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Animal Kingdom One Day Touring Plan

See the top attractions in One Day

Animal Kingdom - OrlandoWalt Disney World property is extremely large. First time visitors often exclaim that they had no idea just how massive the resort truly is. Boating, mini-golf, and even rock climbing walls are just a few of the activities that Walt Disney World has to offer. It would be easy to spend a month at Disney, and never run out of things to do. Nevertheless, it is the four theme parks that hold primary interest to the new visitor. As the largest of the parks, Animal Kingdom may seem imposing, and those with only one day to spend may wonder how they will ever make it through the entire park.

While it is true that with only one day to spend, you are likely not to have time for all of the detail that Animal Kingdom has to offer, with a solid touring plan it is possible to visit the highlights. Your exact plan will vary according to your interests, but some general tips and tricks will apply to everyone.

  • Be sure and buy your discount Disney World tickets in advance. Lines at the ticket booths are quite long in the morning, so planning ahead can save a good deal of time.
  • Arrive early, at least an hour prior to the listed park opening time. The park often opens ahead of schedule. The opening show, featuring Mickey and friends, is a lot of fun and will help your wait pass quickly. Early arrivals also have a chance of being selected for special opening programs such as a private Safari tour.
  • Dress appropriately for the weather, including bringing proper rain gear. Central Florida weather can be extremely hot and muggy, quite wet, or bitterly cold. In the winter, you may experience all three extremes in the same day. Animal Kingdom is almost exclusively an outdoor park, so preparing for the weather will allow you to continue your tour when other guests flood the shops to wait out a bout of rain or escape from the heat. All attractions continue to operate in the rain unless there is lightning in the area, but most guests are reluctant to get wet. Use this to your advantage to enjoy greatly reduced wait times.
  • Mornings are quite busy in the park, as both Cast Members and animals begin their day. You will need to make decisions, as early morning Safaris are the best for animal spotting, yet the viewable medical procedures at Rafiki’s Planet Watch take place at the same time. Research the available options prior to your trip, in order to make informed decisions.
  • Instead of joining the throngs flooding the new Expedition Everest coaster early in the day, decide in advance whether your party is willing to split up to ride. Utilizing the single riders line later in the day will minimize your wait time while allowing you to enjoy other popular attractions in the morning while everyone else is at Everest.
  • While a one day visit will not allow you the time to fully explore all of the available walking trails, you can see the majority of them simply by varying your route. Follow one path to get to a major attraction, and a different one when leaving. Keep your eyes open, as wildlife is there to greet you at every turn.
  • Rafiki’s Planet Watch is quite large, housing many smaller attractions. Make sure you are aware of time while visiting, as it is quite easy to get caught up in the exhibits and suddenly realize you have been there in excess of two hours. Stay long enough to enjoy yourself, but remember to keep moving.
  • Do not visit Kilimanjaro Safari during a hot afternoon. The lines will be long, the other guests cranky, and the animals nowhere to be seen. Most animals retreat to cool, shaded areas for a nap during the hot afternoon hours, and Disney has provided plenty of these areas that are outside of guest view.
  • If you find yourself wilting from a combination of heat and hunger, make your way to the Tusker House, located in Africa. This counter service restaurant offers indoor seating (a rarity at Animal Kingdom), as well as excellent food at budget prices. The chicken dinner is easily large enough to split between two people.
  • Avoid the temptation to leave the park for a midday break. There are pleasant areas of Animal Kingdom in which to rest and recharge, and you will save the time you would have spent leaving and returning to the park. Sit in the shade and listen to an African storyteller or shop for souvenirs from around the world.
  • When a queue line splits, sometimes guests ignore the left hand side as many guests are right handed. Even if there are not guests waiting in one side, unless it is roped off it is open and you can often save several minutes passing other guests who did not notice the open side.
  • When making your touring plan, remember that Animal Kingdom closes as early as 5 p.m. during the off season, and generally no later than 8 p.m. during the summer months. Plan accordingly in order to fit everything in.

Although Animal Kingdom is the largest of the four parks in terms of square footage, it is one of the smaller parks in number of actual major attractions. With a plan to keep you on schedule, there is no reason why you cannot experience all of the major attractions in one day.

Do not, however, get so caught up in major attractions that you forget to enjoy the details. Animal Kingdom is an extraordinarily detailed park, and half the fun is in the walking trails and paths to nowhere that are found throughout. Maintain a reasonable pace, but always look around, and do not be afraid to try a new path. Animal Kingdom is a one of a kind blend of theme park and animal habitat, and deserves to be appreciated for its uniqueness. Following the tips and tricks detailed above should you allow you time for the full Animal Kingdom experience during your one day visit. Remember, there is always next time.