Animal Kingdom Walt Disney World Checklist

Animal Kingdom Walt Disney World Checklist

We love Animal Kingdom. And as Disney’s largest park, you definitely need a Checklist. While some argue it’s nothing more than a glorified zoo, we dare to disagree! The cultures of countries merge here in a way you won’t see in Epcot. But that World Traveler feeling is not all we love about Animal Kingdom. Our Animal Kingdom checklist includes Animal Kingdom Attractions, Shows, and the best Animal Kingdom Snacks too! Add in Animal Kingdom Characters, and a List of Things to Do in Animal Kingdom, and you’re all set! Get ready for a world of environmental conservation, wildlife and wonder. This list can help you make sure you’re not missing the important things on your Animal Kingdom Day at Disney. Check out everything to do on our Animal Kingdom Checklist.

Animal Kingdom 50th Anniversary Statues

All About Animal Kingdom Park at Disney World

Animal Kingdom park is the largest park at Walt Disney World. Covering 520 acres of land, this park includes larges savanna areas for the animals, trails that wind through animal habitats, rides, restaurants and more. Featuring the areas of Africa, Asia, Pandora and DinoLand, there is much to see and do here. The park’s icon is the Tree of Life, seen as soon as you step foot onto Discovery Island, just over the bridge leading from the entrance. The tree of life is a massive “tree” and includes over 300 animals carved into the trunk and branches. With over 40 rides and attractions this park has a lot to do.  Whether you’re cramming this park into one day or a few days, here are all the things you need to know before you go. Including the things to do, see and eat at Animal Kingdom.

Animal Kingdom Storefronts

Animal Kingdom Tickets

To get started lets talk Animal Kingdom Park Tickets. While Disney World tickets are not specific to each of the four theme parks, you simply need buy a WDW ticket and it will get you into any of the four theme parks: EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom or Magic Kingdom. In fact, if you’re hoping to try for two or more parks in one day,  you simply need add the Park Hopper Ticket to your purchase, and voila! Purchase a Animal Kingdom Park Ticket or Disney Vacation Package to get your Disney Vacation plans started. 

Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lane Ticket Add Ons

While the planning portion of Disney Genie+ is free to use within the My Disney Experience App, the ride reservation system is separate. Billed per person, per day, you have two choices when purchases this add-on to your Animal Kingdom ticket. 

Purchasing Genie+ Plus allows you the option to select 2 rides for which you can skip the line, aka wait in the Lightning Lane instead of the regular line. The Lightning Lane line typically moves faster, and since you select the times you plan on returning to the ride in Genie+ Plus, helps you maximize your Disney Park Time. When you use Genie+ strategically, you select ride times in the early part of the day first, so that you can add additional rides to your account throughout the day, once those initial rides are completed. This is called “stacking” rides and can often get you onto more rides throughout the day. 

Individual Lightning Lane on the other hand, while named the same as the ride line, is a for purchase individual ride option, also accessible in the app. This is specific to only certain popular rides. In Animal Kingdom the Individual Lightning Lane Option is for the parks most popular ride, Avatar: Flight of Passage. 

pocahontas character cavalcade at disney animal kingdom

Animal Kingdom Hours

Animal Kingdom Hours are typically 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM. This doesn’t include Early Entry or Extended Evening Hours. As a result be sure to check out the Up to Date Hours and Event Schedules on the Disney 5 Day Calendar. Or on the My Disney Experience App, which you should have downloaded on your phone prior to your vacation. 

  • Early Entry Hours ( when offered): 7:30 AM to 8:00 AM
  • Animal Kingdom Daytime Hours: 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM
  • Extended Evening Hours ( when offered): 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM

Early Morning Entry and Extended Evening Hours

Early Entry Hours are available to Disney Resort Guests and allows guests to enter the park 30 minutes prior to park opening. To make the most of your extra time, we recommend arriving at the park gates, at least 30 minutes before your Early Theme Park Entry time. While some of the Animal Kingdom Park sections may not be open, it still gets you close to the action to get into lines early, or just enjoy the park. 

Extended Evening Hours

Available to Disney Deluxe Resort Guests, the Extended Evening Hours allow you to stay an hour or two after the park closes. While Animal Kingdom Park doesn’t typically host extended evening hours, you can sometimes grab extra time in the park through the holiday season and during the summer months. Be sure to check park hours before your visit in the My Disney Experience App. 

Animal Kingdom Statues for 50th Anniversary

What is the Best Day to Visit Animal Kingdom?

The best days to visit Animal Kingdom are Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. Luckily, Animal Kingdom is also probably one of the only parks you can safely visit on the weekends. While still busy, it’s nowhere near as busy as the other three. And as a bigger park, it naturally feels less crowded. Check out the full post on the Best Days to Visit Walt Disney World for a sample itinerary. 

What is the Busiest Day at Animal Kingdom?

The busiest day at Animal Kingdom is Saturday. With Monday and Sunday following close behind. The crowd levels on this days are due to the heavy influx of local Disney Annual Passholders, combined with both incoming and outgoing family vacationers to the parks. 

  • Sunday is the busiest day at every Walt Disney World Park.
  • Saturday the second busiest.
  • Monday the third busiest.
  • Friday the fourth busiest.

How Many Days Do you Need at Animal Kingdom?

Animal Kingdom is generally a 1-Day Park depending on what you want to do when you visit. With shorter park hours, it’s sometimes tough to get everything in, if you plan to do it all. Most vacationers arrive early and plan on riding the main rides. Flight of Passage, Na’vi River Journey, Expedition Everest, Kilimanjaro Safaris, and Kali River Rapids are Must-Do attractions at Animal Kingdom. Dinosaur, and Festival of the Lion King are also great additions to your day. Check out how you can Fit Animal Kingdom into One Day. 

However, if you’re hoping to see the animal habitats and stroll the park, you may find that 2-days is a better goal. Animal Kingdom includes lots of animal habitat trails through Asia and Africa, as well as the Wilderness Explorer Game, which together could take an entire day in itself. As such, if you’re an animal fan, we’d recommend you plan 2-days at Animal Kingdom park to see it all. 

Animal Kingdom Capacity

As Disney World’s Largest Park, Animal Kingdom generally feels LESS crowded, than other parks, even on it’s busiest days. As such, Animal Kingdom can hold 60,000 people a day, but typically sees 40,000 visitors per day. This is much less than the Magic Kingdom crowd capacity levels, even as a bigger park. Check out our Disney World Maximum Capacity Post for details on each park.

Places at Animal Kingdom to Take Breaks

Since Animal Kingdom days generally include lots, and lots of walking, we always recommend taking breaks when you can. ( And having the Best Shoes for Disney World as well to help you through it.) Whether you’re looking for a place inside Animal Kingdom to take a break, or heading outside the park to Animal Kingdom Lodge, there are plenty of places to relax. We recommend building in break time during your Disney trip during the hottest and busiest part of the day, between 12-4 PM.

Animal Kingdom Chrismtas Decorations

Animal Kingdom Parking and Transportation

Unlike other parking situations at Walt Disney World, Animal Kingdom’s Parking situation is fairly easy and straightforward. The address of the Animal Kingdom Parking Lot is  2901 Osceola Parkway, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830. Easy to just add to your GPS on your phone, once here, you can park as directed, and take the Tram towards the front gates of the park. 

If Driving: Parking is easy at Animal Kingdom and there are trams that circle the parking lot for a quick drop-off at the gate if needed.

By Disney Bus: Available from any Disney Resort, you can grab a Disney Bus headed for Animal Kingdom, and depart at the bus depot. 

Disney Rides Attractions Animal Kingdom

Things to Do at Animal Kingdom

No matter when your next visit to Walt Disney World is, get started with this list of attractions, restaurants, and more. Everything you need to build the perfect Disney Vacation. Traveling Soon? Check out everything happening at Walt Disney World in the next few years.

We also want to recommend if you’re in the mood for a little extra education and some animal close-ups you can’t get anywhere else, check out the Wild Africa Trek or Caring for Giants program. These special tours are an extra cost but were so cool and we thought it was worth it for the unique experience at Animal Kingdom.

Avatar Flight of Passage Ride at Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom Rides & Attractions

With 40+ rides and attractions, Animal Kingdom Park includes trails through animal habitats, thrill rides, slow rides, and Broadway style shows as part of the lineup. If you’re hoping to get to everything in one day it’s important to have a Disney Ride Strategy. Be sure to save the busiest rides for morning magic hours or during meal times. Aim for early Genie+ Lightning Lane times for your first set of high priority rides, so that you’ll have time to stack your ride selections in the app throughout the day, before the early closing time hits. Check out the Best Rides at Disney World, for a rundown of favorites to build in to your Animal Kingdom Must Do Days. 


  • Entrance of the Park/ Animal Habitats

Discovery Island

  • It’s Tough to be a Bug ( Zootopia Show Coming Soon)
  • Tree of Life

Pandora – The World of Avatar

  • Avatar Flight of Passage
  • Na’vi River Journey


  • Festival of the Lion King
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail
  • Rafiki’s Planet Watch


  • Expedition Everest
  • Feathered Friends in Flight
  • Kali River Rapids
  • Maharajah Jungle Trek

Dinoland U.S.A.

  • Boneyard
  • Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond!
  • TriceraTop Spin

Mickey at Tusker House

Animal Kingdom Characters

Some Disney characters at Animal Kingdom have set times for meet and greets throughout the day at certain locations. Character Landing at Animal Kingdom is a hotspot for characters and can be found on the right, just before your take the bridge from Discovery Island to DinoLand USA. While other Disney characters at Animal Kingdom simply appear in flotillas sailing along Discovery River. Meanwhile, you can also see Disney characters at Disney Character Dining Restaurants and sometimes strolling around the park. Check out all the places you can find Characters at Disney World if you’re hoping to meet someone particular.  Note, that in Animal Kingdom you can often find Disney friends in their Safari gear. 


  • Meet DiVine

Discovery Island

  • Meet Baloo and Rafiki
  • Meet Russell & Dug
  • Kevin ( from Up!) strolls around regularly
  • Meet Koda
  • Meet Meeko
  • Meet Mickey and Minnie at the Adventurer’s Outpost
  • Meet Pocahontas at Character Landing
  • Meet Timon at Character Landing
  • Meet Moana at Character Landing


Dinoland U.S.A.

  • Chip and Dale
  • Daisy
  • Donald Duck
  • Goofy
  • Launchpad McQuack
  • Pluto
  • Scrooge McDuck

Nomad Lounge sliders

Animal Kingdom Restaurants

A Disney day wouldn’t be complete without amazing food! Check out the Best Animal Kingdom Restaurants to add to your Animal Kingdom day. Read the Reviews: Animal Kingdom Restaurants

Quick Service Restaurants in Animal Kingdom

Offering the most unique quick service at Disney World, Animal Kingdom park features a variety of cuisines. From fried rice, to power bowls, dumplings to falafel, loaded mac and cheese and more. Check out all the Best Quick Service Restaurants at Animal Kingdom.

  • Creature Comforts Starbucks on Discovery Island
  • Flame Tree Barbecue on Discovery Island
  • Harambe Market in Africa
  • Pizzafari on Discovery Island
  • Restaurantosaurus in DinoLand USA
  • Satu’li Canteen in Pandora
  • Smiling Crocodile on Discovery Island
  • Yak and Yeti Local Food Cafe in Asia

Table Service Restaurants in Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom has a variety of cuisines across the restaurants available, but there aren’t actually that many. Tiffin’s offers signature dining, which lends to unique and expensive dishes. While Rainforest Cafe offers up basic family dining, you can find anywhere in America. As such, the best place to eat at Animal Kingdom is Tusker House, which offers Disney characters, buffet dining and a decent meal on a budget. 

Lounges and Bars in Animal Kingdom

One of our favorite Lounges at Disney, Nomad Lounge, can be found in Animal Kingdom and features amazing drinks, and small plates that include sliders, churros, and bread service! If you’re heading on a Disney Adult Only Trip, be sure to check out the lounges in the park. 

  • Dawa Bar in Africa
  • Nomad Lounge on Discovery Island
  • Thirsty River Bar in Asia
  • Warung Outpost in Asia

Harambe Market Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom Itinerary

The best plan for Animal Kingdom spans 2 days, but we’ll keep this itinerary to one day, to give you an idea of what you can possibly fit into your schedule. Keep in mind that your Disney itinerary will be affected by crowds, depending on when you visit. Be sure to check out our Top 10 Things to do at Animal Kingdom so that you can get a baseline for where to start. Check out our guide on Planning a Day at Disney to get a handle on tips and recommendations. 

Day 1 at Animal Kingdom

To make the most of your Animal Kingdom day, we recommend arriving when the park opens. And if you have the option, be there for Early Morning Entry so you can get in a bit earlier. If you’re purchased Lightning Lane for Flight of Passage, your day is a bit less harried. If you haven’t, be sure to watch ride wait times for Avatar Flight of Passage in the My Disney Experience App or head to the ride first thing when you arrive. All the other parts of your day are fairly easy. 

Head to Discovery Island for a morning coffee and breakfast at Creature Comforts. Then try for Na’vi River Journey. You can wrap the back path towards Festival of the Lion King for the morning show. Afterwards head to Kilimanjaro Safari, and get your Wilderness Explorer’s Adventure Game booklet. You can grab lunch in Pandora or at Yak and Yeti. Rides to tackle through the afternoon are Expedition Everest, Kali River Rapids, and Dinosaur. Late afternoon offers the chance to browse the habitat trails at Gorilla Falls, or the Maharajah Trek. Before leaving check out the Tree of Life; grab pictures, and find hidden Mickeys. We don’t recommend staying for dinner unless you’re dining at Tusker House, otherwise, grabbing dinner outside of the park is best. 

Animal Kingdom Park Walt disney World

Animal Kingdom Sections Guide

This section of the post includes a break down of what you can find in each Animal Kingdom section of the park. We’ve separated it into rides, attractions, games, and shows. Restaurants are marked as follows.  ( TS)= Table Service, Reservation Recommended (QS) = Quick Service, Walk-Up Counter. (S) = Snack. Check out the Animal Kingdom Park Map for details on where to find each section within the park. 

Discovery Island

▢ Discovery Island Trail
▢ It’s Tough to be a Bug ( Zootopia Show Coming Soon)

▢ Creature Comforts (QS)
▢ Pizzafari (QS)
▢ Eight Spoon Cafe (QS)
▢ Flame Tree Barbecue (QS)
Nomad Lounge ( Lounge)
▢ Tiffins (TS)
▢ Isle of Java (S)
▢ Terra Treats(S)
▢ The Smiling Crocodile (S)
▢ Rainforest Cafe®( TS) at Main Entrance


▢ Meet Baloo and Rafiki
▢ Meet Russell & Dug
▢ Kevin ( from Up!) strolls around regularly
▢ Meet Koda
▢ Meet Meeko
▢ Meet Mickey and Minnie at the Adventurer’s Outpost
▢ Meet Pocahontas at Character Landing
▢ Meet Timon at Character Landing
▢ Meet Moana at Character Landing

Wilderness Explorers

photo spots in animal kingdom


▢ Na’vi River Journey
▢ Avatar Flight of Passage

Satu’li Canteen (QS)
▢ Pongu Pongu (S)

▢ World of Avatar Interactive App

animal kingdom


▢ Kilimanjaro Safaris
▢ Festival of the Lion King
▢ Gorilla Falls Exploration Falls
▢ Conservation Station
▢ Wildlife Express Train

Tusker House Restaurant ( TS)
▢ Dawa Bar( TS)
▢ Harambe Fruit Market( QS)
▢ Harambe Market( QS)
▢ Kusafiri Coffee Shop and Bakery( QS)
▢ Mahindi ( QS)
▢ Tamu Tamu ( QS)


▢ Meet Mickey, Minnie, Daisy, Donald, Goofy at Tusker House Character Dining
▢ Meet Rafiki at Rafiki’s Planet Watch

Disney Lightning Lane Options at Walt Disney World


▢ Kali River Rapids
▢ Expedition Everest
Maharajah Jungle Trek

▢ Royal Anandapur Tea Co. (S) | Frozen Chai
▢ Yak and Yeti Local Foods Cafe (QS)
▢ Yak and Yeti Restaurant (TS) 
▢ Anandapur Ice Cream Truck (S)
▢ Caravan Road (QS)
▢ Drinkwallah (S)
▢ Thirsty River Bar and Trek Snacks (QS)
▢ Warung Outpost (QS)

▢ Expedition Everest Gift Shop

Dinoland Photoshoot Animal kingdom

DinoLand USA

▢ Dinosaur
▢ Triceratop Spin

▢ Dino-Bite Snacks ( S)
▢ Trilo-Bite Snacks ( S)
▢ Restaurantosaurus ( QS)


▢ Daisy and Donald Duck
▢ Chip and Dale
▢ Goofy
▢ Launchpad McQuack
▢ Pluto
▢ Scrooge McDuck

Places to take a break at Animal Kingom

Animal Kingdom Shows

▢ Tree of Life Awakenings
▢ Discovery Island Carnivale
▢ Donald’s Dino Bash

While Animal Kingdom doesn’t have too many actual shows involving characters, you can see a variety of Animal Kingdom characters sailing on Discovery River. These character sightings appear throughout the day and features Mickey and Minnie, Pocahontas and Meeko, and more. Be sure to head to the river’s edge to watch these floats go by. 

Printable Animal Kingdom Checklist 

If you’re hoping to keep tabs on everything you can do in the park, you can get the Animal Kingdom Checklist PDF to save to your iPhone as an iBook, or file. Click the image to get the full PDF of Animal Kingdom Rides and Restaurants. 

Animal Kingdom Checklist Rides and Restaurants

Animal Kingdom Club 33

If you’re a Disney Club 33 Member or just looking for the secret entrance to the Animal Kingdom Club 33 Restaurant you can find it hidden in plain sight. Just to the right, after you pass the Festival of the Lion King building, you will see a white stucco building pushed back into the foliage. You can also see large windows into the main lounge of the Club 33 at Animal Kingdom, most visible if you are waiting outside the bathroom in that area. 

animal kingdom christmas

Animal Kingdom Annual Events

While Animal Kingdom doesn’t have annual parties, or festivals, like Magic Kingdom and EPCOT, it does celebrate Earth Month every April. With specialty talks, merchandise, Disney Earth Day snacks and more, there is plenty to be had. April is one of the busiest and most expensive times to visit Disney, due to Spring Breakers, but well worth the trip for National Geographic fans. 

Earth Month | April 

Earth Day happens every year on April 22nd, but you can celebrate all month long at Animal Kingdom with a variety of activities, new treats, and events. Check out everything happening for Earth Month at Animal Kingdom. 

Animal Kingdom During the Holidays

Animal Kingdom for the Holidays is one of the best times of year to visit this park. With new holiday projections on the Tree of Life, a slew of Disney Holiday snacks, and more, this park brings beautiful animal-inspired decorations to the forefront. 

Hidden Mikcey in Animal Kingdom Gorilla Falls Trek

Hidden Mickeys at Animal Kingdom

Searching for Hidden mickeys at Walt Disney World is such fun and Animal Kingdom has a lot of them! But they are very well hidden. While you will easily find hidden Mickey’s in some of the signs around the park, you can find even more in animal habitats, made by things like rope and rocks. Grab the Hidden Mickey’s Book or App to get started searching. 

Zebra Domes at Animal Kingdom Disney World

Best Snacks at Animal Kingdom

Looking for the Best Snacks in Animal Kingdom? From Zebra Domes and the Colossal Cinnamon Roll to Pongu Lumpia, there are plenty of amazing snacks at Animal Kingdom that you can’t get anywhere else. Check out our New Snacks at Disney post for even more snacks to try. And if you’re up for savory snacks, we’ve pulled together the Best Non-Dessert Snacks at Disney too. Here are all the snack cart locations at Animal Kingdom, with a couple of important snacks to try at each! 

  • Anandapur Ice Cream Truck: Yeti Sundae
  • Caravan Road: Kakigori
  • Dino Bite Snacks: Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich
  • Drinkwallah: Cinnamon Glazed Almonds
  • Eight Spoon Cafe: Loaded Mac and Cheese
  • Harambe Market: Churro with Chocolate Sauce
  • Isle of Java: Tiger Tail Chocolate Twist
  • Kusafiri Coffee Shop and Bakery: Breakfast Totchos
  • Mahindi: Popcorn
  • Pongu Pongu: Pongu Lumpia and Night Blossom Drink
  • Tamu Tamu: Colossal Mickey Cinnamon Roll
  • Terra Treats: The Loggerhead Mocktail 
  • Trek Snacks: Popcorn
  • Trilo Bites: Buffalo Chicken Chips

Where to Find Coffee in Animal Kingdom

Coffee at Walt Disney World can be found most places. But in Animal Kingdom, choices are limited. You can grab Coffee at Starbucks in Animal Kingdom, found at Creature Comforts. But if you’re looking for the Joffrey’s just head to Asia. Right across from the Yak and Yeti restaurant you can find the Royal Anandapur Tea Company. Here you can find frozen chai, plus a variety of coffee and tea drinks. 

animal kingdom lodge

Hotels and Resorts Near Animal Kingdom

The closest hotel to Animal Kingdom is Animal Kingdom Lodge. A short 10 minute bus ride from the resort to the park, if you’re trip will include many Animal Kingdom days, we highly recommend this resort. There are other resorts near Walt Disney World that may also work, but none will be as close as AKL.

animal kingdom lodge room

Animal Kingdom Disney World Map 

Animal Kingdom is a large park. The sections of this park are separated in a way that is easy to navigate. But, if you’ve never been to Animal Kingdom, it can get confusing! Check out the map to get a head start on where everything is! To zoom in, click the image links here: Animal Kingdom Map Page One | Animal Kingdom Map Page Two

Animal Kingdom Park Map

Animal Kingdom Park Map Disney World

Animal Kingdom Park Details

While we think you could spend days getting to it all if you’re more pressed for time then you can tackle our Top 10 Things to Do at Animal Kingdom. Looking for your next Disney photo op? Check out the best photo ops in Harambe Market. For Up to Date Hours and Event Schedules check out the Animal Kingdom Hours and Calendar. READ MORE on our Animal Kingdom Page. 


And if you’re planning all the Disney parks, check out our printable Disney checklists for each featuring rides, attractions, restaurants and tips. 

Animal Kingdom Checklist

Co-Founder and Director at Polka Dot Pixie Co LLC | Website

Rochelle Mariah is a writer, designer and photographer with an MLIS in Information Science and a B.S. in Arch and Design. Determined to make Planning a DIY Disney Vacation easier she makes lots of lists and drinks lots of coffee. When not designing apparel at Polka Dot Pixie Shop, she's watching old movies and planning the holidays. She has been traveling to Disney destinations since 2010.

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