We’ll pop into Animal Kingdom again here on the first of December, after taking a look at the Christmas decorations last month.
A 4:15pm arrival is a little later than the website recommends with the 7pm close if you want to do anything more than ride the major attractions.
This time of year, the last Safari officially departs at 4:45pm, which means you have to be in line by 4:45pm if you want to ride. They are not usually lenient with that closing time. Pangani Forest Exploration Trail and Maharajah Jungle Trek typically close at the same time. The last train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch departs at 4:50pm and Rafiki’s Planet Watch closes at 5pm. As usual, Flame Tree and Yak & Yeti Local Foods Cafe quick service stop operating one hour prior to Park close. So once 5pm hits, our options are going to be limited to DinoLand for TriceraTop Spin, Dinosaur, Primeval Whirl, The Boneyard, and Finding Nemo the Musical along with Asia for Kali River Rapids (may close in temperatures under 60 degrees) and Expedition Everest. Most of the characters continue meeting until 30 minutes prior to Park close, including Dug/Russell, Minnie/Mickey, the Camp Minnie-Mickey characters, Pluto/Goofy in DinoLand, and Pooh/Eeyore/Tigger. There’s also Festival of the Lion King show at Camp Minnie-Mickey (through January 5th) and It’s Tough to be a Bug in Discovery Island open.
Keep in mind what closes early and how long before that you’ll need to arrive in order to take care of those attractions. Fast forward five months and early closures are less of a concern with the later sunset.
Crowds typically clear out immediately following the 3:45pm Parade, particularly when the overall crowd level is below average and afternoon waits aren’t too bad. We have a 15-minute wait at Everest. With the wildlife treks and other things closing before dusk, most people will want to take care of those attractions up until about 5pm. I like to hit DinoLand with two hours to Park close and then finish up with Expedition Everest in Asia. Take a look at the Lion King and Finding Nemo the Musical show times as well. http://wdwent.com will update show times for the following week every Saturday night.
Disney continues modifying Animal Kingdom’s quick service menus.
Trilo-Bites, located near the entrance to DinoLand from Discovery Island, has added “Frosty Milk Shakes.” Which is most likely code for soft serve in a cup. The Floats and Waffle Bowl Sundaes are also new as of last week. Before 3pm, they offer a “Pulled Buffalo Chicken Sandwich” with Apple Slices for $9.19.
I thought the waffles were good, but it’s not a lot of food for your six bucks.
After a roundabout walk to Africa via every other Land, we arrive at Safaris at 4:40pm.
With a truck waiting with five empty rows.
Three lions that walked into Disney’s zoological nets on their own accord I’m sure.
Construction continues at the new Festival of the Lion King theater in front of its expected six-plus-month-hiatus beginning in January.
From across the water. It might not look like it, but they have made a reasonable amount of progress behind the walls.
Tamu Tamu Refreshments got itself a brand new menu last week as well.
Menu prior to November 24th. Losing three unique entrees is a bummer, particularly the Pulled Beef Sandwich and Quinoia Salad. The Roasted Chicken Salad Sandwich looks to return sans sandwich. And they no longer offer their house-made chips.
Lisa ordered said Roasted Chicken Salad, which had a prettier presentation than this picture seems to insinuate. Despite having a similar description, the mild African spices were so mild that they were nearly nonexistent. It tasted like a pretty standard chicken salad, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It was filling without being heavy and paired nicely with the fresh pita bread.
From the description, I wasn’t sure if the apple slices were part of the salad or served on the side. Your wallet would probably be better served ordering the salad without the 2.2 ounce package of apples. You’ll save two bucks.
I ordered the Slow-cooked Chicken Curry – Mild African-spiced Chicken Curry served over Jasmine Rice – $9.19.
It was quite good and had a more distinct African-spiced flavor than the chicken salad. It was also a heaping portion and incredibly filling. The rice underneath was cooked well, which is a rarity in quick service land. The pita seemed superfluous, but Lisa appreciated a few more bites with her salad.
I continue to like Tamu Tamu a lot. It’s virtually never busy and there’s a ton of low key seating behind the restaurant. Dawa Bar, with the best cocktail/beer/wine selection you’ll find at Animal Kingdom, is also right across the street. And Kusafiri Treats and Harambe Fruit are only a handful of feet away as well.
And if you time it right, you can enjoy the Tam Tam Drummers or Burudika. The limited number of entrees is a bit of a deterrent though, particular with kids. But it’s here and the food is well above average if it sounds good.
Walls still line the bridge over to Discovery Island as well as all the way around the back side of Dawa Bar and Tusker House.
Tree of Life.
Adventurers Outpost is decked out for the holidays and Mickey and Minnie greet in their Christmas sweaters and Santa hats. With Minnie’s move to Storybook Circus at Magic Kingdom, it’s rare to catch both characters together. We arrived at 5:38pm to a 25-minute posted wait. The line moves terribly slowly here, even with few people arriving with FastPass+. We ended up waiting exactly 18 minutes with maybe 20 people in front of us.
Animal Kingdom FastPass+ selections are not yet tiered, meaning you can pick any three you like. In terms of prioritizing them, most people will want to select the following in the fall/winter:
- Expedition Everest
- Kilimanjaro Safaris
- Adventurers Outpost Mickey and Minnie Meet and Greet
If you don’t want to meet the characters, picking Kali River Rapids is probably wisest. That way you can guarantee a short wait in the afternoon when temperatures are highest. If highs are under 75 degrees, you may want to swap that for Primeval Whirl. The only other ride that offers FastPass+ is DINOSAUR. As long as you visit DINOSAUR before 11am or in the last two hours, your wait should be less than 10 minutes, making it a low priority. Legacy FASTPASSes for DINOSAUR are also disconnected from the system at the moment, so you can pull them along with any other attraction if you have access.
On the show front, It’s Tough to be a Bug offers FastPass+, but you’ll almost always only have to wait for the next show to start. That makes FP+ largely useless. Finding Nemo the Musical and Festival of the Lion King offer FastPass+, but arriving 15 to 20 minutes before a show should result in the same seats you would find anyway. Cut your arrival closer to five minutes early with FastPass+ and your seats will be lousy anyway. The priorities will likely change after Animal Kingdom joins Epcot and Hollywood Studios on the tier front. And Kali River Rapids will be the highest priority in the summer when temperatures rise along with interest.
Heading over to Everest.
Everest’s posted wait dropped to 5 minutes and they were only operating the FASTPASS line.
Front row is terrifying in the dark. We managed to ride in the front row and the back row consecutively over a total of 14 minutes. YOU CAN TOO IF YOU SIMPLY DO NOT DEVIATE FROM THE WEBSITE’S ADVICE AT ANY TIME EVER.
These light-up shirts, complete with USB cable, are a fairly new thing. Hopefully apparel that comes with an instruction booklet is few and far between.
Instead of glowing with the show.
You blink with the sound.
Animal Kingdom has a great nighttime lighting package. Take advantage if you have the opportunity to see it.
I thought easyWDW said this was a low crowd time.
Finishing up with DINOSAUR with six other people.
We were *this close* to getting our own vehicle until the family that had just gotten back decided they JUST WANTED TO GO AGAIN. VACATION RUINED. CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT FILED.
In related news, Shannon Albert is threatening to sue me in Texas. I may need to set up my tent in the backyard of one of the website’s esteemed Texas-based fans. I am willing to root for the football team of your choice and I travel with the world’s largest suitcase full of beer and liquor.
A late arrival at Animal Kingdom may help open up your itinerary a bit, particularly if you want an additional rope drop at another Park. You may also find it entirely unnecessary to use any FastPass+ experiences here, which means you can schedule them at another Park. Like other late arrivals, you basically tour in reverse of what you would do at rope drop, starting with the anytime attractions and then finishing with the priority attractions after most people have left or have other preoccupations like dinner or fireworks. With no nighttime entertainment, a relatively early close, and underrated restaurants, there simply isn’t anything keeping the casual tourist inside Animal Kingdom once the Parade exits next to Pizzafari. Consider taking advantage.