In this ULTIMATE Animal Kingdom with toddlers guide we cover everything you need to know about spending the day in this park. It covers the best Animal Kingdom itinerary for toddlers alongside our toddler friendly Animal Kingdom tips, rides and meet and greet information to help your little one have a great day in the park.
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Is Animal Kingdom Good for Toddlers?
In our opinion, YES Animal Kingdom is good for toddlers. In fact Animal Kingdom is one of our favorite parks at Disney world for toddlers.
The reason for this is because Animal Kingdom does not require or indeed have many thrill rides. Therefore most things in the park can actually be enjoyed by children of all ages. For more information on the best age for Animal Kingdom check out this post.
Animal Kingdom with toddlers tips
Do I need to rope drop Animal Kingdom with a toddler?
One of the questions we are asked no matter what Disney park we are talking about is, “Do I need to rope drop with a toddler?”
Rope dropping, for this who do not know, is where you get to the park before opening, and being there for when they drop the rope to get into the various lands at opening.
To do this you will need to be at the park between 30 minutes to an hour before the advertised opening time, (depending on how busy the park is expected to be)
Usually, though not always, Animal Park is the first of all the Disney World parks to open. Now it really does depend on the day as to what time the park opens so be sure to check the Disney app at least the day before you travel to be sure you know when opening is on your desired day.
However Animal Kingdom opening hours can be as early as 8am with 7:30am opening for those on-site guests who get early entry.
One of the reasons people usually decide to rope drop is to do the signature ride or big thrill ride first thing in the day before the crowds get too big. And Animal Kingdom is no different.
Most people who rope drop Animal Kingdom will head straight to Pandora as Avatar: Flight of Passage queue gets very long very quickly.
However toddlers are not allowed to ride this because of the height restriction. If you are traveling to Animal Kingdom with toddlers but would like to ride this using rider swap then we recommend getting their during Early Magic Hours and heading straight for this ride.
The other Pandora world ride,The Na’vi’ River Journey ride, is however suitable for toddlers and can also get a very long queue. For this reason we recommend whether or not you plan on riding the Flight of Passage, to head into Animal Kingdom for Early Magic Hours and Rope drop and heading to this area first.
Do you need Genie+ for Animal Kingdom with toddlers
Out of all of the parks I would say that Animal Kingdom has the least need to Genie +. The reason for this is because there are a lot fewer rides at this park.
However if you want to ride a few of these rides twice i.e. Na’vi River Ride and the Kilimanjaro Safaris this can be useful. It is also really helpful if you want to get some priority seating at some of the Animal Kingdom shows which can be hugely popular.
If this is your plan I would recommend that you ride the rides first without Genie+ while the queues are shorter and then use Genie+ later in the day when the lines have got longer.
Best Animal Kingdom Rides for Toddlers
As I mentioned above, ANImal Kingdom has fewest rides out of any of the Disney World parks and there are relatively few that don’t have height restrictions.
Some of our toddlers favourites were:
- Triceratops Spin
- The Na’vi’ River Journey
- Kilimanjaro Safaris
But for a more detailed list of the best animal kingdom rides for toddlers check out this post as this includes a description of rides and suitability for those of a nervous disposition.
Don’t Miss the Shows
One of my favorite things about visiting Animal Kingdom with toddlers, even compared to other Disney World parks such as Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot is the sheer amount of shows that are toddler friendly.
Some of our favorite shows to do with toddlers at Animal Kingdom are:
- Festival of the Lion King
- Finding Nemo Musical
- Feathered Friends in Flight
We recommend checking all of the times of the shows and making sure you leave plenty of room in your itinerary for them. The best way of doing this is to check the Disney World app and planning this into your animal kingdom itinerary for toddlers.
It is worth noting that the Festival of the Lion King is extremely popular so it is worth arriving early to ensure you get in. Alternatively this is available via the Genie + App if you decide that Genie is worth it for Animal Kingdom.
Please note the Feathered Friends in Flight is an open air show with very little shade. For this reason we recommend doing this either early in morning or late in the afternoon when the sun isn’t as strong.
Do some character dining
Character dining at any park is a great way of meeting characters without a queue. However Animal Kingdom has my favourite character dining experience out of all the parks in the form of Tuskers House.
Tuskers House sees you meet classic Disney characters such as Mickey, Goofy, Donald and Daisy in their safari gear. This is a great way to meet lots of characters while getting out of the sun and avoiding long queues with toddlers.
We recommend going for breakfast as we find it is better value if you are traveling to Disney World On a budget.
Don’t Miss out on the Animals
The clue is really in the title of the park but Animal Kingdom is really more about the Animals than it is about the rides. In fact Animal Kingdom has the fewest rides of any of the Disney World parks however you don’t miss them. The reason for that is because of the great animal encounters you can have here.
Of course when you think of Animal Kingdom you think about the Kilamanjaro Safaris. This was definitely a highlight for our toddler at Animal Kingdom and we recommend going there as soon as the safaris open (Usually at main opening rather than during Early Magic Hours).
The reason for this is because the Animals are more active during the morning or evening as they are on a real life safari.
However on top of the Kilimanjaro Safaris there are plenty of Animal Kingdom animal encounters that your toddlers will love.
There are three exploration trails at animal kingdom that toddlers will love including:
- Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail – next to the Kilimanjaro Safaris
- The Oasis – near the front of the park and
- Maharajah Jungle Trek – in the Asia area of the park.
We love these areas as they are great places to let your little one get out of the stroller at Disney and blow off some steam.
There is also Rafiki’s Planet Watch which has a petting zoo and conservation area including a veterinary area which my six year old adored.
Meet and Greets at Animal Kingdom for Toddlers
Meet and Greets aren’t as big a thing at Animal Kingdom as in Magic Kingdom or Epcot for instance. But there are some.
We met several characters from Up in this park and enjoyed character dining with the classic characters in Safari gear at Tuskers House.
Hit an Animal Kingdom Playgrounds for Toddlers
One of my toddler’s favorite things to do at Animal Kingdom (after the Kilimanjaro Safari and NA’vi River Journey ride) was the Boneyard playground.
This outdoor playground is themed after an archaeological dinosaur excavation.
It is an absolutely huge playground with lots of slides, ropes for climbing and of course a dig area. Toddlers will love this and you will find it difficult to drag them away.
We usually use this area to let our toddler blow off some steam while we rider swap Dinosaur which is relatively nearby.
For more information on the best playgrounds at Disney World check out this post.
Take a stroller
Animal Kingdom has a huge footprint compared to some of the other Disney World parks. To walk between Pandora to the Kilimanjaro Safaris for instance is quite a distance for little legs.
We therefore recommend that you take a stroller with you to Animal Kingdom for toddlers. There is plenty of stroller parking near all the main attractions but we recommend that you make your stroller distinctive with our some our Disney stroller hacks to ensure you can find it at stroller parking.
What to take for Animal Kingdom for Toddlers
We recommend checking out our what to pack for Disney World with toddlers post as this applies to whatever Disney World park you are visiting with toddlers.
However somethings I think it is worth pointing out again include:
We have a list of best snacks for Disney World and you will need them at Animal Kingdom as you don’t want a hangry little one in the queue.
Many of the Animal Kingdom rides and experiences are outdoors with little shade so it is really important to have plenty of sunscreen with you for this park.
For more information on what to wear to Animal Kingdom for families check out this post.
Animal Kingdom Itinerary for toddlers
So now you have our Animal Kingdom with toddlers tips here is our ideal Animal Kingdom itinerary for toddlers that we have tested over a couple of visits.
This itinerary also doesn’t presume that you have Genie+ as we don’t think it is necessarily needed unless you are visiting a t a very busy time such as Thanksgiving or Christmas.
If you do have genie+ however we recommend following the morning itinerary and using GEnie+ later in the day when the queues get bigger.
Early Magic Hours / Rope Drop
We recommend getting to Animal Kingdom for Early Magic Hours if you are staying on site or getting their for rope drop for those staying off site.
As soon as you head into the park we recommend that you head straight for Pandora, the World of Avator. You will find that most people do this.
If you want to ride Flight of Passage, which is by far and away the most popular ride at Animal Kingdom and one which queue gets very large. Therefore we recommend using rider swap first thing in the morning for this ride if you intend on riding.
And while the adult and toddler wait, we recommend they ride The Na’vi’ River Journey. This was one of my toddler’s favorite ride at Animal Kingdom and is very gentle and is a sensory delight.
And once you do the rider swap the other person can take your toddler on this ride a second time.
Next we recommend heading straight to Kilamanjaro Safaris. Animals are more active in the morning than the afternoon so you will definitely more from the experience going at this time.
Also if you go for when this rides opens usually at park opening hours (not early magic) the queue usually will be under 30 minutes.
IF you have time between this and the breakfast we recommend next (we usually book breakfast for between 10am-10:15am) having a wonder
Once you are off this ride and have done the Gorilla Falls Trail we recommend you head to Tuskers House for a character breakfast. Please note: this as a character breakfast should be booked 60 days in advance but it is always worth asking on your day in case there are cancellations.
Late Morning – Early Afternoon
After a breakfast at Tuskers we recommend heading to The Festival of the Lion King Show. This is truly spectacular and is something that my toddler absolutely adored.
After that we recommend heading round to the Dinosaur land were your little one can blow off some steam at the Boneyard playground and go on the Triceratops Spin ride.
Note: if your toddler is still napping we recommend heading to Everest and doing rider swap while your little one sleeps. This is one of my favorite rides in any Disney Park but is not suitable for toddlers so this is the perfect time to do this.
If you have genie+ we recommend booking this for nap time at the start of the day or when available.
We recommend heading to the Nemo Show in the afternoon as it is a great way of getting out of the heat. It is a really toddler friendly show.
After that we recommend grabbing some dinner before
See the Tree of Life with its projections before heading home.
And there you have our ULTIMATE Animal Kingdom for toddlers guide (itinerary included). Do you have any other tips for visiting Animal Kingdom with toddlers? We’d love to hear in the comments below.