Spending the day at Animal Kingdom has gotten much easier to do with all the new attractions in the last few years. I will admit it was my least favorite park for a while, but since they opened Pandora, I am back on the Animal Kingdom bandwagon. Disney has been adding new attractions in the last few years to give visitors more to do and make Animal Kingdom more of an all-day park. Even though Pandora opened in 2017, the wait times are still crazy long for both rides, and getting an Animal Kingdom Fastpass is key. Since you can schedule three Animal Kingdom fast passes in advance, I am here to help you with the strategy of it all. The first thing to note is that there are Animal Kingdom Fastpass Tiers. This means that you are only allowed to get 1 Animal Kingdom Fastpass from the Tier 1 level of rides and then two choices for the Tier 2 options. Here is my advice if you’re looking to find a strategy for your Animal Kingdom fast passes.
First of all, if you are new to Disney vacation planning, check out my guide – Disney World Tips for First Timers. If you would like some general Disney Fastpass tips, I suggest you check out some of my Disney World Fastpass Secrets.
Animal Kingdom has so much to do. When this park first opened in 1998, it had very little to keep guests occupied for an entire day. Disney heard the complaints and added Pandora and new shows/experiences which now made this park a must-do when you’re in Orlando. Check out this Animal Kingdom itinerary to help you plan your day.
PRO TIP – ARRIVE 30 MIN. BEFORE THE PARK OPENS. If you are staying on property and
Animal Kingdom Fastpass Tiers: Explaining What it Means
Three out of four Disney World parks have these “tiers” in place for allowing guests to schedule their Fastpass times. Basically, you are allowed to schedule three Fastpasses ahead of time on your My Disney Experience App. If you are planning to head to Animal Kingdom, you are allowed to book ONE Fastpass from the Tier 1 group and TWO Fastpasses from the Tier 2 group.
Note: The best Animal Kingdom fast passes are, without a doubt: Flight of Passage, Expedition Everest, and Kilimanjaro Safaris. The good news is that they follow the Animal Kingdom Fastpass Tiers rule and it shouldn’t be a problem to schedule.
Tier 1 Rides:
- Avatar Flight of Passage *Best Fastpass Animal Kingdom*
- Na’vi River Journey
Advice on Which Animal Kingdom Fast passes to Get:
I would strongly recommend getting Avatar Flight of Passage as your first Animal Kingdom Fastpass, as this line continues to have very long wait times (even in the morning). If you cannot get this ride as a Fastpass, try to get Na’vi River Journey (although note that this is not a thrill attraction) after 10:00 AM, and you must arrive at the park 45 minutes before it opens. Here is why:
Believe me when I say that the line for Avatar Flight of Passage will be at least an hour if you arrive when the park opens. You need to get there very early if you want to ride this ride (and trust me, it is fantastic) and not wait that long. I am not kidding. Everyone heads to Pandora the moment the park opens and the line is enormous!
Tier 2 Rides:
- Kilimanjaro Safaris
- Expedition Everest
- Primeval Whirl
- Kali River Rapids
- It’s Tough to Be A Bug (4D Movie)
- Festival of the Lion King (Show)
- Finding Nemo Musical (Show)
- Adventurers Outpost Character Greeting
- Rivers of Light (Night Show)
Luckily, the majority of the attractions can be found on Tier 2 of the Animal Kingdom Fastpass Tiers. I would recommend getting an Animal Kingdom Fastpass for Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest, as they are the two best rides with the longest lines on the Tier 2 list. Be careful when booking Kilimanjaro Safaris because if you book it mid-day, the animals are usually resting and you don’t see much activity due to the heat.
Some people enjoy going on this ride at night and getting a Fastpass at that time, but I did not. Another one of my Animal Kingdom Fastpass tips is to ride Kilimanjaro Safaris more than once during your visit to the park. I usually try to ride this twice (first earlier in the morning, and then later in the day closer to dinner) and compare the difference.
Primeval Whirl, Dinosaur, and Kali River Rapids usually do not have much of a wait, so I would not recommend booking your Animal Kingdom fast passes ahead of time for these rides unless the others have no availability. If your child would like a closer seat at one of the shows, an Animal Kingdom Fastpass ensures closer seating without a long wait.
If you are looking for a more personal touch, consider booking one of the Disney VIP Tours. There are a few tours based in Animal Kingdom or the Lodge that offer a behind the scenes view of the park and animals.
Sample Animal Kingdom Fastpass Strategy
9AMArrive at the park and ride Na’vi River journey
- Ride Dinosaur and then Ride Primeval Whirl
- Ride Kilimanjaro Safari
- 11:00 Fastpass Pandora Flight of Passage
- Ride Kali River Rapids (if you plan on getting wet)
- Lunch – check out the best Animal Kingdom restaurants
- 1:00 Fastpass Everest
- 2:00 Fastpass Kilimanjaro Safari
Check out: Disney Springs for Kids
How to Get More Animal Kingdom Fast Passes
As I have mentioned in my other posts, once you have used all of your three scheduled Fast passes, you can get more. Disney only allows 3 reservations in advance, yet once the last one is done, you can choose one more Fastpass at a time. Once you have tapped your Magic Band for your last Animal Kingdom Fastpass, check the Disney app and try to find another attraction you would like to get a Fastpass to. I strongly urge you to check back often on the Fastpass system to see what is available with the closest time to your current time, so that you can continue to get more throughout the evening.
Animal Kingdom with Toddlers or Babies
If you are traveling to Animal Kingdom with toddlers or anyone that does not meet the minimum height requirements to ride the “big rides”, I suggest getting Fastpasses for Na’Vi river ride, Kilimanjaro Safaris and either a character meeting or priority seating at the Nemo Musical or Lion King show. The best Fastpass for Animal Kingdom in this situation is the Safari ride, as kids love it! Be sure to keep the Fastpass times close together, as then you can search for other Fastpasses after you have finished your last one.
Another option is using the Disney child swap which allows parents the opportunity to both ride the “big” attractions, while the other stays with the baby/toddler. If you want to do it all, schedule 3 Animal kingdom fast passes for yourself, and three other fast passes for your significant other. You, your partner, and the baby walk up together to the Animal Kingdom Fastpass line and say you would like a baby swap. The cast member will ask you to tap your magic band and add it. Then you ride while your partner stays with the little one. Once they come out, you switch baby duty and go in the Fastpass line. Boom – one Animal Kingdom Fastpass – two rides! To read more about the exact rules and how to use this feature, check out my Rider Swap Disney post.
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Land and Sea Package
Are you looking to combine a Disney Cruise vacation with a Disney World stay? Nothing extends the magic more than combining a Disney cruise with your WDW vacation. I can help book your stay at one of the Value, Moderate, or Deluxe resorts, book your dining, and Fastpasses. It may make sense to stay off-site, if you are considering staying nearby, check out these options on the best family resorts in Orlando. To try and cut down on some costs, you may want to take a look at how to do Disney on a budget, planning things to do in Disney besides the parks, and what to bring on the trip using this Disney packing list.
If you are planning on doing both a visit to Disney World and a Disney Cruise, I recommend doing your trip to the parks first and then finish it off with a Disney Cruise out of Port Canaveral. Here’s why – while a Disney World vacation is fantastic, it is not always relaxing. You are waking up early, running around the parks, and trying to make it to the next attraction for days. On a Disney Cruise, you will vacation at a much slower pace and be pampered by the signature Disney service. In addition, Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, is probably one of the best beach vacations you’ll ever have!
If you have not booked your Disney Cruise yet and are just looking at options, I would recommend using a travel agent to help you with the planning and give you some onboard credit as a thank you for using them. I have been on 5 Disney Cruises in the past 8 years and am a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacations. I can share my tips and tricks about cruising with Disney, provide free onboard credit, review check-in procedures, and go over what types of things to do on/off the ship. By the way, my services are completely free! If you’re interested in a free quote or even if you have already booked and would like to transfer it over so that I can help you, email me and we can get started.
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