I’ll be the first to admit that before moving to Florida, my expectations of Animal Kingdom were similar to many folks….it’s a glorified zoo. Hop on a few fast rides, hitch a ride on the safari and call it a day by late afternoon. I’ve now come to fully appreciate the park SOOOO much more but it’s all in the approach. And even better….the park is now open at night with some awesome additions!
My general guide for Animal Kingdom is to take the opposite approach that most people do with Disney parks….ride ride ride till you drop. Animal Kingdom is meant to be taken slowly, embraced, appreciated. Disney has really done a fantastic job of creating a life and culture of Africa and Asia (notice I’m not mentioning you carnival style DinoLand blah).
For any first time visitors, I suggest the Lion King show (don’t miss), Africa street performance band Burudika LOVE THEM, and for all kids, the Wilderness Explorer program which is free, fun, and very informational! Here’s the flamingo gal below!
Disney provides quite a bit of street entertainment as the sun starts to set and the nighttime atmosphere comes alive. This is part of the Harambe Wildlife Parti performing soccer tricks and gymnastics to get the night started.
Later on at the Harambe Wildlife Parti has an acrobatic show. It started with a drummer walking through Africa and it turned into a parade of visitors following him to the performance area….a really fun vibe!
The Kilimanjaro Safari ride continues for special nighttime rides as well. Huge HAPPY TIP for you here – it used to be that the best time to see the animals was close to sunset…think 6-8pm. With the introduction of the nighttime safari, a lot of animals are “getting ready” (their areas are being cleaned) before the nighttime visitors. So the best time to see them now is right when it gets dark which in the summer is around 8:30-9pm. I won’t spoil the surprises of the nighttime ride, but I will say it’s definitely worth it!
Discovery Island Carnivale is new nighttime entertainment as well. It starts off with performers playing music and dancing then it turned into a full dance party which was full of awesome music and energy!
Once the sun starts to set, here is what you’ll want to see! The Tree of Life comes alive at 9pm and has an AWESOME 10 minute projection show similar to the one on the castle at Magic Kingdom. It’s beautiful AND repeats throughout the hour – totally worth watching!
Sigh. Animal Kingdom’s main nighttime attraction “Rivers of Light” was supposed to premiere this summer and is not quite ready. What you get instead is “The Jungle Book: Alive with Magic.” Unlike Fantasmic at Hollywood Studios, there ARE bad seats in this show. To sum it up….projection images on water with Bollywood type dancing. Another huge HAPPY TIP for you here….if you do not have a FastPass, you will need to enter the standby area in DinoLand. I did not see this marked anywhere and it’s a long haul.
One concern that I had about Animal Kingdom at night was given the amount of shade provided during the day by the trees, would it be too dark to see my kids at night? Disney has done a really nice job of tastefully lighting the areas as seen in this walk thru in Africa.
Overall I love the extended hours and think Animal Kingdom is definitely worth seeing at night!!! You won’t want to miss it!