How to Save Time in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Without Using Lightning Lane

Tree of Life
Credit: Disney

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the largest of the four Disney Parks at the Walt Disney World Resort and is bursting with amazing experiences for Guests to enjoy, with everything from thrilling attractions to encounters with wildlife, entertainment, dining, shopping, and more. With so many amazing things to enjoy each day in the Disney Park, it can seem daunting when trying to do it all, but there are some ways to help with this.

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Tree of Life

Credit: Disney Parks

Lightning Lane is a service offered at the Walt Disney World Resort that essentially replaced FastPass+ and Guests who utilize it can typically visit several attractions each day and skip most of the wait time. While Lightning Lane can save some time, it does cost an additional fee and can at best be used for only one or two attractions, making it arguably not worth the cost.

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Maharajah Jungle Trek

Credit: Disney

Guests who want to experience as much of Disney’s Animal Kingdom as possible without paying for Lightning Lane have some tried and true tips and tricks that they can use to save time, allowing them more opportunities to explore. Let’s check out some of the best ways to see as much of Disney’s Animal Kingdom as possible without purchasing Lightning Lane.

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Credit: Disney

Arrive Before Park Opening

The most obvious way to make the most of any day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is by waking up early and arriving before the Disney Park officially opens for the day. By arriving early, Guests are typically allowed through the main entrance and as far as Discovery Island in front of the Tree of Life. This offers Guests the chance to have a leisurely beginning to the morning, checking out the beautiful and serene habitats throughout the Oasis, as well as take some great early morning photos of the Tree of Life before larger crowds assemble.

The Oasis

Credit: Disney

Arriving before opening and early theme park entry also allows Guests the strategic advantage of positioning themselves near the pathway that leads to a popular duo of attractions that are best enjoyed in the morning before the Disney Park gets crowded.

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Pandora - The World of Avatar

Credit: Disney

Visit Pandora – The World of Avatar First

Once Disney’s Animal Kingdom is officially open for the day, Guests should immediately head to Pandora – The World of Avatar which completely immerses them in the stunning Valley of Mo’ara featuring alien plant life, floating mountains, and stunning views. The area is also home to Avatar Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey, two of the most popular attractions in the Disney Park.

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Na'vi River Journey

Credit: Disney

Guests should opt to head to Avatar Flight of Passage first, as the innovative and amazing attraction is very popular with Guests and can easily have lengthy wait times throughout each day. After enjoying the thrilling ride on the back of a banshee, Guests can enjoy the nearby Na’vi River Journey for a serene ride through a bioluminescent forest with less of a wait than would be found later on in the day.

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Credit: Disney

Opt for Quick Service Meals, Not Table Service

There are plenty of wonderful dining options to be enjoyed throughout Disney’s Animal Kingdom, including several table service restaurants such as Tusker House Restaurant, Yak & Yeti Restaurant, and Tiffins Restaurant. However, Guests who are looking to make the most of their time in the Disney Park should avoid table service meals, which require a good amount of time, and instead opt for quick service locations.

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Credit: orlandosentinel.com

Each quick service location in Disney’s Animal Kingdom offers up a unique menu of delicious options that can be enjoyed in a short period, leaving time to enjoy other experiences within the Disney Park. Some great quick service options include Satu’li Canteen, Restaurantosaurus, Yak & Yeti Local Food Cafés, the Harambe Market, and Flame Tree Barbecue which has an expansive outdoor patio to enjoy.

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Flame Tree Barbecue

Credit: Disney

Mobile Order Early for Off Times

The best way to save additional time when enjoying quick service meals in Disney’s Animal Kingdom is by utilizing Mobile Ordering, a service that can be conveniently found on the My Disney Experience App. The service allows Guests to check out quick-service menus early in the day and preorder their meals for a set time, skipping the need to wait in line to order and pick up. Guests who want to save even more time should opt for dining at slightly off times, when the wait to pick up their Mobile Order will be even less.

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Credit: Disney

Use the Single Rider Line

One of the best ways to save some time while at the Walt Disney World Resort is by utilizing the Single Rider Line, which offers Guests the chance to split their parties up and enjoy the same attraction as everyone else, just with a significantly lower wait time. The only attraction in Disney’s Animal Kingdom that offers a Single Rider Line is Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain, a thrilling experience that brings Guests face to face with the Yeti and often has a long wait time. For those that absolutely want to enjoy Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain, the Single Rider Line is the way to go.

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A Celebration of The Festival of the Lion King

Credit: Disney

Take a Break at the Festival of the Lion King or Nomad Lounge

In order to make it through a long and full day in any Disney Park, many Guests simply have to make it a priority to take a break, and most tend to opt to head back to a Disney Resort to take a nap and enjoy pool time or to Disney Springs. This is a great way to recharge, but it takes up so much time spent in transit that could have otherwise been spent enjoying Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Guests who are absolutely in need of a break should plan on visiting the Festival of the Lion King in Harambe to enjoy an air-conditioned and entertaining show where they can sit down, or visit the inside of Nomad Lounge where they can relax, soak in the air conditioning, and enjoy a specialty cocktail and small bite.

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Tree of Life Reflection

Credit: williamdrewphotography.com

Visit Dinosaur & Kilimanjaro Safaris Last

Dinosaur is one of the most popular attractions in Disney’s Animal Kingdom that invites Guests into the Dino Institute for the opportunity to travel back to prehistoric times. As with any adventure, things go wrong and Guests find themselves in a race to avoid a massive asteroid impact, and the thrilling experience draws in some heavy crowds each day. A great way to still enjoy Dinosaur without losing tons of time waiting in line is to visit right before Disney’s Animal Kingdom closes and many other Guests have headed out for the night. Guests should also head to the Harambe Reserve and opt to enjoy Kilimanjaro Safaris later in the day, when a unique nighttime safari experience can be enjoyed and many animals are more active thanks to lower temperatures.

About Caitlin Kane

Caitlin Kane has been visiting Walt Disney World since she was a child and has developed a deep love and appreciation of the Disney Parks with a particular interest in the small details and history that can be found all around. Visiting every chance she gets, Caitlin loves to enjoy the ambiance of the Disney Parks and try something new every time. She can often be found eating and drinking her way through the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, riding the Haunted Mansion, sipping on a Lapu Lapu, pretending Illuminations: Reflections of Earth was still in existence, and enjoying seeing the magic through the eyes of her children. When not in WDW, Caitlin can be found at home in New York dreaming of a ride on Living with the Land and counting down the days until her next trip.