We pick things up after moving through the two Pandora rides in standby on the morning of Tuesday July 25, 2017. Part 1, which details the rope drop experience, is located here in case you missed it. As a reminder, this is the end of the line for Flight of Passage at 9:36am or 36 minutes after official open. The actual standby wait would be somewhere between 150-180+ minutes. You might remember that I was standing inside the gift shop after riding at 9:10am, or just ten minutes after official Park open. This puts me in the best possible shape to continue with my day, hopefully enjoying short waits outside of Pandora. Let’s see what we’re up against.
After Pandora, there’s basically three directions you could go – Africa, Asia, or DinoLand. Here’s a look at wait times over the course of the day:
These waits are above average – the weather had been pretty poor the previous few days, which typically keeps some number of people away from the Parks, and Animal Kingdom/Magic Kingdom in particular. Once the weather clears up, more guests flock to Animal Kingdom/Magic Kingdom than would otherwise. Tuesdays are also typically the busiest weekday at Animal Kingdom. So the cards are stacked against us.
DinoLand is the most foolproof Land to visit after Pandora. While my rope drops have gone pretty well, it’s certainly possible that you could be delayed on Avatar Flight of Passage due to technical difficulties. It’s also possible that your arrival will be delayed a bit and waits for Flight of Passage and River Journey will be longer than they would if DAD WOULD JUST GET OUT OF BED ON TIME. I could be at my next attraction around 9:45am. According to the chart above, Everest is already up to 20 minutes, but DINOSAUR, Primeval Whirl, and Kilimanjaro Safaris should all be walk-ons. By 10:30am, Everest is at 45 minutes and Safaris is up to 40, while DINO is still sporting 20 minutes through 11am. So I opted to head to DINOSAUR next and use FastPass+ at Expedition Everest and Kilimanjaro Safaris later in the afternoon.
A steady, but not overwhelming, number of people crossing the bridge into Discovery Island at 9:40am.
The walk towards DINOSAUR is a far cry from the crowding surrounding Flight of Passage.
Yes, hello there. 10 minutes at 9:46am seems doable.
But there were only six other people in front of us in the queue and we walked right into the pre-show.
Disney was only loading one of the two sides, but we aren’t going to see any negative consequences of that…yet.
Still the most underrated ride at Walt Disney World.
And back out front at 10:01am for a total experience time of 15 minutes. (Total experience time being the amount of time it takes between entering the line and being back out in front of the attraction.) According to the attraction page, we’re expecting a total experience time of 18 minutes when using FastPass+, so we’re even ahead of that, which shouldn’t be surprising given the six other people walking the queue.
I go back and forth on the intelligence of going to DINO or Primeval Whirl first and usually it doesn’t much matter. DINOSAUR typically sees the longer experience time, while waits are longer at Primeval Whirl given capacity reductions. Personally, I like to ride DINO, hate my life during Primeval Whirl, then try to repair my body during TriceraTop Spin afterwards. Strictly from a touring efficiency perspective, you’d probably want to do Primeval Whirl before DINOSAUR in most scenarios. Otherwise, the posted wait is 20 minutes at 10:04am.
And with one side operating, an actual wait of 20ish minutes is likely.
I wanted to try Yak & Yeti breakfast (which turned out to be a very bad choice, but still probably better than riding Primeval Whirl), which ends at 10:30am, so I called an audible and skipped Primeval. Along with It’s Tough To Be A Bug, it’s the easiest FastPass+ to secure as a 4th (or even 7th or 8th) selection later in the day. So if I have another momentary lapse of judgment later in the day or decide that I no longer value the alignment of my vertebrae, I can always return later.
So we headed over to TriceraTop Spin, which is going to be a walk-on at 10:06am.
Weeeeee. We were on our way at 10:12am for a total experience time of six minutes. Of the spinners, TriceraTop probably has the least impressive views, but the time investment is so little that it might be worth hopping on.
Off to breakfast, which I review here. While we’re only about 75 minutes into regular operation, if you’re present for an early Pandora rope drop, you will probably be ready for a break given the morning heat and humidity.
After breakfast, Kali is posting 40 minutes just before 11:05am. 20 minutes later, it’ll be posted at 120 minutes. That’s still “two hours” rather than “one hour and twenty minutes.”
And over to Expedition Everest.
Crowds have picked up a bit here at the end of July, though Animal Kingdom is nowhere close to pulling in the number of people or the amount of money that Disney was expecting with the Pandora opening. Daily attendance this summer has hovered around 29,000 guests, which is below the average of around 31,000 that the Park enjoyed last year. But we still have August. And October.
Expedition Everest is posted at 45 minutes at 11:09am.
Fewer than a dozen people waiting in single rider, which should mean an actual wait of around three minutes for those that opt for that route.
You might be able to catch a glimmer of the hawk during the ascent if you’re sitting towards the front of the train.
If you’re placed towards the back, you may have to wait until the descent to see it pop up and even then, it’s pretty well camouflaged. You might notice it in the upper left of the frame underneath the orange flag. You also might not.
Here’s a look at Everest wait times since Animal Kingdom began opening at 9am on July 5th:
An arrival at Everest around 9:45am is around the best you could hope for if you have plans on riding both Pandora attractions first thing – 10am would be more conservative. If you skipped Na’vi River Journey or Flight of Passage (in particular) then you could arrive much earlier and find much shorter waits.
Amusingly(?), several direct lightning strikes knocked Everest out for the majority of July 21st and 22nd.
Here’s the wait times chart from one of my June rope drops:
At Everest back in June, you’ve got a full two hours before the wait hits 20 minutes before it goes up to 45 minutes at 10:45am. So far in July, the average wait is 41 minutes at 10:45am. So the waits at that time of day are very similar – the difference with the 8am open is that it offers the extra hour in the morning to get over to the attractions when waits are still short. With the 9am open, you’ve only got about 45 minutes before waits start becoming oppressive at headlining attractions outside Pandora.
Still, with FastPass+, my total experience time is just 12 minutes as the wait has dropped to 35.
Here in the summer, you’re going to see a big jump at Kali River Rapids around 10:30am, here with the 120-minute wait just before 11:30am. A look at wait times from the last couple of weeks:
The 120 minutes we see on this particular Tuesday is actually the longest wait time before 1pm of the entire month, but the 47-minute average is going to be prohibitive. It’s a smart use of a pre-booked FastPass+, which will also protect you against the ride going down for lightning. If you don’t mind riding later in the day, it’s a walk on virtually every night after 8pm, even if the posted wait remains 20ish minutes. And waits remain short before 10am.
Over to Africa.
And to Kilimanjaro Safaris.
The posted wait is 25 minutes at 11:35am, but looked closer to 45 minutes given the length of the line. Here’s posted waits for July:
Heading to Safaris after Pandora usually makes sense if that’s what you’d prefer to do – Africa is more convenient to the alien landscape. But by 10am, actual waits are already hitting 20 minutes on average and you can find yourself in the unlucky situation of seeing a 30+ minute wait from time to time.
As a reminder, you’ll find the permanent FastPass+ entrance closer to the standby entrance, where there are now four touchpoints to help reduce congestion.
This picture captures how inspired this particular safari ended up being:
The pictures last time were a lot better, including baby elephant Stella taking a bath. On the plus side, you might notice the grey, fuzzy flamingos down on the left.
Last time, we saw them moments after being born.
And back out front at 12:06pm, for a total experience time of 31 minutes, which is pretty good.
Not much to see along a particularly crowded Gorilla Falls Trail:
Entering and exiting Pandora through New Harambe has not been a problem after opening weekend. Theoretically, Disney can shut the Africa -> Pandora corridor down for crowd control purposes.
People waiting 50+ minutes for Festival of the Lion King…with FastPass+…
The path that connects Pandora and Africa is a pleasant one. From Africa, continue walking past the Festival of the Lion King theater behind Tusker House. From Pandora, the entrance/exit is on the opposite side of the “main” entrance next to Tiffins/Nomad Lounge/Pizzafari, basically to the right of Satu’li Canteen in the back of the area.
You may run into the occasional tour group, but anybody that visited over the summer four, five, or six years ago will tell you that the number of groups is easily down 80%+ and the size of each group is typically smaller. There’s a lot less yellow and green with such high taxes levied on group travel originating in Brazil. The Brazilian Real is up about 30% compared to the late 2015/early 2016 lows, but the Brazilian currency is still down over half compared to the 2011 highs.
While scoring a day-of Flight of Passage FastPass+ for a group larger than two people is going to take a lot of luck and a lot of refreshing, day-of Na’vi River Journey FastPass+ are typically more plentiful. It’s probably not fair to attribute that directly to people that ride in standby early and decide that they want to switch out a second leisurely ride through the dark for the excitement of Expedition Everest, but somebody is cancelling those FastPass+ for the middle of the afternoon. Anyway, I managed to secure River Journey for a prime 1pm-2pm return time on the night before by refreshing every few minutes while I didn’t work on blog posts. This is the end of the line at 1:20pm.
I’m guessing the Donald Trump animatronic for Hall of Presidents will be using a different hand mold.
With FastPass+, the total experience time was 13 minutes.
Standby is a lot longer.
Pandora, or more accurately, the Valley of Mo’ara, remains pretty chill most of the day. You absolutely don’t need to be concerned about “braving the crowds to use a FastPass+ in the middle of the afternoon.” One nice thing is that you have to go out of your way to visit the area. It’s not like the walkway past Peter Pan’s Flight and it’s a small world, where thousands of people constantly pass through in order to get where they’re trying to go.
But still, a healthy number of people moving in and out of the Land.
Overall, this is what I accomplished:
- 7:15am: Arrival 15 minutes earlier than necessary.
- 7:42am: Through bag check.
- 8:17am: Enter Park.
- 8:37am – 9:12am: Flight of Passage
- 9:14am – 9:25am – Na’vi River Journey
- 9:46am – 10:02am: DINOSAUR
- 10:06am – 10:12am: TriceraTop Spin
- 10:20am – 11:05am: Breakfast
- 11:09am – 11:21am: Expedition Everest with FastPass+
- 11:35am – 12:06pm: Kilimanjaro Safaris with FastPass+
- 12:06pm – 12:35pm: Pangani Forest Exploration Trail
- 12:35pm – 1:10pm: “Shaved ice” and corn on the cob.
- 1:21pm – 1:33pm: Na’vi River Journey with FastPass+
That’s a pretty successful morning with the 45-minute breakfast and 35-minute snack breaks probably mirroring stops that most people will need to take given the heat and humidity of the summer. Instead of sitting around ingesting bloggable snacks, I could have instead visited shows or taken in some of the atmospheric entertainment.
As in the past, those with Avatar Flight of Passage FastPass+ will have an easier time in the morning by skipping the simulator ride first thing. You can skip the entirety of the rope drop mumbo jumbo, hang back, and still ride River Journey with a wait under five minutes. Immediately head to another Land and you’ll find short waits there as well and a whole lot less stress and aggravation to start the day. Otherwise, with the success I had moving through Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey first thing, it would be viable to head to Kilimanjaro Safaris or Expedition Everest immediately after, but DinoLand remains a safer option. Using FastPass+ at those two attractions in the late morning or afternoon works perfectly well.
I’ll see what’s next.