Animal Kingdom Fastpass : Lions, Banshees, and Dinosaurs!

Expedition Everest Animal Kingdom
The best thrill ride and must-have FastPass : Expedition Everest.

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Animal Kingdom is the largest park at Walt Disney World so having some well-timed fastpasses can make the trek from one attraction to the next worth it. A common misconception about Animal Kingdom is that it is just a really big zoo. You will definitely find lots of animal attractions, but those are actually the best way to spend time between your fastpass+ selections.

Animal Kingdom Fastpass Plus Attractions

Fastpasses at Animal Kingdom come in a large variety, from thrilling roller coasters to exciting shows and even a safari through Africa. They can be put into three basic categories:

  • Fast Rides / Motion Rides
    • Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
    • Dinosaur
    • Kali River Rapids
    • Primeval Whirl
    • Avatar Flight of Passage
  • Experiences / Non-Rides
    • Festival of the Lion King Show
    • Finding Nemo – The Musical
    • It’s Tough to Be a Bug
    • Meet Favorite Disney Pals at Adventure Outpost
    • Rivers of Light
    • Up! A Great Bird Adventure
  • Slow Moving Rides
    • Kilimanjaro Safaris
    • Nav’i Rivera Journey

Animal Kingdom FastPass Tiers

Animal Kingdom is one of the three parks at Walt Disney World that uses the tier system for their fast passes. There are two tiers : Pandora and Non-Pandora. You can only schedule one of the two rides in Pandora: Nav’i River Journey or Avatar Flight of Passage. You can schedule two selections from any of the other available fast passes. In this category, you should always select Avatar Flight of Passage unless you have kiddos that don’t meet the minimum height. While the Nav’i River Journey is a pretty ride , Avatar Flight of Passage is one of the most advanced rides at Disney and the wait is consistently over 90-120 minutes.

The Best Animal Kingdom FastPasses

Down to the good stuff! Which Animal Kingdom fastpass+ selections should you pick? The answer totally depends on the way you like to visit the parks and the height of your group.

First TimersThrill SeekersTraveling with ToddlersAdultingBroadway BabyBeat the Heat
Kilimanjaro SafariExpedition EverestKilimanjaro SafariAvatar - Flight of PassageFestival of the Lion King ShowKali River Rapids
Avatar - Flight of PassageDinosaur!Na'vi River JourneyExpedition EverestFinding Nemo - The MusicalNa'vi River Journey
Expedition EverestAvatar - Flight of PassageMeet Favorite Disney Pals at Adventure OutpostPrimeval WhirlRivers of LightFinding Nemo - The Musical

First Time Visit FastPasses to Animal Kingdom

If it’s your first time at Animal Kingdom, you will want to spread your FastPasses around the best areas of the park. The best ride to capture the spirit of the park is Kilimanjaro Safari. It takes you on a safari through the an African Savannah. This ride is so well designed that you can’t even spot a fence keeping you from the lions! This is also one of the best rides for taking amazing photographs in the park. You really become park of the “Animal Kingdom” with a ride on Kilimanjaro Safari.

Your next FastPass+ is one of the most advanced rides at Walt Disney World. Opening in May 2018, Avatar – Flight of Passage lets you experience what it would be like to ride on the back of a Banshee through Pandora. The ride is a truly 4D experience, with not only 3D visuals, but you can even smell the ocean and feel the water as you dive through Pandora on your banshee.

Expedition Everest Animal Kingdom

The best thrill ride and must-have FastPass : Expedition Everest.

Rounding out a first timers FastPasses Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain. Arguably one of the best roller coasters at Disney World, Expedition Everest is located in Asia in Animal Kingdom and lets you face the fearsome yeti. You can get amazing views of Epcot and Hollywood Studios from the top of this roller coaster. Dips and turns and spirals all make this an amazing ride!

Fastpasses for Thrill Seekers at Animal Kingdom

The thrill seekers should also score FastPasses for Avatar Flight of Passage as well as Expedition Everest. Both of these rides should appeal to those who like to go fast and experience immersive, thrilling experiences. To round out the choices, add Dinosaur! to your selections as well. this ride takes you back to the Cretaceous period to rescue an Iguanadon. The ride zips in between different scenes as you try to escape a Carnotaurus.

Traveling with Toddlers In Animal Kingdom

If you are traveling with toddlers and fall below the height limit for the more adventurous rides, you can still have a great time at Animal Kingdom!  Kilimanjaro Safari is a great choice for all ages and toddlers will especially love seeing all the animals so close to their vehicle. The Na’vi River Journey is your next best bet for a fun ride with toddlers. It is a relaxing boat ride through Pandora, and the kids will get to see tons of bright colors and glowing bioluminescent flowers and even a Shaman at the end! Finally, a trip to any Disney Park isn’t complete without a visit with Mickey and Minnie. You can meet Minnie and Mickey at the Adventure Outpost and snag a photo with your toddler and the two in their Safari gear.

Adulting in Animal Kingdom

Primeval Whirl Animal Kingdom

Take a whirl in Dinoland U.S.A.

When you have the chance to visit Animal Kingdom sans-kids, you can take full advantage by riding all of the rides with the biggest height requirements. Expedition Everest and Avatar – Flight of Passage are the biggest thrills at Animal Kingdom. Adding in Primevil Whirl in Dinoland U.S.A. rounds out the fun, adult rides. This one is reminiscent of a carnival ride, whirling you around and up and down. It’s not the best ride for kids due to the rough nature of the whirling but is a load of fun for adults.

Broadway Baby – Bring on the Shows in Animal Kingdom

Hollywood Studios isn’t the only Park that brings on the shows! If shows are your jam, then you can score premium seating to get the best experience. The quintessential Animal Kingdom show is Festival of the Lion King, so it should be at the top of your FastPass list. Rivers of Light is the closing show at Animal Kingdom and a pretty unique offering. The fastpass will get you a close up view of the river and boats. Finally, the Finding Nemo show is a classic at Animal Kingdom and also a great way to cool down on a hot day.

Beat the Heat

Kali River Rapids Animal Kingdom

Best FastPass to cool down at Animal Kingdom? Take a ride down Kali River Rapids.

It can get h-o-t at Walt Disney World, and Animal Kingdom is the largest park of all. Trekking between Africa and Asia can quickly have you searching for a nice place to cool down. Kali River Rapids is the best way to beat the heat as you navigate the rapids and get splashed. Be forewarned that you WILL get wet on the ride. Na’vi River Journey in Pandora is a much calmer boat ride (no threats of getting splashed) and runs through a lovely, air-conditioned area. Of all shows, Finding Nemo – The Musical has the best air conditioning in the theatre. It’s a nice show for a quick, relaxing time.

Wasted FastPasses in Animal Kingdom

There are a few rides that really are a waste of a fastpass because the wait is hardly ever that long or you don’t really gain a better seat at the show.  All this said, you should also remember that if it is something you just love doing, you can still book the fastpass.

  • Fast Rides / Motion Rides –
    • Primeval Whirl – You can usually get on Primevil Whirl with a less than 30 minute wait. It really is a fun ride but falls lower on the priority list for a fastpass due to its being less popular than some of the other thrill rides.
  • Experiences / Non-Rides
    • You can almost be guaranteed to get a seat at any of the shows as long as you show up 15-30 minutes prior to the start. You might not get the premier seat, but you can still enjoy the show.
      • Festival of the Lion King Show
      • Finding Nemo – The Musical
      • It’s Tough to Be a Bug – The auditorium for It’s Tough to Be a Bug fits a lot of people, so you typically won’t see  wait time of more than 15 minutes for this one either.
      • Rivers of Light – Again,
      • Up! A Great Bird Adventure

How to Schedule Your Animal Kingdom FastPass

Now that you know what you want, you need to actually schedule it! You can schedule your FastPass from either the MyDisneyExperience App or vía the Walt Disney World website. You can find full instructions here on the mechanics of booking, and there are some tips to pick the best dates/times:

  1. Check Your Park Hours – Make sure you double check park hours. If you are staying on-property, you might have access to Extra Magic Hours. This means you could get in early or stay late in a park after regular guests leave. These are excellent times to try to snag another popular ride. For example, since both Avatar – Flight of Passage and Na’vi River journey are in the same tier, you can’t get a FastPass for both in one day. If you get in to Extra Magic Hours, however, the line for Na’vi River Journey goes down considerably and you could probably still ride it with minimal wait.
    1. If you AREN’T staying on property, you should also pay attention to Extra Magic Hours. While everyone on property might stay late at a park on night, you can snag much shorter lines the next day since most on-property guests won’t revisit the same park two days in a row.
  2. Use every FastPass secret in our guide to snag the best times. You’ll want to have times during peak hours for your first 3 fastpasses (10a-4p in most parks) and use them as quickly as possible so you can begin scheduling additional FP+ selections one at a time.
    1. Walt Disney World FastPass+ Pro-tip : The ones you are most likely to snag same-day are listed below, but in order to book them, you can’t let your phone die! The MyDisneyEpxerience app is a renowned batter-draining app, so we always recommend taking an external battery pack with you so your phone doesn’t die right when you are ready to schedule that next fastpass. The best one we have found is the Anker Power Core 1300. It has 2 USB charger ports and can charge an iPhone up to 4 times on a single charge of itself. It’s worth the price.:
      1. Probably a Sure Thing
        1. Finding Nemo – The Musical
        2. It’s Tough to Be a Bug
        3. Primeval Whirl
        4. Rivers of Light
        5. Up! A Great Bird Adventure
      2. During non-Peak Days:
        1. Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
        2. Kali River Rapids
        3. Festival of the Lion King Show
        4. Meet Favorite Disney Pals at Adventure Outpost

Fun without a FastPass at Animal Kingdom

Remember that Animal Kingdom isn’t just “a big zoo,” but it certainly does have some amazing animal exhibits! Not only can you have a great time without a fastpass, but these same attractions help you make the most of your time between fast passes too. The sheer number of non-fastpass activities make this a 2 day park for sure.

The Boneyard

My kids could spend HOURS at the boneyard. It is a genius idea to incorporate a giant playground into the park, especially the section that is covered, shaded and filled with mister fans during the hot summer months. Another fun addition is that Pluto tours around the boneyard and will post for pictures and offer signatures while your kids are having fun on the slides. They can even dig up a Wooly Mammoth skeleton!

Maharaja Jungle Trek

You can wonder through the jungle in Asia and visit Tigers and komodo dragons. The bats in their open air enclosure are alway a big hit with the kids as well! The aviary contains over 50 different species of birds, and you will find guides all along the trail to answer your questions. Located right outside Kali River Rapids, the Maharaja Jungle Trek is a great way to spend your time either before or after your FatPass or Kali River Rapids.

Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail

As soon as you exit your Kilimanjaro Safari ride, you can take a trip through the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail. Just like it’s name implies, you have a chance to see western lowland gorillas. You can explore other African animals, like the fun meerkats or watch a hippopotamus swimming gracefully underwater.

Explore the Tree of Life

The centerpiece of Animal Kingdom is an attraction in its own right. You can spend time on Discovery Island in the center of Animal Kingdom and explore the different sides of the Tree of Life.

TriceraTop Spin

Triceratops Spin animal Kingdom

You don’t need a fastpass for Triceratops Spin!

The only ride in Disney’s Animal Kingdom without a FastPass option is TriceraTop Spin. It’s a great parallel to the Dumbo ride at Magic Kingdom except it lets you tilt your Triceratop forward and backward in addition to flying up and down in the air. This is a great ride for toddlers, and the wait is usually very reasonable.

Winged Encounters

If you can catch this encounter, it is definitely worth it! Macaws from all over the park are called in front of the tree of life. You get to learn about these amazing birds and then witness them take off all together. It truly is an amazing sight!

Special Character Meet and Greets

Animal Kingdom also has some characters that you can’t meet anywhere else. They also usually come with fairly short lines. Donald’s Dino Bash in Dinoland U.S.A. currently features Scrooge McDuck and Launchpad McQuack. You can’t catch these two characters in any other park currently. You can also see Daisy, Chip, Dale, and Donald dressed up in their dino-inspired designs. For Disney Princesses, Pocohantas has a meet and greet spot. We have met Governor Ratcliff with her before here, although he is not guaranteed. Finally, you can check our King Louie and Balloo in a Character Meet and Greet spot. Other characters that you might see roaming include Tarzan and Rafiki, although they don’t have a dedicated place currently.

Animal Kingdom FastPass Summary

The most important things to take away from your Animal Kingdom FastPass bookings are:

  1. There is a tier that includes both rides in Pandora so you can only book one of the rides in advance.
  2. Avatar – Flight of Passage is one of the most advanced rides at Walt Disney World. If you meet the heigh requirement, book it.
  3. Kilimanjaro Safari is a must if it’s your first time at Animal Kingdom. It’s the best way to see the amazing animals and really encompasses everything the park is about.
  4. You can get into almost all of the shows without a FastPass.
  5. Use your fast passes up as quickly as possible so you can start booking more!
  6. There is almost as much to do without a FastPass as with a FastPass. For that reason, Animal Kingdom can easily be a two day park, meaning it has enough attractions to fill two whole days of your visit.

Good luck snagging the best rides at Animal Kingdom! if you need help with other parks, make sure to check out our other posts:

  1. FastPass+ Guide : Epcot
  2. Magic Kingdom Fastpass+ Guide
  3. Disney FastPass Secrets
  4. Disney FastPass+ : Skip the Lines!

Pinterest image - Animal Kingdom FastPass

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