Ok, full disclosure, my family and I have lived in Florida for 10 years and, until recently, we had yet to visit Animal Kingdom. We’ve been to all other Disney parks, but since we frequent Busch Gardens and The Lowry Park Zoo, we never found it necessary to trek all the way to Orlando to see animals. Boy, were we wrong!
Let’s face it, even as adults, the minute we approach Disney and see Mickey Mouse shaped everything, we turn into children. We become giddy and excited and the same rang true for Animal Kingdom. My husband and I were so excited, we had to purchase the Disney Magic Bands because clearly the credit card-like devices wouldn’t do. If I’m being completely honest, we weren’t as prepared as we should have been, as I didn’t realize that I could fast pass rides as soon as I bought tickets.
How was I so completely in the dark? It was a definite #momfail.
Mom, We’re Hungry
If your kids are anything like mine, they are hungry every 30 minutes. So, it was no surprise that the minute we entered the park and they saw giant Mickey shaped ice cream bars, they were hungry. The great thing about Animal Kingdom was that we brought our own snacks and drinks (unfortunately, no frose allowed)! Packing our own snacks allowed us to save some money and ensure we were eating healthier choices. However, we still splurged on Mickey shaped soft pretzels and Pongu at the Pongu drink stand outside of Pandora: The World of Avatar ride. Pongu stands for “Party, party” and it was a true party in my mouth. It was a frozen drink with flavors of apple, pear and lime with orange bobo balls on top. I highly recommend making a pit stop, and bonus, there’s a bathroom right around the corner.
Mom, We Have to Go to the Bathroom
Ten was the number of times we used the bathroom. Sadly, this is no exaggeration! The best part of our bathrooms trips was that I discovered the cleanest air conditioned bathrooms. If you or someone in your family has to go, use the bathroom at Tiffins. It was cleaner than the one at Rainforest Cafe! Tiffins is one of the fanciest restaurants in Animal Kingdom and the people were amazingly friendly. Unfortunately, since we didn’t have a reservation, we weren’t able to eat there, but if we were judging by bathrooms and friendly service, they are top on our list.
FastPass is the Secret
Since, I wasn’t able to FastPass prior to arriving at Animal Kingdom, we were forced to stand in line for many of the rides. We were lucky enough to FastPass “Expedition Everest,” a roller coaster based on the Abominable Snowman. It was a fun roller coaster and adventurous enough for my 6-year-old. Unfortunately, we weren’t so lucky when it came to the Avatar ride.
We stood in line for 3 hours. I wish I was kidding, but we did and about an hour in, my 6-year-old decides she has to go to the bathroom. We trekked through lines of people as we made our way down a winding path. After finding a bathroom, we trekked back up the path only to be stopped by a worker. She allowed us to go to a waiting area, where we were able to sit down for the next two hours. Sure, we were separated from the rest of our party, but we got to sit in the air conditioning. If I have one piece of advice, other than FastPass, if you or your child has to go to the bathroom, don’t hesitate, Disney has secret, air conditioned waiting areas!
After waiting in line for one hour and sitting for two additional hours, we made our way into Avatar. The beginning of the ride was amazing, but when we finally made our way into the main ride, my daughter freaked out, like full blown fear set in, and we had to make our way out of the ride and back to the bathroom. As far as my son and husband, they said the ride was well worth the 3 hour wait!
Best Part of Animal Kingdom
The absolute best part of the day was the Kilimanjaro Safari. Finally, we got to see some amazing, beautiful animals. Be warned, it takes some walking to actually find the safari. We traveled through Asia, Dinosaur Land, Pandora, amongst other lands before actually finding Africa, but when we did, it was well worth it.
The last part of our day was spent at the Rainforest Cafe. It isn’t exclusive to Animal Kingdom and again, had I planned ahead, we probably would have hit something more exclusive, however, by the time we ate, it was late and pouring rain. I highly recommend making reservations. If we had to wait, we probably would have just grabbed Chic-Fil-A on the way home.
Absolutely, FastPass, FastPass, FastPass is the only way to go! Don’t hesitate to plan out your trip ahead of time. Ensure you have dinner reservations or you will wind up eating fast food on the way home. If you or your children have to go potty, go to Tiffins! Lastly, have fun! We had a blast, despite the lines, crowds, heat and bathroom trips!