What to Know About Visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom During the Pandemic

Animal Kingdom reopening

Courtesy of Walt Disney World News

When Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park reopened July 11. If you’re planning to head to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic there are some things you need to know. 

Entering the Park

Entering the park is easy at Disney’s Animal Kingdom because the entry plaza is so large. You will need to get your temperature checked and go through the security checkpoint before entering the park. Both are the same standard procedure as the other Walt Disney World theme parks. 

One difference about Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park is that there is no need to "rope-drop" this park compared to the others. (Rope-dropping means being at the park right when they open to experience as many attractions as possible before the park gets busy later.) Since reopening, all attractions have had very short waits, even in the middle of the day, so there’s really no need to rush to the park first thing in the morning. 

Attractions and Rides

Attractions and rides at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park are all using social distancing measures, including markings on the ground and skipping rows on ride vehicles. Rides that are enforcing skipped rows include Dinosaur, Expedition Everest, and Kilimanjaro Safaris. 

If you’re planning on visiting Pandora: The World of Avatar, you’re in luck because both rides in this land have had wait times consistently under 30 minutes since the park opened. In fact, on Avatar: Flight of Passage, Disney cast members are inviting guests to rejoin the ride queue from the exit queue, which drops guests off in the FastPass line. In the three years Pandora: The World of Avatar has been opened, this has rarely happened. 

One ride that is permanently closed is Primeval Whirl inside DinoLand U.S.A. Along with this ride, the nighttime show "Rivers of Light" has also been permanently canceled. 

Events and Performances

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park is known for its incredible shows like "Festival of the Lion King" and "Finding Nemo: The Musical." Both of these shows are temporarily closed, but should reopen in the near future. 

Even though you can’t get up close to see characters, you can still have character experiences at the park through character cavalcades. The unique aspect of cavalcades at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park is the setting; they take place on boats around the Discovery River. The cavalcades go around the entire park, and you’ll know they’re coming with the music blasting form the boats. Character cavalcades include Mickey & Friends Flotilla, Goofy And Pals Set Sail, Discovery Island Drummers, Donald’s Dino Boat Bash, and the Discovery River Character Cruise. The best places to see the cavalcades is from the Rivers of Light theater, the bridge to Pandora: The World of Avatar, and the bridge to Africa. 

Restaurants and Dining

Dining at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park right now can prove to be challenging. There are only two table-service restaurants open inside the park. Both Tiffins and Yak and Yeti Restaurant are available for table-service dining, and they require a reservation. (Note that Rainforest Cafe is open, but you enter the restaurant after the security check and before the touchpoint for your ticket.) You can dine at a quick-service location like Restaurantosaurus, or Satu’li Canteen, but you will be required to mobile order through the My Disney Experience app to be let in the door. 

Because the park has a limited capacity and wait times are short, you'll find that you might run out of things to do sooner than expected, so keep that in mind as you're choosing a dinner time—you might not want to wait around for a later reservation. If you want to eat in the park, spend the morning at your hotel, and arrive at the park about an hour before your meal reservation time. Then, hit the attractions after your lunch or dinner. 

Other Things to Know

  • It will not take you the entire day to do everything at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. Go here on your arrival or departure day to spend more time at the parks that will take the whole day, such as Magic Kingdom or Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  • The animal trails at the park are open, and with fewer crowds in the park, this is the perfect time to explore without a lot of people. 
  • The later in the day you stay at the park, the less crowded it will be. Around two hours before closing, you could walk through entire lands without seeing anyone but a few cast members. This is the time to ride some attractions multiple times consecutively. Cast members might ask if this is something you want to do. 
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