We’ve always thought Animal Kingdom is an underestimated park, and we’ve been looking forward to the new evening hours at Animal Kingdom ever since they were announced about a year ago. It’s a more relaxed and slow-paced park than the other four, and this same proved true after dark. It was more like just walking around at a fair or festival – with better scenery. Here are the experiences you should make a priority when you check out the nighttime hours at Disney’s Animal Kingdom:
Get a Photo with Some “Disney Magic”
Just as in the daytime hours, there are plenty of photographers around the park to capture a photo in front of the Tree of Life or other attractions, and now Disney Annual Passholders get these photos for free! Ask the photographer to do a “Disney Magic” photo, and you’ll get a fun animation superimposed on your image. The Disney Magic photos only work before dusk because they need sufficient light, so knock this one out as soon as you get to the park. Even if you don’t purchase the image, you can see it (with a watermark) on your My Disney Experience app and show the kids.
See the Sun Set in Harambe
We walked over to the “Africa” section of the park, named Harambe Marketplace, just as the sun was setting. We have really beautiful sunsets here in Florida, and this one was no exception. We stood on the little bridge over the river and snapped photos as the sun went down.
Go On a Nighttime Kilimanjaro Safari
Although you won’t see as many animals as a daytime safari, there’s something pretty cool about seeing them in the dark. Our guide pointed out a sleeping groups of hippos, alligators, and flamingos, and we even saw some lions keeping watch on top of a rock. I didn’t bring my Nikon, so I had to make due with my cell phone and the pictures came out terrible. I’d try to make this happen just after sunset so that you still have a little light for photos. This is also the attraction you want to spend a Fast Pass on – the line was pretty long otherwise.
See the Tree of Life “Awaken”
I’ll admit that I thought this would be a bigger deal than it was. I thought it would be more of a show with music and everything, but it was really just an “awakening” where the tree slowly gets more colorful and every few minutes one of the animals on the tree moves. Walk over and watch for a few minutes just after dark and then move on.
Ride Expedition Everest in the Dark
This is my favorite Disney “thrill” ride of any park, with its backward drop and giant Yeti – even the line has a cool museum feel that’s pretty interesting to look at as you wait. They didn’t really change it for the nighttime except that, because it’s dark outside, large parts of the ride are now completely in the dark. Definitely more of a thrill ride after dark! (Use another Fast Pass for this one, since the line can get pretty long.)
Check Out The Jungle Book: Alive With Magic
It was obvious that Disney put a ton of work into this show, and it was pretty unique. It’s not quite as spectacular as the laser light show at Hollywood Studios, but the projections on the water were very cool. It’s based on the new Jungle Book movie, with lots of scenes from the actual movie incorporated into the laser effects. It also features Indian dances and music, plus some music from the movie. We couldn’t get a Fast Pass for this one, but we walked around the back (between the two sides) looking for the entrance and asked a cast member for directions. He quietly slipped us in a back gate and we had amazing seats with no line! Sometimes if you’re nice to the cast members they will really take care you!
There are plenty of other things to check out, but there’s only so much time in the evening, and those were our favorites. Have any of y’all been to Animal Kingdom after dark yet? What should I add to the list for our next visit?