Animal Kingdom was a day I was really looking forward to. There’s something about that park that just has a more relaxed vibe to it, especially because we would not need to purchase and navigate Genie+ or LL for the day. However, relaxed is not how we began the day. My family is a bunch of troopers and appeased me with good attitudes about our super early morning.
Rope Drop Strategy for Animal Kingdom
- Park opens: 8:00 (7:30 for on property guests)
- Leave hotel: 6:10 AM
- Mode of Transportation: drive our cars and park in AK lot (free parking for onsite guests)
- No Genie+ or Lightning Lane
- Rope Drop: Flight of Passage (44”) (if Lacey is not tall enough, get rider swap at entrance), then straight to Safari (line will be ~45 minutes). Then Everest (44”).
- Other Rides: River Rapids (38”), Tough to be a Bug, Navi River
When we took the exit for Animal Kingdom we were surprised and confused by it’s CLOSURE. Had we missed something?! I frantically started texting Christen (it’s cool because she’s an early riser, too) and she responded with “oh my gosh tell me I didn’t get you there that early.” We didn’t mind at all though and I actually felt immense pride in accomplishing a feat that Christen herself hadn’t yet experienced, haha!
Apparently they don’t remove the cones into the parking lot until 6:30 AM so we were the first of the first arriving there a few minutes before they even opened. The parking attendants waved us into the very first parking spot as we entered and congratulated us (on being complete Disney nut jobs, ;)).
It was such a funny start to the day, but it paid off. We were at the very front of the line and, conveniently, the bathrooms were right next to us at the entrance. When they opened the park we led the flow of people directly into Pandora and to Flight of Passage.
It is amazing to me how quickly people file in, though. It’s not like we just strolled along; we had to move along at a good pace, especially having to stash the strollers as we hopped into line. We aren’t the only dedicated Disney rope droppers!
Being able to walk right onto Flight of Passage was super cool. Luckily Lacey was tall enough and we all enjoyed getting to fly on the back of a Banshee. We then scooted right next door to walk right onto the Navi River ride, as slow cruise, but with beautiful details.
Afterwards we hightailed it across the park to get in line for Safari. The animals are most active in the mornings and evenings, so it behooves you to try and go during those time periods. Lucky for us, the line was only about 40 minutes, so we waited.
The safari was fabulous! Being that I’ve been on it twice before, I knew it wasn’t uncommon to not see all the animals, but we lucked out with seeing so many- giraffes, rhinos, hippos, zebras, elephants, and even a LION, among others.
We kept things moving and headed straight to the last of the super popular rides, the roller coaster Everest. It had about a 30 minute wait through it’s detailed and entertaining que. Like the other coasters, poor Hailey had a mini melt down in line. It probably makes us look like terrible parents forcing her to ride, but afterwards she usually loved the experience, so push we did.
Sorry for the photo kiddo, but I wanted to capture the reality. At least we know we have no need to schedule a trip to Carowinds or any other amusement park…
As predicted, afterwards we was just fine! It was starting to heat up at this point of the day, so we took a few minutes for a shady snack, then slowly made our way around the park exploring.
We watched the kites driven by jetskis on the lake, visited the gorillas, played a few fair games, watched some street performances in Africa, dipped our cooling towels into ice water multiple times, and experienced what it was like to be a bug (It’s Tough to Be a Bug is one of my favorites at Animal Kingdom).
For those wondering if we regretted renting a stroller for our 10 and 8 year old… absolutely not. In fact, I might have rented a double if I was going again, ha! Maybe not, but I was tickled by the fact that the bigger kids wanted their turn in the strollers, too.
By the time our 12:45 lunch reservation rolled around, we were all ready for a break from the sun and some grub. We had hoped the Tusker House would be able to accommodate our group of nine at the same table (you can only make reservations for up to 8 people but if you ask they can sometimes combine you). However, we had to split, but we were all hungry enough that we didn’t mind too much.
The Tusker House used to be a buffet but now it is served family style, so you stay at your table as characters make their way around to visit. Call me a big kid, but I LOVE the characters. They are engaging and friendly and they don’t rush by. I was so happy to see the girls still enjoyed them so much, too.
The food was quite good. It started with a simple salad, then a bread and roll platter with chutneys and other sauces, then the main dishes that included chicken, pork, steak with chimichurri, rice, potatoes, vegetables, and a shrimp curry. Mom doesn’t eat much meat, so they brought out a vegan curry, too. They will also bring you as much as you like, and we ordered a second salad and a second main dish plate. They serve three little desserts, which we all split as we left more than satisfied!
After lunch it was close to 2:15. We discussed whether we wanted to stay or go, but at that point we had done all of what we had wanted to do, so we headed back to our car in that very first parking spot. 😂
We drove back to The Beach Club where we changed into suits and enjoyed the lazy river, a lengthy game of pool volleyball (the sandy bottom of the pool is the best!), and the pirate slide before thunder moved in late afternoon. Then we showered, ordered pizza (my brother used Uber Eats to get Flipper’s Pizza, which was delicious), and we all met to devour pizza and watch the sotrm outside make it rain sideways, before heading off to bed. Another successful day in the books!