter and magic for her. Her family also prides themselves on their Disney Cruise Line knowledge and would rather be on the high seas with Mickey than anywhere else in the world. Molly plans to keep Disney in her life forever, while also pursuing a writing career. She recently completed a master's program in creative writing in the hopes that someday she will be able to be a writer for the Happiest Company on Earth. Molly keeps Walt's famous quote at the forefront of her life: "Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we're curious...and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths."