Animal Kingdom is particularly suited to single adult travelers. Billed as “a different kind of theme park,” Animal Kingdom shattered stereotypes. Part zoo, part theme park, all high tech, Animal Kingdom’s opening in 1998 ushered in a new era of theme park experience.
Animal Kingdom is often dismissed as a half-day park, not worth the price of admission. This is possibly true for a certain type of family, who dashes from ride to ride, afraid to slow down and enjoy anything for fear of possibly “missing something.” However, for the solo traveler who is willing to stop and smell the roses, Animal Kingdom offers a seductive and magical experience.
Those who love animals, nature, or simply the exotic will be slightly overwhelmed by the experience. The Imaginers have faithfully re-created lands as diverse as a nature preserve in Africa and a mythical kingdom in Asia. Although Animal Kingdom is home to some of the best thrill rides in all of Disney, the true magic is in the details. Virtually every land is home to a group of walking trails, where wildlife waits to greet you around every corner. Take time out to explore these pathways.
Solos will love the flexibility of the single riders line offered at Expedition Everest. This new coaster is extremely popular, with Fast Passes often gone by 10 am and the standby wait often stretching to three hours or more. By contrast, the single riders wait generally hovers around 20-30 minutes. This allows singles to save a significant amount of time.
Single riders may also be able to shorten their wait times at other attractions. The nature of load patterns for ride vehicles means that quite often, a ride must depart with an empty seat. Pay attention as you approach the ride platform, and let the Cast Member on the platform know that you are traveling alone. You may be able to fill that otherwise empty seat.
At theater shows, guest counts are estimated by the Cast Member in charge. Again, a polite inquiry might find you on the other side of the red velvet rope, shortening your wait by 15 minutes or more. While it will not work every time, the time savings can add up to be significant.
Solos will enjoy the freedom that they have to move about at their own pace. You may find yourself stopping for an hour to watch monkeys frolic, without having to worry that others in your party are getting restless. Perhaps you want to watch a medical procedure take place. Make your way to Rafiki’s Planet Watch in the early morning, where procedures from routine exams to major surgeries take place behind a glass wall, fully narrated by a Cast Member. Or you may wish to do the thrill ride circuit, running circles from Dinosaur! to Primeval Whirl, and from Expedition Everest to Kali River Rapids.
However you choose to spend the day, on a solo trip your time is yours. You never have to feel alone, as Disney is full of interesting people having a good time. Other guests are always willing to converse, and some lasting friendships have been made at Disney. Or you may simply enjoy a series of transitory interactions, chatting with other guests while waiting for a parade to start, or discussing conservation with an Animal Kingdom Cast Member.
If you are seeking solitude, Animal Kingdom will provide. The largest Disney park in terms of square footage, Animal Kingdom provides a stunning variety of off the beaten path locations. Locals often visit to draw or write, using the sights and sounds as inspiration. Many will spend a day in the park without ever visiting an attraction at all. Grab a beer or a cup of coffee and find a park bench along a nature trail, and settle in to watch the animals play.
Spend some time becoming reacquainted with your inner child. Dinoland USA offers a midway and a play area that recreates a dig site. Both are adult as well as child-friendly, and you are guaranteed to spot other adults doing the same thing. As a solo traveler, there is no need to impress anyone, as you are likely to never see anyone you meet again. Take the opportunity to suspend disbelief and reconnect with the side of yourself that likes to run and play.
Spend some time enjoying the street performers. Local representatives of the various cultures perform music, storytelling, and dance at various times. You might even have the opportunity to become part of the show.
No matter how you choose to spend your day, adopt an attitude of exploration. Animal Kingdom truly must be experienced to be understood. A simple list of rides and shows, such as that provided by the guidebook, does not do justice to the full experience. In fact, at one time, Animal Kingdom did not even provide guidebooks. The Imagineers felt so strongly that the lure of Animal Kingdom was in the exploration, that they left guests to make discoveries entirely on their own. That did not work, as guests became upset that they missed certain showtimes, or even missed some attractions altogether. Yet many guests today become too reliant on the guidebook, marching from attraction to attraction with a military precision, and missing a lot of the original idea behind this amazing park. As a solo, you are free to explore at your own pace, so use the guidebook to ensure that you do not miss things you want to see, but allow your senses and intuition to guide your movements. You will find that your day at Animal Kingdom ends all too quickly, and you will never have time to be bored.