This one-day Animal Kingdom itinerary shares the best rides, restaurants, and shows to catch if you are in the park for just one day.
While Animal Kingdom is the largest park in Disney World with over 300 acres of land to be explored it can definitely be explored in a day!
Animal Kingdom is a premium animal care facility and is so much more than a typical zoo! The park has a combination of typical amusement park rides, as well as a variety of walking trails, and zoo attractions.
TIP: To avoid fatigue we recommend alternating between animal walking trails and rides to keep the kids entertained and engaged.
Our one-day Animal Kingdom guide will help you plan a strategy to minimize time spent waiting in lines, and how to avoid the crowds at the most popular rides and shows.
While you can spend additional money and buy Genie+ and use Lightening Lanes, this guide helps you maximize your day without spending extra money.
Tips for Visiting Animal Kingdom:
- The hours of 3-5pm are the quietest times of the day so plan to use this time accordingly.
- To get the best photograph of the Tree of Life, check the variety of spots between Africa and Asia that will have fewer crowds in the background.
- Grab a seat on the left side of the safari as it has better viewpoints of the animals.
- To keep kids further engaged join the Wilderness Explorers program that allows kids to collect over 25 different badges as they visit free activity stations.
- Arrive at the park before opening to maximize your time, and take advantage of cooler temperatures and shorter lines.
- Avoid crisscrossing the park and continue traveling in one direction.
- Pack light and wear good shoes as there is lots of walking.
Tips for Visiting with Young Children:
If you are traveling with young children you don’t want to miss Na’vi River Journey, A Celebration of Festival of the Lion King, Kilimanjaro Safaris, Feathered Friends in, Flights, Rafiki’s Planet Watch (petting zoo), TriceraTop Spin, and It’s Tough to be a Bug (as long as they are not afraid of the dark).
Waiting in lines can be tough so head to The Boneyard in Dinoland to let kids run around and do some digging.
One Day Animal Kingdom Itinerary
Rope drop rides at Animal Kingdom
The two more popular rides of the entire park are Avatar Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey which are located in Pandora, so you will want to head to these rides first thing in the morning to avoid huge wait times.
Get to Animal Kingdom for rope drop to get in the queue for at least one of these rides.
The Na’vi River ride is perfect for young children as it is a slow-moving boat ride with beautiful scenery. Flight of Passage is always a long wait time but it does have a very unique and engaging queue line to pass the time.
Tip: Take the boardwalk from Pandora to Africa to avoid the crowds on Discovery Island.
Next is the Animal Attractions
Animals tend to be most active in the morning as they are looking for treats left out by zoo keepers. That means, visiting the animal trails an hour or so after the park has opened, will give you a chance to see animals up-close without the mid-day heat beating down on you.
Take your time visiting each animal exhibit so you can see as much as possible.
There are a few different animal viewing trails including the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail (lush jungle), Maharajah Jungle Trek (immerse you in an experience of visiting Southeast Asia), and the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail.
Each trail takes about an hour to explore thoroughly, however, it can be done in less time if needed.
Late morning is for more Park Rides:
Everest and Dinosaur often have short wait times at opening, however, they are located a far walk from Pandora and the rides themselves have very quick ride times.
The best way to navigate the park is to head to Pandora in the morning, then check out the Kilimanjaro Safaris, followed by Everest. Grab some lunch at one of the restaurants below and then end your day in Dinoland USA.
Shows at Animal Kingdom:
There are a variety of different shows located in Animal Kingdom and it is not possible to see them all so you will have to have a plan when arriving at the park.
I recommend trying to see 2 shows or you will have to cut time short at the animal exhibits.
The shows are great fun for the whole family but are also the perfect respite during the hot Orlando heat. Plus, if you are visitng Animal Kingdom with toddlers, this is just magical for them!
Festival of the Lion King is one of the best shows in the park as it is a very live theatrical show with acrobats, tribal performers, singers, and floats that wow the audience. This show is a great way to take a break indoors and get some shade.
You will find the following shows in each area of the park:
- Festival of the Lion King » Theater-in-the-round Stage Show
- Harambe Village Acrobats » Acrobats
- Kora Tinga Tinga » Live Music
- Tam Tam Drummers of Harambe » African dancing/crowd interaction act
- Feathered Friends In Flight! » Bird Show
- Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond! » Enclosed venue for live stage shows
- Viva Gaia Street Band » Multi-cultural musical troupe
Rafiki’s Planet Watch:
- The Animation Experience at Conservation Station » Drawing Class
Where to Eat when Visiting Animal Kingdom:
If you are looking for a quick yet delicious breakfast then check out the colossal cinnamon roll at Kusafiri Coffee Shop And Bakery, specialty drinks and muffins at Creature Comforts, or more hearty options like breakfast bowls from Yak and Yeti’s.
For oe of the best Disney World Character dining restaurants, head to Tusker House. Expect a Character Meal as you visit Donald Duck and the gang dressed in safari gear as they roam the dining room while you enjoy the buffet for breakfast in this family-friendly environment.
Young kids will enjoy traditional options like fruit and yogurt or upgrade your breakfast and try Safari Bread or Mickey and Simba Waffles.
Animal Kingdom offers a range of dining options from quick service to table service which allows them to meet the diverse needs of many families.
I do not recommend table service as it takes much longer and takes away time from other attractions, however, if you would rather table service then I recommend making a reservation in advance.
If you are looking for fast yet healthy choices then Satu’li Canteen is a great option as it offers customizable protein bowls. This is one of the best Quick Service Anaimla Kingdom restaurants to try.
Another quick service option is the outdoor seating at Flame Tree Barbeque which sells typical BBQ foods like pulled pork, ribs, and chicken sandwiches.
Grab Italian-inspired dishes like pizza and pasta from Pizzafari or head to Harambe Market for African-inspired dishes such as grilled sausage, chicken, and sides.
Restaurantosaurus offers quick service like burgers and grilled chicken with a variety of toppings and has a cool dinosaur theme.
When thinking about the best food at Animal Kingdom, look no further than Yak and Yeti.
Yak and Yeti located in the Asia section offer a sit-down menu of Asian-inspired dishes like noodles, stir-fries, and meat options.
Tiffins offers upscale seating dining that features a menu inspired by Africa, Asia, and South America.
Evening Activities in Animal Kingdom:
Unlike the other major Disney Parks, Animal Kingdom does not have a formal evening show or parade; however, the Tree of Life has multiple projection shows.
Animations are projected onto the magnificent Tree of Life located at the center of the park once it gets dark.
The World of Avatar in Pandora also has some very cool areas that glow and have a completely different feeling at night versus during the day.
How to spend one day at Animal Kingdom – Recap
- Arrive for rope drop then head straight to Pandora for your chosen ride (Nav’i River or Flight of Passage). If you can, do both!
- If you haven’t yet eaten, head to the themed and cool Salu’ti Canteen.
- Next, head to Discovery Island to see the animals here as they wake up for the day, then head over to the Africa area of the park for the Kilimanjaro Safari. Remember, you can skip the rides at this time and head back to them after 3pm, when queue times are usually quieter.
- After the safari, work out when the next Lion King Show is, by now it will be around midday and warm, so you can enjoy the aircon and the show at the same time.
- Asia is the next section you should explore. Here you can grab lunch at Yak and Yeti, enjoy the Kali Rapids Adventure, encounter more wonderful animals, and ride Expedition Everest.
- Continue your walk around to Dinoland USA; home to the popular Finding Nemo ride and DINOSAUR.
- It should now be around 3 or 4pm, so you can use this time to go back to Africa, Asia, Avatar or Discovery Island and see the attractions or rides you missed in the morning.
- For a fun dinner, why not head to the Adventurers Outpost to meet your favorite characters as you eat.
- Finally, end your day with the Tree of Life light show.
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What to pack
- No matter where we travel to, I always take these trusty hand sanitizers and a mini first aid kit.
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