Animal Kingdom FastPass+ Tiers And Strategy 2019

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In this post we discuss how to use FastPass+ successfully to ride the best rides at Animal Kingdom in 2019. We suggest also reading our full Walt Disney World FastPass+ strategy to fully understand FastPass+.

If you want to see this strategy at work, check out our one-day Animal Kingdom itinerary, featuring a real example of how we experienced Animal Kingdom in a single day, or our park hopping between Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom post, where we rode all the Animal Kingdom rides in one afternoon using same-day FastPass+ on one of the busiest days of the year.

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THE BASICS OF Animal Kingdom FASTPASS+

Again, you'll want to check out the full Walt Disney World FastPass+ strategy post to make sure you really understand FastPass+, but we want to give those of you who are just looking for the basics a quick introduction.

FastPass+ Allows You To Skip The Lines At Walt Disney World

With FastPass+, a person can book an hour window to come back to certain rides and skip the lines. Since waits for some rides can get to three or more hours (even six hours on New Year's Eve), FastPass+ is an important part of planning your day at Animal Kingdom.

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You Can Book FastPass+ 30 or 60 Days In Advance

Guests at Disney hotels can book FastPass+ for their entire stay 60 days in advance of the first day of their stay. If you're not staying at a Disney hotel, you can book FastPass+ 30 days in advance. You can make bookings on the My Disney Experience app or online via the Disney website.

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Advance Bookings Are Limited (And Go Fast)

When booking FastPass+ in advance, you can book three rides each day. Those three rides must be at the same park. At Animal Kingdom, you can book one Tier 1 attraction in advance and two Tier 2 attractions in advance (or three Tier 2 and no Tier 1). Tier 1 bookings often fill up 30 to 60 days in advance, though you'll see sporadic availability pop up even on the same day.

Does all this FastPass+ stuff have your mind running wild? Well, there is one tool we recommend for people who want help planning their days. Touring Plans offers a suite of tools, including a crowd calendar, wait time predictions, and customized day-by-day itineraries, all for the annual price of $14.95!

Tap / Grab / Modify Gets You The Most Out of FastPass+

Once you've used your three advance FastPass+ bookings, you can get new FastPass+ reservations throughout the day. You simply:

  1. "Tap" your Mickey at the start of the line to use your last FastPass+

  2. Open the My Disney Experience app on your cell phone and "Grab" a FastPass+ for the next ride you want to ride

  3. "Modify" that FastPass+ to the best time you can find

Tap / Grab / Modify will keep you out of lines all day long.

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Animal Kingdom Fastpass Tier 1 Attractions

There are two Animal Kingdom FastPass tiers. Tier 1 has two attractions. Tier 2 has ten attractions. We'll start by discussing the Animal Kingdom Tier 1 attractions. When selecting your three advance reservations for Animal Kingdom, you can only pick one of these attractions. The two Tier 1 attractions at Animal Kingdom are:

  1. Avatar Flight of Passage

  2. Na'vi River Journey

Best Ride To FastPass at Animal Kingdom (Tier 1)

This is a simple call. If you can get a Flight of Passage reservation, you should. Flight of Passage is undoubtedly the best ride to FastPass at Animal Kingdom and in all of Walt Disney World. Lines frequently exceed three hours, and the wait at rope drop can be two hours.

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If you get the Flight of Passage FastPass+, plan to rope drop Na'vi River Journey, which is comparably easier to grab a short wait for. If you can't get an advance reservation for Flight of Passage, then you'll need to get to the park as early as possible (we recommend one hour before park open) and hop in line (and you'll want to use your Tier 1 FastPass for Na'vi River Journey).

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If you don't grab a FastPass+ reservation for Flight of Passage, don't count on being off the ride earlier than 90 minutes after park open. You very well may be off earlier than that, but better to be safe than risk missing a FastPass reservation.

In our post on scheduling your park days, we suggest you try and reserve Avatar Flight of Passage for your second-to-last day at the parks. You want to aim for as late as possible (you'll have better availability later in your trip) but you want to leave a buffer in case something goes wrong (like the ride breaking down).

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You can schedule your Tier 1 FastPass+ for anytime in the day you can get it, but we recommend grabbing something midday to early afternoon (10:30AM to 2PM). This will allow you ample time to visit rides with shorter waits in the morning.

Animal Kingdom FastPass Tier 2 Attractions

There are ten Animal Kingdom FastPass Tier 2 attractions. When making your advance reservations, you can reserve two of these (or three if you don't reserve a Tier 1 attraction). The ten attractions are:

  1. Kilimanjaro Safaris

  2. Expedition Everest

  3. DINOSAUR

  4. Kali River Rapids

  5. Primeval Whirl

  6. Rivers of Light

  7. It's Tough to Be A Bug

  8. Festival of the Lion King

  9. Finding Nemo Musical

  10. Adventurers Outpost Character Greeting

Best Rides To FastPass At Animal Kingdom (Tier 2)

Kilimanjaro Safaris is definitely the best ride to FastPass+ at Animal Kingdom outside of Pandora. FastPass+ reservations go quickly for this one, and lines get quite long.

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Worth noting is that between 11AM and about 4PM you'll see less activity on the safari because the animals relax in the heat. This makes it a tough FastPass+ to schedule because our typical advice would be to schedule your FastPass+ during that time.

But there are two strikes against scheduling it early (say, 10AM). First, the wait for Kilimanjaro Safaris at that time will probably only be 15-30 minutes, not the best use of a FastPass+. Second, Kilimanjaro Safaris is a long ride (20-30 minutes), and you’ll let the waits for the other rides (DINOSAUR, Expedition Everest, Kali River Rapids) go up while you’re on it.

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Overall, we think if you’re a fast-moving, go-get-it kinda family, you should put your Kilimanjaro Safaris FastPass+ in the late afternoon around 4PM to 6PM (the ride closes as early as 6:30PM some days). If you move at a more leisurely pace, schedule it before 11AM so that you can visit Kali River Rapids or Expedition Everest if you’d like, but you’ll be able to at least cut through any wait on Kilimanjaro Safaris.

Animal Kingdom FastPass+ Planning With Kilimanjaro Safaris

If you grab Kilimanjaro Safaris, it's a matter of preference between Expedition Everest, DINOSAUR, and Kali River Rapids for the third FastPass+ slot. We think, generally, Expedition Everest is the best ride to FastPass at Animal Kingdom with your third FastPass because it is the most popular of the three and will be the hardest FastPass to get on the same day (though none of these are particularly hard).

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That said, Expedition Everest has a single rider line, and we've found that in the morning while everyone is in line for Pandora rides, we can get Everest in multiple times.

Geographically, it makes sense to go from Pandora to Kali River Rapids to Everest or from Pandora to DINOSAUR to Everest. If you do this, you'll hit all the major rides except one pretty quickly. Here are two options for what a morning with a rope drop at Pandora could look like:

Your morning should take one of these two routes. Use your third Animal Kingdom Fastpass for the ride you skip.

Your morning should take one of these two routes. Use your third Animal Kingdom Fastpass for the ride you skip.

With this approach, you'd use your third Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ slot for whichever of Kali River Rapids or DINOSAUR you skip. Also, remember that even though crowd calendars might tell you Animal Kingdom is busier on some days, these crowds tend to concentrate on Pandora. This means even on busier days you'll find a lot of reasonable waits outside Pandora.

Animal Kingdom FastPass+ Without Kilimanjaro Safaris

You might miss out on a Kilimanjaro Safaris FastPass+, in which case you’ll want to use your two tier 2 slots for Expedition Everest and DINOSAUR. If you have to have a Rivers of Light FastPass+, you could do that instead of DINOSAUR. Alternatively, those on the Disney dining plan should consider using their credits for a Rivers of Light dining package for great value.

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If you don’t grab Kilimanjaro Safaris, don’t grab Kali River Rapids. The reason is that you’ll probably be heading to Kilimanjaro Safaris early (more on this below), and you’ll be able to walk right over to Kali River Rapids for short wait when you’re off the safari.

Rope Drop At Animal Kingdom

We've covered some of this in passing already, but let's quickly cover what you need to know about rope drop at Animal Kingdom.

Animal Kingdom Rope Drop Part 1 - Pandora

Rope Drop at Animal Kingdom is pretty straightforward: head to Pandora. Typically, gates will open 30 minutes to 60 minutes ahead of scheduled park opening. Try to arrive at the park an hour before scheduled open (90 minutes on busy days). At rope drop, you can enter Pandora only from Discovery Island, and that's where the queue for Flight of Passage will be directed.

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If you don't have a FastPass+ for either Pandora ride, arrive an hour before scheduled open and head straight to Flight of Passage. Then hop on Na'vi River Journey.

If you have a FastPass+ for Flight of Passage, you can arrive 15-30 minutes before open to ride Na'vi River Journey. If you have a FastPass+ for Na'vi River Journey, I'd probably still advise getting there at least 45 minutes before open for Flight of Passage.

Animal Kingdom Rope Drop Part 2 - Tier 2 Rides

If you don’t have a FastPass+ for Kilimanjaro Safaris, you’ll probably want to head there after Pandora. This is fine, but it will usually be better to head there around dusk. With Animal Kingdom attraction hours getting more limited, though, you might be facing a tight window to fit Kilimanjaro in at the end of the day, though.

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The problem with heading to Kilimanjaro Safaris early is that it is a long ride, meaning the other waits will have time to increase. You might be able to walk on the other three rides (Kali River Rapids, DINOSAUR, and Expedition Everest) and then wait 20 to 30 minutes for Kilimanjaro Safaris. That's preferable to walking on Kilimanjaro Safaris and then waiting 15 to 30 minutes (or more) for the other three rides.

That said, we tried out starting with Kilimanjaro Safaris recently and had no issue. For the most part, you probably can’t go wrong here, as long as you understand the trade-offs and have a plan.

Animal Kingdom Extra Magic Hours Pandora Rope Drop

We’ve done Animal Kingdom Extra Magic Hours at Animal Kingdom twice in the past few weeks. Once during a mid-level crowds day (6 on a Touring Plans standard) and once on a heavy crowd day (9 on a Touring Plan standard). Here’s how we fared those two visits.

Animal Kingdom EMH - Pandora - Moderate Crowds. This day we arrived at 7:38AM for 8AM EMH. Gates were already open, and we were in the Avatar Flight of Passage queue at 7:51AM when the posted wait was 75 minutes. We were off Flight of Passage at 8:55AM and in line for Na’vi River Journey at 9:03AM with a posted wait of 40 minutes. We were off Na’vi River Journey at 9:29AM—29 minutes after the rest of the park opened to regular guests.

Animal Kingdom EMH - Pandora - Heavy Crowds. We arrived at 7:17AM, prior to the gates opening. They opened at about 7:25AM, and we were through at 7:31AM and off Avatar Flight of Passage at 8:17AM. We were in line for Na’vi River Journey at 8:25AM (posted 30 minute wait) and off the ride at 8:53AM—in time to beat the regular park opening. Notice that arriving 20 minutes earlier saved us 36 minutes, even though the crowds were heavier.

On most days, it should be relatively easy to finish both Pandora rides 90 minutes after the start of the Extra Magic Hour. Generally, we’d aim to arrive 30 minutes before the posted start, but 60 minutes on busier days (or to be done by park open).

Animal Kingdom Fastpass After Your First Three Reservations

The best post we have showing the power of same-day FastPass+ at Animal Kingdom is our post on park hopping between Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. That post is based on a high-crowd day where we grabbed FastPass+ reservations for every Animal Kingdom ride in one afternoon.

While we always recommend using Disney's official, free My Disney Experience app to snag Fastpass+ reservations, the physical kiosks are located at:

  • At Island Mercantile (shops on the left hand facing the Tree of Life from the front)

  • Outside Kali River Rapids

  • Outside Dawa Bar (near the "front" of Africa if entering from Discovery Island)

We suggest checking the Walt Disney World website to confirm kiosk locations in case they change before we update this post.

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If you manage to put your Animal Kingdom FastPass Tier 1 ride first, you'll be in a good position to tinker your second two reservations to earlier times. Since there is often wide availability on the Tier 2 rides at Animal Kingdom, you should be able to grab a wide range of slots once you’ve used your first three FastPass+ reservations!

All Your Other Disney World Planning Questions Answered

Don't be overwhelmed by Disney World planning! Take a second to check out our most important content and you'll not only be an expert, but you'll save big $$$ along the way.

Just starting out? Check out our Walt Disney World planning guide! If you're still picking dates, we've got everything you need to know about Disney crowd calendars. For picking your hotel, check out our Walt Disney World hotels guide.

When it comes time to book, we've got you covered with posts on how to book cheap flights, how to get the best deal on your Disney hotel, and where to find discount Disney World tickets. And of course everyone wants to know whether or not they should get a Disney World dining plan!

Don't forget to master your Disney World FastPass+ strategy a few months in advance. We'll keep you out of long lines so you can maximize the magical time in the parks! We've got park-specific guides as well: Magic Kingdom FastPass, Epcot FastPass, Animal Kingdom FastPass, and Hollywood Studios FastPass.

Know what to ride with our guides to: Magic Kingdom rides, Hollywood Studios rides, Epcot rides, and Animal Kingdom rides! Plus learn about the water parks with our guide to Blizzard Beach and our guide to Typhoon Lagoon!

Finally, before you head out, be sure to check out our to-the-point packing list, 10 essentials you forget to pack for every Disney trip. And if you're interested in saving, there's no better list than our 53 Ways to Save on your Disney trip from start to finish.