Best Trip Tips

Rafiki’s Planet Watch

Animal Kingdom is one of 4 Walt Disney World parks. This park features animal interaction, animal education, broadway-style stage shows and many thrill rides. Animal Kingdom is broken down into six areas, or lands if you will. Discovery Island, Pandora- The World of Avatar, Africa, Asia, DinoLand U.S.A. and Rafiki’s Planet Watch. Today, we’re going to give you everything you need to know about Rafiki’s Planet Watch. The hope is you can make an educated decision on whether this area of the Animal Kingdom is worth putting on your itinerary. 

Rafiki’s Planet Watch is an area of the park that is designed to teach guests about animal preservation, animal care and world care.

Rafiki’s Planet Watch is only accessible via the Wilderness Train. This train is found in Africa, just past the Harambe Market or as your exiting Kilimanjaro Safari. The train ride lasts about 5 minutes there and 5 minutes back. All the seats face the same way. You ride by the shelters for the animals found around the park. These shelters are used to care for sick animals, pregnant animals, what have you. It’s not very magical. The design that has gone into making guests feel like they’re in Africa and Asia is totally gone when you get on this train. There is a strict policy of no standing on the train. The train will stop if anybody on board stands up. The only way to leave Rafiki’s Planet Watch is also by train. Once disembarking the train you’ll have to walk approximately 600 meters to reach Rafiki’s Planet Watch. 

Rafiki’s Planet Watch is open from 10am-5pm. Where as the park itself is open from 9am-8pm most days of the year. Be sure to grab a daily park schedule on your way into the Animal Kingdom to make sure these details are correct on the day of your visit. So if you want to spend time at Rafiki’s Planet Watch be sure to get on the train by 4pm to give yourself enough time there to enjoy and discover. 

There are two areas of Rafiki’s Planet Watch: the Conservation Station and the Affection Section. The Conservation Station is home to 10 different Disney Care areas and experiences. The Affection Section is where guests can pet and make some memories with a variety livestock. 

The Conservation Station is a large building, ideal for very hot days or very rainy days. You’ll find a variety of things here. The Animal Encounters Stage. In the centre of the building throughout the hours Rafiki’s Planet Watch is open, Cast Members will be out with different animals. They’ll teach you all about them, where they’re from, what they do. They’ll even get them to perform a couple of tricks.  Character experiences. Guests can meet Rafiki and Disney Junior’s Doc McStuffins at the Conservation Station. They’ll sign autographs and take pictures. It’s the only place to meet Rafiki at Walt Disney World, and it’s a great place to meet Doc because you’re inside. And there’s things for your littles to look at to keep them entertained. If this is the only reason you are planning on making your way to Rafiki’s Planet Watch, be aware that they do not do character meet and greets all day long. They typically start around 10:15, and will take a break from 1:15 until 2pm. Check your My Disney Experience app the day of your visit. The remainder of the areas/experiences are behind glass. You can see different reptiles, you can watch handlers prepare meals for different animals. Watch as Veterinarians care for animals in their healing facility. If your little or child is huge into animal care then this will be right up their alley. Or if a member of your party is thinking of going into veterinary sciences then this can be a cool place for them to come and learn what working in this field is like. The Animation Experience is new to Rafiki’s Planet Watch. Here you’ll learn about the many animal influences on Disney films. It’s a 25 minute experience that will give you a chance to learn how to draw like an animator.

The Affection Section is ideal for any littles or younger guests who just love animals. This is the only place at Animal Kingdom where they can actual touch and feel animals. There are hand washing stations upon entry and exit, keeping germ carrying to a minimum. Pigs, Cows, Donkeys, Sheeps and Goats are all found in this section. This may be old hat to many kids who have a local zoo or live on or close to a farm. But you know your kids, if this is something they love then indulge them. There are cast members located around the area to teach guests about the different animals. What they do, how they’re cared for, where you can find them. 

Wilderness Explorers have a stop at Rafiki’s Planet Watch. It’s on the path as you’re walking to the Conservation Station and the Affection Section. This brings a lot of guests to Rafiki’s Planet Watch, to make sure they get all their badges. 

A couple of major points to be aware of. No Strollers are permitted at Rafiki’s Planet Watch. I’ve seen some people sneak them on the train but they have to be collapsable. So if you’ve rented one straight from Disney, you are out of luck friend. There are no restaurants of any kind here. Likely this is to make sure the animals don’t ingest anything they’re not supposed to. So make sure to bring your own snacks or eat before boarding the Wilderness Express. 

This area of the park is a bit of a let down. Unless you are really into conservation and animals, this area is a skip. There is so much to do now at the Animal Kingdom. With Pandora, two stage shows, DinoLand U.S.A. and the two different treks. Fitting Rafiki’s Planet Watch into your day isn’t really necessary. Especially if you plan on fitting in a sit down meal during your visit to the Animal Kingdom. If you find yourself at 3pm with extra time then maybe consider it. Otherwise I would skip it. We did it on our last trip and I would have rather let our kids have more time in the boneyard than spending half an hour of our day here. If you’re thinking there won’t be much for your littles to do at the Animal Kingdom and this is one of the areas specifically tailored for, check this list of attractions made for the whole family. Your day will be full without needing to add this to your itinerary. Now I’m sure there are people who love Rafiki’s Planet Watch, and make sure to visit it each and every time they come. I am clearly not one of those people so take this advice with a grain of salt. Happy Planning, Friends. 

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