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Wildlife Wednesday: Myth Busters – When’s the Best Time to See Your Favorite Animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom?

It’s no secret that a highlight of visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the opportunity to see plenty of beautiful animals! Over the years, a commonly shared “tip” has been to get to the park early because animals are more likely to be seen in the morning. Our Science Operations Team set out to test that tip by recording animal visibility throughout the day.

Hypothesis (Myth): Animals are more likely to be seen in the morning.

Myth Busters – When’s the Best Time to See Your Favorite Animals Myth Busters – When’s the Best Time to See Your Favorite Animals

The researchers separated the park into five areas to include Kilimanjaro Safaris Ride, Discovery Island/Tree of Life, Oasis Gardens, Pangani Forest Trail, and Maharajah’s Jungle Trek. In these areas, they collect visibility data at several different times of the day on almost all of the animals including Giant Anteater, White Stork, Giraffe, Ostrich, Tiger, Elephant and Gorilla. The research team has been monitoring animal visibility in this fashion since the park opened in 1998 and they now have an amazing archive of information on how the animal viewing experience in the park has changed over the years.


For this analysis, the team’s observational data were recorded and used to calculate an “average visibility” for each species at each time of day. These statistics were then compared to determine if there was in fact an increased chance of animal visibility at a certain time during the day. Analyses of data from the past several years all reveal the same finding…

Conclusion (and myth busted): Time of day does not significantly change the probability of spotting animals.

Translation — You can sleep in and still have a great, animal-filled day!

**On your next visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, be sure to pick up an Animal Guide to help you discover the animals in each area of the Park. You can even become a Wilderness Explorer by completing challenges and earning adventure badges throughout your day!


  • Hi Katie. Great post! An interesting related test would be “Animals are more active in the morning”. Would love to see the results of that one!

  • One of our Kilimanjaro Safaris drivers told us that if it’s raining, the elephants usually like to get in the water! I’d love to see that!

  • Would you recommend morning or afternoon to people going in summer months when it’s hotter?

    • Hi Peggy. You’ll be in good shape either way in regards to the visibility of the animals. Our data show that visibility is quite high and consistent across times of day even in the summer. Another tip to keep in mind is that we frequently have afternoon rain showers in the summer and many of our animals really love the rain and become quick active at that time. Rainy afternoons can be a great time for animal spotting.

  • Welcome to the blog Ms. Katie!

  • Where in the park do you pick up an animal guide and sign up for Wilderness Explorers?

    • Hi Stacey. Animal guides are available as you enter the main entrance at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. They are also available in most merchandise locations and at Guest Relations. Guests can obtain a Wilderness Explorer field guide from “headquarters” within the Park—located on the bridge between the Oasis and Discovery Island—or simply swing by a Wilderness Explorer stop in Africa, Rafiki’s Planet Watch, Asia or Dinoland U.S.A. to begin your exploration activities there.

  • I’ve never been a big fan of getting up super early on vaca, and I usually hit AK a little later as well, I’ve always found the animals to be most active in the last hour or so before the park closes, most likely because that’s when the animals get feed.

  • Thanks for the Myth Busting! I ended up going one day around 2 or 3 pm. I didn’t t think it would be a great Safari, yet I saw more animals out than I did all the other times I went in the mornings!

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