Best Trip Tips

Best Trip Tips: Getting into Animal Kingdom before Park Open

Animal Kingdom has gone from being one of the least popular parks to visit at Walt Disney World to one of the most popular. The reason for this is the new area of Animal Kingdom – Pandora. With two new attractions, one new quick service restaurant and floating rocks in the sky, this land has become a must see and must do part of everyones Disney vacation.

As with anything new, huge amounts of guests want to ride these attractions creating these deep, thick crowds all going to the same place at the same time. To steer clear of this, reserve FastPasses for one of the new attractions, specifically Flights of Passage if you and your guests are all above the 48” height requirement. If you can’t, no big deal, we’ve got you covered. Animal Kingdom is now opening their doors one hour before official park open.

If the park hours say 9am-9pm, guests can start entering at 8am. If the park hours say 8am, guests can start entering at 7am. Asia, Africa and Dinoland U.S.A. all remain roped off until 9am but Pandora opens about 45 minutes before official park open.

All of Discovery Island has its shops open, so if you want to get your souvenir shopping out of the way nows the time to do it. With no crowds and the store being fully stocked, you’ll be able to shop with ease and confidence. Get a beautiful family shot in front of the Tree of Life without waiting 15 minutes. Wander around the animal sightings to see the many creatures as you enter Animal Kingdom as well as the animals in front of the Tree of Life.

By being in the park this early you are saving yourself at least 15 minutes if not 30 minutes. You can get those photos, shopping and animal discovery out of the way before the park even opens. If you are one of those guests who want to ride either Flights of Passage or Na’Vi River Journey sans FastPass this is how you do it without spending hours of your day in line. You come in the hour before the park opens and you wait in line. You may find yourself on the attraction before the park officially opens. We did this on our Animal Kingdom day back in 2018, and we both rode Flights of Passage sans kids before 10:30am. Thank you Rider Switch and this early entry. On our latest vacation we weren’t so lucky. We were shy of the 8am arrival time, so we were closer to the back of the pack. The line for Flights of Passage wrapped all the way to the entrance in Africa. With three littles, one of which couldn’t even ride it, it wasn’t the right choice for us to wait it out.

Getting to the park this early is easy if you’re staying on site. All of the buses start running an hour and a half before the park opens. So simply hope on the bus at 7:30am or 6:30am depending on the day and voila you will be in Animal Kingdom an hour before most people even think it’s open. Which also means you’ll be riding on an empty bus.

You may see people gaining access to Asia, Africa and Dinoland U.S.A. before the park’s official open time. These guests may have access to Extra Magic Hours, these are for guests of Walt Disney World resort hotels or they may have an early morning breakfast reservation at Tusker House.

No matter what you do in the extra hour before the park officially opens, it’s definitely going to give you a more relaxing start to what can be a hectic and exhausting day. Even though it may be painful to get out of your bed earlier than normal, you’ll be thanking yourself at 10am when you see the crowds of people just arriving, with scowls on their faces. Well hopefully that’s not true, it is the happiest place on earth after all. Happy Planning, Friends.