Safari Mickey at Disney Animal Kingdom

We are going to Disney’s Animal Kingdom next month as part of our annual winter escape. The trip to Florida was Zacharie’s idea. He wants to see Florida panthers, crocodiles, and alligators. He saved his money to pay for his own plane ticket, and his little viral video of last year has given us some spending money for the trip to offset the terrible Canadian dollar.

Perfect, I can’t wait.

I’m the vacation planner in the family, I usually sort destinations, itineraries, and costs. I make suggestions, find out where everyone stands, and then do the planning. That’s the way this trip has worked, but along the way I’ve discovered that when planning a trip to Disney, you need to PLAN YOUR TRIP.

Plan your trip at Disney Animal Kingdom

Like seriously plan it out. The Disneyphiles have changed the game so much, that a day at an amusement park is no longer just a leisurely stroll around activities and rides, you need to have a minute-to-minute itinerary to get around the park because Disneyphiles.

When we went to Silverwood in Idaho last summer, we showed up some time after the park opened, walked until we were tired, and went home. I had a rudimentary map, but I didn’t have any idea what to expect for the day.

You can’t do that at a Disney park. You need to buy your tickets in advance. You need to pre-book your activities. You need to study the map and make a route and itinerary.

I really thought it was just ‘make a route.’ I was focussing on learning the map, finding out the attractions and making sure our one day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom would hit all the marks for my kids.

Kilimanjaro Safari at Disney Animal Kingdom

The Kilimanjaro Safari is a must, so we’d hustle over there when the gates open and get in line. Then we’d wander through the exhibits until we hit Expedition Everest and ride one of the best Disney roller coasters of all time. More wandering through Dinoland, Discovery Island, and then we’d be done. Smiles all around.

Expedition Everest at Disney Animal Kingdom

Right? Wrong.

You need to buy your tickets in advance. You need to link them to a FastPass+. You need to prebook the things you really need to see, and you can do it 30 days in advance. If you stay at a Disney property you can get early admission, if you’re not you need to factor those extra crowds in to your route.

My Disney Experience App at Disney Animal Kingdom

No, reading the online guides to the park is not enough. You need to sharpen your pencil and schedule the hell out of your day – because everyone else will or already has.

And that has stressed me a little bit on the experience. I wanted to go for a wander, see some animals, ride some rides, hug a mouse, and go home. But that’s not the way it works.

When you’re planning a trip to Disney, you’ve got to PLAN YOUR TRIP!

The Disney Blog has news and updates and reviews for everything Disney. This is good to get construction and new attraction updates.

Theme Park Insider‘s daily plan for Disney Animal Kingdom has been my starting point for all my planning. Go to the Kilimanjaro Safari first, work clockwise from there.

WDW Prep School is another site that has comprehensive breakdowns of what is where to help you plan your route.

The Disney Social Media Moms (and some dads) is a forum where the previously mentioned Disneyphiles will answer specific questions you may have. This is where you’ll find your ninja tips to plan your Disney vacation.

Then get the My Disney Experience app to link your tickets to your FastPass+ and monitor line activity and spontaneous events happening around the park. (there’s free WiFi, so don’t worry about your data limit.

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