Animal Kingdom Hours & Extra Hours Guide

Animal Kingdom Hours

Animal Kingdom hours are usually pretty simple. They have an opening time where guests are able to come and enjoy the park and a closing time where everyone packs up and leaves. But Animal Kingdom has been growing bigger and bigger over the years and they have found ways to extend their hours. Whether it’s through Disney’s after hours parties, Extra Magic Hours, or other events the Animal Kingdom hours are almost always in flux. Let’s take a look at all of the different park operations times that Animal Kingdom has to offer!

  • Animal Kingdom typically opens at 9 AM and closes at 8 PM
  • Animal Kingdom’s Extra Magic Hours typically start one hour before open on Mondays & Saturdays
  • Not all rides are open throughout the day
  • Animal Kingdom’s nighttime show, Rivers of Light, typically starts at 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM
  • Animal Kingdom’s nighttime show, Tree of Life Awakenings, typically starts between after sunset
  • Be sure to use the My Disney Experience app to see all of the Animal Kingdom hours information

That is the short and sweet of it. Of course, these times may vary so be sure to check the Mys Disney Experience app for the most accurate times. There is a lot more that goes into it like how you gain access to Extra Magic Hours and how you can stay at Animal Kingdom after it closes. Now let’s go a bit more in depth.

NOTICE: DISNEY PARKS TEMPORARILY CLOSED
The Walt Disney World parks are temporarily closed indefinitely. 

Typical Animal Kingdom Hours

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Animal Kingdom’s typical hours of operation are between 9 AM to 8 PM. Of course, times do vary depending on if any events are being held. You can view Disney’s official hours for all of their theme parks including Animal Kingdom here.

Extra Hour Events at Animal Kingdom

Extra Magic Hours

Disney offers what they call Extra Magic Hours that let guests enter the parks before they are officially open. Animal Kingdom’s Extra Magic Hours typically start one hour before open on Mondays & Saturdays.

The main benefit of Extra Magic Hours is that you will be able to experience all the park offerings, well most of them at least, with far fewer people around. So how do you get access to these Extra Magic Hours?

In order to attend the Extra Magic Hour events, you must stay at one of Disney’s hotels. Some partner hotels also offer Extra Magic Hours to their guests too. This makes the event more exclusive and is an extra perk to staying on property at Disney World.

With lower crowd levels directly affect the wait times for rides. You will be able to hop on your favorite rides with a much lower wait time compared to regular hours. So attending the Extra Magic Hours event may be what you are looking for if you want to hit up some rides that typically have longer waits like Flight of Passage or Na’vi River Journey.

After Hours at Animal Kingdom

Unlike Extra Magic Hours, After Hours at Animal Kingdom is a ticketed event that takes place in the evening. Only guests with tickets may be allowed into the park after 7 PM and the event ends at 10:00 PM. It doesn’t stay open as late as the other parks since the animals need there rest, but it’s still pretty late in terms of Animal Kingdom hours. You don’t need a regular park ticket to get into the After Hours party, but if you want to get into the park earlier than the start time then you will need a ticket to the park.

Tickets cost around $129 at the time of writing this article and you can purchase them on the Disney World website.

Most of the big name attractions are open during After Hours like Flight of Passage, Na’vi River Journey, and Expedition Everest. Not to mention all of the free snacks that you can get at the party! All you can eat Mickey bars baby!

No Extra Magic Hours or After Hours Tickets? No Problem!

If you aren’t planning on staying on property at Disney World then, unfortunately, there isn’t an option for you to visit Animal Kingdom and take advantage of their Extra Magic Hour offerings. But that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to go and have fun!

Disney hasn’t offered evening Extra Magic Hours at Animal Kingdom in a while so you won’t have to worry about any crowds for that. So you will still be able to go and enjoy the park and if you managed to snag a fast pass for Flight of Passage or Na’vi River Journey then it will be smooth sailing.

All of this applies to the After Hours party as well. You may see more people coming into the park when these evening events start, but by that time you should have been able to do most of the attractions you wanted to do if you plan properly. I know that some sites with crowd calendars say not to visit the parks on days with Extra Magic Hours, but generally, you won’t have to worry about too big of crowds. Plan ahead and it should be like any other day at the park.

Understanding Ride Hours

Kali River Rapids
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Not every ride may be open during your visit to the park. Some rides tend to close a bit early and open late like Kali River Rapids. Who wants to get soaking wet first thing in the morning right? So they tend to open this ride a bit after the park opens. And the truth is that there really isn’t any way to know which attractions will be open throughout the day.

The best way to find out if the attraction you want to visit will be open is to open the My Disney Experience app on your phone or tablet and see what the hours are. It even lets you know if any attraction is currently closed for maintenance and if it will be back up and running later. This app is a must have if you are visiting any Disney theme park and it will make your whole trip much easier to plan.

I mean, you don’t want to plan a visit to Animal Kingdom only to find that the one attraction that you wanted to visit is closed. Even the trails at Animal Kingdom have hours that vary so be sure to check that app or ask a cast member.

Animal Kingdom Rope Drop

If you are visiting Animal Kingdom on a normal day without any Extra Magic Hours, it’s important to know some of the basics of rope drop. Animal Kingdom opens at 9 AM so you will need to be at your hotel’s bus stop by 8 AM if you want to be there when the park opens. This gives you plenty of time to arrive and should get you into the park and through security by 8:45 AM.

Animal Kingdom Nighttime Show Hours

Rivers of Light
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Remember to always check the My Disney Experience app for the most accurate show times.

Rivers of Light Hours

The hours for Rivers of Light vary depending on the time of year. Usually, the earliest it begins is around 7 PM with shows running as late as 10 PM. This show lights up the water with nearly a dozen floats that are decked out with led lights. It’s really lit!…Ooph that one hurt me a little.

Tree of Life Awakenings Hours

Tree of Life Awakenings typically begins after sunset and is a recurring nighttime show. It only lasts for about five minutes but man is it pretty. If you thought that the Tree of Life was a spectacle before then you are in for a treat. All of the projections really bring the tree to life. (See what I did there?) I usually like to wait until the park closes to check it out since they usually run it as guests are leaving a little past closing time.

The park tends to close right around the time that the nighttime shows end at Animal Kingdom. So you may need to decide if you rather take advantage of the low wait times during the show and hop on a few rides before the park closes.

What Time Does Animal Kingdom Open?

As I mentioned, Animal Kingdom opens at 9 AM on regular days. But just because Animal Kingdom opens at 9 AM doesn’t mean you should show up at 9 AM. In fact, we recommend getting there earlier in order to get to the rides that normally have a higher wait time. If you want to get on rides like Flight of Passage or Na’vi River Journey without waiting THREE HOURS then you may want to consider a rope drop strategy. Check back on our site soon for our rope drop strategy.

Animal Kingdom Shows

Animal Kingdom is not only home to many excellent rides it is also home to a lot of great shows as well. You got fan-favorite shows like Finding Nemo and Festival of the Lion King. These shows are excellent and you don’t want to miss them. The thing is that you can’t just walk up and take a seat whenever. These shows have set schedules and you will need to be aware of them before heading in. As I’ve mentioned multiple times, use the My Disney Experience app for the most accurate showtimes.

How to Stay Late At Animal Kingdom

Just because the park is closed, doesn’t mean that you have to leave right away. In fact, a lot of rides will allow you to hop in line right at closing time. I wouldn’t necessarily plan on it being a sure thing or anything, but I have hopped on Flight of Passage when the park was about to close and by the time I got off the park was a ghost town. It really all depends on the ride operators and when they decide to cut the lines off.

Another tip is to skip on all of your merchandise shopping during the day time and shop at night. Some of the stores stay open well past the Animal Kingdom’s closing time. So take advantage and hop on all of your favorite rides during the day and shop at night when the park is closing. This way you can move through all of the stores without bumping into people since most of the park will be empty.

Animal Kingdom Hours Conclusion

So there you have it. As you can see, Animal Kingdom hours are a bit more complicated than you may have originally thought. Remember not all of the rides and attractions may be open on your trip so be sure to check the My Disney Experience app. The best way to make sure that you are going to be able to do all of the things you want to at Animal Kingdom is to use the app. It is a lifesaver and will give you all of the latest updates on wait times, park hours, and ride closures. It really is the only reliable way to check the park hours.

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