Trying to make sense of Animal Kingdom’s FastPass+ tier system or simply looking for the park’s best rides? We’ve got you covered.
The tiers are a new-ish concept that Walt Disney World introduced in 2018 with the opening of many new popular rides.
We built this guide to give you all the info you need to schedule the perfect Animal Kingdom attractions for your vacation. We’ve created a complete breakdown of the FastPass+ tier system, followed by a ranking the Fastpass+ selections from best use of your time to worst.
ANIMAL KINGDOM FASTPASS+ TIERS
As mentioned above, Walt Disney World began assigning Fastpass+ experiences to certain tiers based on their popularity to reduce the number of people on their busiest rides and encourage guests to try less popular attractions.
Thankfully, there are so many great attractions to enjoy at Animal Kingdom that you’ll be able to have a blast no matter where the day takes you. Plus, Animal Kingdom’s tier system is much more favorable than other parks.
So here’s how Animal Kingdom’s Tier System works: Guests select one attraction from Tier 1 and two attractions from Tier 2. Or, you have the option to select three Tier 2 attractions.
At other parks this is somewhat of a tragedy as all the best rides are lumped into the Tier 1 category, but at Animal Kingdom there are only two Tier 1 rides – the rest are up for grabs!
P.S. – After you’re done here, check out our guide to 30 Animal Kingdom Tips & Secrets for tons of helpful advice for getting the most out of the park’s rides, dining, attractions, etc.
ANIMAL KINGDOM TIER 1 FASTPASS+ RIDES
- Avatar Flight of Passage
- Na’vi River Journey
Animal Kingdom’s Tier 1 encompasses the most popular rides at the park, which right now only include those found in Pandora: World of Avatar. Guests are able to select one of these attractions in their Fastpass+ plans for the day.
Whether you are booking online, on the app or at a kiosk, the system will keep track of what you’ve selected. The Tier 1 section will no longer appear once you’ve chosen from that group.
If you’re not happy with your initial selection, you can choose to “modify” that Fastpass and exchange it for another Tier 1 or wait until you’ve used all three Fastpasses for the day to try booking another Tier 1 ride. Read more on how you can do this under Booking Fastpass+, “Additional Fastpass“.
ANIMAL KINGDOM TIER 2 FASTPASS+ RIDES
- Kilimanjaro Safaris
- Expedition Everest
- Festival of the Lion King
- Kali River Rapids
- Meet Favorite Disney Pals at Adventure Outpost
- Rivers of Light: We Are One
- UP! A Great Bird Adventure
- Finding Nemo – the Musical
- The Animation Experience at Conservation Station
- It’s Tough to be a Bug!
At Animal Kingdom, Tier 2 experiences are much easier to book. Guests can select two in addition to their Tier 1 selection, or three of these attractions in their Fastpass plans for the day.
Concerned you may end up with all Tier 2 experiences and no Tier 1 experiences? The best way to secure Tier 1 rides is to look as far out as possible and continue checking regularly till you find your desired experience.
If you are unable to find the rides you want, the best way regular guests can avoid the longest waits are to arrive before the park opens, at “Rope Drop” and head to that experience first, or jump in line when the night show is starting.
If you are staying on property, check the calendar for Extra Magic Hours at Animal Kingdom. These hours will allow you exclusive passage on any ride in the park when regular guests are not permitted to go.
RANKING THE BEST ANIMAL KINGDOM RIDES FOR FASTPASS+
Below, we’ve ranked every Fastpass+ experience available in Animal Kingdom, from best use of your Fastpass to complete waste of a Fastpass.
#1 AVATAR FLIGHT OF PASSAGE (TIER 1)
We’ve chosen Avatar Flight of Passage as our number one Fastpass+ pick because it’s the newest and most notable ride in Animal Kingdom right now. Wait times can climb to 90 or even 120 minutes on very busy days and it’s extremely rare to find the wait below 30 minutes.
It’s most difficult to find FastPasses for this one, but be diligent to look for them – they will often pop up last minute either the night before or even 2-3 hours before your desired time on the day of your trip.
For those yet to experience this one, you’ll be paired with an avatar and virtually take flight on the back of a banshee (a dragon-like creature). The 3D IMAX screen combined with the moving seats will take you through Pandora’s oceans, mountains and forests.
Flight of Passage is not for the faint of heart. It’s recommended that you do not ride this if you are prone to motion sickness, dizziness or fainting and if you are pregnant.
You’ll always find Flight of Passage among our most-recommended Disney “Must-Do’s”.
#2 KILIMANJARO SAFARIS (TIER 2)
Kilimanjaro Safaris is the perfect ride for the whole family, so we suggest that everyone try it at least once if not multiple times at different points in the day. What you see on the safari will vary with each trip.
Wait times are usually around 45 – 60 minutes each day, if not more on busy days, but it’s fairly easy to find fastpasses for this one. The ride vehicle is a large, open-air bus with bench seating, great for spotting animals.
We suggest going early in the morning or right at sunset for the best savannah sights. You can see more in-depth details in the post we wrote about best time to ride Kilimanjaro Safaris.
Also, this is THE ride at Disney where it pays to have a good camera and lens. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to get some awesome shots throughout the ride. You can find some recommendations inside our big guide to gear we recommend for Disney World.
#3 EXPEDITION EVEREST (TIER 2)
Expedition Everest is our absolute favorite ride at Animal Kingdom, maybe even all of Walt Disney World. This is the only true steel roller coaster in the parks, aside from the indoor Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster at Hollywood Studios.
Many parents wonder if this is a good ride for their children and we suggest you read the ride details in our post about how “scary” Expedition Everest is. It involves quick manuevers, backwards motion, an 80 ft drop and an animatronic Yeti – sensitive riders beware!
Wait times usually don’t pass one hour and typically hover between 25 minutes to 45 minutes each day. Fastpasses are easy to book for this one as well these days, mostly due to Pandora helping to spread guests around the park.
#4 KALI RIVER RAPIDS (TIER 2)
Kali River Rapids can have wait times rivaling Avatar Flight of Passage, but since you’re guaranteed to get wet on this one some people forgo the experience.
If you’re up for some fun, get a fastpass and wear a swimsuit under your clothing along with some waterproof shoes. Lockers are also available to hold bags, wallets and cell phones.
This is one of the most thrilling water rides in Walt Disney World and we suggest you go during the day to allow yourself time to dry off – it’s not uncommon for riders to get completely soaked. Or simply pack some decent rain gear. (We’ve got recommendations for Disney-ready rain gear too.)
#5 NA’VI RIVER JOURNEY (TIER 1)
Unlike Kali River Rapids, Na’Vi River Journey involves less thrill and more relaxation. It’s a slow moving water ride that takes you through the Pandora forest to the Na’Vi meeting hall.
Since it’s still so new, wait times can climb to over an hour for this one and we do not suggest you wait that long to ride it. River Journey is much too short for waiting that long and not as exciting as other rides.
We recommend you get a fastpass for this if you’ve never tried it before. Families, especially older couples or parents with babies or very young children, will enjoy this attraction most.
#6 FESTIVAL OF THE LION KING (TIER 2)
Festival of the Lion King is such a consistently great performance it’s a wonder Disney doesn’t charge separate admission for it.
Marvel at broadway-caliber singers, acrobats, dancers, fire-breathers, and large animatronic characters while singing along to familiar songs from the original Lion King. Kids even get the chance to become part of the show for one song.
A fastpass is recommended for Festival of the Lion King to guarantee the best seating possible. If you choose to wait in line, you are not guaranteed a seat and could have to come back for the next performance, but performances happen multiple times a day so this shouldn’t be an issue.
#7 DINOSAUR (TIER 2)
Animal Kingdom’s Dinoland U.S.A. is a section of the park that doesn’t get enough recognition among adults. Children love the county fair-style rides and games, but adults and teens will enjoy Dinosaur, based on Disney’s 2000 movie of the same name.
The bumpy ride vehicle takes you on a time-hopping mission to the Cretaceous Period to find an Iguanodon and bring it back to modern day before the meteor shower hits and destroys all dinosaurs on earth.
Expect turbulence on this one and a 20 – 30 minute wait on average, unless you get a fastpass. The ride breaks down on occasion, allowing you the chance to use your fastpass at another attraction if you don’t get to ride, so that’s a plus.
#8 MEET FAVORITE DISNEY PALS AT ADVENTURE OUTPOST (TIER 2)
Mickey and Minnie are most often the pals you’ll be meeting at Adventure Outpost, along with Dug, Carl or Russell from UP!
If meeting characters is one of the top things on your list of Disney experiences, we suggest you get a fastpass as wait times can be between 15 minutes and up to an hour long.
If meeting Disney pals isn’t quite as important to you, or you’d prefer to use your fastpasses on other attractions, try these instead:
UP! A Great Bird Adventure features Dug and Russell in a stage show where you learn about different birds from around the world. Or just dine at Tusker House for breakfast, lunch or dinner and meet some of the Fab Five (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy or Pluto) without waiting. We’ve got lots of restaurant-related info in the Animal Kingdom Dining Guide.
#9 RIVERS OF LIGHT: WE ARE ONE (TIER 2)
In the past, Rivers of Light was not an impressive night time show and we wouldn’t suggest getting fastpasses for it.
However, Disney recently revamped the show with favorite characters from movies like the Lion King, Pocahontas, Bambi, Tarzan and more, making it a lot more entertaining.
We wouldn’t recommend getting Rivers of Light as a fastpass at the beginning of the day. Instead, book three for the day and then consider Rivers of Light as one of your additional selections after that.
Fastpasses for the show will get you preferred seating with the best views in the amphitheatre on Discovery Lagoon. However, there is plenty of standing room around the lagoon that can give you a decent view.
#10 FINDING NEMO – THE MUSICAL (TIER 2)
Finding Nemo – the Musical is another stage show in Animal Kingdom, this one featuring original music not found in the Pixar movie. It’s a great way to get off your feet in the middle of the day and watch a spectacular performance.
While we love this show, oftentimes it won’t require a fastpass for getting good seats. Many shows are performed throughout the day, so getting good seats is as simple as choosing a time and waiting for approximately 15 – 30 minutes to get in the theater.
We would recommend you get fastpasses if you have small children who want to see the show clearly at the front, or if you are huge Finding Nemo fans, as this is a really good musical.
#11 UP! A GREAT BIRD ADVENTURE (TIER 2)
UP! A Great Bird Adventure is a stage show featuring Dug and Russell from the movie UP! along with professional bird trainers, helping the audience to learn more about different species from around the world.
You don’t often need a fastpass for this show as wait times can be shorter than most, there are multiple shows during the day and the theater seating offers decent views no matter where you end up sitting.
However, if you have a bird-lover in the group, you might like to get a fastpass to get as close to the stage as possible for seeing the birds, asking questions, or volunteering to help the professionals.
#12 THE ANIMATION EXPERIENCE AT CONSERVATION STATION (TIER 2)
While this is a great concept for an attraction, it won’t appeal to everyone. The Animation Experience is perfect for budding artists or people who want to try their hand at drawing popular Disney characters.
It’s a 25 minute class that includes direction from a Disney animator on creating your own movie character based on real life animals. If it sounds like the perfect experience for you, book that fastpass!
Otherwise, most guests will prefer to enjoy the other attractions at Rafiki’s Planet Watch that don’t require fastpasses. Get there by taking the train, located near Kilimanjaro Safaris, visit the petting zoo and learn cool facts from animal care-takers.
#13 IT’S TOUGH TO BE A BUG! (TIER 2)
Last but not least, the beloved and somewhat scary attraction: It’s Tough to be a Bug! This popular attraction is based on the Pixar movie, A Bug’s Life, featuring characters like Flik the ant, Heimlich the caterpillar and Hopper the grasshopper.
The show is definitely worth experiencing at least once as you get to see the inner-workings of the Tree of Life on Discovery Island. Small children may not enjoy the large insect animatronics, scary spiders hanging from the ceiling or the threat of wasps stinging their backs, but it’s an overall cute concept.
Wait times are usually 5 – 15 minutes for It’s Tough to be a Bug! Fastpasses are almost never required for this show and we recommend you don’t waste your valuable time slots on this experience.
Below is a complete guide to booking Walt Disney World Fastpasses. Guests who are more familiar with Disneyland or those who haven’t been to Disney World since paper fastpasses should brush up on how to get the best rides with the updated system.
Once you have your tickets or annual passes to Walt Disney World, your My Disney Experience account allows you to begin booking Fastpasses 30 days in advance, or 60 days in advance if you are staying on Disney property.
To book online, be sure you’ve connected all members of your party to your account. From there, you can select the day, the park, the time and the ride. It’s pretty easy to manage, but the site can be buggy at times, so refresh the page if it starts to lock up on you.
ON THE MY DISNEY EXPERIENCE MOBILE APP
You can use the website to book Fastpasses or you can download the My Disney Experience app to reserve them. We recommend downloading the app for your trip, as it’s a useful tool for seeing daily wait times and booking experiences while you’re in the park.
Whether you choose to use the website or the app, finding the Fastpasses you want can be difficult. We suggest you stay diligent to refreshing the feed and checking at multiple times throughout the day as Disney will release new Fastpasses for popular attractions at random.
Pro tip: Be sure to connect to the Disney World Guest wifi when using My Disney Experience in the park. It’s free, protected and no password is required.
AT THE KIOSK
Walt Disney World does not have Fastpass kiosks in front of each ride as they did in the past. Now, the kiosks are in designated locations throughout each park for guests to use.
Animal Kingdom has four hubs for Fastpass Kiosks. One is located in the Oasis at the front of the park, labeled Fastpass+ Service Center. Another is on Discovery Island before you reach the Tree of Life in the Disney Outfitters Store.
Africa has one kiosk hub located next to the Dawa Bar and Asia has a kiosk at Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain.
As a rule, Disney only allows you to book three Fastpass+ experiences at one park each day. However, if you have used all three Fastpasses for the day, you can book a fourth one. Once you’ve used that one, you can book a fifth one – and so on and so forth until the park is closed.
If you’re looking to be in one particular park for a full day, we recommend you book your first three Fastpasses before 5pm and check the app for additional Fastpasses while you eat dinner to continue the fun into the night.
NEED MORE FASTPASS+ HELP?
We have guides for other park FastPasses too!