If you’re looking for an Animal Kingdom one-day itinerary that doesn’t involve purchasing Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lanes, then is post is for you!
In this guide, I’ll walk you through an entire day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom without paying for Genie+ while still being able to maximize your time and money. From watching all three shows to eating the best snacks in between rides, this one-day itinerary will be easy on your knees and wallet.
If you are looking to plan your park day with Genie+ then this article probably won’t help you. But if you still want to have a wild time at Animal Kingdom without having to run around, I got you.
Before you even scan into the park, the first thing you should do is look at all of the rides, attractions, and shows that you want to check out and then make a note of the ones you absolutely need to experience, followed by the ones you’re okay with missing. Thankfully, Animal Kingdom can be a half day park, so you can easily knock everything out without spending the entire day there.
If you’re a first time visitor, I recommend that you try to hit the following attractions:
- Avatar Flight of Passage
- Expedition Everest
- Kilimanjaro Safaris
- Festival of the Lion King
Anything additional will be a bonus.
As for food, I only have two solid recommendations – Flame Tree Barbecue and Nomad Lounge.
You should also make a note of all the snacks you want to devour. This list will help!
Who is this for?
This Animal Kingdom itinerary is great for adults and big kids who don’t want to buy Genie Plus.
Animal Kingdom Itinerary without Genie+
Here is my one-day itinerary for Animal Kingdom that doesn’t require you to pay for Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lanes, but it’s still packed with so much fun and good eats.
Animal Kingdom always opens up at 7:30 am for Early Entry and 8:00 am for all other guests.
You don’t necessarily need to rope drop this park since you can actually knock out quite a bit of the attractions during the late afternoon and evening. However, if you do arrive later in the day, there’s a good chance that you’ll miss the Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo: The Big Blue and Beyond.
But for the sake of this post, let’s say you arrive at 8:00 am.
As soon as the rope drops, you have two options – go to Avatar Flight of Passage or head to Na’vi River Journey. I recommend starting with Na’vi River Journey since it has a pretty low wait in the morning and stays long throughout the day.
After Na’vi River Journey, I would make my way to Expedition Everest. The wait time of Expedition Everest should be that crazy at this point with an average time of 38 minutes. You can even opt for the Single Rider Line which is usually significantly shorter.
After you get off the coaster, I would then head to Dinosaur. This ride generally has a low wait time during the evening, but during the day, it’s not terrible. You can expect a wait of around 29 minutes.
After Dinosaur, you can then head to Triceratop Spin. It’s not the best ride, but it always has a wait of around 7 minutes, so it’s worth a stop, especially if you like those Dumbo type of rides or if you have little ones.
By the time you get off of either Dinosaur and/or Triceratop Spin, it will be close to the first showtime of Finding Nemo: The Big Blue… and Beyond at 11 am.
This is a fun indoor, stage show that lasts about 25 minutes.
After the show ends, it should be around 11:30 am, which is the perfect time to grab lunch at Flame Tree Barbecue.
Around noon, since you’re already near the Tree of Life, I recommend that you pop into the fun 3D show, It’s Tough to Be A Bug. The average wait time for this is 10 minutes and it never changes.
After It’s Tough to Be a Bug, this would be a great time to walk the Maharajah Jungle Trek to admire the tigers, tapir, bats, and birds. Right outside the trail is Kali River Rapids, but that ride is terrible so unless you like water rides and don’t mind walking around the park soaked, I would pass. If anything you can come back towards the end of the day and ride it before you leave the park.
After snacking, it should be around when you can start heading into the theater for the Festival of the Lion King show.
Once the show ends, I would quickly make my way to Kilimanjaro Safaris which will normally have a pretty low wait time of 25 minutes or less, according to Thrill Data. On some days, it’s even a walk-on. After this, you can then walk the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail at your own pace to see some African hippos, gorillas, meerkats, and birds.
If you are still a little hungry, the I would get the grilled corn on the cobb dipped in butter and topped with African spices from Harambe Fruit Market. It’s a pretty good walking snack.
Around 3:45 pm, I would then head towards Avatar Flight of Passage. For some reason, the wait time around 3:45 pm is sometimes lower than normal, making it a good time to hop in line before the late afternoon crowds starts pouring in to the park.
Once you get off Avatar Flight of Passage, you pretty much knocked out every major show and attraction at the park.
You could then either stop for a drink and some light eats at Nomad Lounge, do some ride repeats (since wait times will be pretty low for Everest and Dinosaur) or just leave the park. I would even use the rest of the day to meet some characters, if that’s something you’d love to do.
Hopefully this Animal Kingdom itinerary without Genie Plus has given you some ideas to plan a wild park day!
Example Itinerary #1 – Half Day
Here’s my favorite half-day Animal Kingdom itinerary that I personally use when I visit in the late afternoon.
- 4:00 pm – Scan into Animal Kingdom
- 4:10 pm – Kilimanjaro Safaris
- 5:00 pm – Expedition Everest
- 5:40 pm – Dinosaur
- 6:20 pm – It’s Tough to be a Bug
- 6:40 pm – Na’vi River Journey
- 7:35 pm – Grab a Night Blossom and Pongu Lumpia before heading to your last ride
- 7:40 pm – Avatar Flight of Passage
- Park Close – Head on out
I’m not a huge fan of Na’vi River Journey, so if this doesn’t interest you, I would check to see the wait for the Nomad Lounge to grab some light apps and drinks before heading towards Avatar Flight of Passage.
Example Itinerary #2 – Full Day
Here’s a solid itinerary if you plan on visiting at park opening.
- 8:00 am – Scan into Animal Kingdom
- 8:05 am – Head to Na’vi River Journey
- 9:00 am – Ride Expedition Everest
- 9:45 am – Go on Dinosaur
- 10:20 am – Ride Triceratop Spin
- 11:00 am – Watch Finding Nemo: The Big Blue.. and Beyond
- 11:30 am – Eat lunch at Flame Tree Barbecue
- 12:15 pm – Watch It’s Tough to Be a Bug!
- 12:45 pm – Walk the Maharajah Jungle Trek
- 1:15 pm – Get a snack at Tamu Tamu refreshments
- 2:00 pm – Watch the Festival of the Lion King
- 2:30 pm – Go on Kilimanjaro Safaris
- 3:15 pm – Walk the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail
- 3:45 pm – Get in line for Avatar: Flight of Passage
- 5:00 pm – Grab a drink or a light meal at Nomad Lounge. You can also use this time to do any ride repeats, meet any characters, or leave the park.
This schedule is a little tight, but generally on a non-holiday weekday, such as a Wednesday, you can for sure knock out a majority of the rides and attractions without being there from park opening to closing.