Animal Kingdom Isn’t a “Half-Day” Park, and We’ve Got Indisputable Proof!

animal kingdom, "proof", simba shocked
Credit: Disney, Canva

When Animal Kingdom first opened in 1998, it was, by all definitions, an unfinished theme park.

You may have noticed that the theme park’s iconography and graphic design usually includes dinosaurs, dragons, and the exotic animals alive today, such as lions and elephants.

tree of life walt disney world's animal kingdom

Credit: Brian McGowan on Unsplash

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This is because Animal Kingdom’s original premise was to appreciate and celebrate the animals of the past, the animals of the present, and the animals of the fantastical. There was going to be an entire theme park area known as “Beastly Kingdom,” which would have been dedicated to fantastical creatures, like dragons and unicorns.

Unfortunately, due to budget cuts, Beastly Kingdom never came to fruition. Even more unfortunate, the Guests visiting upon the theme park’s opening noticed this, heralding the Walt Disney World Resort as a “half-day park.” As in, you only need to spend half a day at the Disney Park to get the full experience.

Animal Kingdom has been desperately trying to shake this title ever since.

animal kingdom dinosaur attraction

Credit: Disney

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With the addition of Pandora – The World of Avatar in 2017, the Walt Disney Company hoped that the theme park would finally be free from this title. But unfortunately, the reputation has just stuck.

This is, in part, due to how the Disney Park looks on paper. If you were to look at the map of Animal Kingdom on the official My Disney Experience app, you would only see a measly 9 wait time bubbles, with only 8 of those being attractions you can ride.

However, just because many of the attractions don’t require a wait time doesn’t mean they aren’t there. We’ve written in the past about how Animal Kingdom cannot be considered a half-day park due to how much there is to do. But we’re back with proof, this time!

baby zebra

Credit: Disney

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One anonymous Guest recently told a story about a rare moment of Disney magic they’ve witnessed while visiting a Disney Park, and it perfectly encapsulates Animal Kingdom’s magic. They wrote,

Way back in the paper Fastpass days, my husband and I managed to ride Kilimanjaro Safari five times in one day. Our last ride was the very last truck of the day and we were the only people on it. Our driver turned off the radio and gave us a private tour, just chatting with us the whole time.

Which was all amazing already BUT THEN as we got to the cheetah habitat, a couple of the larger male antelope (possibly scimitar horned oryxs but I don’t remember for sure) were going head to head, battling over the females, right across the hidden moat from the cheetahs.

One of the cheetahs noticed the antelope were distracted and crouched down, ready to charge, apparently planning to try to jump the moat. Our driver was like, OH [SHOOT]. She stopped the truck and grabbed her radio.

The cheetah flew down the hill and skidded/jack-knifed to a stop right before it hit the moat. It was one of the coolest things I’ve EVER seen.

And that’s why I’ll never believe that AK is a “half-day park”. You just have to have patience if you want to see the best parts. Every time it’s a new adventure.

mickey and minnie mouse standing in front of the tree of life

Credit: Disney, Canva

READ MORE: Disney’s Animal KINGdom Remains the Best Theme Park at Walt Disney World

In short, you’ve gotta be patient to see the real Disney magic of Animal Kingdom. It’s not as obvious as Magic Kingdom’s Disney magic, but that makes it all the more exciting once you experience it!

About Isabella Reimer

Isabella Reimer grew up visiting Walt Disney World and relocated to Central Florida to be even closer to The Most Magical Place on Earth. She earned her Bachelor’s from Florida State University, where she studied Creative Writing and Women’s Studies. Her biggest hobby is bonding with the ikran at Avatar Flight of Passage, and her retirement plan includes becoming the 1,000 Happy Haunt of the Haunted Mansion.