12 VIP Animal Kingdom Tips & Secrets

Did you know that with over 500 acres, Disney's Animal Kingdom is the largest Disney theme park in the world? That's a lot to see and explore whether you've been a dozen times or are going for the very first time.

The best part, there's fun to be had for both adults and little kids. More than you might realize.

Visit the park like a pro with these insider secrets and tips.

Insider Animal Kingdom Secrets & Tips

12 Insider Tips & Secrets for visiting Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park like a pro
Insider Tips & Secrets for Disney's Animal Kingdom park
  1. Use the Secret Entrance. There is a second, less frequented entrance to the theme park at the rear of the Rainforest Cafe gift shop. This is a great way to avoid early morning lines at the main entrance. This is our favorite VIP tip! 
  2. Go in the morning if you want to spot the most animals on the Kilimanjaro Safari jeep ride; however, ride in the afternoon to avoid the crowds. If staying at a Walt Disney World hotel, take advantage of the extra magic hours to Visit Pandora. The line starts to form before the 8 a.m. entrance time though, so be prepared to wait, however, it's totally worth it, just head straight to the new Avatar Land. 
  3. Visit at Night too. It's a whole new world in the evening with different animals appearing on the safari. There are  new activities only available in the evening like the popular Rivers of Light show (do get a Fast Pass+ for this water and light spectacular) and Pandora, World of Avatar where the grounds and plants light up with bioluminescent lighting. It's a whole different experience and worth checking out. Also, the famous Tree of Life comes to life in the dark with an animal light show too.
  4. Every Safari Ride is Different - Don't just ride the Kilimanjaro Safaris once. Each tour guide shares different stories and you can see different animals at any given time. I’d recommend starting and ending your visit to Animal Kingdom by going on this amazing up-close and personal, African animal safari trek. Also, you can impress your fellow riders by pointing out that the pond where the flamingos are in is a hidden Mickey.
  5. Hidden Mickey's can be spotted here too. It’s reported that there are 27 hidden Mickeys in the park. Sorry, I did not go looking for them outside the above-mentioned pond and a few others.
  6. Hairbands of Everest -  On top of Expedition Everest the ride, before it goes backwards, there is a collection of guest hair bands. Have you thrown one there? 
    Hair bands of Everest
  7. Look down. Watch where you’re stepping. Look down and you’ll notice leaf impressions, mud cracks and animal prints along the walkways. See how many you can spot. In Pandora, these cracks and shapes light up at night. 
  8. Spiked Dole Whip - You can get a grown-up version of the famous Walt Disney World treat – Dole Whip – with rum and without the wait at Tamu Tamu in Africa. It’s the adult version and just as satisfying and refreshing on a hot day.
     Dole Whip Float with Rum

  9. Water art - Outside the entrance of the theme park there are cast members with a bucket and broom appearing to be cleaning up trash, but they are actually there to delight guests by drawing water art on the pavement depicting classic Disney characters. Cast member Brittany drew us a large Minnie Mouse!

  10. Starbucks & Tea. Tea lovers like me can rejoice in finding specialty loose leaf tea instead of the standard tea bags at the Royal Anandapur Tea Company stand in the Asia section of the park. Coffee lovers, there is a Starbucks too, it just doesn't overtly look like one. Also, remember to grab a park-only exclusive Animal Kingdom Starbucks ‘You Are Here” collectible mug before you leave.

    Where is Starbucks at animal kingdom
    Creature Comforts Starbucks at Animal Kingdom 
  11. Green Beer - Order the green beer called "Hawkes Grog," from Satu’li Canteen in Pandora. It is definitely Instagram worthy! They sell wine there too.

    Hawkes Grog (Green Beer) at Pandora Disney's Animal Kingdom
    Hawkes Grog - Green Ale
    • There is a playground too. The Boneyard and DIG site is a giant playzone in DinoLand U.S.A. that’s ideal for kids to let off some steam and run around and have tons of fun. Even those not tall enough for rides will enjoy this area. Don't stay just by the slides and canopy area just inside the gates, but cross over the bridge walkway to the shaded dig area to uncover fossils too. Pails and shovels are provided. Great place for parents and kids to cool off. Be sure and check out All The Toddler Play Areas At Walt Disney World

    Fun Fact: There are approximately 320 animals carved into the Tree of Life, which is not a real tree of course. 

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