Sunset at Disney's Animal Kingdom
  • On Jul 8, 2023
    Cliff from PA Asked Please note that experiences, policies, pricing and other offerings are subject to change and may have changed since the date of this answer.

    I will be visiting WDW in September, and want to see Animal Kingdom at night. However, sunset won't be until 7:30, yet the theme park closes at 7 pm. How long after closing time do I have before I must exit?

    Well hello there Cliff and welcome to planDisney!

    Personally, I love planning for Walt Disney World Resort visits within that sweet spot as summer ends and autumn begins; there's just so much more magic in the air as the days grow shorter and the sun begins to set earlier. The tricky thing with Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park is that on the one hand, it's definitely a great place to witness some breathtakingly beautiful sunsets over the Tree of Life or the distant peaks of Expedition Everest - Legend of the Forbidden Mountain. On the other hand however, this is the particular Theme Park that has historically had the earliest closing time - it seems like the last ride of the day on Kilimanjaro Safaris kicks off a gradual closing of each section of Disney's Animal Kingdom, beginning in Africa and gradually working its way around as guests are gradually ushered toward Discovery Island and the exit. 

    I recently did a bit of in-park research this year with my husband to see whether we could witness the Tree of Life Awakenings and snap a few shots of the best things that showcase a beautiful bioluminescent glow in Pandora - The World of Avatar. Since these are best seen after dark, we wondered how far beyond the official Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park closing hours guests were actually able to remain. Here's what I discovered:

    • As I mentioned previously, we observed that the various lands are gradually cleared of guests in areas where attractions or dining locations are no longer in operation; Cast Members began standing along the bridges at the entry points around each destination leading from Discovery Island to redirect guests back to the exit even before the posted overall closing time.
    • The exception to this was in Pandora - The World of Avatar; due to the popular nature of the attractions here we noticed that there was still a considerable amount of guests beyond closing time. With only a little remaining time to spare and despite a posted wait time of over 40 minutes in the standby queue for Na'vi River Journey, we were fortunate enough to experience a very minimal wait of less than 10 minutes before we boarded. This provided us with the ability to enter the standby queue for Avatar Flight of Passage with minutes to spare!
    • By the time we were finished, it was just over an hour after Disney's Animal Kingdom had officially closed and there were still fellow park guests at Island Mercantile finalizing their purchases for the day as we strolled out into the night.
    Hopefully you'll be able to benefit from a similar strategy to be able to experience the nighttime ambience of wandering amidst the jungle foliage; be sure to come back to planDisney for any more tips and tricks and let me know how it went!

    Here's to your wild and exciting experiences after dark!
thumbnail image for Prince

Meet the Panelist: Prince, Ontario

Hello, Bonjour, Aloha and Ahoy there! As a performer and world explorer who's been to all of the Disney theme parks around the globe, I'm always happy to provide my best adventuring advice and knowledge to navigate your way to all of the greatest snacks, attractions and entertainment on land and at sea. Find me featured on the planDisney Podcast and on the Disney Parks Blog, discussing Disney Eats at festivals and beyond, holiday events at Walt Disney World Resort and planning my Disney Fairy Tale Wedding! Learn More About Prince

Didn't find what you were looking for? Click the Ask a Question button to open the Ask a Question dialogue box. If you are not logged in a dialogue box will appear to signin in order to ask a question.

To submit your question, please log in now if you have not already done so.

Ask a QuestionOpens the Ask a Question dialog box.

Update Browser

For a better experience browsing this website, please download an updated version of Internet Explorer.

Or you can continue browsing without updating.