Disney Animal Kingdom Itinerary 2024: A Perfect 24 Hours 1
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Disney Animal Kingdom Itinerary 2024: A Perfect 24 Hours

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Greetings, Internet Stranger! I’m Stella Jane, author of the travel guide Get Lost, and welcome to a perfect Disney Animal Kingdom itinerary. Animal Kingdom is one of the most popular parks at Disney World, possibly because it’s so unusual. Like other Disney parks, Animal Kingdom has fun rides, yummy snacks, and the opportunity to have your photo taken with an adult who takes money to pretend to be a cartoon character.

But Animal Kingdom also has an amazing collection of animals to observe, a strong environmentally conscious message, and a replica of the Himalayas. Join me for this Disney Animal Kingdom itinerary and we’ll find out just what makes this park so special.

In order to get the most out of your Disney Animal Kingdom itinerary, I suggest you get coffee at your hotel, hop on the free shuttle, and arrive at Disney in time to enter the park when it opens. If you’re able to get in even earlier for Extra Magic Hours for Disney resort guests, so much the better.

disney animal kingdom itinerary

Disney Animal Kingdom Itinerary

Morning: Asia

Like every Disney theme park, Animal Kingdom is divided into different themed areas. You’ll want to visit as many as you can during your Disney Animal Kingdom itinerary. But many people would say that Asia is the most fun area in Animal Kingdom–and I just might be one of them. So it definitely pays to spend your morning here.

And it pays even more to have me as your guide to share…

Approximately Top 5: Asia on the Disney Animal Kingdom Itinerary

disney animal kingdom itinerary
1) Breakfast at Royal Anandapur Tea Company

The name of this stand sounds really fancy, but it’s really a well-disguised Joffrey’s. (Anandapur is the name of the fictional kingdom where the Animal Kingdom Asia area is supposedly located.)

But even if your tea won’t actually be brewed by imaginary royalty, this is still a good place to stop for a bite to eat at the beginning of your Disney Animal Kingdom itinerary. People rave about the donuts here, but I needed protein for a full day of exploring, so I got a totally adequate ham and cheese croissant instead.

The drinks are the real stars here, so be sure to try one of their specialty beverages. The Lion Latte is both delicious and coconutty, and I don’t believe any lions were actually killed to make it. Unless lions taste like coconut. I’ve never eaten a lion, so I can’t be sure.

disney animal kingdom itinerary
2) Expedition Everest

I love Disney rides, but if you’re a roller coaster junkie, they can be a little lacking in thrills. They tend to not go as fast as rides at more teen-friendly theme parks like Busch Gardens or Six Flags. But Expedition Everest has got to be one of the most exciting rides at Disney. It’s so popular; please get a Lightning Lane or you will wait on line longer than it takes to climb Mt. Everest.

The reason Expedition Everest is so exciting is the surprising twists and turns. There will be times you think the ride is coming to a stop, but really you are just about to go backwards. Also, I’m not saying there is a Yeti on the ride, but I’m not NOT saying it either. You’ll just have to go on Expedition Everest to find out.

disney animal kingdom itinerary
3) Feathered Friends in Flight

Animal Kingdom has tons of adorable shows, so I suggest packing as many as you can into your Disney Animal Kingdom itinerary. One of my favorite shows was Feathered Friends in Flight, which introduces you to wonderful flying fools that can do everything from fly to a target on command to have a brief and interesting conversation for the delight of the audience.

All the birds are fab, but some standouts include a bird named Frasier Crane, and a parrot that can talk. (Sadly, neither Frasier Crane or the parrot can sing “Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs”, so I call shenanigans.)

disney animal kingdom itinerary
4) Kali River Rapids

Kali River Rapids is a water ride, so the lines will be shorter if you visit on one of those chilly central Florida days. (Yes, they do exist, especially if you tend to go to Disney in November or January, like I sometimes do.)

However, on a hot day, which is most days in Orlando, everyone wants to get cooled down on this ride, so the lines will be longer. Be prepared to get a little wet on the ride, but it’s worth it for the good, clean fun.

Disney tries to make you as comfortable as possible with the whole “getting soaked” thing, so you can wear a poncho on the ride if you wish.

They also provide lockers in case you’ve brought your fine leather goods to Disney and don’t want them to get dunked in the rapids. Plus, keep your feet a little in the air on the ride and it’s less likely that your feet will get soaked. Smart!

disney animal kingdom itinerary
5) Maharajah Jungle Trek

It’s hard to figure out exactly where Anandapur is supposed to be, since it is a fictional country Disney made up. But it seems to have a very similar history to India because like India, it had maharajahs, and also like India, it was apparently once occupied by the British. (Those Brits! Such avid imperialists they even colonized fictional countries. But I’m American, so I have no room to talk.)

There are animals like monkeys and bats on this trail, but the coolest thing you can see on the Maharajah Jungle Trek are the stunning Bengal Tigers. Signs posted around the area explain how the tigers’ habitat is being destroyed and how we can help these majestic creatures.

If you bring kids with you, please point out the signs to encourage them to grow up and help the tigers. If they refuse, tell them they are selfish, then threaten to feed them to the Bengal tigers. That will probably teach them a lesson.

disney animal kingdom itinerary

Disney Animal Kingdom Itinerary

Afternoon: Explore the Animal Kingdom

Asia is my favorite area of the Animal Kingdom, but all the other areas are worth your time. However, they generally don’t have as many attractions as Asia does, so you’ll be able to bop around and see the best of the best in Africa, DinoLand, Discovery Island, and Pandora. (Some of those are based on real places, and some are not. So hard to tell which is which!)

Since we won’t have time to see absolutely everything in the Animal Kingdom, I’ll narrow it down to the best of the best with…

Approximately Top 5: Disney Animal Kingdom Itinerary

disney animal kingdom itinerary
1) Flame Tree Barbecue

We’re getting a big dinner tonight, so let’s just stop for a quick and filling lunch at the Flame Tree Barbecue. There’s usually a long line, but it moves fast, so no worries.

As a Southerner, I was skeptical of Disney BBW, but actually the pulled pork had a decent smoky flavor, and the baked bean side had a bit of spice too. Plus, I enjoyed the coleslaw on the sandwich because it wasn’t too gloopy.

But the best thing about Flame Tree Barbecue is the amazing view of the water from the seating area. Don’t miss it!

disney animal kingdom itinerary
2) It’s Tough to Be a Bug

Remember, Disney owns all the Pixar movies now, and they also own Marvel and Star Wars and Avatar and YOUR IMMORTAL SOUL! So it makes sense that they’d have a 3D show based on Pixar’s A Bug’s Life.

I haven’t seen this movie, but I gather it stars Kevin Spacey as a predatory bug who is kicked out of Hollywood for harassing Canadian comic treasure Dave Foley? Not sure that’s appropriate for kids, but don’t worry! Kevin Spacey’s voice doesn’t appear in this attraction.

Anyway, the show is tons of fun because it’s basically 5D since it includes features that activate your sense of touch and smell as well as your sense of sight. If you’ve ever wanted the illusion of feeling a jillion bugs crawling past you or getting attacked by stinkbugs, this is the show for you!

disney animal kingdom itinerary
3) Dinosaur

Have you ever wanted to travel through time and meet real dinosaurs? Well, too bad, Internet Stranger! That’s simply impossible. But with the magic of Disney, you can have the delusion that all your dreams are coming true on the Dinosaur ride.

On this ride, you play the role of a hapless guest sent back into dinosaur times by an idiot scientist who refuses to play by the rules. He’s basically the scientist equivalent of Mel Gibson’s character in Lethal Weapon.

On the ride, you’ll get to experience the thrill of almost being eaten by virtual dinosaurs. But don’t worry! Disney pretty much guarantees that you’ll arrive at the end of the ride safe and sound.

disney animal kingdom itinerary
4) Na’vi River Journey

Next, we’re off to the Pandora section of Animal Kingdom, based on the Avatar movies by James Cameron. I don’t really understand why Pandora gets its own section of Animal Kingdom when it’s not a real place and none of the animals that live in it are real either. But maybe that’s why I am not a gajillionaire like James Cameron.

You might also be wondering why Avatar is in a Disney park when it’s not a Disney movie. Well, it’s a 20th Century Fox movie, and Disney owns 20th Century Fox, as well as your firstborn child.

The Na’vi River Journey is a stunning journey through Pandora at night. (Unless Pandora is eternally nocturnal? I have never seen any of the Avatar movies so I can’t be sure. Just keep in mind that the line is long, moves very slowly, and is impossible to get out of.

On the plus side, you can buy snacks on line. But if you have to choose between the Na’vi River Journey and the other Avatar ride, it’s a no-brainer because…

disney animal kingdom itinerary
5) Avatar Flight of Passage

As much as I like to make fun of Avatar, a movie about blue people doing…things (again, I have never even seen a trailer for this movie), I have to admit that Flight of Passage is the best ride at Animal Kingdom. You simply can’t have a Disney Animal Kingdom itinerary without it!

I suggest getting a Lightning Lane, which you will have to buy individually for this ride. It’s worth it!

Once you reach the end, get strapped in your bike and get ready to flight! Yes, Flight of Passage is a terrifyingly realistic flight simulator that will make you feel like you are soaring over the skies with the little winged blue people. (Are the Na’vi little? Do they have wings? I still refuse to know!) But I do know that Flight of Passage is the closest you’ll ever come to flying without wings.

disney animal kingdom itinerary
24 Hour Tip

We’ve still got a little while before dinner, so tide yourself over with a lumpia from the Pongu Pongu snack shack in the Pandora area. I guarantee it’s the most delicious pineapple and cream cheese spring roll in all of Disney.

disney animal kingdom itinerary
6) Kilimanjaro Safaris

We can’t leave Animal Kingdom without seeing Africa! And you can’t leave Africa without exploring Kilimanjaro Safaris. I think just before sunset is a great time to visit because there weren’t too many crowds, the animals will be reasonably active, and it will still be light enough for you to see the animals. But I still recommend getting the Lightning Lane for this ride! Otherwise you might not make it on time.

On the safari, you’ll be driven around a massive animal preserve by an expert guide. I’ve been on a real safari in South Africa, and it felt a lot like this one, only of course in South Africa we covered a lot more ground. My favorite part was seeing a group of springbok jump. They really looked as if their legs were made out of rubber, that’s how springy they were.

We also saw okapi, which are related to giraffes and hippos, which we learned are only dangerous out of water. Perhaps the most impressive sight was seeing a donkey-like animal just hanging out near a bunch of lions.

Our guide explained that the Not Donkey was relaxed because he knows he can get away from the lions easily. I really hope the Not Donkey isn’t overconfident because it would totally traumatize a bunch of schoolkids to watch him get eaten before their very eyes.

disney animal kingdom itinerary

Disney Animal Kingdom Itinerary

Evening: Dinner at Tiffins

You might be surprised to hear that I suggest staying at Animal Kingdom for dinner. Is there anything more exciting than Disney BBQ?

Yes, there is, if you’re a mildly adventurous eater. Do you like octopus? How about surf and turf? Jonesing for a quality bourbon cocktail? Then have I got an exciting evening in store for you.

disney animal kingdom itinerary

Enjoy a meal at Tiffins, one of my favorite restaurants at Disney. It’s a fine dining restaurant, so the prices are a little high and you’ll have to make a reservation, but I say it’s worth it, especially if you are an adventurous eater.

Start with the appetizer duo which is half falafel and half octopus. The octopus is really a specialty at Tiffins, and it is super: flavorful and not too chewy. But if you’re too squeamish for the octopus, just get the falafel on its own.

disney animal kingdom itinerary

The cocktails at Tiffins are also yummy and quite strong. I especially recommend the Annapurna Zing cocktail with gin and passionfruit. Plus you get to keep the glow in the dark ice cube!

It goes perfectly with Tiffins signature pomegranate bread. The bread is super light and comes with a pomegranate molasses, but I thought the bread was so tasty that it didn’t need any toppings.

disney animal kingdom itinerary

The short rib is one of the most popular main courses, and after eating it, I can see why. The meat is so tender, and the flavors are very interesting with the tamarind and date and roasted cauliflower. (Apologies to Tiffins for the horribleness of my photo. It’s a much prettier dish than this IRL.)

disney animal kingdom itinerary

I’m a big believer in never sticking to one dessert when you can get three. That’s why I suggest getting the trio of desserts. You have the caramel mousse, which is great for those who want a dessert that isn’t too sweet and the South American chocolate ganache, which is basically Death by Chocolate (much better than being a Not Donkey and experiencing Death by Lion).

Finally, there’s a light deconstructed cheesecake. It’s interesting looking at the different cheesecake component parts, but the important part is that it tastes exactly like a cheesecake. I don’t know how they manage to make this strange concoction taste exactly like a cheesecake, but that’s just the wonders of cheesecake science.

disney animal kingdom itinerary

Disney Animal Kingdom Itinerary

Where Should I Stay?

As a solo-traveling non-driver, I recommend staying at one of the Disney resorts for your Disney Animal Kingdom itinerary because the transportation to and from the parks to the hotel is so convenient. I like to stay at one of the Port Orleans hotels because I am ride or die for The Princess and the Frog.

See which Orlando hotels are available when you visit by clicking here.

This search engine will help you find the perfect choice.

disney animal kingdom itinerary

That’s a Perfect Disney Animal Kingdom Itinerary!

What would you do on a Disney Animal Kingdom itinerary? Would you be more scared of the lions if you were that Not Donkey? And what exactly is the plot of Avatar and does it involve little blue winged people riding bikes and eating pineapple cream cheese spring rolls? Please email me at stellajane@aroundtheworldin24hours.com.

Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours on a Disney Animal Kingdom itinerary, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY spend 24 hours on a Disney Animal Kingdom itinerary.

You can also try Snacking Around the World at Epcot. Don’t forget to add on this Epcot itinerary. Try out a Magic Kingdom itinerary. Go for a Disney Hollywood Studios for adults itinerary. You can see the best Epcot Food and Wine booths.

You can also go for 24 hours in Miami. Check out the Epcot International Festival of the Arts. Get to know the best day tours in Miami. Experience a Disney Hollywood Studios one day itinerary. Enjoy a Disney World for adults only itinerary.

Disney Animal Kingdom Itinerary 2024: A Perfect 24 Hours 2

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