Complete Guide to Animal Kingdom After Hours

Disney After Hours has turned into a pretty popular option for those wanting a slightly different experience than the norm. It first started as an option at Magic Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios offers it as well.

Things are a little bit different at Animal Kingdom, most notably because of the nature of the park. Dealing with live animals and their safety put some limitations on after hour fun and excitement, but there is still plenty to do for those interested.

The information provided below should help people make the right decision on whether or not it fits their needs before purchasing tickets. For a spacious park, time can fly by in a hurry before getting to do too much. What might be worth it to some, will not be worth it to others.

What exactly is Disney After Hours? How does it work at Animal Kingdom?

Disney After Hours at Animal Kingdom is open to anyone who wishes to purchase a special ticket for the event. Disney puts a strict limit on the number of ticket sales each day, so the park never feels packed at all. This makes it very easy to see all the different attractions with minimal wait time at even the most popular attractions (ex. anything related to Avatar).

Since Animal Kingdom is a park that most people are used to during the day, it can feel like a different place at night. To maximize the ticket, entering shortly after 7 PM is the way to go. The actual event runs from 9 PM to midnight.


For 2020, there are three different prices for people to get in. The cheapest option is available for those who are annual passholders and Disney Vacation Club members. They can get tickets ranging from $95-$99, depending on the time of year.

Any person who wishes to purchase tickets in advance can purchase them for $129. This is the set price for adult and children. Purchasing tickets on the same day is $139, and those people run the risk of the event selling out before getting the opportunity. 

Children under the age of three are allowed in for free. After hour events do not tend to have as many young children as normal hours, but some parents enjoy not having such a hectic time navigating the park.

Event start time

Entry is available at 7 PM for every single event night. Animal Kingdom has a set date for all of their after hour events, starting at 9 PM. This gives people a couple of hours to explore the rest of the park before it closes down for all the people with standard tickets. All events end at midnight.

Generally speaking, there is roughly one Animal Kingdom After Hours night a week at the park. This lines up with the other parks that offer this same type of event. They try to vary up the days it is held, so that people can plan accordingly. They tend to stay away from Sundays, but all the days are fair game throughout the year.

Pre-event options

Those extra two hours are very important at Animal Kingdom, as a lot of attractions will not be available during the actual party. Many attractions start to close when the sun goes down, so an after hours ticket during the summer provide a bit more value at Animal Kingdom. During the winter, it can get dark as early as 5 PM, so many of the attractions will already be shut down by then.

A few of those attractions that are greatly affected by this include the Boneyard, Kali River Rapids, and Kilimanjaro Safaris. Try to check before showing up to see how late they plan on staying open for the event.

The most common suggestion is to try starting in Asia right at 7 PM. It seems like the logical starting point, giving people two hours to work their way over to Pandora. 

Eating at Disney Complete Guide to Animal Kingdom After Hours

What is a trip to any Disney park without food? Included in every ticket are some solid food options for people to take advantage of. This is perfectly fine for some, but others want to have other dining experiences when they visit as well.

What is free

There are numerous snack options scattered around the park during the event for visitors to try out. Ice cream treats are very popular, including the famous Mickey Bars. Popcorn is also a staple, as well as a wide selection of bottled beverages.

Certain parts of the park also have unique snacks that are great at a touch. Pandora specifically has a few frozen options that really make the event feel a little more special. Other than that, the snacks are pretty standard fare.

Other dining options

Do not expect to have all the restaurants open during the event. In fact, most of them will be closed, as it is just not worth it to them to be open for those additional hours. There will be at least a few full-service options around the park, as well as quick service choices. It can vary depending on the time of the year, so if something particular is in mind, call ahead to get an idea.

As fun as it might be for some people to eat strictly at Disney, others will show up to Animal Kingdom After Hours on a somewhat full stomach. Since it is a late starting event, a lot of people can get by just fine with some snacks along the way.

Open Attractions

All of these attractions below are open during the event, so they should be avoided before it technically starts. There is no reason to wait in a line for one of these options, just to have the option to go without a line an hour later.

  • Avatar Flight of Passage
  • Expedition Evert – Legend of the Forbidden
  • It is Tough to be a Bug!
  • Na’vi River Journey
  • Pandora Drummers – Swotu Wayä
  • Primeval Whirl
  • Rivers of Light
  • Tree of Life Awakenings
  • TriceraTop Spin

The ten attractions that are open are all very easy to fit in to the schedule if a person wants to. There will be some who decide to skip one or two of them for their own reasons, but most like to try to fit them all in if possible.

The Tree of Life Awakenings are pretty spectacular at night, which is one major positive for those visiting for the event. During normal hours, this is not always done in complete darkness. It is one of the ways they dress up the event a little to make it feel special to those in attendance.

Rivers of Light is also a pretty cool experience for those who have never seen it during this time of day. Having the ability to quickly go and find a perfect spot near the action is an added bonus that not that many people get the opportunity to enjoy.

Tips to maximize the experience

Those ready to go should plan ahead as much as possible, since the time goes by pretty quickly. Animal Kingdom is pretty spaced out compared to other parks at Disney, so being efficient with routes is going to be the best way to go. Here are a few tips to keep in mind so that the five total hours are maximized.

Arrive before 7 PM

Get there a little early instead of a little late. There is never a guarantee on how long it will take to get to the entrance. Even if there’s a need to waste 15 or 30 minutes sitting around at the front because of an early arrival, it is better than losing paid time.

The best way to arrive on time, especially during the week, is to take Disney transportation. For those who are traveling by car, it can take a long time to get to the parking lot, pay to park, and arrival at the enterance. 

Do animal-related attractions first

The animals at Animal Kingdom are on a pretty tight schedule, so they are less likely to be around as the regular hours of the event begin. Try to see as much as possible involving animals early, as the other attractions will stay open for much longer.

Some people will still miss out on certain events, but that happens with a normal ticket at times as well. Animal schedules are unpredictable at times, and they might have shows canceled at the last minute. The same things happen at zoos around the world.

Go to Pandora earlier rather than later (during the actual event)

Wait until the event starts, but try to time it up to get to Pandora right around that time. This is when the lines are low. There is a lot of entertainment around the lines, and the vibes, in general, are great. Pandora is the biggest attraction right now at Animal Kingdom, and no one wants to be missing out because they wait too long.

Going early also allows people to experience the everything, and possibly do it again at the end of the night. It might end up being the best part of the trip, so repeat experiences are possible during After Hours.

Take advantage of the free food and drinks

The free food and drinks are part of the price tag, so do not feel guilty by making multiple stops throughout the event. There will be a lot of walking at Animal Kingdom, so stay hydrated with the free drinks provided.

They will even allow people to take food and a beverage at the end of the event to drink later on. Just do not be someone who tries to take home multiples of everything. That is when they usually tend to step in and cut someone off.

Take your own pictures

For the most part, photographers are usually not working during this event. That means to be prepared to take pictures without any assistance. Some people think this is a pretty big inconvenience, but it is a lot easier to take photos without professional assistance when the park is less crowded. 

There are some great photo opportunities at night in Animal Kingdom that simply are not there during the day. Take advantage of these opportunities as much as possible. There are not that many people who get a chance to experience Animal Kingdom in the middle of the night.

Need a group shot? Most people also in attendance are in the same boat. It makes sense to help another group out so that everyone goes home with a picture documenting the night.

Work in a break or two

It is tempting to have a mentality of going as fast as possible for five hours, but there will be time to do everything a person wants to that is actually open. Do not be afraid to take a slight break, even if it means just watching one of the shows. Grab a free snack and get ready for the next move.

After Hours Animal Kingdom compared to other options

Plenty of people pay for After Hours Animal Kingdom and have a great time. With that said, there are a lot of limitations that simply are not there with Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. There are fewer open attractions, and it just seems like a pretty dead experience compared to the others. They do not make it special enough for those in attendance, but the price remains the same.

Riding without lines is great, but it still takes time to go from one option to the other. It takes more time to navigate Animal Kingdom, and just seems like less to do overall. In the other parks, people complain about not having enough time, but at Animal Kingdom, many end up doing rides multiple times. 

Animals will always be hit or miss, which is also a negative when it comes to the After Hours ticket. No one can complain too much about this, but it does take away some of the luster. Anyone thinking that they are going to see a lot of animals during this time of the day will end up disappointed.

Who should take advantage of Animal Kingdom After Hours?

Right now, Animal Kingdom After Hours makes the most sense for people who are huge fans of Avatar, and they do not want to deal with all the lines and headaches during the day in Pandora. This is an opportunity to not only experience Pandora without much of a rush, but the lights are truly special at night as well. There are some people who spend their entire time in this part of Animal Kingdom when they pay for this event.

Disney understand this, which is why they keep as many things going as possible in that area. Visitors will get to experience the full drum show, all the attractions, and no wait times.

It also makes sense for people who want to say that they have gone to all the parks, but only have a limited amount of time. Animal Kingdom might not be the top part choice for everyone, but this is a way to check out some of the highlights without spending an entire day there.

Unfortunately, it is just really hard to fully recommend this with so many great opportunities missing. There are some sacrifices made here that the other After Hour events do not force on people. Understand the risk before buying tickets for this event.

Dustin Baier

Hey, I'm Dustin a Dad of 4 and married to Sweet Pea Chef for over 15 years now :) We got engaged at the Disneyland Hotel way back when and love a vacation at Disney World, Universal Studios, really anywhere with theme parks!

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