Animal Kingdom Hours
The general operating hours at the Animal Kingdom Theme Park in Orlando, Florida, are pretty standard. Every day starts off with a “rope drop” time, which is the earliest time that guests are allowed to enter the park, and ends with a close time, which is the last time guests are allowed to enter a stand-by line for a ride.
Sounds simple, right? Well hold on.
Disney, in trying to improve user experience, has made things slightly more complicated by adding extra magic hours and after-hours tickets. These special times will be discussed later in this post, but you can jump to them now by clicking these links:
Other Disney World Park Hours:
Normal Hours at Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom normally opens at 8 a.m. or 9 a.m., and it normally closes at 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. The hours vary occasionally by day and/or month. To see the official hours for Disney’s Animal Kingdom, click the picture below:
*** Notice that you can filter the results to view only the park you wish to see.
Animal Kingdom Kali River Rapids Hours
Kali River Rapids at Animal Kingdom is one of the special rides at Disney that may not follow normal park hours. Weather and temperature may affect the start time of the ride.
For example, the ride is normally refurbished during the cold months off January–March. During the cooler months of spring and the early months of fall, the ride may not open until 30 minutes after the park opens and may close 1–2 hours before the park closes.
The only way to determine Kali River Rapids ride times is to check the My Disney Experience app. Clicking on an individual ride in the app will tell you the start and end times.
*** Wait Time Tip: When a ride has a delayed open time, try to arrive about 10–15 minutes before it opens. This will ensure a short stand-by wait time and not use a valuable FastPass+.
To make sure you don’t miss any rides, it’s important to check the closing times of any rides you’re thinking about visiting later in the day. You can check the closing times in the My Disney Experience app.
We’ve even seen the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail close earlier than the scheduled closing time. You don’t want to plan to visit a ride in the last hour of the day only to get there and find it closed two hours early.
Arriving at Animal Kingdom
Figuring out when to arrive at Animal Kingdom can be very complicated. Many factors go into the final decision: Do you have Extra Magic Hours? Do you have small children? Are you going to the after-hours event?
If you do decide to go to Animal Kingdom at rope drop, I suggest you read our Animal Kingdom Rope Drop Strategy post. This post will break down your two main options and what to do in each scenario.
Extra Magic Hours
A perk of staying in Disney hotels (and select partner hotels) is that you get Extra Magic Hours with a valid ticket. Guests with Extra Magic Hours get early park access, typically one extra hour in the park on select mornings and for certain attractions.
Extra evening hours are pretty much nonexistent at Animal Kingdom. You can view upcoming Extra Magic Hour times on the Disney website by clicking the picture below:
We briefly discuss Extra Magic Hours at Animal Kingdom as part of our Animal Kingdom rope drop and Extra Magic Hours strategy.
Different attractions are open during Extra Magic Hours depending on whether they are morning extra hours or evening extra hours. For a complete list of open attractions and their times, see our Animal Kingdom Extra Magic Hours Rides post!
*** Remember, you must be staying at a Walt Disney Hotel (or partner hotel) to use Extra Magic Hours as well as a valid ticket for regular day admission.
Animal Kingdom After Hours
As mentioned earlier, there are really no extra magic hours for Animal Kingdom in the evening. Instead, this park has Animal Kingdom After Hours. Unlike Extra Magic Hours, which are for any guest staying in a Disney Hotel with a valid ticket, After Hours is an extra ticketed event on select evenings throughout the year.
On days that have After Hours, special ticketed guests have access to the park from 7 p.m. to 3 hours after the park’s close. Regular park admission is not needed to access After Hours, but you won’t be allowed to enter the park until 7 p.m. on the day of the event.
Tickets cost around $129 per person ($99 for Annual Passholders) and are available for purchase on the main Disney World website.
The available rides are open during Animal Kingdom After Hours:
- Avatar Flight of Passage
- Na’vi River Journey
- Pandora Drummers – Swotu Wayä
- Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain
- Mickey & Minnie Greeting at Adventurers Outpost
- Rivers of Light: We Are One
- Tree of Life Awakenings
- It’s Tough to be a Bug!
- TriceraTop Spin
After-Hours: Is it Right For You?
After looking at the attraction list, you may be thinking that the Animal Kingdom After Hours ticketed event may seem like a pricey option. And you’re right — it is a pricey option. But you need to consider a few things before making your purchasing decision:
- Who is attending?
- Do you have small children?
- Have you been at the park all day?
- What do you want to do during the event?
Lets’s break down these questions. Who is attending is a major factor. If you have small children, you have to think about if they will be able to last until three hours after close. As much as we like to believe in the power of magic at Disney, we all know that if you have young children who get tired from being at the park all day, the magic will disappear. Trust us.
And let’s face it — none of us are getting any younger. We just came back form a 4-day Disney adventure, and going from park open to close exhausted us.
For this after-hours ticketed event, we would suggest to NOT go to a park from rope drop and then go to the after hours event. Not only will you be exhausted that day, but you will not be back to your hotel until at least 12:30 (assuming you stay until midnight). Trying to get up early the next morning will be unenjoyable. This is especially true if you have tired children tagging along or if you had already spent a few days hitting the parks.
Our Animal Kingdom after-hours planning strategy is simple:
If you are going to go to a park during the day, take a break before the after-hours event at Animal Kingdom. You might miss a couple hours at the park, but the hours you spend there will be much more enjoyable.
No Extra Magic Hours
There is nothing wrong with not having Extra Magic Hours at Animal Kingdom. Never feel like you can’t have just as much fun as someone staying on a Disney Resort property! If you are lucky enough to score the Avatar Flight of Passage Fast Pass+, then you are way ahead of the game, and maybe even ahead of those with Extra Magic Hours.
If you have already ridden any of the Avatar rides (Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey) or have a Fast pass+, you will find that you can ride many of the tier two rides in the park without having extra magic hours and be finished with your “itinerary” before noon.