Disney’s Animal Kingdom Just Became the Best Park to Visit After Dark at Walt Disney World

-Reported by Theme Park Tourist


Earlier this week, the Jungle Book: Alive With Magic show took its final bow, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom subsequently reduced its operating hours, now closing nightly at 9:00PM for the rest of September.

However, even though these two developments might sound like bad news for this park, guests who are planning on skipping a nighttime visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom because of these developments may actually want to reconsider this idea. And here’s why…

1. Evening wait times are virtually nonexistent thanks to a number of factors

Image: Disney

Though the official end of summer and the arrival of the “slow” fall season have decreased wait times at all four of Walt Disney World’s theme parks, the biggest slide in recent days has been at Disney’s Animal Kingdom after dark. With no nighttime spectacular to draw guests, attendance at the park this past Tuesday in the evening hours was way down, with attractions like Kali River Rapids, Expedition Everest and Dinosaur all posting wait times of ten minutes or less. And while this was just an observation from just one day, there are some other things happening around the resort that suggest that evening wait times will stay low at this park in the coming weeks as well.

In addition to natural tapering off of crowd levels at this park in evening hours as well as the beginning of the slow fall season, there’s also something else that will contribute to the light attendance at this park after dark: the arrival of seasonal events at other parks. The Magic Kingdom will have Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party happening select nights this September and October, and of course Epcot will bring back the International Food and Wine festival in just a few days, and both of these events are expected to draw big crowds (as they always do) this fall. And as guests flood these two parks in the late afternoon and evening, they will be moving away from Disney’s Animal Kingdom, which will benefit guests who want to experience this park at night with as small of a crowd as possible.

2. You can now enjoy all the good nighttime entertainment at this park

It’s no secret that Jungle Book: Alive with Magic wasn’t exactly the most belovednighttime spectacular to ever debut at a Disney park. And now that this temporary nighttime entertainment has ended its run (as well as DJ Dino-Mite) what’s left at Disney’s Animal Kingdom…is actually all of the best evening entertainment that premiered earlier this year. This includes the wonderful Tree of Life: Awakenings show (which is worth the evening trip to Disney’s Animal Kingdom alone), as well as the swinging Discovery Island Carnivale and even the Harambe Wildlife Parti. Though these entertainment offerings won’t go on as long anymore thanks to the 9:00PM closing time, they are still a lot of fun, and guests who can check them out on an evening trip to Disney’s Animal Kingdom this fall definitely should.

3. Grabbing a bite to eat at Tiffins has never been easier

Image: Disney

Walt Disney World veterans well know that getting a reservation at a table service restaurant on short notice is almost impossible. However, with attendance dwindling at Disney’s Animal Kingdom after dark, guests who want to experience one of the most unique restaurants on property can easily snag a reservation at Tiffins with less than 24 hours before they’d like to eat. In fact, even during the summer, this restaurant has had a decent amount of walkup availability as well, so if you find yourself in the park with no dining reservation, you’ll likely be able to find a table at Tiffins fairly easily.

Though some have been a little wary of the admittedly adventurous menu at this dining location, and Tiffins is one of the more expensive restaurants inside a Disney park, this is one eatery guests should treat themselves to at least once, and with crowds dwindling as much as they are, now would be a great time to give Tiffins a try.

4. You’ll want to do everything you can at this park before Rivers of Light debuts…eventually

Image: Disney

Though we’re still very excited to see Rivers of Light, Disney has not provided any updates about this show since it was first delayed, over three months ago. However, inside sources say that work is ongoing, and Disney is hoping to have Rivers of Light ready to go before the holiday period kicks off, reportedly soft-targetting a late fall debut for this show.

If these rumblings do end up being true, then it is likely that crowds will return in force to Animal Kingdom in just a few months, which means the nighttime parties will be congested, you’ll have to fight for elbow room to watch Tree of Life: Awakenings, and wait times at all of the park’s popular attractions will go up. So instead of waiting around for this to happen, it might be better to try and plan a trip to this park before Rivers of Light debuts, that way you can take advantage of the declining guests levels and essentially have the park to yourself in the evenings before 9:00PM.

Rivers of Light

Image: Disney

Though the reduction of hours at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a little bit of a downer (and if Rivers of Light continues to be delayed, we’ll see further reductions in hours as we move closer to winter), the fact is that the move to a 9:00PM closing and the end of the nighttime Jungle Book show have actually been something of an unexpected boon, as guests who enjoy being able to wander around and enjoy the best of what a Walt Disney World park has to offer without massive crowds should definitely make sure to plan an evening visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom this month. It might just change how you look at this park!


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Don Korta
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