Disney's Animal KingdomWDW Blog

Disney’s Animal Kingdom: Check the Hours!

The Tree of Life after dark 

If you plan to head to Walt Disney World this holiday season, I have some advice for picking your Disney’s Animal Kingdom day. Check the hours before making your Disney Park Pass reservation. Of course you should always check the hours anyway, but there’s a specific reason at Disney’s Animal Kingdom this holiday season.

Discovery Island decorations 

There’s no doubt that when the sun goes down there’s extra beauty at all four Walt Disney World theme parks. When the parks reopened back in July, we didn’t get to experience it, because it stayed light for too long. The exception was Epcot, which remained open until 9:00. Then Disney cut back the park hours, and even Epcot closed too early to see Spaceship Earth in its glorious colors. But the days started to get shorter, and we could see the parks after dark again, at least for a little while. When Standard Time rolled in we received an extra hour! Except at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, it still closed too early.


The problem at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is that there is no decent rule of thumb to follow. Most of the time the park is open 9:00-5:00 on Mondays through Thursdays, and then later on the weekends. But that isn’t always true either. Closer to a holiday, the park stays open later. This is why you need to check before you make your reservation, and then check once again right before your day. Park hours can and do sometimes change.

Tree of Life Awakenings – Holiday Edition 

There are two reasons why you need to try to get a reservation so that you can see Disney’s Animal Kingdom after dark. First is because of Pandora. The area feels like a totally different place once it is filled with the luminescent glow! It’s something that you need to experience at least once. The second is because of Discovery Island. You need to see the luminaries lit up and the other decorations on the buildings. Most important of all in Discovery Island is the Tree of Life. Try to be in front of the icon right around 6:00. That is when you can watch the tree transform to Tree of Life Awakenings – Holiday Edition. It is simply gorgeous. There’s a projections show right at 6:00, and then there are winter projections for the rest of the evening.

Is he related to Santa Gertie? 

There are decorations in the area lands as well, they aren’t all in Discovery Island. The best after dark is the dinosaur at the entrance to DinoLand U.S.A. He’s caught the holiday spirit.

Tree at the entrance 

When you’re leaving Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you will be glad that you decided to visit after dark. The tree is gorgeous this year, and you need to see it lit up. It’s the perfect way to end the day.