This will be the final installment in the “stay cool” series of posts, as Animal Kingdom is the last location to talk about. Although it is my favorite theme park, it is not that easy to find air-conditioned places to sit down and take a break. There is some strategy involved to stay cool at Animal Kingdom, and I will certainly talk about that today.
By its very nature, Animal Kingdom is more of an “outdoor” park than the others. The theming is fantastic and Disney has done a great job of creating natural shade throughout the park. However, finding air-conditioning can be a challenge. For this reason, I highly recommend enjoying the two indoor shows – The Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo: The Musical. They are each about 30 minutes long, which gives you time to get out of the hot Florida sun to take in these Broadway-quality productions. If possible, you should schedule one for mid-morning and the other for mid-afternoon. Combined with an air-conditioned lunch, these shows will give you the breaks necessary to brave the heat for the rest of your day.
Now, there are a handful of other spots I want to mention that can be used for shady or cool breaks. The first one is right at the top of the Oasis area, just before you get the big Tree of Life “reveal.” There are a few benches in the rock cut-outs that are in the shade. There is no A/C in this area, but you can get a cross breeze from the surrounding walkways. Another similar spot is located on a path between Africa and Asia. If you are heading into Africa and make the right turn onto the large walkway toward Asia, you will see a small path on the left, just past the Harambe Market area. If you go up this path you will find a little covered area with tables. There are some large fans that are typically on, which can help keep you comfortable. Since this area is off the beaten path, there are rarely guests up there.
Ok, now let’s talk about some nice air-conditioned spots that have seating. After walking through the Oasis you will come to the Tree of Life. If you bear left, you will quickly come upon Pizzafari. This quick-service restaurant has many large rooms full of tables and chairs. Just like in the other parks, it only gets very busy during the lunch and supper hours. If you stop by in the morning or mid-afternoon, you should have little trouble finding a table and chairs to take a load off.
Heading into Africa, you know it is going to be hot! The Central Florida summer does a great job of reproducing the actual conditions found on this continent. However, if you continue to the back of this land, you will find the Wildlife Express train. The train comes every 5-10 minutes and takes guests to Rafiki’s Planet Watch, which includes a large, highly air-conditioned building called Conservation Station. Inside, you will find an animal care center and other exhibits to enjoy. Most importantly, however, there are benches to sit and take a break.
Heading over to Asia, there are really no places to get cool other than riding Kali River Rapids. However, the cooling comes in the form of being drenched with river water. So, the next area to talk about with air-conditioning will be Dinoland, USA. If you head to the exit of the Dinosaur attraction, you will come to a fairly large gift shop. Walk to the back of the store to see the on-ride photo screens. Across from the screens is a large “timeline” mural with carpeting at the base. If you don’t mind sitting on the floor against this wall, it can be a nice spot to cool off, especially if you are waiting for family or friends who are riding the attraction.
Last but not least, you will come across another large quick-service location in Restaurantosaurus. Just like Pizzafari, there is typically plenty of seating available during non-meal times. This is especially true if you head to the back corners of the restaurant, which are themed like tents and shacks. Also, if you enter through the front doors, you are sometimes “forced” into an order line when it is busy. You are best off entering through the back door which faces the Dinosaur attractions and has a “restrooms” sign over it.
I hope you enjoyed these “stay cool in the summer” posts. I invite you to look at the last four “Tour Guide Tuesday” articles to learn about air-conditioned spots in the other three parks!
If you want additional tips while you’re in the parks, WDW Guided Tours is happy to help!