I am a little disappointed no one harassed me about “Appies” in the Territory Lounge review.
I spent the afternoon of September 23rd at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, realizing I didn’t have a lot to say about it because I’ve covered it pretty extensively over the past 18 months and there isn’t a ton going on as we await further news regarding Avatar and character relocation.
But instead of saying nothing, I thought I’d tell you everything I know about it, or at least everything that comes to mind as I write this post.
At times, the pictures will be unrelated.
The website continues to be somewhat amused by the “reports” that Disney World is “busy” here in September. I can assure you that it is not. Animal Kingdom is open for two and a half more hours, and outside of Kali River Rapids, we aren’t going to run into any appreciable waits.
Barack Obama riding Expedition Everest. STAND DOWN FOR MR. PEROT, SIR! It’s going to be to the point where there’s “literally” no one in line for Expedition Everest around 4:30pm and the close isn’t until 6pm. Animal Kingdom comes highly recommended. I won’t tell you what “other crowd calendar” websites had as their recommendation, but I will tell you that it wasn’t a “Best Park.”
But it “feels” crowded. Reports seem to indicate that Team Disney Orlando is “cheap,” but that’s at least two planters for everyone currently in the Park.
Animal Kingdom is my favorite “late arrival” and it’s a good choice to visit on your arrival day should you be arriving in Orlando around 10am. With no evening entertainment, the Park clears out beginning around 2pm and virtually everyone leaves after the 3:45pm Parade.
I love to pop in, grab lunch, ride Everest a few times, hop on Kilimanjaro Safaris, and take a look around. Hands down, it’s the prettiest.
And that’s particularly possible in September, when crowds are at their lowest level of the year.
Particularly from Fall through Winter, there are a few things you generally want to avoid.
- Magic Kingdom on Mondays and Saturdays when they feature rare nighttime entertainment. People avoid the 9am – 7pm Mickey’s Party days like the plague, which causes days with longer operating hours and nighttime entertainment to be astronomically busier. Because I realize people also want to see these shows, I try to recommend at least one day during the week where Wishes and the Electrical Parade are offered, with the caveat that they will be busier. Spoiler: It’s usually in the middle of the week.
- Hollywood Studios on Saturdays and days with evening Extra Magic Hours attached.
- Animal Kingdom on most Wednesdays, or days other than Monday with a morning Extra Magic Hour attached.
- Epcot when it’s hosting evening Extra Magic Hours or Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays during the Food & Wine Festival.
Other than that, you’re probably in good shape. To the people who tell you September is busy, you really have to take note of where they were that day, what they were expecting, and when they arrived. Luckily if you follow this website, you should be well apprised expectation-wise.
I’ll skip to it if you’re just here for my luxurious food “reviews.”
As you may be aware, Restaurantosaurus got one of the more major menu overhauls this past August.
I ordered the Grilled Chicken Sandwich, having virtually no idea what was actually on it. Turns out it’s grilled chicken, cheddar cheese, tomatoes, bacon, the same sauce that was on the Shrimp Po’ Boy (Thousand Island, probably), all on a hot dog bun. I took one look at it and realized consuming it was not going to be an attractive process. Luckily, I am forever alone. I enjoyed this once I got to the part that had sauce. It didn’t have a lot of flavor without the sauce and the sauce was only located near the end of the side of the bun that I didn’t start with. Not knowing it had sauce, I didn’t complete any redistribution. This was a nice, seemingly healthier option. It was a nice freshly grilled chicken breast on a nice, fresh roll. The bacon was prepared better than the overdone nonsense I was served over at All-Star Movies for breakfast. The caveat is just that it’s incredibly messy with the tomatoes falling off as you try to angle it into your mouth. Otherwise, this is the best quick service chicken sandwich I think I’ve had at Disney World. The ones at ABC Commissary and Cosmic Ray’s are on the sad side of things.
And the somewhat sad looking side of fries, which comes in a separate tub. Luckily, they were piping hot and tasted better than how they probably look. I have to give a shoutout to my girl Wendy working the register, who is one of the sweetest cast members you’ll ever interact with. She asked if I was having fun, where I was from, what I was planning to do, and gave me some advice on finding Everest with a shorter wait. That’s another nice thing about visiting when it’s less busy. In July, cast members are too hot, underpaid, and constantly harassed by vacationing Americans and tour groups half the size of Brazil. Cast transformation from July to September is staggering and not something most people would notice.
I also opted for the Lychee Coconut Rum Lemonade.
Disney added a plethora of alcoholic beverages, mostly rum based, to Animal Kingdom back in August. You may remember the paltry Bacardi Raspberry Lemonade over at Dino Diner, which consisted of nothing more than a half ounce of Bacardi Razz Rum underneath the non-alcoholic frozen lemonade. It was very good, but the $8.75 price point is less palpable.
Ummmmmmmmmm, if I was going to “review” this, I would tell you that it’s extremely sweet, not particularly boozy, and tasted like what I assume lychees taste like. It was tres refreshing. The coconut flavor comes from the rum, so if you’re coconut-adverse, I don’t think you have much to worry about. Of course, there’s a “wildberry mango” iteration. Coconut rum isn’t particularly alcoholic, so don’t expect to get drunk here. But I was happy with the portion and the flavor for the price, especially because “lychee lemonades” aren’t particularly common. Recommended.
Over at Harambe Popcorn, they added a $2.49 Jungle Juice, which is a mixture of orange, guava, and passionfruit juices.
Only this variety is frozen, unlike the concoctions you’ll find at Tusker House, ‘Ohana, and Boma. And it would taste mighty fine with some rum or something in it. I’m just saying.
I’ll go ahead and give this one the death blow – it was very good and a very good value for the price, compared to the $3.99 frozen drinks offered around property. That said, it’s extremely sweet. Extremely. And it’s going to take some time to consume. As I was thirsty, I just wanted to guzzle some juice and hop on Safaris, but I ended up sitting trying to drink this instead. With your only option the Animal Kingdom “straws” outside of risking pouring the thing on yourself, I recommend finding something to do outside of an attraction for 15 to 20 minutes. It’s so sweet that a few people can probably share one too. It cooled me down about 20 degrees. September is still hot, but that October breeze seems to be invading and November isn’t too far off.
NapkinGate2k12: The problem seems to have corrected itself. I still say you should continue to steal them and put them in your kids’ lunches! GENERIC NAPKIN, THIS REMINDS ME SO MUCH OF OUR MEMORIES AT WALT DISNEY WORLD RESORT IN ORLANDO, FLORIDA.
Animal Kingdom generally begins operating its turnstiles at 8:45am for the 9am openings. I recommend the far right “Guest and Cast Member Entrance” turnstiles. Prior to 8:45am, guests eating an early breakfast at Tusker House and those doing the early Wild Africa Trek will enter and there is rarely an appreciable line. If you’re unsure, line up to the turnstile immediately to the left and then hurry over once the cast member lets everyone know that they can switch over.
Because Disney is dumb and hates us, they corral everyone at the base of the Tree of Life until about 9am, at which point toddlers are trampled and senior citizens are pushed over as people rush to Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest. Okay, it’s not really that bad. But for a period of time, you could just waltz into the Park and get in line for your favorite attraction at 8:45am. Since there’s no real opening show outside of a cast member saying hello, I’m not sure why they don’t do that instead. They don’t have to start operating the attractions until 9am if they don’t want to, but I’d rather stand in line than huddle with the masses as we jockey for position over to Safaris. If you’re headed to Everest first, I recommend going the route through DinoLand if you’re familiar with it. That should put you ahead of the rope droppers and you won’t deal with the crowded walkways.
I like to do:
- Kilimanjaro Safaris
- FASTPASS Kilimanjaro Safaris (or save it for Everest) with return time around 10:20am – 11:20am
- Kali River Rapids
- Expedition Everest
- Primeval Whirl
which will take you until about 10:30am to 10:45am assuming a moderate pace. I don’t like to FASTPASS Safaris before riding because it will only make the standby line longer and it’s going to be tough to get back over there to use it with a return time of 9:40am – 10:40am.
Alternatively, if you’re interested in hitting the Character Trails in Camp Minnie-Mickey:
- Expedition Everest
- Kilimanjaro Safaris
- Character Trails
- Lion King at 10:30am
The Character Trails, where you’ll find Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Chip, Dale, Baloo, King Louie, and Pocahontas usually begin meeting at 10am. With this, I’d head over to DinoLand in the final hour or two of operation if you’re staying through, unless crowds are light like they are today. Crowds in DinoLand are usually heaviest from 11:30am – 3pm and drop substantially after the 3:45pm Parade.
I usually skip Kali River Rapids, but it often has the longest waits and FASTPASSes the furthest out when temperatures are 80+ degrees.
Due to a limited capacity.
Disney has installed lockers, but they are not operational yet. They are expected to be free for the first two hours and cost some amount of money after that.
You will most likely get drenched.
To avoid the wait, ride before 10:30am, use FASTPASS, or make it the last thing you do that day. It would fit nicely before or after Expedition Everest in the morning depending on which direction you take. You may walk right past it. As you walk toward Everest from Africa, it’s located on the left after you pass Yak & Yeti quick service. From Everest to Africa, it’s on the right before you arrive at Yak & Yeti.
Because of its monster capacity, waits at Everest are usually the second longest.
I managed to ride twice and take a few pictures between 4:03pm and 4:21pm. I walked the entire queue without seeing another person. BUT IT FEELS BUSY!
Another good time is to ride right before it closes. You should be able to be on and off in ten or so minutes each time.
It remains my favorite coaster at Disney World and I wish Disney would build a few more similarly thrilling rides.
Seems busy, but we’ll press forward.
Does it have nipples? Can I milk it?
DinoLand is actually one of my favorite places in any Disney Park, which may make my other opinions even more irrelevant.
The whole purpose of it is to look cheap.
It’s supposed to look like a ripoff built over an old parking lot.
Chester and Hester were trying to capitalize on the researchers’ presence and the popularity of the dig site.
But this fact is lost on most people because Disney doesn’t convey the message well.
So if you arrive and think, “Wow this looks cheap,” it’s supposed to.
That said, going in a different direction probably would have been wiser. Maybe Chester and Hester can do what Disney seems unable to – cough up some cash for some rides.
It’s so busy that they’ve almost managed to fill all of the dinosaurs here around 4pm. For DinoLand, visiting before 11am is usually fine. I like to do Primeval Whirl first because it’s a shorter attraction that has a lower capacity than DINOSAUR. Over at DINOSAUR, there shouldn’t be an appreciable wait before 11am most days.
In a similar vein, ride Primeval Whirl after DINOSAUR in the evening.
I wish the people would get out of the picture so I could get a good shot. Finding Nemo the Musical is on our left as we walk from Asia to DinoLand. The first and last shows are the least crowded, though seats usually remain for all shows when crowds are low like this.
Archival footage. Shows are currently scheduled daily at 11am, 12pm, 1:00pm, 3pm, and 5pm. The 11am show would be easily doable if you do my “recommended morning” with some additional time for whatevz. This is a show I don’t remember enjoying as much as I do. It runs about 40 minutes, so the 3pm show isn’t a good choice if you’re doing the Parade because it will be harder to find a front row spot. Conversely, it’s also a good choice if you’re not doing the Parade. I’d avoid 12pm and 1pm if possible or plan to arrive 15 to 20 minutes early.
These ladies have the right idea. This is how you tour Animal Kingdom.
In Part 2(!), we’ll ride Everest a couple times, check out zebra construction at Kilimanjaro Safaris, and discuss food. Ask a question and I’ll include the answer in Part 2!