It’s no secret that Disney World has its fair share of long lines. After all, it is arguably the most popular theme park in the world. If you want to experience the magic of Disney without all the waiting in line, the FastPass+ system may be worth your time.
The lines at Animal Kingdom in particular can be especially gruesome. Because of all the animals and jungle atmosphere, Animal Kingdom feels much hotter than the rest of the parks. That can make waiting in line pretty unbearable. With these pieces of advice, though, you’ll be flying through the lines and enjoying everything Animal Kingdom has to offer.
- Editor’s Note: Disney has begun phasing out their popular FastPass system. You can learn more about how to use the replacement for FastPass, which is Disney Genie+ and Lightning Lanes.
What is FastPass+ and How Do They Work?
If you haven’t heard of Disney’s FastPass+ system before, don’t worry. It’s easy to understand and can save you a lot of time on your vacation. You may come across names like “FastPass,” “Fast Pass,” or “FastPass Plus” in your research, but these are all the same thing. Disney World wait times are notoriously long and Disney knows that.
That’s why they created the FastPass+ system. FastPass+ enables you to cut down on your wait time, or completely eliminate it, for rides, attractions, and shows. Anything you have to wait in line for is usually covered by a FastPass+.
Instead of bringing a paper ticket to the parks with you, the FastPass+ system is entirely digital. You schedule your reservations online at the My Disney Experience page or via the My Disney Experience app, then arrive at the parks and skip the lines. It’s that easy.
Not only that, but FastPass+ is absolutely free. The benefits are included in the cost of your ticket. Disney really knows how to treat their guests.
The FastPass+ system works best when you plan in advance, so if you want to make the most of the service, you should try to pick out your FastPass+ choices before your trip. If you stay in a Disney Resort Hotel, you can choose three initial passes for each day of your trip when you book your vacation, then you can schedule more from the app or one of the FastPass+ kiosks in each of the four parks. The initial three for each day of your trip can be chosen sixty days before your vacation starts if you are staying on the Disney campus.
So Many Choices
Of course, planning your FastPass+ choices in advance doesn’t do much if you don’t know which rides have the longest wait times. Here’s a comprehensive list of the rides and attractions with the longest wait times in Animal Kingdom:
- Expedition Everest – Up to approximately 60 minutes.
- Avatar Flight of Passage – Up to approximately 150 minutes.
- Kali River Rapids – Up to approximately 75 minutes.
- Na’vi River Journey – Up to approximately 75 minutes.
- Primeval Whirl – Up to approximately 60 minutes.
- Dinosaur – Up to approximately 60 minutes.
There’s a reason why these rides have such long wait times; they’re all incredible experiences. The only one that might not tickle your fancy is Primeval Whirl. Kids tend to love it, but it can be exhausting for adults because of it’s jerkiness and overall unsteady nature. If you don’t mind that, though, a FastPass+ is a good idea.
As for all the other rides on this list, they are big attractions for Animal Kingdom. The new Avatar rides garner crowds firstly because they’re newer than the other rides, but also because they are gorgeous experiences. If you want to be transported to another world, but don’t want to spend all day waiting in line for it, then a FastPass+ for Avatar Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey are absolute musts.
Keep in mind, though, that you can only use a FastPass+ for one or the other, not both. Because of this, it’s a better idea to get a FastPass+ for Flight of Passage because of the absurdly long average wait time.
Expedition Everest, Dinosaur, and Kali River Rapids are staples of Animal Kingdom, so it’s no surprise these are on the list of long wait times. You’ll definitely want to secure a FastPass+ for the Kali River Rapids; Animal Kingdom gets too hot to skip out on a water ride.
Dinosaur’s line is in an air conditioned building, so if you don’t wind up getting a FastPass+ for it, you’ll at least be waiting somewhere cool. Expedition Everest is the big thrill ride of Animal Kingdom, so it attracts the teenage and young adult crowd. If you’re a family with smaller children, you might want to leave this FastPass+ out and opt for Dinosaur instead.
Rides That Don’t Include FastPass+
There aren’t many attractions at Animal Kingdom that don’t have a FastPass+, but there are a couple. TriceraTop Spin, a slow moving, spinning ride where you sit in a dinosaur of your choosing and fly around in the air, does not have a FastPass+ option. This shouldn’t be too big of an issue; the wait time isn’t usually long.
The only other events that don’t include FastPass+ are street performances and animal exhibits. Again, this shouldn’t be a problem. You happen upon street performers in the parks rather than going to a show, and the animals are scattered around the park for you to view at your leisure.
Planning Your FastPass+ Rides
Now that you have a general understanding of which rides take the most time to actually ride, you can start scheduling your FastPass+ experience. The FastPass+ planning service allows you to choose the time you want to use your FastPass+, meaning you can schedule your day down to the minute.
You certainly don’t have to do that if your family prefers to plan the day as you go, but if you’re the type of family that needs an itinerary, then don’t worry. You will be able to keep a tight schedule.
All of these rides open at 9:00 am, so you’ll have a little competition between them when you plan your schedule. And always keep in mind that you get three FastPass+ tickets when you book your trip. The rest you schedule in the park at a kiosk or via the My Disney experience website and app. Because of that, we will function under the assumption that you are only using the three FastPass+ tickets you can reserve ahead of time.
For your morning FastPass+, go with either Flight of Passage, Na’vi River Journey, or Expedition Everest. If you don’t have any interest in Expedition Everest, definitely go for one of the new Pandora rides. These are more suitable for children. If you aren’t traveling with children, it’s up to your discretion to pick between these choices. It still may be best to go with a Pandora ride because if you hit Expedition Everest early enough, you won’t be waiting as long.
Your afternoon FastPass+ should be for Dinosaur or Kali River Rapids. Both feature cooling experiences, which you’ll definitely want in the heat of the afternoon at Animal Kingdom. It all depends on if you prefer air conditioning or water to cool off. Though, Kali River Rapids has a longer average wait time, and Dinosaur will always be in air conditioning, so perhaps River Rapids is a better choice. You could always use a FastPass+ for Kali River Rapids, then head over to Dinosaur to stand in the air conditioning while soaking wet. Double the cool.
Late afternoon is up to you. The Primeval Whirl FastPass+ would be a good choice if you’re really itching to go on it, but it certainly isn’t among the best Disney World rides. There’s also a Lion King live show, called Festival of the Lion King, that offers FastPass+. The wait time is usually around 30 to 45 minutes, putting this FastPass+ on the low end of the priority scale. Even though 45 minutes seems like a long time, the 150 minutes it takes to get onto the Flight of Passage experience is far longer. After that wait, 45 minutes will feel more like 45 seconds.
So, with all that in mind, here’s a summary of your day with this FastPass+ strategy:
Get to the parks early so you don’t miss your first FastPass+. Arriving early ensures you can travel from the parking lot, if you drove, to the entrance with time to spare or in case your shuttle experiences delays.
9:00 am: Avatar Flight of Passage. There really is no better way to experience this ride. That wait is far too long without a FastPass+. Plus, it’s said to be a truly magical experience you won’t want to miss.
11:00 am: Kali River Rapids. You can always wait in the line at Dinosaur, as annoying as it may seem. You won’t mind too much when you spend an hour in air conditioning, honestly. Kali River Rapids is a more thrilling experience, and the wait is generally longer than Dinosaur, so getting a FastPass+ for River Rapids is the way to go.
2:00 pm: Festival of the Lion King. The wait time isn’t that long, but it’s one of the best shows Animal Kingdom has to offer. When you compare it to Primeval Whirl, you’ll definitely have a more fulfilling experience.
The times between these FastPass+ tickets are perfect for the rides you aren’t using FastPass+ for – Everest can go right after Flight of Passage, Dinosaur after River Rapids, and Primeval Whirl after Lion King.
The other rides in the park – Kilimanjaro Safaris and TriceraTop Spin, for example – can fit in wherever you have room. The Kilimanjaro Safaris would be great between Everest and the River Rapids, and TriceraTop Spin can round off your day.
You can switch around this schedule in the way that best fits your family. Your Disney experience is yours, so you know how to best plan for it. Think about which rides your family would really hate missing, and book FastPass+ tickets for those. As long as you’re aware of when you’re booking them, you’re sure to have a great time.
Animal Kingdom: FastPass+ Worthy?
With the new additions from the Avatar film, Animal Kingdom has become a hotspot for visitors. Before Avatar, Animal Kingdom was known mostly for its Kilimanjaro Safaris, and it is certainly still renowned for that. The shift in interest to the Avatar rides, though, have changed the climate of the parks, making it essential for you and your family to book FastPass+ tickets for Animal Kingdom.
If you do choose to skip out on FastPass+ tickets for Animal Kingdom, be aware of the wait times you’re going to experience. If you want to go on Flight of Passage without a FastPass+, wear very comfortable shoes and maybe even bring a small foldable stool to sit on while you wait. You’ll definitely be there for a long time.
Expedition Everest does have the option to ride solo, which cuts down on your wait. They have a separate line for solo riders that’s usually much shorter than the regular line. If you’re determined to go to Animal Kingdom without FastPass+ tickets, there are ways around it, but is it really worth it when FastPass+ tickets are included in the price of admission?
Overall, it’s a good idea to look into FastPass+ for Animal Kingdom. It’s so much easier to navigate through the parks with a plan in mind and the advantages of waiting in shorter lines or no lines at all are impossible to ignore.
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