Walt Disney World Touring Plans: Animal Kingdom updated with Genie+

Please note: Walt Disney World operations continue to be in a state of flux. For recommendations about visiting Walt Disney World right now please visit WDW Prep School.

Although a visit to Walt Disney World is a vacation, it’s like no other vacation you’ve ever taken. Considering the expense, the last thing you want to do is spend your days waiting in lines. Having a solid touring plan for each park is a must. That way you can prioritize your “must sees” and get the most bang for your buck.

That said, if you are someone who likes to go with the flow and be more casual about planning, Disney’s new free Genie tool will help. Or you can use the excellent TouringPlans system which costs $18 for full features for a year. In essence for either system you put in your “to do” list and it optimizes your plans based on walking, wait times, and real time crowds. I seriously cannot endorse TouringPlans enough and wouldn’t go on a Walt Disney World trip without it. Their app’s wait time accuracy is unmatched, whereas Disney’s free wait time system is often wrong.

Generally, avoid lines means arriving at the parks early. Being there at park opening aka “rope drop” allows you to squeeze in some top attractions before lines build. Conversely, you can usually get on some high demand rides with minimal wait very late in the day right before closing, or during fireworks presentations. These tactics are tried and true regardless of what system is currently in place for Disney park guests. Please note that many parks open upwards of 45 minutes ahead of the posted time, and if you stay on property you can enjoy an additional half hour early entry to any park each day. That means an even more early arrival (I know, groan).

Animal Kingdom is probably my least favorite park. And that’s not to say it’s bad – it isn’t. It’s just an entirely different sort of experience. The highlights here are live animals, not rides. And the lush vegetation makes the park the hottest of the four. It also can make it extremely confusing to navigate. I’ve gotten lost in the park more times than I can count.

There are only a few attractions that garner a long wait here. They are:

  • Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • Expedition Everest
  • Avatar Flight of Passage
  • Na’vi River Journey
  • Dinosaur

In my opinion you have two options at rope drope. One option is to head directly back to Kilamanjaro Safaris, which is a great idea since being one of the first vehicles through in the day pretty much gaurantees a very close animal encounter. On last visit we were stopped for quite a while because a giraffe was blocking the way. So fun.

The second option is to head directly to the Pandora area and ride either Avatar Flight of Passage or Na’vi River Journey. This was very new at last visit and I was unable to ride Flight of Passage as a result. The Na’vi River Journey was a very cool spectacle.

Included in the $15 per person per day Genie+ System is:

  • Celebration of the Festival of the Lion King
  • DINOSAUR
  • Feathered Friends in Flight!
  • It’s Tough to Be a Bug!
  • Kali River Rapids
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • Naʻvi River Journey
  • The Animation Experience

The two top tier attractions not included in the pass, but instead will have a one off fee are:

  • Avatar: Flight of Passage
  • Expedition Everest

My initial reaction is to spring for the surge pricing on Avatar: Flight of Passage, and take your chances with the rest. It’s also noteworthy to mention that Expedition Everest offers a single rider line, which if you are willing to ride alone can significantly shorten your wait time on this ride.

One thing that’s nice about Animal Kingdom is that it is more at your own pace. Much of what do here is seeing the animals themselves. I would advise seeing what you can early or later in the day. At peak heat the animals are smartly napping. Don’t forget about the excellent shows here as well.

Full attraction roundup:

  • Kilamanjaro Safaris – Go out in an open air animal safari in a Jeep. Best done in the morning when animals are most active.
  • Gorilla Walk
  • Bird Walk
  • Tiger Walk
  • Na’Vi River Journey – boat ride through Pandora at night
  • Avatar: Flight of Passage – mild thrill ride
  • Take time to explore the interactive features of Pandora – touch the plants.
  • Expedition Everest
  • Kali River Rapids
  • Triceratops Spin – Circular flying dinosaur
  • It’s Tough to Be a Bug – 4D show with 3D glasses in the Tree of Life
  • If you have time: Rafiki’s Planet Watch – barnyard petting zoo – train to it and back – easily an hour long excursion

Shows:

  • The Lion King – Amazing musical production – do not miss. Shoot for a later in the day show.
  • Nemo the Musical – Closed. To be replaced with a new Nemo themed show.
  • Feathered Friends in Flight – A fun bird show (birds often flight overhead)

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