Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s Split Personality

| May 7, 2013 | 8 Replies

The time-honored question of Disney’s Animal Kingdom; is it a half-day park or isn’t it?  I know I’ve been caught leaning both ways when considering if it was a half day park or a full day park.  Like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde I’ve been going back and forth trying to decide.  Continue reading and let’s try and figure out why there is so much debate around this subject and possibly who’s right and who’s wrong.


In the world of theme park visitors there seems to be 3 categories of people; those who love thrills, those who love the atmosphere and beauty, and those who love both.  If you come to theme parks looking for thrills you aren’t in the minority.  The majority of guests who come through the turnstiles are looking for that one ride, one moment where their breath will be taken away by sudden movement, or maybe scared by a surprising effect around the corner.  Many visitors lump theme parks in the same category as amusement parks where everywhere you turn there’s a roller coaster starring you in the face.  It’s understandable why visitors to theme parks are looking for some of these same thrills and excitement.  Those guests truly believe theme parks and amusement parks are very similar in character when in reality there is a difference.  They’ll walk into a Disney theme park expecting thrill rides around every corner.

Then there are the guests who walk through the front entrance expecting beauty, perfect theming, and an atmosphere they can’t get anywhere else.  They’re not looking for the thrills you’d get from a ride or attraction, they’re looking for the thrill of a perfect setting, terrific theming, and a surrounding that plays with your senses perfectly.  Their thrills come from visual appeal of a castle that leads to themed lands, or a huge tree that dominates the sunrise over a savanna oasis.  Maybe it’s a multicolored flower or the sounds of a constant waterfall that thrill your senses to the max.  What about the activity of just people-watching?  For some guests these activities are just as thrilling and satisfying as a ride on Space Mountain.


What if you were lucky enough to desire both of these types of thrills?  You walk into the theme park and you immediately look for the beauty, sights, sounds, and atmosphere a theme park delivers.  You take a deep sniff with your nose and absorb the wonderful smell of theme park popcorn.  At the same time you have your theme park map in hand.  You begin looking for those attractions that will give you the thrill of a lifetime.  While you make your way to your first thrill attraction you stop and check out the beauty of the Fountain of Nations or some of the flower gardens along the pathways at EPCOT.  The theme park is your oyster and you enjoy most every aspect of it.

Let’s take a moment and put Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park into perspective.  The park with animals isn’t just about animals (Nah-Ta-Zu).  In fact, the parks theme is all about the intrinsic value of nature.  The animals are just a big part of nature so it makes perfect sense to incorporate them into the theme park.  Putting this theme into perspective and adding what we previously discussed, why is it a number of guests consider the theme park a half day experience?   If you are a person who visits a theme park specifically for the thrill rides and attractions your mission inside the park is to hit Expedition Everest, Dinosaur, Kali River Rapids, Primeval Whirl, and maybe a show or two.  At that point you can easily lose interest in the park and head for the exit.  It’s probably only around 1:00PM and you’ve made DAK a half day theme park.


If you are visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom for the atmosphere, beauty, and nature it provides you, then you’ll probably find yourself in the park a little longer than a half day, but maybe not the entire day.  There are some great nature and animal trails to view inside the park.  If you are a camera lover and bring your massive telephoto lens to the park, you’ll have a picnic taking pictures throughout the trails and all around the theme park.


Now consider if you enjoy both of these activities; the thrill rides and other less thrilling attractions plus the beauty and nature aspect of the theme park.  Combining these two activities together can easily make Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park a full day experience.  If you were to ride each of the park’s attractions and take-in all of the nature and animal trails you’re possibly looking at maybe even two days depending on wait times and crowd levels.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park has two different sides or personalities to it.  There is a thrilling side where guests can climb a forbidden mountain to meet the mysterious Yeti, or try and catch an Iguanodon during the Earth’s Cretaceous period.  The other side involves nature at its best where you can walk along heavily landscaped trails, see animals, and catch great views of the park along several guest pathways.

For those who say Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park is a half day experience you probably fall into the category of only loving it for the thrill rides or maybe just the nature aspect of it.  However, if you’re visiting the park to catch both sides of it, nature and thrill rides, you’ll find yourself at the park all day long.  You may even come back the next day to finish your park touring.  The park has two legitimate personalities or sides to it and depending on what you enjoy you can make a case for how long you visit the theme park.



So the answer to the question is Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park a half day park really depends on you and what you enjoy most from a theme park.  That’s probably why we hear different answers from different people.  It’s their perspective and their individual personality that dictates the answer.  Although we may not have settled the dispute to this question today I’m hopeful we’ve at least come to the conclusion we’ll always have different answers.  Maybe, some day, as the park matures or expands we can make it a full day of just rides and attractions or an entire day of trails, animals, and horticulture.  But, for now, let’s agree there will never be a common answer among us.

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Category: Disney World

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Midge-Gurley/100000007052113 Midge Gurley

    Nice article. I love Animal Kingdom Park. I enjoy the atmosphere and the rides, but the overwhelming heat and humidity of the park sends my family out quickly.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=132400018 Kris Parke

    I’m in the category of both. But much like Midge and her family, the park is quite the trek, even in the Autumn. The uphills are a killer too! Though, it is my Husband’s favorite park. While we usually keep it a half day (or a 3/4 day), we do still keep going back.

  • Dave Minella

    I’ll admit, it took me a while to warm up to Animal Kingdom. I always considered it and Hollywood Studios to be half-day parks. But, in the past few years, my wife and I really started to slow down and appreciate everything the park has to offer. If you want to check out Nemo and the Lion King shows, you’ll probably need to dedicate an entire day anyway – unless you really want to rush through. But, there are so many other details that make the park so special. We go to Walt Disney World more for the atmosphere (and the food!), and the thrills are secondary for us. It’s a completely different park when you take the time to admire the work and the attention to detail that went into every aspect of Animal Kingdom.

    • http://www.LifeonBreak.com/ Simon

      I definitely go there for the FOOD hahaha

  • http://twitter.com/moira222 Mary Ellen Nunes

    I’ve always considered Animal Kingdom a full day park, but then again, it closes early so you can do the full day and then hop on over to another park for the evening if you’re up for it. We usually use that free evening for some downtime.

  • Karen Campbell

    I’m preparing to visit WDW for the first time soon and find articles like this one tremendously helpful. To make the most of my visit, I’ll plan on spending the entire day at Animal Kingdom Park. I think I would fall in the category of both. Also, the ages attending will be 7 to 63, so we will be looking for bits of everything.

    • http://www.LifeonBreak.com/ Simon

      Hi Karen, I think you and your family will enjoy it. But not sure if you will be there for the entire day. I’ve visited multiple times to Disney and I have to say that I had never stayed the whole day at AK.

  • http://www.LifeonBreak.com/ Simon

    I totally agree with you. I go there for Dinosaur Ride, the whole dinoland is just reminds me of the 80s spinning rollercoaster that makes you just want to hurl haha