UP! A Great Bird Adventure Review at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
UP! A Great Bird Adventure Opened On: April 22, 2018, replacing Flights of Wonder.
See this page for all of the Disney’s Animal Kingdom attraction reviews.
Location: UP! A Great Bird Adventure takes place in the Caravan Theater in the Asia section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, to the left of Yak & Yeti Restaurant and the walkway towards Kali River Rapids and Maharajah Jungle Trek. It’s sort of in between Expedition Everest and Kilimanjaro Safaris on the back walkway at Animal Kingdom.
Extra Magic Hours: No.
Show Length: 25 minutes.
Disney typically schedules five shows throughout the day. Expect them to start at 10:30am, 12pm, 1:30pm, 3:30pm, and 5pm. Double check the Times Guide, My Disney Experience app, or DisneyWorld.com.
Scary Factor: Only those with ornithophobia, or an abnormal fear of birds, should be any danger. On the other hand, if you loved Flights of Wonder, you might be terrified by what has replaced it.
When To Go: The last show of the day is typically the least crowded and your best bet. Raised bleacher seating in the back, which is where I prefer to sit, will be available for just about any show. More on this later.
Expect to Wait: Guests wishing to be closest to the stage should arrive 30 minutes before showtime with FastPass+ to be let in first. To sit in the back, you can safely arrive a couple of minutes before showtime.
Length: 25 minutes.
What to Expect: UP! A Great Bird Adventure replaced Flights of Wonder a few years ago.
I always considered Flights to be a hidden gem – charming in its execution, authentically funny, and surprisingly educational. Unfortunately, it never pulled in a great number of guests, and it was unlikely that anyone who wasn’t familiar with the Park would go out of their way to visit the show. Instead, a few people would inevitably wander over, or be pulled in by the cast member outside the theater showing off a couple of birds, and others would follow suit.
In the re-imagining of the show, adding popular characters from Pixar’s Up should have increased interest, in addition to providing an easy avenue to deliver relevant content and jokes.
Unfortunately, while Dug and Russell both appear on stage, neither is able to speak freely, and both rely on voice recordings to move the story forward. A big part of what made Flights of Wonder work was the improvisation of the cast based on the unpredictability of the birds’ behavior. It’s always funnier when things don’t go quite according to plan.
The original version of the UP! show was so bad that Disney quickly rewrote it with a renewed focus on mysticism.
That didn’t work either, so Disney rewrote the show two more times over the course of just about a year, settling on a storyline that follows a bumbling Wilderness Explorers troop leader who is a little more vapid than can probably be believed. In Flights of Wonder, Guano Joe, a famous adventurist who just happened to be scared to death of birds, may not have been particularly believable either. But he was obviously an intelligent guy who was simply unfamiliar with the birds’ natural beauty and instinct. We learned along with him. By the end of the current show, the troop leader may still not know which continent they’re on.
The current version of UP! A Great Bird Adventure relies on the most simplistic gags and puns imaginable.
Still, kids will enjoy seeing Dug and Russell on stage, and the birds continue to steal the show, particularly now that Dug and Russell take a back seat to the birds and live performers. Compared to the original script, they probably deliver 75% less dialogue.
This may lead to more disappointment from those who were expecting to see the popular duo steal the show.
Where to Sit:
Up front, there are three sections separated by walkways.
The rows down below are close together, and the rise between each is low, making it more difficult to see over the heads of guests sitting in front of you. There also isn’t much legroom.
My personal preference is to see the show from the raised bleacher seating in the back, where it’s much easier to see the show, and you can spread out away from the people, who may spend their time talking through the show anyway. In the back, people have ten or more feet in between them. Up front, you’ll have somebody sitting a couple inches away from you, and little room in front of you.
After the show, the performers invite guests to head up to the front of the stage for a better look at the birds and to take pictures with them and the performers.
Watching the show from the back, and then taking some time to see the birds up close after the show, may be your best bet.
Here’s a wide-angle view of the entire seating area from the back.
FastPass+: Yes, low priority. UP! A Great Bird Adventure distributes fewer FastPass+ experiences than other shows due to the theater’s lower capacity, but it’s incredibly unlikely that FastPass+ will be necessary to see a show. There is no reserved section for FastPass+ users. In order for FastPass+ to be advantageous, you’d need to arrive at least 30 minutes before showtime. Then, you’d need to hurry down to one of the center rows up front. Most people will prefer to spend that half hour doing something other than waiting for this show. On incredibly busy days, FastPass+ does guarantee a seat to the show, and it is possible that using it will get you into a show that would be full for standby users. In that case, you’ve got a lot bigger problems than being able to get into the UP! show.
What You Miss Using FastPass+: Only waiting on the left side of the entrance into the theater, since those with FastPass+ wait on the right side. Otherwise, nothing.
Total Average Experience Time with FastPass+: 45 minutes, assuming you arrive 20 minutes before show time. Add or subtract time depending on your planned arrival.
4th FastPass+ Availability: Later shows typically offer FastPass+ availability more often than earlier shows. There may initially be no day-of availability for a certain show, but people are likely to cancel or change their plans throughout the day. This makes it a lot more common for shows to become available with persistent refreshing. Most guests will want to key in on other FastPass+ selections and instead slip into an UP! show in standby.
When to Arrive: 30 minutes early, with FastPass+, for seats in the center section close to the stage. Arrive just a minute or two before showtime for seats in the back section or off to the sides.
Josh’s Take: UP! A Great Bird Adventure severely lags behind Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo the Musical at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Its saving grace is that it takes so little effort to see the show from the back bleachers. Also on the plus side, younger guests will appreciate seeing Dug and Russell on stage. The characters are also more likely to hold their attention. For older guests, many of the same birds still appear, and continue enchanting guests with their unpredictable behavior. The current version of the show, with the inept troop leader, has a number of cringe-worthy moments. Still, the show is serviceable if you have some time to kill. Most of Animal Kingdom’s other entertainment options offer more bang for your time.