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Navigating Our Disney Site

Hints and Tips visiting Walt Disney World

Disney Diary: Disney's Animal Kingdom
Take our escorted virtual tour of Disney's Animal Kingdom.
DAK Updates
Updates and other links.
DAK - Entrance
The Virtual Tour starts here.
DAK - The Oasis
The Oasis - the entrance to Animal Kingdom.
DAK - Safari Village
Safari Village - the hub of Animal Kingdom.
DAK - March of the ARTimals
Photos of the March of the ARTimals parade.
DAK - DinoLand
DinoLand U.S.A. - Countdown to Extinction; the Boneyard.
DAK - Discovery River
Discovery River Taxi (formerly Boat Ride).
DAK - Asia
Asia, DAK's newest area.
DAK - Africa
Africa: Harambe village.
DAK - Kilimanjaro Safaris
Kilimanjaro Safaris.
DAK - Pangani Forest
Pangani Forest Exploration Trail.
DAK - Conservation Station
Take the Wildlife Express to Conservation Station
DAK - Camp Minnie-Mickey
Festival of the Lion King; links
DAK - Guidebook
Each of the panels of the Animal Kingdom Guidebook.
DAK - News
Press and Web news links about Animal Kingdom
DAK - News Clips
Press and Web news clips (text)
Walt Disney World Visit Tips
Hints and tips on visiting WDW from our experiences. You are Here!
Walt Disney World - Hotels
Personal reviews and recommendations on staying at WDW
Saito Family News home page
Monthly newsletter about our family.
Saito Family News - March
March newsletter - Animal Kingdom personal pics.
Epcot: World of Motion
Andrew's NEW World of Motion memories site.
Disney's International Program
Andrew's experiences with this program. NEW!

Visiting WDW - Hints & Tips

From visiting all four of the theme parks at Walt Disney World - Magic Kingdom, Disney/MGM Studios, Epcot and Animal Kingdom - at both high and low seasons - we've got some suggestions for your visit to Disney World.

What do you want to see?

First, determine what you're trying to accomplish with this visit. Is this the one and only time that you're likely to go? If so, you'll want to take in all of the highlights of all of the parks.

For most people, especially if you have children, you will likely return to WDW periodically. We've typically been back every three years since 1972, so we try to cover the new attractions and visit our favourites. This way, we can spend two days each time we visit (using multi-day hopper passes - see below).

The park guidebooks - Birnbaum's Official Guide to Walt Disney World, and the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World - are worthwhile reading. They are updated every fall, so the 1998 books are written in mid-1997. Most public libraries have these books. They're quite helpful in determining what attractions you want to visit and give you suggestions to minimize wait times.

Buy multi-day hopper passes

Your best buy is multi-day hopper passes (discounted by AAA or your Disney hotel). Unused days never expire! We've usually had a total of 5 to 8 days of admissions on our unused hopper passes for a family of 5, and since the prices are always rising, you're buying future admission days at lower rates.

Be aware that passes purchased before Animal Kingdom opened (April 22) are not valid at Animal Kingdom. They are still valid at the other three parks - Magic Kingdom, Disney/MGM Studios and Epcot. For your Animal Kingdom visit, you can either upgrade your current passes at the ticket booths (they will credit you unused days), or purchase new passes. You may want to keep your current passes for use at the three parks if you've only got a day or two left, and upgrade to four park passes if you've got most of the days remaining.

If you're staying on WDW property, what about the Length of Stay pass? You need to determine what you're going to do to see if it's worthwhile. If you're going to go to a major park every morning, then to the water parks midday, back to a major park for dinner and the evening and a couple of Pleasure Island evenings, then it's worthwhile. Otherwise, take a look at the 5-day Park Hopper pass and buy a day at Blizzard Beach and Wet n Wild.

Pace yourself and the kids

If possible, take a day off in between your visits. To minimize wait times, be at the entrance gates to your chosen park at least 30 minutes prior to opening. Find out opening and closing times. You'll see that Animal Kingdom is open early -7am- and closes at 8pm; MGM usually is open 9am to 7pm; Epcot 9am to 9pm (nightly Illuminations); Magic Kingdom varies the most. They usually let you in 30 minutes earlier than posted times. Plan to head directly for the rides that have the longest lines -

Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Railroad, Space Mountain, ExtraTerrorestrial, and Dumbo at Magic Kingdom;

Tower of Terror II, Indiana Jones and Star Tours at MGM;

Honey I Shrunk the Audience, Energy and Wonders of Life at Epcot (and Test Track when it opens);

and Countdown to Extinction, Kilimanjaro Safaris and (especially) Festival of the Lion King at Animal Kingdom.

When it gets busy...

For the three parks - Magic Kingdom, Disney/MGM Studios and Epcot, when the lines start getting long (45 minutes?) typically about 10:30 am, head for the attractions on your list that don't have long waits. Every park has an attractions information/chalkboard near its entrance that lists the wait times and suggestions for riding.

When these attractions also get lines (noon), then my suggestion is to head out of the park (make sure you get your hand stamped and keep your tickets and parking receipt for reentry) go back to your hotel and vegitate - sit by the pool, have a nap, lie on the beach - until about 5pm.
Then head for a local restaurant and have a good dinner then back to WDW. Check park closing hours, and plan to head for your "A" list of attractions over the last three hours.

For Animal Kingdom, after nine months of operation you should consider arriving at the park before opening or after lunch, line up an hour early for the Festival of the Lion King show, then head for the Jungle Book show. By 4pm the lines for the top attractions are much shorter (although DAK closes early at 6pm in the fall/winter season) - so take in Countdown to Extinction while you're in DinoLand, then Tough to Be A Bug at the Tree of Life, then to Flights of Fantasy at Asia's Caravan Stage, over to Africa for Kilimanjaro Safaris, Pangani Forest and Conservation Station, and try to get on one of the last Safaris again - you'll probably see the most animals when the lorries aren't running back-to-back.

Your comments and suggestions are always welcome - send an email to:
ronsaito@hotmail.com