Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the newest of the 4 major theme parks at Walt Disney World. It is an entirely unique park and has a lot to offer. Many guests wonder if this park is just another “zoo,” and it is definitely much more than that. Here is our top Q&A for newbies visiting Animal Kingdom:
Editor’s Note: We understand that with the phased reopening of Walt Disney World, some of the advice in this article may not apply if you visit while park hours are reduced, capacity limits and physical distancing are in place, and some of our favorite experiences—fireworks, parades, and character greetings—are temporarily suspended. (You can read everything you need to know about the phased reopening by clicking here). We will continue to share articles that give guidance on a “normal” vacation to Walt Disney World, along with any special changes or instructions you may need to be aware of during the phased reopening to provide the best tips we can regardless of when you are visiting. ~ Chad & Cindy
10 – What are the typical park hours?
Editor’s Note: During the phased reopening of Walt Disney World, the park hours are typically 8:00 am-5:00 pm with weekend hours extended to 8:00 pm. Always check the My Disney Experience app for any changes to these hours.
The usual opening time for the park each day is 9 AM. This park used to only be open during daylight hours. Now the park is offering longer hours so guests can enjoy the many nighttime experiences with the park typically closing at 8 PM. There are also Extra Magic Hours options, typically an extra hour in the mornings, which are available only for guests staying at a Walt Disney World resort.
9 – Is there a nighttime fireworks show at the park?
No. Fireworks would be too disruptive for the animals that live in the park, so fireworks are not allowed there. The park had a nighttime show called Rivers of Light: We Are One. However, recently it was announced that the show would not be returning.
8 – Are the animals roaming around the park?
Not really. There are some animals and wildlife that are in open exhibits so that you get an excellent view of them, but they aren’t completely roaming freely. There are natural birds and wildlife (like squirrels, etc.) that are roaming freely around the park, which is to be expected. There is a petting zoo area at Rafiki’s Planet Watch where guests can brush goats. There are also other shows and exhibits where you may get closer looks at some of the animals, like Kilimanjaro Safaris, where you take a safari ride through the savanna where some animals are free-roaming, but you do not leave your ride vehicle on this attraction for any reason.
7 – Are any special events at the park?
There aren’t regularly scheduled festivals at the park, but there are occasionally special events that occur. Earth Day, April 22nd, is typically a huge day for the park. Disney puts a lot of care into conservation efforts and does a lot of education about conservation at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. April 22nd is also the anniversary date for when the park first opened, so there are typically special limited events around that time each year.
6 – Why are there no balloons available for sale?
This is to protect the animals that reside in the park. You will notice that you will not be allowed to bring any balloons into the park, nor are they available for purchase. If the balloons were to get away and land in animal areas, it could be very dangerous to the animals. You will also notice that plastic, disposable straws are not given with any beverages in the park. There are paper, biodegradable straws available to ensure that the dangerous plastic straws don’t make it into waterways or other animal exhibits that could cause them a lot of harm.
5 – What types of attractions are there besides animal encounters?
There are actually a couple amazing shows like Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo The Musical. These shows are based on their respective movies and are amazing Broadway-caliber shows. There is even a Bug’s Life show that is shown in 3D with other special effects in the theater. You will also find a few great rides at the park-like DINOSAUR, Expedition: Everest, Kali River Rapids, Primeval Whirl, and TriceraTop Spin. Pandora – The World of Avatar, is an out of this world experience that is not to be missed. This park is definitely not just a “zoo” as some guests assume before they visit the park.
4 – Will I need a whole a day at the park?
You can always cut things out and make a visit shorter, but to experience everything, you will definitely at least need a full day, probably even two days. There are so many experiences, animal trails, attractions, and more that you would find it extremely difficult to fit everything in without a full day. This park is a lot of fun, so I definitely recommend that you plan in at least a full day so that you can enjoy everything that you want to and take in how beautiful the park is. Be sure you also extend your visit to the evening hours to see a whole new side of the park. It’s simply beautiful at night.
3 – What food options are available?
There are options to meet all of your tastes and budgets. There are quick-service locations, including an African market-style location. These are locations where you can order from the counter and find a place to enjoy a quick meal so you can get back to enjoying the day The Satu’li Canteen in Pandora is a top-notch quick-service restaurant with delicious food. There are also multiple table service locations where you can dine inside the restaurant and a server will tend your needs. I highly recommend making reservations in advance for these table service locations as many of them are quite popular. You can also bring in your own food if you wish to do so. Your bag will be checked by the security staff as you enter the park.
2 – What transportation options are available at the park?
The only transportation options to get to Disney’s Animal Kingdom are to take one of the Disney buses (or another shuttle from neighboring resorts) or to drive your car to the park. There currently isn’t any water or monorail transportation to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The parking lot is quite large, so we typically like to take one of the Disney buses to get there, and then we don’t have to worry about driving.
1 – Are alcoholic beverages allowed in the park?
Yes. Alcoholic beverages are served at most of the restaurants, as well as many walk upstands and locations. You are allowed to roam through the park with alcoholic beverages as long as you aren’t disruptive to other guests. You are not allowed to bring in your own alcoholic beverages. They must be purchased from Disney, and only consumed by individuals who are 21 or older. Disney is very strict on their alcohol policies and preserving the magic.
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