How To Do the Animal Kingdom With Kids When You Don’t Have A FastPass
When Mr. L and I came on our first Disney vacation ( before becoming locals) we skipped the Animal Kingdom thinking it was a ‘glorified zoo’.
Once we became residents and Annual Passholders, we quickly learned that the Animal Kingdom was far more than a zoo and is an amazing Disney park for younger kids.
Kilamanjero Safaris is one of our faves, but you generally always need a FastPass ( unless you hit it up later in the evening or first thing…which is ideal anyway because a lot of the animals sleep in the high heat of day).
However, if you happen to be at Animal Kingdom at the last minute ( which happens to us frequently) and without a FastPass, there are still plenty of ways to have a wild time! (Sorry to be so cheesy…I couldn’t help myself)
Without further ado, here are some of the best ways to spend a day at the Animal Kingdom with kids…no FastPass required!
Wilderness Explorers is an interactive scavenger hunt where kids can go all around the park to complete various activities and earn badges, all while learning all about animals, plants and habitats. It is incredibly thorough and would be hard to finish in one day. But, it keeps kids really engaged and, best of all, it is completely free!
Youngsters can pick up their explorer’s Field Guide at the park entrance (right before heading into Discovery Island). Plus, the guide makes a fantastic free souvenir, even if you don’t finish all of the activities.
UP! A Great Bird Adventure Show
Kids will love exploring tropical and unique birds from around the world with Dug and Russell from UP in this live stage show, which just opened in mid-2018. You will find it in the Asia area of the park.
The show is roughly around 30 minutes long and is in a mostly shaded outdoor amphitheater, which makes it a great way to rest and beat the heat.
Dinoland probably tops the list for my kids when it comes to their favorite Disney places. Mostly, it’s because of the boneyard. Think “playground on steroids.”
Guests enter the boneyard through one gated entrance, which is always monitored by a cast member.
Then, there are multiple slides, ladders, fake caves and fun things to climb on for children of all ages. The highlight of the area is the fossil dig.
It’s basically a ‘Disney-fied’ giant sandbox. But, when you need a place to sit down and beat the heat, it’s a fantastic option.
The area is all shaded and you can keep the kids entertained for a while.
(Pro tip: If you have multiple members in your party and young children, this is a great place to ‘camp’ with the kids while the adults split up and take turns to go over and ride Expedition: Everest.)
Find The Beat in Pandora
In perfect Disney-like theming, Pandora boasts an area known as Swotu Waya, Avatar speak for ” “sacred place of song.” Huge drums are in the area, and guests are allowed to beat until their hearts content. WIth multiple drums, it is easy to get a chance and the kids love running through the area and banging….uh, making….. their own music.
Stick around for a while and you can catch the Na’vi Drum Ceremony, a fun show that feels small and intimate due to audience participation and the ability to sit really close to the performance area. Kids are frequently allowed to get in on the action, as well.
Character Meet and Greets
The Animal Kingdom has some super fun characters that you can’t find in the other parks ( at least not during regular park hours). Kids will love collecting autographs and taking pictures with Pocahontas, Rafiki, Baloo, Louie, Flik, Russell, Dug…and, of course, Goofy, Pluto, Mickey and Minnie. Our favorite is Timon, because Jessie is in a bit of a Lion King phase 🙂
Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail or Maharajah Jungle Trek
These walk-through attractions are pleasurable strolls that you get up close with Gorillas, Hippos, Tigers and more. They are two separate areas, but each also have nice aviary areas with unique birds.
Picture guides are available which help kids go on a mini-bird scavenger hunt. Jungle Trek also has some gorgeous themeing and instagram-worthy walls to snap a family photo.
The Rivers of Light Night Show
If you make it until evening without a meltdown ( or come back to the park after naptime), the Rivers of Light Show is fantastic, especially if kids are sensitive to fireworks.
Due to the animals being in the park, the show is done with just lights, water and music…so no loud booms that can scare the kids. You may hear differing opinions about whether or not you need a FastPass.
However, I have done the show several times both ways and have found that we actually sometimes get better seats doing standby and have never once been turned away.
Another bonus tip: If you need to kill some time right before the 8:30 Rivers of Light show, head to Restaurantosaurus in Dinoland. There are typically plenty of tables inside where you can relax. We do this on nights when it may be a bit chilly or want a light snack before heading to the show.
Finally, you can always catch the shows Finding Nemo or Festival of the Lion King. Generally, fast passes are not required, but on more crowded days they can definitely be helpful. For that reason, they are merely getting an honorable mention on my list.
Check out this post on the #MouseFanMonday DisneyLinkUp at Veravise.com