The walkways and public spaces of the Animal Kingdom park were purposely designed as a series of narrow, twisting paths lined with dense foliage to enhance the guest’s sense of adventure and discovery. Unfortunately, guests find that their sensations of heat and humidity are also enhanced! If the Magic Kingdom is hot and humid, count on the Animal Kingdom to be hotter and even more humid. In addition, most of the attraction queues are outside and shaded rather than inside and air conditioned. While nothing you do will make the heat and humidity go awasy completely, there area a few ways to beat the heat in Animal Kingdom.
7 Ways to Beat the Heat in Animal Kingdom
1. Time your visit! “Rope Drop” are words to live by at Disney World. At the Animal Kingdom, you may be thirsting for a wait-free ride or two on Expedition Everest, but you have another reason to choose Animal Kingdom for your early morning: avoiding the heat. When Rivers of Light opens, you’ll have a good reason to schedule your Animal Kingdom visit at the other end of the day. Evenings at the Animal Kingdom already look pretty magical with the twinkling lights over the pathways in Asia – but with the new entertainment opening, it will be even more exciting. Which means bigger crowds, which will also mean higher temperatures in the park. So if avoiding the heat is your priority, choose morning over evening. Move an evening AK visit to the top of your itinerary goals for your next trip – in the winter!
2. Don’t tough it out. If you live in a more temperate zone and have not yet experienced a Florida summer, you might think you can just keep going when you’re hot, as you might at home. Tropical heat is different. Heat stroke is serious business and staying hydrated is vital. Some guests like to carry water bottles which can be refilled at drinking fountains on the go. Keep your eye out for refrigerated fountains. Another option is a visit to a counter service location where you can receive a free class of ice water upon request. (Plastic straws are verboten at the Animal Kingdom in the interest of animal safety, so don’t be surprised to find yourself given a paper straw.) In addition to staying hydrated, you have to get out of the sun to keep your body temperature down. Browse slowly through Island Mercantile or Mombasa Marketplace even if you’re not necessarily in the market for a Disney souvenir or African art (the eclectic selection might cause you to change your mind!).
3. Wear a hat! You can get away without a hat at some parks, but not here. Better than a hat, get a North-Carolina-made pith helmet – sold at the Animal Kingdom entrance and other merchandise locations in the park. They’re light and airy, though you might prefer a wider brim. Sunscreen, of course, is de rigueur.
4. Have lunch indoors. Harambe Market and Flame Tree Barbecue have delicious menu choices and the outdoor seating is shaded, pleasingly themed, and in some cases, delightfully water side. However, outdoor tables may not be the best choice in summer’s heat. Pizzafari has six large colorful animal-themed rooms — all with blessed air conditioned comfort. You want to give yourself a break from high temperatures — especially if you’re about to eat hot or spicy food! If some members of your group would prefer a pulled pork sandwich from Flame Tree Barbecue, perhaps they could jaunt over and get one, then bring it back to enjoy it in your pizza igloo.
5. Cooling snacks will lower your core temperature. You knew you could get a Dole Whip at the Animal Kingdom, right? This delicious pineapple soft serve is offered at Tamu Tamu Refreshments in the Africa section of the park. Flame Tree Barbecue serves Mandarin Orange Lemonade. At Yak & Yeti, you can get a Yak Attack (Mango Daiquiri, Don Q Cristal Rum, and Wildberry) with your meal. Warung Outpost (formerly called Upcountry), located on the walkway between Africa and Asia beside Flights of Wonder, has one of the best non-alcoholic themed beverages at the Animal Kingdom: the Shangri-La Berry Freeze. Also tempting might be their Triple Yeti Blast (photogenic layers of Kali River Mango, Maharaja Lime, and Bali Hai Strawberry Margaritas) with an Everest-like frosty peak – though alcohol and Florida summer heat don’t mix well in the human body, so proceed with caution!
6. Schedule a show into the middle of the afternoon. The massive pavilions housing the Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo the Musical are both air conditioned. Seating starts well before the shows, so you can sit quietly and savor the coolness. It’s Tough to Be A Bug is a shorter show, also air conditioned, though the queue is primarily outside (though shaded). Flights of Wonder has only a set of giant rotating fans to cool guests down.
7. Punctuate your touring plan with a stop in an air conditioned queue such as the character greeting for safari Minnie and Mickey (your new pith helmet will match theirs!) on Discovery Island near the bridge to Asia. Kilimanjaro Safaris ride and queue (like Expedition Everest’s) are shaded but not air conditioned, though the trundling of the safari vehicles may supply you with a warm breeze. The Pangani Forest Exploration Trail and Maharaja Jungle Trek are similarly not great choices for a very hot day. The Wildlife Express Train won’t cool you off much, though the Conservation Station at Rafiki’s Planet Watch is indoors.
Of course, if you really want to cool off, head over to Kali River Rapids where your group of twelve can pile into a big circular river raft which will churn its way under waterfalls, shooting geysers, and water cannons manned by trolls (other guests) on the shore. If you’re waiting while members of your group venture out on Kali, you can enjoy a little water feature of your own – a charming waterfall dome on a stone pillar tucked across from the ride exit that invites interaction.