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Last updated: July 10, 2023
FROM INSIDE WALT DISNEY WORLD, Disney buses are the only free option for getting to Animal Kingdom from on-property resorts, but service from many resorts is erratic.
DRIVING Animal Kingdom is in the southwest corner of Walt Disney World; from I-4, take Exit 65 for Osceola Parkway, then follow the signs. The Animal Kingdom Lodge hotel is about a mile from the park on its west side; Blizzard Beach, Coronado Springs Resort, and the All-Star Resorts are also in the vicinity.
Animal Kingdom has its own vast paid parking lot with close-in parking for guests with disabilities. Disney usually opens the parking lot about an hour before official park opening. Once parked, you can walk or catch a tram to the entrance.
Animal Kingdom is arranged somewhat like the Magic Kingdom, in a hub-and-spoke configuration. You enter the park through The Oasis, a set of lush, green, pathways past waterfalls, streams, and forests.
All of the paths get you to the same spot: a bridge to Discovery Island. Dominated by the park's central icon - the 14-story hand-carved Tree of Life - Discovery Island is the park's retail and dining center.
From Discovery Island, guests fan out to access the themed areas: Africa, Asia, DinoLand U.S.A., and Pandora.
Discovery Island also hosts a theater attraction in the Tree of Life and several short nature trails. You should be able to take in all of Animal Kingdom in one day—but we encourage you to take your time.
'Rope Drop' refers to cast members using a length of rope to hold back crowds until the park opens. After the rope is dropped, guests can head to their first ride.
ANIMAL KINGDOM is usually the first Disney World park to open in the morning, and the first to close. Expect it to open around 8 a.m. daily, and earlier during holidays and other times of peak attendance.
Disney resort guests who want to take advantage of Early Theme Park Entry should arrive 60 minutes before official opening (30 minutes before Early Entry).
Off-site guests (who aren't eligible for Early Theme Park Entry) should arrive 30 minutes before official opening on all days.
Once you're in the park, you'll usually find all of Pandora, along with It's Tough to Be a Bug, Expedition Everest, Dinosaur, and TriceraTop Spin already open. Kilimanjaro Safaris usually opens when the park opens to the public.
You almost certainly don't need Genie+ or Individial Lighting Lane at Animal Kingdom if:
Otherwise, you may want to consider Genie+ or Individual Lighting Lane if any of the following apply to you:
Regardless of the time of year you visit, arriving at park opening should allow you to see at least two headliner attractions without significant waits.
Since only around a dozen Animal Kingdom attractions participate in Genie+, it's unlikely you'd need more than three or four reservations per day.
On days of heavy attendance, though, the lack of attractions means you'll be competing with lots of people, which pushes out return times and limits how many Genie+ reservations you can obtain.
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