Complete guide to Disney’s Animal Kingdom

(Article last updated: September 16, 2018)

What if we told you that you could explore the highest peaks in Asia, go on a safari through the rich savanna grasslands of Africa, fly on the back of your very own banshee, and travel back through time to the age of the dinosaurs?

You can do all that (and more) at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Animal Kingdom has worked hard since its opening to overcome the impression that it is "just a zoo," and the recent opening of Pandora - The World of Avatar has helped to take this park from a half-day experience to a full-day adventure.

You don't want to go into Animal Kingdom without a good plan, though.

Check out these resources to help you maximize your time (and money) at during your trip...

How many days should I visit Animal Kingdom?

How many days calendar 1 - Complete guide to Disney's Animal KingdomFor most trips there simply aren't enough days to see and do everything at Disney World, so deciding how to divide your time is an important step in planning your stay.

The table below has suggestions for the number of days you should plan to spend at each park, but depending on your family's tastes and interests you may want to adjust how you allocate your time.

Suggested number of days in each park

Trip length
MK EP HS AK Water Park Other things
3 1 1 1       or       1
4 1 1 1 1
5 2 1 1 1
6 2 1 1 1 1
7 2 2 1 1 1
8 2 2 1 1 1 1
9 2 2 1 1 1 2
10 2 2 1 1 1 3

Animal Kingdom map

Animal Kingdom is home to 6 distinct areas or "lands," including the brand new Pandora - The World of Avatar:

  • Oasis
  • Discovery Island
  • Pandora - The World of Avatar
  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Dinoland U.S.A.

Want a map you can download? Check out this PDF map of Animal Kingdom.

AnimalKingdomMap 600x275 - Complete guide to Disney's Animal Kingdom

WDW Prep Members can also get maps of each park that print out on 1 piece of paper and show when to visit each attraction.

Map 04 AnimalKingdom 2 600x464 - Complete guide to Disney's Animal Kingdom

Parking at Animal Kingdom

Thinking about driving at Disney World?

Parking is quick and painless and a good option if you'll have your car on your vacation.

All parking lots are staffed with an abundance of Cast Members that will help direct you to your spot. If you park too far away from the front gate to walk, there will be handy trams to shuttle you back and forth from the end of your row to near the front gates.

How much does parking at Animal Kingdom cost?

  • Free for Walt Disney World Resort hotel guests
  • Offsite guests $22/day
  • Passholders - Free with Passholder card and photo ID
  • Preferred Parking - $45/day

Want more tips on driving? Check out our post on using a car at Disney World.

What should I bring with me to Animal Kingdom?

Since Disney allows you to keep your bag with you on every attraction, many people find it handy to carry a bag or backpack with them into the parks.

What you pack in your backpack will vary on your age and who you are traveling with but to help you decide what you might want to bring we have an entire post dedicated to Disney World park bags.

Here are some other common questions on what to bring with you:

Can I bring food with me?

Yes! You can bring your own food items with you. The only restrictions are no glass containers (baby food is an exception) and no alcohol. Also, for the safety of the animals, no straws are allowed at Animal Kingdom.

Can I bring a cooler?

Yes, small coolers are allowed; however, the total size can't exceed 24" b 15" by 18". We recommend bringing a cooler small enough to fit into a locker or in the bottom of a stroller.

Are wagons allowed?

Items that can be pulled behind you are not allowed at Disney World, and that includes wagons.

Can I bring my selfie stick?

Sorry, but no. Selfie sticks are banned at all Disney World parks, including Animal Kingdom.

Can I bring my tripod so I can take pictures?

Tripods (and monopods) that are small enough to fit in a backpack are allowed.

I heard the lines are long. Can I bring a folding chair with me to sit in while I wait?

Folding chairs are not allowed, and we'd never want you standing in a line long enough that you'd need one! Make sure you read the touring plan information below so that you avoid standing in long lines.

Why no balloons or straws in Animal Kingdom?

Unlike the other parks, Animal Kingdom is home to a plethora of animals and their safety is a top concern. Because of that, anything that animals might accidentally ingest are banned, and that includes balloons and plastic straws.

Paper straws are available at all dining locations.


Animal Kingdom rides

headerAKguide - Complete guide to Disney's Animal KingdomFrom exploring the brilliant bioluminescent Pandora to celebrating nature's true magic at Rivers of Light to catching a glimpse of elephants and lions in the savannas of Africa, Animal Kingdom is packed with opportunities for adventure

Check out this guide for attraction details, including when to visit each one, ride videos, height requirements, and more.

Best days to visit Animal Kingdom

monthlydashboardheader - Complete guide to Disney's Animal KingdomFor every park at Disney World, some days are better (read: less crowded) to visit than others.

We have put together crowd calendars that use an easy-to-understand, color-coded rating system. These handy crowd calendars also include park hour and entertainment information, and they can be found on the Monthly Dashboard that corresponds to your travel dates.

Animal Kingdom touring plans and FastPass+ suggestions

animalkingdomtouringplans 300x300 - Complete guide to Disney's Animal KingdomOnce considered a half-day park, Animal Kingdom now has plenty to keep most families busy for an entire day (or more).

Animal Kingdom doesn't have tiers the way Epcot and Hollywood Studios do, but it does limit you to only 1 FastPass+ for rides in Pandora per day. Don't know which attractions you should pick? Check out the information in the section above first to see which will work best for your family.

Rivers of Light viewing advice

riversoflightviewingadvice - Complete guide to Disney's Animal KingdomRivers of Light is the new nighttime show at Animal Kingdom. There are several different ways to see it (standby, FastPass+, or dining package) so knowing which way is going to work best for your family is important.

Animal Kingdom dining

animalkingdomrestaurants - Complete guide to Disney's Animal KingdomDisney does a good job overall in making sure guests have a variety of options to choose from when dining (and not limiting you to just "theme park food") and this is especially true when visiting Animal Kingdom. Here you can find some of the most unique entree options at the newly opened Tiffins and Satu'li Canteen.

Interested in the Rivers of Light Dining Package? Since it is offered at several restaurants it is good to review all your choices before you pick just one.

How to get to Animal Kingdom

howtonavigatesquare - Complete guide to Disney's Animal KingdomGetting around Disney World property can be intimidating if you've never visited before, but we lay out all your options for traveling to and from Disney's Animal Kingdom.

We've included information on Disney World buses and boats, Uber and Minnie Vans.

Did we leave anything out? Let us know your questions in the comments below.

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