The Best Time to Visit Disney's Animal Kingdom

Island Mercantile

 Disney

The most important part of timing your Disney vacation is deciding what time of year is best for your needs. Once you have chosen your dates, selecting the right park to visit at the right time will help you avoid delays and long lines. Like most Disney parks, the best time to visit Disney's Animal Kingdom is in January or September when the weather is mild, crowds are thin, and prices plummet.

Head to the Animal Kingdom first thing in the morning on the right day of the week, and you'll spot plenty of animals on Kilimanjaro Safaris. Show up just a few hours later on a wrong day and you may find yourself facing a two-hour wait to ride Expedition Everest.

The Best Days to Visit Animal Kingdom

If you are staying at one of Disney World's on-site resorts, you will be able to get into the Animal Kingdom an hour early on select mornings for Extra Magic Hours. This perk is only offered to resort guests and is a time that you can enjoy the park with relatively low crowd levels. Compared to other parks, Animal Kingdom has limited Extra Magic Hours, so be sure to check before your trip to avoid disappointment.

Extra Magic Hours on Saturday and Monday mornings will bring plenty of resort guests to the Animal Kingdom theme park, so avoid this park on those days if you are staying off-site. By the time you are admitted, there will be guests in line at every popular attraction.

The Best Time of Day to Visit Animal Kingdom

While it is a good idea to show up first thing in the morning at any Disney Park, it is particularly important to head to the Animal Kingdom when it opens. If you are visiting during one of the hot summer months, you won't see many of the animal inhabitants by the afternoon, since they will retreat to the shadiest spots in their enclosures to escape the heat.

If you are visiting during a slow time of year, head to the Animal Kingdom in the afternoon without worry; the park will begin to empty out around 3 p.m. Skip the Animal Kingdom in the afternoon if you are traveling during a crowded time — not only will the park be packed, but most FastPass+ will have completed distribution for the day as well.

Give yourself about a half hour to reach the Animal Kingdom in the morning if you are relying on the Disney transportation system, and about 15 minutes if you are driving your own car. (If you are a big fan of the Animal Kingdom theme park, consider staying at the adjacent Animal Kingdom Lodge. The Lodge offers plenty of educational activities and live animal viewing; it is also just a 5-minute bus ride away from the entrance of the Animal Kingdom theme park.)

The Weather at Animal Kingdom

Central Florida is hot and humid during the summer, with highs above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, but cool and sometimes wet in the spring. It's generally pleasant in the fall, and winter at the Animal Kingdom often serves as a great respite from cold weather in the north, offering sunny afternoons and mild evenings. While Florida doesn't usually get hit hard by hurricanes, they do affect weather at Walt Disney World, and hurricane season runs from June through October.

Spring

Spring can be a great time to visit Animal Kingdom, but crowds can be intense due to spring break. If you visit during the spring, try to visit during May before Memorial Day weekend to avoid overcrowding. Planning a spring break trip? Make your hotel reservations and other bookings well in advance!

Events to check out:

  • Animal Kingdom usually holds a celebration for Earth Day, which takes place in mid-April.

Summer

Florida summers are hot and humid and it's also peak season across all of Disney's park—Animal Kingdom is no exception. Highs can sometimes reach into the 90s Fahrenheit, but the humidity can make it feel much, much warmer. While summer isn't the best time of the year to visit, you can make your visit much more enjoyable by getting to the park early, before the hottest part of the day, and then spending your afternoon's relaxing by your hotel's pool!

Fall

Once the kids have gone back to school, Animal Kingdom is much less crowded. September and October are great months to visit, with weather that isn't nearly as stifling hot as July or August. November can also be a good time to visit, but you'll want to avoid Thanksgiving week. If you visit after Thanksgiving weekend, you may discover no lines at all! Note that Disney does not put up its holiday decorations until December 1.

Winter

The holidays are, predictably, a busy time for the park, but the festive decor and special events make it a fun time to visit. If you want the benefit of mild winter weather minus the crowds, plan your visit for January; just be sure to avoid federal holiday weekends, like Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Events to check out:

  • Disney After Hours usually takes place from December through April. On these special ticketed nights, park visitors have extra exclusive access to attractions, snacks, and more.
  • Walt Disney World marathon weekend takes place in early January each year. While the Magic Kingdom is the main backdrop for the race, the course takes runners through each of the parks, including Animal Kingdom.