|This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers or for which we receive a referral bonus. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Referral, Affiliate, and Advertising Policy|
In this post we discuss how to use FastPass+ successfully to ride the best rides at Animal Kingdom in 2018 and 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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
"Tap" your Mickey at the start of the line to use your last FastPass+
Open the My Disney Experience app on your cell phone and "Grab" a FastPass+ for the next ride you want to ride
"Modify" that FastPass+ to the best time you can find
Tap / Grab / Modify will keep you out of lines all day long.
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:
Avatar Flight of Passage
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.
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).
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).
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:
Kali River Rapids
Rivers of Light
It's Tough to Be A Bug
Festival of the Lion King
Finding Nemo Musical
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.
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.
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).
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:
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.
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. At rope drop, you can enter Pandora only from Discovery Island, and that's where the queue for Flight of Passage will be directed.
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.
The problem with heading to Kilimanjaro Safaris early is that it is a long ride, leaving 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 Fastpass After Your First Three Reservations
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.