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Credit: Matthew Cooper - www.thetimethespace.com

Disney’s Animal Kingdom on the Weekends

Since Walt Disney World reopened I’ve been spending a lot of time in the parks, more than I usually do during the summer. I’ve been to Disney’s Animal Kingdom several times, but it has always been on a weekday. On Sunday, August 30, I was able to get a last minute Disney Park Pass Reservation for Disney’s Animal Kingdom. I was curious as to what the crowd level would be like, because I’ve heard a few horror stories.

 

 

It was a rainy morning, so I did not go when the park opened. I arrived at the park at about 11:00, it had been open for three hours. There was no line for Temperature Check or Bag Check, and I was quickly in the park. As I walked towards Discovery Island I noticed that the crowd level was higher than the weekdays, but it was by no means crowded.

There was one other thing that I noticed. Even though the number of guests was somewhat higher, most people were social distancing. There are pictures where the park looks crowded, but you can’t tell from the pictures that there are spaces in between the parties. That is something to keep in mind when you see pictures these days, they do not necessarily tell the full story.

Like I always do when I visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom, I headed immediately to Pandora. The posted time for Avatar Flight of Passage was 35 minutes. Since the park reopened the longest that I’ve waited for the ride was 20, so I decided to see how accurate that posted time was. I started the timer on my phone, and 35 minutes later I was watching the instructions video. That’s about as accurate as you can get! The first ten minutes of the wait was outside, and the rest was in the indoor queue.

 

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When I got off of Flight of Passage the rain had returned. It wasn’t a deluge, and I wasn’t the only one who didn’t seek shelter. The crowd level died down some because of the rain, but since it wasn’t raining hard plenty of people just put on ponchos and kept going. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to accurately assess the crowd because of the rain, but it eventually moved out and people left their shelter.

The rest of the wait times were higher than weekdays, but they were still manageable. The longest wait throughout the day was usually for Na’vi River Journey. The wait for that was usually five to ten minutes longer than for Flight of Passage! Expedition Everest stayed around 20-25 minutes whenever I checked. DINOSAUR was about the same. The wait times might have been longer than they have been on weekdays, but they were still nowhere near a normal weekend day.

I hadn’t gone on the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail since the park reopened, so I decided to check it out. There were still plenty of Cast Members on hand to answer questions and help you to see the animals. There was a line to see the gorillas. It was like any other line, you stand on the marker on the ground. When you are near the window with the gorillas on the other side, you and your party stand on a dot on the ground. When the family in front of you is done, you can move to the next dot. They weren’t hurrying people along, so everyone had plenty of time to see the gorillas, including the very active baby.

There is a great Relaxation Station in Asia that is across from the theater that currently shows Feathered Friends in Flight! ( the UP! theater). It’s an outdoor area, but there are tables and chairs, and since it’s along the Discovery River if you are lucky you can catch a Character Cruise or two. When I stopped by, it was full. This was the first time since I’ve been back to any of the parks that I saw a Relaxation Station that was at capacity. The Cast Member at the entrance explained that no one else could enter until another party left and the table was cleaned.

There was one thing that I noticed about the crowds on the weekend versus the crowd on a weekday. The crowd at Disney’s Animal Kingdom was very patchy. In some spots there were plenty of people, while other areas had few. Pandora was relatively quiet, since most people were in line for one of the two rides. The pathway between Asia and Africa was busy, while Discovery Island was mostly empty. I also walked through the front of the park a few times, just to check the crowd level. There was a fairly steady stream of people entering the park throughout the day.

This was the third time I’ve visited a park on the weekend to compare crowd levels. There is a difference, but it isn’t unmanageable. I wouldn’t stay away from Disney’s Animal Kingdom on a weekend to avoid a crowd. A 35 minute wait for Flight of Passage still beats the 235 minute wait that was common at this time last year.

About PaulaK

I grew up in Western Massachusetts. When I was nine my family went to Disneyland and I was hooked. I grew up, attended New England College in Henniker, NH and eventually moved to Virginia. I worked as a disc jockey, married and became a full time mom when our daughter was born. Fast forward several years. In 2010 we moved to Central Florida and my Disney obsession grew. I now work as a freelance writer and spend my spare time in the parks. Under the name Paula Brown I penned the novels Dream Wanderers and The Coffee Cruiser. I also am a co-author of Dining at Walt Disney World: The Definitive Guide. I'm obsessed with Star Wars, so this is a good time to live in Central Florida. I've been a vegetarian for well over a decade, a choice that my daughter eventually made as well. While my husband still hasn't joined us fully he has given up most meats except for seafood. I was relieved to find that vegetarian dining is not difficult at Walt Disney World.