The Best Animal Kingdom Fastpass Strategy

Disney’s Animal Kingdom contains such a huge variety of things to see and do you are sure to find something for everyone no matter how large your group. If your family is anything like mine, everything goes crazy if you can’t keep “everything even” with all the kiddos and there is nothing worse than seeing a little one crying because you haven’t managed to fit in their favorite attraction before the day’s end.

With some queues for the most popular attractions lasting over two to three hours, it is easy to see how there aren’t enough hours in the day to fit everything in if you have several waits of that length. Luckily, Disney’s Fastpass system is a great way to make sure some rides can be booked in advance, reducing how much time you spend hanging around in a queue and making sure that some of your favorite attractions can be guaranteed.

What is the best Animal Kingdom Fastpass Strategy? Disney has dedicated some of the more popular rides as suitable for Fastpass which means guests can skip the long standby queues and move instead to a faster queue for Fastpass reservations only. This way, wait times are dramatically reduced or even cut completely, leaving you free to fit in many more attractions in the time that you would otherwise have spent waiting in line. If you use your Fastpass reservations carefully, you could even manage to avoid queuing for most of the day which is a welcome relief for everyone, especially families with young children who find queuing a challenge.

The Animal Kingdom offers a tiered Fastpass system to try and give more people a fair chance of selecting the most popular rides. Some of the rides in the Animal Kingdom are the best in Disney and include the most expensive roller coaster ever built, making Fastpass more of a necessity than a novelty. If you are careful about your strategy when planning your itinerary and using your Fastpasses, it is possible to fill the whole day with rides with barely any time wasted waiting in line. This way, you have the best chance of pleasing everyone in your family and making sure no one feels left out.

How does the Fastpass system work at the Animal Kingdom?

Every ticket comes with three free Fastpasses that can be booked up to thirty days in advance, or sixty days if your party is staying in a Disney hotel. Your Fastpass tickets are booked online or through the My Disney Experience App and once you have made a reservation you can choose a one-hour time slot during which you can enter the Fastpass queue. In most cases, Fastpass queues mean you walk straight on but you may have to wait for about twenty minutes at the busiest times. Once you have used your free tickets, it is possible to book another either through the app or by visiting a designated kiosk and you can continue to do this throughout the day. Obviously, the ride availability and timings will be a little less predictable when booking on the day but at least it gives you the chance to beat the queues so you can spend the day having fun instead of waiting.

What Do The Fastpass Tiers Mean?

There are around 14 rides in the Animal Kingdom eligible for Fastpass at any given time.

At the Animal Kingdom the two most popular, Avatar Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey, are classed as Tier One. Of your three Fastpass reservations, you are only allowed to use one in Tier One.

The remaining two Fastpasses can only be used on Tier Two Attractions. These include Kilimanjaro Safaris, Expedition Everest, It’s Tough to be a Bug, Primeval Whirl, DINOSAUR!, Kali River Rapids, Rivers of Light, Festival of the Lion King, Finding Nemo Musical, Adventurer’s Outpost Character Greeting, UP! A Great Bird Adventure, and the Animation Experience at the Conservation Station.

By dividing the rides into tiers like this, Disney is helping to ensure that everyone has a chance to get on at least one of the most popular Tier One rides before they all go. One of the best things about the Fastpass system is that they are entirely free, meaning you will never have to compete with someone who has bought so many passes that the rest of the guests will never make it out of the standby queues.

What Is The Best Ride To Book On Tier One?

Both these rides give you an experience of the bioluminescent world of Pandora with its unique flora and fauna that create a magical aura with their pretty lights. The wait time for both rides can reach at least 90 minutes. There is a height restriction of 44″ in Avatar Flight of Passage which you might expect would deter some groups but it is still one of the most popular rides of all.

If you can using your Fastpass reservation on Avatar Flight of Passage is the top priority for your Animal Kingdom day. This will dramatically reduce your wait time as well as cut out having to wake up super early just to get in line so you wait 2 hours instead of 4. While Na’vi River Journey can get busy also it is not nearly as long a wait as Avatar Flight of Passage.

If you have to wait in line for Avatar Flight of Passage the queue threads through the stunning mountains and caves of Pandora, which depict cave drawings that show ancient stories of the Na’vi people and their banshees. Once through the caves, guests enter a realistic ACE laboratory containing an arresting mixture of plants and creatures from this colorful world. There is even an enormous avatar suspended in a tank of water that is so realistic it even twitches and breathes. Unfortunately, all of this is missed if you use your Fastpass reservation to simply walk straight on.

Na’vi River Journey is a great backup plan and usually available for fast pass a lot more often than Avatar Flight of Passage. If you want to manage both of these rides it is probably best to book the Flight of Passage first as the queues for Flight of Passage fill up even more quickly than Na’Vi River Journey.

You can only use your Fastpass reservations for normal park opening hours but if you are staying in a Disney hotel you can benefit from the Extra Magic Hours where the park opens at least one hour earlier. So the ideal plan is fast pass on Flight of Passage and then get there early for Na’Vi River Journey as the queues only really begin to reach their maximum later in the day.

Avatar Flight of Passage

It is easy to see why this ride is so popular as it combines a thrilling simulation with 4D effects as you feel the breeze in your face while your banshee swoops and turns over the dazzling Pandora skyline. Riding astride a motorcycle-style seat, you are transported upon your banshee with other avatars enjoying the first flight of the banshee which is a rite of passage for the Na’vi people. As the banshee plunges and lunges through the air, you are gently thrown about aboard your ride and can even feel the creature breathe beneath you as it takes you on steep climbs and sudden drops over the amazing bioluminescent world of Pandora. Although you are riding besides other guests, the ride can feel like a personal experience as the simulation forces you into an imaginary world that feels as real as if you have awoken inside the Avatar movie.

Na’vi River Journey

Even if you can’t get a Fastpass for this ride, it is well worth the wait to take the whole family on a gentle boat ride through the fascinating flora and fauna of Pandora. As you glide beneath a canopy of luminous plants and trees, you see the creatures of Pandora come alive and interact with you. This ride has no height restrictions so it is suitable for every member of the family and very popular with large groups. Queues tend to be smaller at the very beginning or very end of the day, but you may be lucky enough to gain an extra Fastpass ticket during the day.

If you haven’t been able to book a Fastpass reservation for Flight of Passage, it is still very worthwhile to make a booking for Na’Vi River Journey as the ride is one to remember, but you might need to be prepared to wait slightly longer overall as the queues for Flight of Passage are usually longer. If you can schedule your Fastpass hour for some time between 10 am and 1 pm, you should be able to make the most of joining the queue for Flight of Passage during the Extra Magic Hour and be able to fit in a good number of rides with shorter wait times around your Na’vi River Journey experience and make the most of your time in this part of the Animal Kingdom.

What Are the Best Rides in Tier Two?

With twelve further rides and attractions to choose from, you really have a lot of great options for a choice in Tier Two. Several of these attractions, like the Festival of the Lion King and It’s Tough to Be a Bug rarely run out of theater space. So no need to Fastpass these. With only two reservations left in Tier Two, or three if you haven’t been able to secure either of the rides in Tier One, you should probably aim to make Expedition Everest and Kilimanjaro Safaris your top choices as these are the rides that usually fill up most quickly.

Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain

This ride is not for the faint-hearted and with a height restriction of 44″ is possibly not for everyone in your group. It is one of the most expensive roller coasters ever built and may well be in the running for best roller-coaster at Disney. It was definitely one of our favorites my daughters love roller coasters and this one is awesome.

It throws you down steep drops and shunts you around in the dark while a terrifying yeti threatens to attack. It is not a ride for young children. Using your Fastpass on this ride is a good idea as the queues tend to grow, especially from mid-afternoon to the end of the day when the bulk of the crowds are moving from Pandora to the other parts of Animal Kingdom.

Kilimanjaro Safaris

Another family favorite is Kilimanjaro Safaris. On this ride, you will travel through open plains as you watch exotic wildlife in their natural environment from an open-sided vehicle. Quite often, the animals will come right up to the vehicles as they are often just as curious about us as we are about them.

While it is best to book your Fastpasses for early in the day in order to fit in as many extras as possible, it might be wasteful to book an early slot on this ride. We love this one so sometimes we will have a fastpass for early afternoon and then also go in the morning if the lines are short and we have time.

Queues before lunch tend to be much shorter but the animals are resting during the hottest parts of the day so you will be less likely to see much activity. As the afternoon cools or even as late as early evening is the best time to hit the safaris if you want to see the animals at their most lively. In addition, because the ride lasts twenty minutes you may find that other queues have grown beyond a manageable level by the time you get off.

If you are worried about missing out on the chance to get additional Fastpasses, you might be better off choosing a different ride like DINOSAUR! for your third choice and taking your chance on landing an extra reservation for Kilimanjaro Safaris as the day unfolds.

What Other Rides Should I Look Out For?

One of the other rides you should be sure to catch includes Kali River Rapids. There is no height restriction here so the whole family can enjoy as you hurtle over the whitewater river in a raft and slide down a gentle drop before landing with a splash. You will more than likely get wet, but everyone dries quickly in the hot Florida sun.

Another great one is DINOSAUR! which takes you back in time to the age of giant reptiles. Both these rides are suitable for children of all ages which means queues can be longer as large family groups want to stay together and they do not offer a single rider line.

These two rides are great backup fastpass rides if you can’t get the others. Or if you got in early and were able to knock out a couple before using Fastpasses.

How Do I Get Extra Fastpasses?

Once you have used your three free Fastpasses, you can book others one at a time throughout the day. To do this, you need to keep refreshing you’re My Disney Experience App as additional Fastpasses can pop up at any time.

If you don’t have the app, you can book extra Fastpasses at any of the kiosks available throughout the Animal Kingdom but the app is the quickest way to make sure you don’t miss out.

Your best strategy is to try to make your first three Fastpass reservations as early in the day as possible we usually target running out of passes at around 1-3 pm depending on the ones we were able to get. If you have to get a late Fastpass for Avatar Flight of Passage it is still worth it.

That way they run out with plenty of time for you to make the most of fitting in as many extra Fastpasses as you can. This way, you might manage to last the whole day at the Animal Kingdom without having to wait for longer than twenty minutes at any ride.

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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