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How to tour Animal Kingdom (without waiting in lines)

How to tour Animal Kingdom (without waiting in lines)

Worried about long waits for Animal Kingdom attractions, especially in Pandora with Flight of Passage?

Having well-organized touring plans that make good use of Genie+ is key to avoiding long lines and waits during your Disney World trip, including at Animal Kingdom.

Below, find an Animal Kingdom touring plan that fits your group, along with Genie+ suggestions to make sure you’re maximizing your time having fun instead of wasting it in line.

Let’s take a look…

Animal Kingdom Rides and Attractions

Animal Kingdom is more than “just” a zoo. Although it is true that you will find all sorts of animals in the park, there are also some of the most unique rides and experiences of the 4 theme parks at Walt Disney World.

And, it just happens to be one of our personal favorites.

Not counting the animal exhibits, there are about 15 rides and shows at Animal Kingdom.

In this guide, we’re first going to give you a list of all the available major attractions you’ll find at Animal Kingdom. And don’t worry, if you need additional information, we’ll link off to more detailed descriptions of each.

Next, we are going to give you a brief description about Genie+, including why we sometimes recommend it for Animal Kingdom, but also why we think you also might be able to skip it here. This is important to understand before you start creating your touring plans.

Then, we’ll dive into the meat and potatoes of this post – the touring plans. You can use them as is or, just use them as the starting point to creating your own plans that are perfect for you and your traveling companions.

Note: The list below only includes characters who offer Genie+. Please refer to our Complete Guide to Characters at Animal Kingdom for the full list of available character meet-and-greet opportunities.

Genie+ basics

If you are already familiar with Genie+ feel free to skip down to the next section. Otherwise, keep reading and we’ll go over a brief overview. If all of this is new to you, though, we recommend you check out some of our other Genie+ resources to help get you all caught up on how this service works.

Disney Genie+ is the new FastPass+ system at Walt Disney World. Like the old FastPass+ system, Genie+ lets you cut the waits at the most popular attractions by allowing you to enter through a special line called a Lightning Lane (bypassing the longer Standby Line).

But, unlike the old FastPass+ system that was free, Genie+ costs extra; it uses a date-based pricing system, with busier times of the year being more expensive.

Currently, Genie+ starts at $15 per ticket, per day (plus tax) but the price has gone all the way up to $39 per ticket. Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to know ahead of time how much Genie+ will cost on the day of your visit. Instead, you will see the price when you go to purchase it inside the My Disney Experience app.

Why we sometimes recommend you use Genie+ at Animal Kingdom

Genie+ will make touring Animal Kingdom easier during busy times of the year, but if you are traveling during a less busy time of the year, and you don’t mind standing in some lines (and possibly skipping breaks) you can get a lot done at Animal Kingdom without it.

With Genie+ you will definitely find it a lot easier to get everything accomplished in 1 day, though.

But, if you are trying to save a buck, we recommend you skip purchasing Genie+ Animal Kingdom and instead use your money to purchase an Individual Lightning Lane for Flight of Passage instead.

Consider also purchasing an Individual Lightning Lane selection

Animal Kingdom currently has 1 Individual Lightning Lane attraction:

  • Avatar Flight of Passage: $11-$16

If you only want to buy one thing (either Genie+ or an Individual Lightning Lane for Flight of Passage), we recommend purchasing the Flight of Passage ILL. Doing that will free you up at Rope Drop to knock out a couple of other major attractions before the lines get too long.

Best Times to Ride Graphic (Save to Your Phone)

We have a handy graphic that can help you see the recommended times to visit the attractions at Animal Kingdom.

We suggest you save this image to your phone, so you can reference it on your trip:

animal kingdom best times to ride

How touring works with Genie+:

If you are purchasing Genie+, you’ll often hear people talking about “stacking” and “churning”.

The reality is that on most days – no matter how busy it is – you’ll find yourself doing both.

You’ll see what that looks like in the touring plans we have provided below, but keep reading to learn what stacking and churning actually mean.


Stacking simply means prioritizing the grouping of Genie+ reservations together for later in the day when the standby lines are the longest.

Some people like to stack for late morning or early afternoon, but you can also stack reservations for the evening. Stacking works well if you are planning to spend all day in 1 park, but it is also a popular technique to use if you are planning a late start or if you are hopping to a different park.

Stacking Genie+ reservations works best during less busy times of the year, when Genie+ reservations at most attractions last the longest.

This includes anytime Genie+ can be purchased for less than about $25 per person, per day.

Here’s how stacking Genie+ reservations works:

  • At 7 a.m., book an attraction that runs out of Genie+ reservations the fastest, regardless of what that return time is. You can see what we recommend in the graphic above.
  • Use Early Entry to ride at least 1 of the available popular attractions (onsite guests only)
  • Plan to ride several things in the first couple of hours without Genie+, unless, of course, your first Genie+ return time is during those first 2 hours. If it is, ride it as soon as possible, and then select your next G+ for an attraction that has the return time already pushed into the time of day you are trying to stack for. (Early afternoon until evening works best.) The goal is to stack your Genie+ reservations back-to-back. They can overlap, just make sure you allow enough time to get from one attraction to the next.
  • As the standby lines build, ride some of the “anytime” attractions listed in the graphic above or meet characters and continue selecting Genie+ reservations with return times as close to your already stacked Genie+ reservations as possible.
  • When the time comes, start using your stacked Genie+ reservations, keeping in mind that it may be possible to fill any gaps by churning attractions with Genie+ reservations remaining.


Churning simply means focusing on snagging Genie+ reservations as close together as possible. You should still prioritize the most popular attractions, but your primary focus is selecting rides with return times as close as possible to the current time, vs. stacking them up for later in the day.

Churning Genie+ reservations works best during the busiest times of the year, when Genie+ reservations run out at all attractions faster and when the lines for even the least popular rides are long.

This includes all major holidays and anytime Genie+ prices creep up over $25-$30 per person, per day.

Here’s how churning works:

  • At 7 a.m., book an attraction with a return time as close to park opening as possible
  • Use Early Entry to ride at least 1 of the recommended attractions (onsite guests only)
  • Continue selecting Genie+ reservations with return times as close to the current time as possible, filling in gaps by riding “anytime” attractions or meeting characters
  • Eventually, you may find that all return times are pushed several hours out. Make sure to prioritize your must-dos and begin stacking return times for later in the day.
  • Keep an eye on the wait times for popular attractions you were unable to get a Genie+ reservation for, and jump in those lines once they drop to an acceptable level.

IMPORTANT: We’ve included example return times for G+ reservations in the touring plans below, but, keep in mind that you can NOT select your return times for Genie+. Depending on the time you make your selections and the overall crowd levels, your return times may be earlier or later.

For that reason, you’ll need to stay flexible when you get to the parks and be ready to pivot or adjust your touring plan on the fly.

Important things to know about touring Animal Kingdom

  • Even though Kilimanjaro Safaris isn’t listed as an official Early Theme Park Entry attraction, it isn’t unusual for it to open up a bit early (especially during the summer months when it gets lighter earlier).
  • Expedition Everest has a Single Rider Line. If you don’t mind having your party split up, consider using that to save time in line.
  • If you do decide to use Genie+ here, make sure you know which attraction you should book first.
Animal Kingdom Genie Plus Priorities

Early Entry at Animal Kingdom (Arrive before park opening)

To make the best use of your time, arrive at the tapstiles at Animal Kingdom no later than 30 minutes before Early Theme Park Entry.

Even if you are not eligible for Early Theme Park Entry, you’ll still want to plan to arrive no later than 30 minutes before it begins.

Resort and non-resort guests will be separated immediately after the tapstiles. Make sure you are on the correct side.

Once you get closer to the Tree of Life, make sure you go towards the crowd that is gathering to head towards whatever attraction you are heading to first. If you are unsure where that is, there will be Cast Members nearby to assist you.

At Animal Kingdom, there are 2 attractions we recommend you head towards if planning to attend Early Entry:

  • Flight of Passage (if you want to avoid paying for an Individual Lightning Lane for it)
  • Na’vi River Journey (if you plan to skip riding Flight of Passage OR if you plan to purchase an Individual Lightning Lane for Flight of Passage)

Get more information about how Rope Drop works

How to get to Animal Kingdom for Early Entry

Here’s our advice on what time you should be heading to the parks based upon how you plan to get there. If your goal is to be at the very, very front, we recommend you err on the side of following the earlier times listed:


While we used to recommend arriving at the bus stop 60 to 75 minutes before Early Entry begins, after testing the timing out many times, we now recommend 90 minutes. That 90-minute window is especially important if you:

  • want to be on the first bus (which we recommend), or
  • if you are staying at a large resort like Art of Animation, Pop Century, or the All-Stars, or
  • if you are staying at a resort with multiple internal stops, like Caribbean Beach or Coronado Springs.

Expect the first bus of the day to arrive between 1 hour to 75 minutes before Early Theme Park Entry starts. The goal is to be on the first bus of the day, and the lines for the buses will get very long, very fast. Arriving 90 minutes before Early Theme Park Entry will get you to the front of the pack, and likely on that first bus.


When traveling by car, plan to arrive at the parking lot entrance about 70 minutes before Early Theme Park Entry. If the parking lot booths are not open at that time, you should be able to just wait for them to officially open up. But, don’t show up too early because they may not let you wait for the booths to open and instead will force you to turn around and come back closer to opening.

Animal Kingdom touring plans

We like to organize touring plans by hour because minute-by-minute touring plans can make you feel like you’re running from place to place without any flexibility, but grouping them by hour can at least give you some sense of timing as you plan.

Remember, though:

These plans are just examples of how to put together your day. Because of the uncertainty of return times with Genie+, you may find your day going a little bit differently – and that is okay!

Here are some example Animal Kingdom touring plans.

1-Day Animal Kingdom Touring Plan with Genie+

7:00 a.m. Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane recommendations:

  • 1st Genie+ Reservation: Meet Favorite Disney Pals at Adventurers Outpost
  • Individual Lightning Lane Pass: Flight of Passage (aim for late morning)

As soon as your next booking window is open, book the following Genie+ reservations in this order:

  • Kali River Rapids

Early Theme Park Entry

  1. Na’vi River Journey
  2. Kilimanjaro Safaris (this attraction isn’t officially open during Early Entry but often is. If it isn’t operating yet, it is still a good option to line up for ahead of the regular entry guests)

1st Hour

  1. Kilimanjaro Safaris (if not yet open during Early Entry)
  2. Expedition Everest
  3. Meet Favorite Disney Pals at Adventurers Outpost with Genie+

2nd Hour

  1. Festival of the Lion King (arrive at least 15 minutes prior to showtime)

3rd Hour

  1. Flight of Passage with Individual Lightning Lane
  2. Feathered Friends in Flight

4th Hour

  1. Kali River Rapids with Genie+
  2. Lunch

Rest of the Day

  1. DINOSAUR with Genie+
  2. Meet Moana

Good anytime attractions (rarely have long lines):

  • TriceraTop Spin
  • It’s Tough to be a Bug
  • Maharajah Jungle Trek
  • Rafiki’s Planet Watch / Animation Experience
  • Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail
  • Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond!

1-Day Animal Kingdom Touring Plan without Genie+

Early Theme Park Entry

  1. Flight of Passage

1st Hour

  1. Na’vi River Journey
  2. Kilimanjaro Safaris

2nd Hour

  1. Kali River Rapids
  2. Expedition Everest

3rd Hour

  2. Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond!

4th Hour

  1. TriceraTop Spin
  2. Lunch

Rest of the Day

  • Festival of the Lion King
  • It’s Tough to be a Bug
  • Maharajah Jungle Trek
  • Rafiki’s Planet Watch / Animation Experience
  • Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail
  • Meet Moana
  • Meet Favorite Disney Pals at Adventurers Outpost
  • Feathered Friends in Flight

Our experience touring Animal Kingdom

We like to test out touring whenever possible, both with and without using Genie+.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of how a recent day at Animal Kingdom looked. One of us toured with Genie+, and the other without:

We have an entire write-up on how our days went, where we go in-depth about exactly how we put our entire touring plan for that day together.

Read about them here:

Links to our other touring plans

Planning to visit the other 3 parks? Check out our touring advice for those below:

VIDEO: How to tour AK with (and WITHOUT!) Genie+