It’s time to think of Disney’s Animal Kingdom as a full-day theme park

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a polarizing theme park between groups of people who think it’s the pinnacle of Disney theming versus those who feel it’s nothing more than a glorified zoo. Regardless of which side of the argument you fall on (it’s an awesome theme park – admit it), it’s highly likely you think of Animal Kingdom as a half-day theme park if you haven’t visited in the last couple of years.

It’s time to ditch that thought and realize Animal Kingdom is very much a full-day theme park.

Once upon a time, Animal Kingdom closed in the early evening, allowing guests to either head back to their hotels or visit a different theme park for some nighttime entertainment. Now, with the recent additions of Pandora, Kilimanjaro Safaris at night, Rivers of Light and even the brief projection shows on the Tree of Life, there’s lots to see at Animal Kingdom after the sun sets.

During our trip at the beginning of 2018, we even skipped a few attractions (Na’vi River Journey, It’s Tough to be a Bug, Kali River Rapids) and still had more than enough for a full day. The addition of Pandora provides lots to look at as well as an extremely fun ride, Flight of Passage, that you can’t miss. You can find some tips on securing a Flight of Passage FastPass here. We caught the Festival of the Lion King (an awesome show), but didn’t make it to the Nemo show. The bird show is being reworked, so we missed that too. Even with those closures and skipped rides, it was still a busy, fun day.

Rivers of Light is another polarizing topic as some feel the show lacks a punch or a real ending. There’s some merit to those thoughts, but the addition of a night show is a huge boost to Animal Kingdom. Adding in the fun, glowing area of Pandora at night as well as the projections on the Tree of Life, you have lots to watch and take in after sunset.

As with visiting any Disney theme park, the key to a successful day is doing enough planning to make sure you get to ride the rides you really want to ride, but not so much planning that you’re not stopping to take in your surroundings. Animal Kingdom used to be a park you could spend half of your day in and hit all of the items on your list. That’s no longer the case as there’s more to do and more to see – a happy problem to have.

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David is a Disney travel expert who created Notes from Neverland in 2018 after visiting Disney theme parks countless times. Previously, David spent way too much time writing about sports, and was featured in Sports Illustrated, MSN, Yahoo!, and in many other publications. Learn more or contact us.

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