Here’s the Big Mistake People Make at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

There’s so much to love about Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It offers awesome attractions, delicious dining, and a unique atmosphere. But are you selling the park short?

Tree of Life Awakenings Projection Show
Tree of Life Awakenings

Here’s the big mistake lots of people make at Animal Kingdom!

Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened its gates on April 22nd, 1998, and up until very recently, Animal Kingdom was known for closing several hours earlier than the other Disney World Parks. With no fireworks or nighttime spectaculars in the park, the earlier closing time made sense.

But in 2017, the opening of both Rivers of Light and Pandora — The World of Avatar brought new nighttime entertainment to Animal Kingdom — and extended Park hours to match.

Rivers of Light: We Are One

But given the Park’s history of early closing times and the lack of fireworks, many guests still make the big mistake of leaving Animal Kingdom before nighttime. Even though guests can’t wrap up their day with the “bang” of a fireworks show (no pyrotechnics allowed, for the safety of the Park’s animals), this park still has so much unique nighttime entertainment to offer!

Pandora at Night

Kilimanjaro Safaris at Night

With the later hours, guests have the opportunity to ride Kilimanjaro Safaris at night, which offers a totally different experience than the daytime safaris. And it’s not just the change in lighting! The animals tend to be much more active at nighttime, so guests can often see normally dormant animals, like the lions, up and roaming around.

Nighttime Ride on Kilimanjaro Safaris

Expedition Everest After Dark

And speaking of rides that offer a different experience at night, we love riding Expedition Everest after dark! The coaster offers some really cool views of Animal Kingdom, as well as other parts of Disney World property. And catching these views at night offers a different perspective. Plus, the ride feels a little extra exciting in the dark!

Expedition Everest

Pandora at Night

Both of the rides inside Pandora are indoor, so the attractions don’t necessarily change after dark. But just roaming around Pandora at night is a breathtaking experience that rivals the attractions inside the land! This area of the park totally transforms, with glowing plants and pathways that provide a completely immersive atmosphere. You haven’t truly seen Pandora until you’ve visited both during the day and at night!

Pandora’s Floating Mountains

Rivers of Light: We Are One

And even though there aren’t fireworks in Animal Kingdom, you can still catch some beautiful shows! In Asia, guests can catch Rivers of Light, a nighttime spectacular that combines water, sound, and light to celebrate the beauty of all living things. While it admittedly isn’t as flashy as the other nighttime spectaculars across Disney World, it’s still visually stunning with a touching theme. And it could be the perfect fit if members of your party can’t handle the loud explosions of a fireworks show!

Rivers of Light

Tree of Life Awakenings

Plus, you can also catch Tree of Life Awakenings, a gorgeous projection show that dances across the Tree of Life after dark. And while it isn’t the most elaborate show in Disney World, seeing the Tree of Life come alive is beautiful. Also, shows run roughly every ten minutes from dark until the Park closes, so there’s no need to stand in line or stake out a spot for hours. You can stay for as little or as long as you’d like, which makes it a relaxing way to end your day at Animal Kingdom!

Tree of Life Awakenings

We could make the argument that Animal Kingdom transforms at night more so than any of the other parks. So, the next time you visit Disney World, we encourage you to stick around Animal Kingdom after dark. You might just find yourself “awakened”!

What is your favorite nighttime experience at Animal Kingdom? Let us know in the comments!

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2 Replies to “Here’s the Big Mistake People Make at Disney’s Animal Kingdom”

  1. Just walking about AK, in the evening. It is so beautiful. Like in all the parks. The evening takes on a much different ambience. More so in the AK Park.

  2. That’s part of what will be missing with AK closing at 6:00 during this time. We will miss riding the rides after dark, seeing Pandora lite up after dark, and the Tree of Life lite up.