Are you planning a trip to Disney World in the waning months of this year? Maybe you were thinking about Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, or the brand-new Jollywood Nights event. Well, move over other night-time plans, there’s a brand new contender for your time. In November and December, Animal Kingdom will host Extended Evening Theme Park Hours (EETPH) for the very first time.
The Extended Evening Theme Park Hours perk lets guests of select resort hotels remain in the park up to two hours after closing. Eligible hotels are Disney’s Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resorts, as well as the Swan, Dolphin, Swan Reserve, and Shades of Green. Need to book a trip to take advantage of this limited opportunity? A Destination Specialist at TouringPlans Travel can hook you up (at no extra cost to you).
2023 Extended Evening Hours Dates at Animal Kingdom
Extended evening hours are available at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park in 2023 on
- November 8
- November 22
- December 4
- December 28
If you’re a TouringPlans subscriber, you’ll see the notation under “What to Look Out For” on the Crowd Calendar.
What Will Be Open During Extended Evening Hours at Animal Kingdom
The following attractions will be open during Extended Evening Hours
- Avatar Flight of Passage
- Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
- It’s Tough to be a Bug!
- Meet Favorite Disney Pals at Adventurers Outpost
- Na’vi River Journey
- TriceraTop Spin
What to Expect
Animal Kingdom typically closes at 7 p.m., so these will be the earliest of the Extended Evening Theme Park Hours. Even those who aren’t night owls can attend and still be out of the park and back at their resorts by 9:30 or so. Still, if it’s just about the rides, Animal Kingdom is fairly straightforward to cover in a single day under average crowd conditions. Neither November 22 (the day before Thanksgiving) or December 28 (Christmas week) will be average crowd conditions. So, it’s pretty hard to predict how crowded these will be. Here’s what you need to know if you’re planning to take advantage of Extended Evening Hours at Animal Kingdom. (Or trying to decide whether you should.)
Extended Theme Park Evening Hours Typically Do See Lower Crowds
However, those lower crowds aren’t evenly distributed. Waits can still be significant at the super-headliners. At Magic Kingdom, a popular thought is “Hey, we’ll skip Seven Dwarfs Mine Train during the day and do it during Extended Evening Hours!” The results are predictable – the wait is lower, but not quite as much lower as you might expect until at least the second hour. Flight of Passage should see a similar effect.
Sunset Is Great for Kilimanjaro Safaris
In the hot, hazy days of summer it’s common to hear advice to ride the Safari in the morning when it’s cooler and the animals are more active. Even though they’re more active throughout the day in the milder temps of November and December, there’s still an uptick in activity around sunset. In my personal experience, rides far enough after sunset to require artificial lighting are lacking, despite Disney’s efforts to make the attraction more friendly to low-light conditions. So it’s not a big loss that it won’t be open during the Extended Evening Hours.
Animal Kingdom Is Just Beautiful at Night
In my book, this is the biggest reason to take advantage of the Extended Theme Park Evening Hours at Animal Kingdom. Pandora especially was designed with luminescent materials to have an entirely different look and feel at night, but it’s really true of the whole park. Expedition Everest has a totally different feel when you ride it after dark.
Suggested Touring Strategy for Animal Kingdom Extended Theme Park Evening Hours
- If the shows are important to you, arrive early enough to fit them into your schedule.
- Then, take in the trails, do Wilderness Explorers, or other self-paced activities until it’s time to ride Kilimanjaro Safaris.
- Aim to ride the Safari between 5 and 6 p.m. – sunset is around 5:30 this time of year, and civil twilight ends at about 6.
- Get dinner; this should cover most of the remaining time until EETPH officially begins.
- Make your way around the park from Africa clockwise, riding in this order
- Expedition Everest
- Triceratop Spin
- It’s Tough to be a Bug!
- When you arrive in Pandora, ride Na’vi River Journey before getting in line for Avatar: Flight of Passage
Are you excited for Extended Theme Park Evening Hours in Animal Kingdom? Let us know in the comments!