Previously I’ve done posts on how to do Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney Resorts, and Hollywood Studios with multiples (see those posts here). It’s about time I did Disney’s Animal Kingdom, isn’t it? I’m also extremely honored to be using some photos from my pal Mike Thomas of Magic and Memories (a fantastic site you should frequent if you are a Disney fan).
Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the largest park on property, however it holds the least amount of people. It’s size is so large because of all of the breathtaking animal areas. Each visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom is different that the previous one, which is why this is hands down my favorite park at Walt Disney World. Now, sit back, relax, grab your coffee, tea, or wine and enjoy!
Getting to Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Parking
- If you are not staying on Disney property during your trip and will be driving to the parks there is a $14 charge for parking. This parking is good for all parks that day and that day only. So let’s say you decided to drive over to EPCOT after your day at Hollywood Studios, just show your parking pass at the toll plaza and you will not have to pay again.
- If you are staying on Disney property there is only one option: bus. Just as a heads up the bus for Animal Kingdom is usually shared with Disney’s Blizzard Beach, so be prepared to make an extra stop.
- The parking lot at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is not huge, so it is up to you if you want to fold your stroller and board the tram or if you want to just walk in.
- Before you start hoofing it in or jump on the tram, stop, look down at the end of your row, and locate your row name and number. Take a phone, text it to yourself, do whatever you have to do to remember it. In about 8 hours that is information you will be glad you have, unless you want to walk around hitting the emergency button on your car so you can find it.
- If none of those options work you can always flag down security at the end of the night and they can help you find your vehicle.
- Before you can get into the parks you have to go through bag check. My husband Scott would like to remind everyone that a camera bag still counts as a bag, as does a fanny pack.
- Before you get to the table try to start unzipping all your zippers and have all your bags pulled out. They will also ask to look in the baskets under your stroller.If you do not have any bags, camera bags or fanny packs, you can go directly through the center no bag line. Strollers cannot go through this line since the baskets need to be checked.
- Scott also wanted to share some security tips with everyone to help make their stay more enjoyable (FYI Scott works in Disney Security). The next few tips are from him.
- When you arrive to the park each day take a photo of your children, either on your camera phone or actual camera. That way if you are separated for some reason you have a photo from that day to show security. It has been Scott’s experience that nine times out of ten parents cannot remember what their children were wearing that day, and the photo eliminates that problem all together.
- Do NOT leave your valuables in your stroller while you go on a ride. Just because you are at the happiest place on earth doesn’t mean that you are completely safe from thieves!
- If you do for some reason become separated from a child it is important to find a cast member and let them know. The sooner you do this, the sooner every cast member in the park knows to look for your child. If one of the parents walks off to look for this child on their own while another stays behind with a cast member, make sure you both have phones and can communicate (sounds so simple, but is one of the biggest mistakes).
- Close and lock your doors/trunk. Scott cannot even begin to tell you how many times he has personally seen trunks and doors wide open, or windows rolled down. Also, if you have a GPS take it down and put it out of sight, the same goes for any other valuables you have in the car.
- Do not lock your keys in your car unless you can get them out on your own. Disney cannot pop your locks, they have to call a locksmith and you will be charged.
- Do not try to sneak alcohol into any of the parks, they will find and sadly, it will be dumped down the nearest drain.
- While glass jarred baby food is allowed, it may slow up the process of getting in. Try and bring the plastic tubs if you can.
- No weapons of any kind are allowed. However, if you are licensed to carry a weapon and have it on you, it must be checked with security. Any federal or local law enforcement agencies also have to comply with the weapon check.
Tickets and Main Entrance
- As far as tickets go children ages 3-9 are considered a childs ticket (Under 3 is FREE), 10+ is considered an adult. Visit Disney’s site for more ticketing information.
- I am sorry to report that there is no such thing as a multiples discount at Disney World. The only discount offered on admission is Florida resident, AAA, and military. Please see the Walt Disney World website for more details on tickets, prices, and restrictions. Also, please please please do not buy tickets on the side of the road that say they are cheaper (these operations are actually illegal since you are renting a ticket, not purchasing a ticket). You will get ripped off and will not get a refund. Just remember if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Tickets can be purchased at the ticket booths before the main entrance if you have not previously purchased them.
- Now since I used to work the turnstiles at Magic Kingdom many moons ago (fun fact: that’s how I met Scott) I have some special tips to share: it does not matter how you put the ticket it, right side up, upside down, it’s all the same, you just can’t put it in sideways.
- Make sure you remember what finger you used with your ticket, and remember which ticket is yours. If you use your husband’s ticket you will get denied (put your name on the back of your ticket so this doesn’t happen).
- Do not keep your tickets on top of your credit cards, it will demagnetize them and you will have to have them reprinted.
Maps and Times Guides
- I cannot stress enough that you should really grab both the map and times guide to help maximize your experience. Both can be found immediately when you walk into the park, at Guest Relations, at the Tip Board in front of the Tree of Life, and throughout the shops in the park.
- The park maps are available in several languages, see Guest Relations if you do not see the language you need.
- Guest relations offers translator headsets in the following languages: French, Spanish, Portuguese, German and Japanese. These headsets are free of charge, but you are required to put down a deposit that will be refunded upon their return.
- International calling cards are available for sale at Guest Relations at each of the four theme parks. Pay phone instructions are printed in Japanese, French, Spanish, German and Portuguese. Another nice feature of the pay phones is the ability to dial directly to international locations without the need for operator assistance.
- If you are interested, Guest Relations offers guided tours (there is a fee for this). If you are traveling with small children (who can’t wait in long lines) during a peak attendance time, VIP tours will allow you to bypass most lines for the rides. This is NOT cheap, but well worth it if you have the means. The tours do need to be set up in advance, especially if you require them in a foreign language. If you need a foreign language, the tours are offered in English, Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Portuguese, and Italian.
- Guest Relations also handles currency exchange, but it is limited. If you are needing currency exchange simply call the Disney Operator to ensure that it can be done at Guest Relations. If not, it can be done at the Suntrust Bank located across the street from Downtown Disney.
- If you would like to make dining reservations you can do so at Guest Relations. You can also make reservations prior to your trip by called 407-WDW-DINE (407-933-3463).
- Also if you are celebrating anything, or it is your first visit stop by to get a free button!
- At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Guest Relations is immediately on the left hand side once you enter the park.
Stroller and Wheelchair Rentals
- Stroller rental at Animal Kingdom is located on the right hand side of the entrance.
- Double strollers are 31.00 per day, and singles are 15.00 a day, with discounts on weekly rentals. Wheelchair rental is 12.00 per day, and ECV(electric wheelchairs) rental is 50.00/day. Disney also offers a length of stay price for stroller rentals, you just need to make a one time payment for the amount of days you will be needing the stroller. The discounted rate is 13.00 a day for singles and 27.oo a day for doubles.
- If you rent a stroller at the a Disney park, and decide to park-hop to another park, you can get a stroller at the second location for no additional charge (same for wheelchairs).
- Wagons are not allowed at any of the Disney parks, or Downtown Disney, as they can be a tripping hazard.
- If you do bring your own stroller, opt for the lightest one you own that folds up the easiest for you. If you do any bus or boat traveling after/during your day at the park, there is a good chance that you will have to take the kids out of the stroller to get on the vehicle.
- First Aid is next to the lady bug lights on the left hand side of the Tree of Life.
- Disney’s first aid is staffed with registered nurses that can assist you with any concern you have.
- If you have medication that needs to be refrigerated you can check it at first aid and they can store it for you so you don’t have to haul a cooler.
- Baby Care is located right by First Aid. Here you will find several changing tables, a nursing room, separate feeding room, and a small toilet (that’s not an auto flush) for kiddos that are potty training. There’s even a comfy couch to relax on if you don’t happen to be the one on diaper duty! This baby care also has a small store inside it with items that you may need for your child.
- This is a great place to visit if your child is becoming overstimulated, and need to be away from the excitement for a while. A little relaxation in an air-conditioned room (with cartoons, of course) may be in order if anyone starts feeling overwhelmed (them, or you!).
- Unfortunately strollers are not allowed in the Baby Care Center.
- This is the area when you first enter the park.
- Rainforest Cafe can be accessed before entering the park, or after at the far left.
- There are several animal habitats to see in the Oasis area, choose a side when you walk in (either right or left) and then choose the opposite side when you leave the park so you can see all of the animals.
- This is the area around the Tree of Life.
- Before you get to the Tree of Life you will find the tip board, this is where you can check wait times and showtimes. It’s a great way to decide which side of the park you want to start on.
- The Tree of Life is the main symbol associated with Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Take time when you are visiting the park to walk the trails around the tree to see both the live animals, and the animals that have been carved into the tree. It is an amazing site and can be a fun game to play with the kids.
- There is one main attraction in this area, It’s Tough to be a Bug, inside the Tree of Life. This is an 8 minute 3D show based on the Disney Pixar film, A Bug’s Life. This show can be scary for little kids, especially if they have a fear of bugs.
- At the exit to It’s Tough to be a Bug you will find a Kids Discovery area. This is a fun and interactive way for kids to learn more about the environment and is lead by cast members who are either education majors or animal studies majors.
- There are a few dining options in this area, there is Flame Tree Barbecue to the right of the tree (heading towards DinoLand), Pizzafari to the left of the tree (heading towards Camp Minnie-Mickey), the Safari Kiosk to the right of the tree (heading towards Asia), and Safari Coffee (by the tip board). I’ve eaten at all of these locations and they have something for everyone.
- Discovery Island is where you will find Baby Care and First Aid. They are just past Pizzafari, at the building with the ladybug lights.
- This is the area to the left of the Tree of Life.
- The only “attraction” in this area is The Festival of the Lion King. If you can only see one show the entire time you are at Disney World, this is the show to see. This is the #1 rated show for Disney World, and trust me, after you see it you will know why. There is not a bad seat in the house, so don’t worry about where you sit. My kiddos love this show and it is the first thing we have to do when we go to this park. Aaron even got to participate in the show one time and I swear, it made his year. Also, the camp counselors (the cast members) in this area are super accommodating. If your child has any issues with sensory issues let the camp counselors know and they will sit you close to the exit and help you exit if you need to.
- Also in this area you will find the character greeting trails. Usually in this area you can find Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Chip and Dale, and a variety of other characters. If your child likes Pocahontas, she can often be found in this area to.
- There is one food location in this area, right before you get to The Festival of the Lion King. This location offers soft serve ice cream and hot dogs.
- The Kids Discovery area in this section of the park is located just as you enter Camp Minnie-Mickey.
- Blah blah blah this is where the safaris are, but most importantly, this is where you will find cinnamon roasted almonds and pecans. It is at a stand right when you enter Africa. They are so good that they had to be the first bullet point. I’m not joking.
- As I just mentioned, Africa is where you will find Kilimanjaro Safari. Now, people will tell you that the best time to go is first thing in the morning. Here’s my tips: Try and ride this more than once while you are here. Try once in the morning and once before park close, or before you leave. Yes, some of the animals are active first thing in the morning (especially on nice 70 degree days), however, the animals are also extremely active at night right before the park close. Every time I have seen the lions it has been at park close, not first thing in the morning. If the weather is extremely hot (like in August), expect to see a lot of animals just laying around. Trust me, if you’re hot, they are hotter. If the weather is nice expect to see a lot more movement.
- Next to the exit for the safari is the Pagani Forest Exploration Trail. A lot of people bypass this nature trail, which is sad, because this is a fantastic walking trail. Back here you will see Okapi, Meerkats, and of course, Gorillas. There are guides along the way that can discuss the different animals with you. The Kids Discovery Area is near the exit of this trail.
- Also near the exit of Kilimanjaro Safari is the Wildlife Express Train that takes you to Rafiki’s Planet Watch. This is the only was to get to Rafiki’s Planet Watch.
Rafiki’s Planet Watch
- The only way to get to Rafiki’s Planet Watch is by taking the Wildlife Express Train near the exit of Kilimanjaro Safari. You will have to park your stroller near the entrance as well. Trains leave every 5-7 minutes, so you shouldn’t have to wait long.
- Once you arrive at Rafiki’s Planet Watch you will walk through Habitat Habitat where you can learn more about cotton-top tamarins. This is also where you will find the Kids Discovery Area.
- The Affection Section is where you and your kids will be able to have a hands on animal experience. You can pet, or groom, sheep and goats, and get up close to llamas, chickens and other animals. There is also a hand washing station before you leave.
- Conservation Station is one of the coolest areas of this park. This is the one area where you can take a behind the scenes look at the animals, and the care they receive, at the park. Usually there is someone from Animal Programs there to answer questions and discuss the animals with you.
- When you leave Africa, Asia will be on the left hand side. What I love about Asia is that it is themed to look like India and Thailand, it’s so peaceful, well aside from all of the people. I like to ignore them and tune into the music that they play.
- The first attraction you will see if Flights of Wonder. Flights of Wonder is a 25 minute live birds of prey show, so if you have FOB (fear of birds) I would skip this one. The birds do fly out into the audience, and as my husband learned, the lower you duck to avoid them, the lower they fly. I may or may not have ducked to have the hawk buzz him and it may or may not have been the funniest thing ever.
- Next to Flights of Wonder is a great casual restaurant called Yak and Yeti. They feature a variety of Pan-Asian style food and are owned by the same people as Rainforest Cafe. The prices are similar to Rainforest as well. I always try and eat here when we come into the park, it’s so yummy. Scott always, and I mean always, gets the Kobe Beef Burger and I usually get the Bourbon Chicken (SO GOOD). Aaron is a fan of their crispy green beans, and Jill loves their fries.
- There is also a quick service location right next to Yak and Yeti called Yak and Yeti Local Foods Cafe. They feature a variety of Pan-Asian style dishes as well, including some pretty amazing egg rolls. All seating is outdoors.
- If you take a left past the restaurants you will come upon Kali River Rapids. Kali River Rapids is one of those rides where you will either walk off with just a few drops of water on you, or totally and completely soaked down to your underwear. There is no in-between on this ride, so be prepared.
- Also in this section of Asia you will find the Maharajah Jungle Trek. I actually used to work this attraction, and I loved it because of how peaceful it is. Inside this self guided trek you will find a Komodo dragon, fruit bats, tigers, and various species of birds in the aviary (which if you have a fear of birds you can skip). This is also one of the best smelling areas in the park because of the jasmine and honeysuckle that is growing on the path.
- Asian ends with Expedition Everest, which is hands down the coolest thrill ride at Walt Disney World. On this high speed train ride you are trying to find, and escape, the legendary Yeti. This ride can be pretty intense for young kids, so maybe let them watch the ride a few times before hopping in line. This ride offers Fastpass, Rider Switch, and Single Rider. The required height for this ride is 44 inches.
- DinoLand, U.S.A. is a fun area for the whole family. There are two different aspects to this area, the fun carnival aspect, and the scientific aspect. Either way, it’s a ton of fun and cannot be missed!
- If you enter DinoLand from Asia, the first thing you will come across is Finding Nemo – The Musical. This replaced Tarzan Rocks and is a 30 minute Broadway-style show that features amazing puppetry. It is also an air conditioned theater, so on those hot days it is the most enjoyable 30 minutes of your day.
- The next are of DinoLand is Fossil Fun Games, this is the carnival aspect of the area where you can play a variety of carnival style games. This is also where you will find TriceraTop Spin (similar to Dumbo) and Primeval Whirl. Primeval Whirl is a cross between a roller coaster and a tilt-a-whirl. You must be 48 inches tall to ride Primeval Whirl. Fastpass and Rider Switch is available for Primeval Whirl.
- Across from Fossil Fun Games is the Boneyard. This is a fantastic area for you to take your kids and let them burn off all of that pent up energy. There are a variety of slides, cargo nets for them to climb, and a “dig site” for them to uncover dinosaur bones. If you have little ones I recommend having a set of eyes for each kid. The area is pretty big and if your kids are like mine, they will take off in opposite directions.
- The other attraction in DinoLand is Dinosaur. I’ve never actually been on this ride, because I am not a fan of things jumping out at me and what not. The ride is a time rover that takes you back to the time of the Dinosaurs, but something goes wrong. You must be 40 inches to ride this attraction. Fastpass and Rider Switch are available.
- Restaurantosaurus is a quick service dining location near Dinosaur and the Boneyard. They offer burgers, hotdogs, and salads. I love eating here because there is plenty of seating indoors.
- Near the exit of DinoLand, before you enter back into Discovery Island, you will find Trilo-Bite which offers turkey legs.
- When you exit DinoLand, you will see a character greeting area, and that’s where you will find Winnie the Pooh and friends.
Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade
- Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade is Animal Kingdom’s afternoon parade. Usually this parade steps off at 3:45 pm, but double check your times guide when you arrive. The parade starts in Africa and ends by the lady bug lights.
- There really is no perfect place to see this parade, everywhere is great. Just make sure you secure a shady spot early.
- Disney’s PhotoPass Service gives you professional photographs of your Walt Disney World vacation. View the photos online, order prints and create custom photo keepsakes. You can also purchase/view the photos in the park.
- To use PhotoPass simply see any of the photographers located throughout the park and they will hand you a card that will store all your photos. Simply create an account when you get home and you can edit the photos and create fun gifts. Be sure to check out their website for more information.
- This is hands down the best invention ever! Simply put your ticket in the FASTPASS machine and come back to the ride at the time it tells you. It virtually eliminates having to wait in line and allows you to see more of the park. Check out Disney’s site for the list of rides and for more information on FASTPASS services.
Rider Switch Pass
- Rider Swap is when you can take turns waiting with kids too small to ride a certain ride then “swap” with another adult from your party to experience the ride without standing in line twice.
- If you’re not sure if the ride offers rider swap, simply ask the cast member at the entrance.
Dining Tips/Dietary Concerns
- If you are going to eat at one of the casual dining locations call ahead for reservations, most can be made 180 days in advance by calling 407-WDW-DINE.
- If you have any food allergies let them know when you are making your reservation for your casual or fine dining location, that way a note can be made in your reservation.
- Disney also recommends that if you are staying on property you make note of food allergies or dietary concerns at least 14 days in advance.
- If you are celebrating something special (first trip, birthday, anniversary, engagement etc) let them know and they can fix something special for you. Scott and I eat at a Disney restaurant every anniversary since we were married there and have gotten anniversary menus to keep from each place.
- If you have food allergies and are eating at a quick service location they can bring someone out to show you what foods are best suited for you.
- Some of the dining restaurants now require a credit card to hold your reservation. If you cancel within one day of the reservation or if the dining party is a “no show” for the meal, a cancellation fee of $10 per person will be charged to the credit card used at the time of booking.
- The best time to visit Disney with multiple small children is of course, at the least busy times. I have found that right now (mid-to late-January until Spring Break) is one of the best times, as schools are generally in session in all areas of the country. You do run the risk of some slightly cold weather, but I’m betting it’s still going to be warmer than wherever you are from:) Once “spring break” time hits, it’s going to be crazy for a while.
- In general, weekdays are less crowded than weekends and holidays.
- During your day at the park, be flexible and ready to leave and take a break if needed. A day at Disney with several small children will be a blast- but will also be pretty physically and mentally demanding. Watch for your kids’ cues, and head for the exit before you have a multiple meltdown!
- If you are traveling to the park with your kids and are the only adult, it IS doable, but you will not be able to do most of the attractions unless your kids are old enough to walk on their own and stay with you.
- If you are visiting the park on vacation, bring as many spare hands as possible! To be able to enjoy ALL of the attractions, you will want at least one adult per small child. If you are saving up for your Disney vacation and want your kids to truly enjoy every single aspect, consider waiting until at least age 3 or 4.
- If you or someone in your party has a disability (mobility, visual or hearing) please visit the Guests with Disabilities page on Disney’s website for more information.
- Visit Disney’s website and request a vacation planning DVD, it will have even more information than we provided and it’s free!
- Check to see if there is an app for your smartphone for Disney. Verizon carries the official Disney app that includes park maps, and on my iPhone I have two different apps that I use. One app is for wait times and one is the daily schedule.
Be sure to visit my friend Mike’s site Magic and Memories for some amazing posts about Disney World. Thanks Mike for letting me use your amazing photos in this post!