We’ll trek out to Animal Kingdom for a late arrival, which is something I like to do. You have a lot of options on an arrival day. Heading out to Epcot for a walk around World Showcase is a popular choice. You may want to head out to Magic Kingdom for the Electrical Parade and Wishes or Hollywood Studios for Fantasmic. Downtown Disney or a lazy afternoon at the resort are also perfectly viable. But the “nice thing” about Animal Kingdom is that it doesn’t have a nighttime spectacular to keep the crowds around. That means very few people arrive in the afternoon and huge numbers of people leave shortly after the 3:45pm Parade. With the 8pm close, Animal Kingdom becomes a nice late arrival or park hop.
The bus stop lineup for anyone keeping score at home.
It’s exactly 4:40pm. With the 3:45pm Parade making it a hassle to walk around Discovery Island from about 3:35pm to 4:20pm, I recommend arriving either before or after that. If you arrive in the middle, you may want to spend some time in the Oasis at the front of the Park or in one of the easily accessible stores.
Beastly Bazaar, located in Discovery Island just before arriving in the Asia section, is expected to close August 12th, 2012. It will reopen as an indoor meet and greet. Festival of the Lion King is also expected to move to the Africa section of the Park, leaving Camp Minnie-Mickey as the landing spot for Avatar Land. I’ve considered going all Jim Hill with what I’ve heard about Avatar Land, but don’t want people to laugh me out of the room when the exact opposite happens. I’ll tell you that it’s going to be largely indoors and amazing though.
Inside, Beastly Bazaar is currently a food/merchandise location. It offers the current iteration of the “Picnic in the Park,” which is basically sandwiches that you lug around yourself.
Not a lot of recent menu changes at Animal Kingdom. This one at Yak & Yeti quick service looks the same.
There’s some work going on to the left of Kali River Rapids with refurbishment walls stretching back to the Maharajah Jungle Trek walls.
As usual, Kali River Rapids has the longest standby wait with FASTPASSes further out than any other attraction. FASTPASS is out to 6:40pm to 7:40pm here at 4:43pm. That’s due to a relatively low capacity and much higher popularity when it’s hot out. Plan to visit before 10:30am or you’ll want to use FASTPASS. You could also visit after 7:30pm and find much shorter waits.
The unfortunately titled Sundowner Celebration ended June 30th, but there’s still a DJ here near Yak & Yeti and live music in the Africa section. Why Disney decides to put these sorts of performers along the busiest walkways is a bit odd, but it does result in the largest possible audiences. There’s very little room to walk around the mass of onlookers.
Animal Kingdom is going to be open for another three hours and Expedition Everest is already a virtual walk-on with FASTPASS just 40 minutes out to 5:30pm – 6:30pm. I’m going to opt for a FASTPASS and head to DinoLand. Lines are only going to get shorter. That’s what I usually recommend doing. You want to keep Everest, Kilimanjaro Safaris, and Kali River Rapids for the last 60 to 120 minutes of operation to find the shortest waits possible.
Ruh roh. The “Brazilian Tour Groups” returning to the FASTPASS line. I’m not sure if it’s “racist” to refer to them as “Brazilian Tour Groups.” The fact is a lot of them aren’t actually from Brazil. This is a group from Uruguay, for example. “Brazilian” is certainly used derogatorily in most instances and it’s a gross generalization. Replace “Brazilian” with a number of other identifiers and it seemingly becomes more racist. For example, “We were headed to Expedition Everest and this wave of blacks hit us.” Or, “We were in line at Restaurantosaurus and a bunch of Jews cut in front of us.” Were they black? Yes. Jewish? Probably. So I don’t think it’s fair to say, “They actually were Brazilian so it’s okay to say that.” Of course, we can argue about it on DISboards.com in threads like this one (LOL). They certainly are obnoxious though, just as any large group of unsupervised teenagers would be in most situations. Here, they’re clogging the FASTPASS return line and have set their 5,000 backpacks down on the far left, making it impossible to measure children’s heights. They don’t actually have their FASTPASSes with them, so they’re going to move to the side and try to sort it out. We’ll see them again shortly.
DinoLand is a ghost town.
TriceraTop Spin is flying half full. You could ride nonstop for three hours if you wanted to.
Ordinarily I’d head to DINOSAUR first because wait times are going to be even shorter there earlier in the evening because of its higher capacity. But I noticed they were still running both sides of Primeval Whirl, which is going to result in an even shorter wait. Ordinarily, they’ll shut one side of it down at some point in the evening because so few people are interested in riding.
There’s about eight people in line on the right side.
And about two people on the left side. I was on and off in four minutes. Once is enough.
Over at DINOSAUR, we’ll wait for the next preshow to start.
And no one waiting in the loading bay. Calm down girl, there’s no rush. Speaking of which, you really don’t need to run if you see a bus pulling up. It has to unload. Then it has to load. Then it’s going to sit there for a while waiting for more people to show up. There were three or four time rovers leaving empty for every one that was full. As if DINOSAUR isn’t terrifying enough, I can’t imagine riding alone.
The front of the building used to be so Jurassic-Park-ish until people decided the fountain areas doubled as bath tubs. Then the bushes went up and the fountains were turned down. Another reason why we can’t have nice things.
A total wait/ride/walk-back-out-front-time of around 14 minutes. It would have been quicker but we sat in the rover for a few minutes for technical reasons or some such.
Still no wait at Primeval Whirl.
Maybe three people in line at TriceraTop Spin.
They’re still here. You do not want to get in line in front of or behind a tour group like this. I made the mistake of trying to hurry in front of them and instantly regretted it as they walked in right after. At least eight of them managed to cut in front of me. Bloodcurdling screams the entire ride. Chanting in line. The whole shebang. It was by far the least pleasant ride on Expedition Everest that I’ve ever experienced. Luckily, I was on and off in eight minutes.
Still a 10 minute wait with FASTPASSes just 40 minutes out.
Kali River Rapids posted wait is down to 30 minutes with FASTPASS to 7:10pm to 8pm at 5:46pm. We could grab FASTPASSes now if we wanted to end our day there. I don’t like getting wet as much as you might expect.
Walking over to Africa, it’s less busy around here than it would be at 9:30am or any time after that.
“Safari Egg Roll” as it’s usually called has a new menu.
I wanted to try the Asian Noodle Salad and Summer Rolls, but they were already closed =[
The old menu.
I’m hoping those Summer Rolls are the same as they were before. At the time, I mentioned that the summer roll was, “The best $2 I’ve spent at Disney World in a long time.” Remember what I said about thinking that? It’s a recipe for bye bye. We may not see 8pm closes here next year for that matter. The close at Magic Kingdom was pushed up to 11pm most nights in July this year. Last year, similar days saw 12am and 1am closes. The reason people like those late nights? “There’s no one there and lines are short.” Yeah, exactly.
Instead, we’ll grab lunch at Tamu Tamu Refreshments. You may remember that I like the Slow-roasted Pulled Beef Sandwich, but the Turkey and Swiss on Focaccia was less awe inspiring.
This photo taken on another day shows its location in context. Tusker House is across the street and Kilimanjaro Safaris is in the back.
The Tandoori Chicken Salad – $7.99. No description on the menu. I’m somewhat surprised that Disney doesn’t provide more information about what’s actually in/on a menu item. It seems like items come with all sorts of sauces and such that you might not be expecting. For example, the thousand island dressing concoction they slather over all of those Surf & Turf burgers at ABC Commissary.
This is typical of most Disney salads, though I’ve never seen flatbread included like we have here. It’s a nice touch. Otherwise, it’s a lot of crisp lettuce, mandarin oranges, carrots, tomatoes, and chicken mixed well with a sesame ginger salad dressing. Sesame ginger is one of my favorites! So I’m predisposed to liking it. This luckily did have a lot of chicken in it, unlike the Southwest Salad at Backlot Express. I didn’t think the included bread was much to write home about. It wasn’t soft or particularly crispy and didn’t have a ton of flavor. I enjoyed the salad quite a bit and it’s certainly recommended, though you can probably find more interesting choices elsewhere. The Antipasto Salad at Pizzafari is also very good.
They’re also offering this $8.99 fruit salad.
A ten minute posted wait at Kilimanjaro Safaris with FASTPASS out to 6:45pm – 7:45pm at 6:07pm.
No Jeff. Hope they didn’t transfer him to hamburgers or something.
There’s so few people in line that they aren’t even bothering to load this side.
We’ll “literally” walk right on.
It wasn’t a great safari in terms of number of animals seen, but the ones we do see will be of the highest quality available.
Just the one hippo chillin’.
The gators or crocodiles or whatever are still trying to see if they can do so little that they’ll get kicked off the safari. One has its mouth open in the back. That’s exciting.
Not a lot going on around here.
A couple of whatever these things are. I like to make the joke that Animal Kingdom would be 3.4x more popular if they’d just replace the gorillas, tigers, elephants, and zebras with squirrels, bunnies, baby birds, and ducks. Virtually no one bothers to look up at the million dollar gorillas in Asia, but they freak out over bunnies and little birds. Quick Ma, get out the Instagram!
One downside to the summer-late-arrival is the heat. It’s flippin’ hot. “They” will tell you that Animal Kingdom “feels the hottest,” but I’m not of the same opinion. I’ll take the shade of the trees here over the concrete on Sunset Boulevard at Hollywood Studios or World Showcase at Epcot any day. But it’s still hot. Very hot.
With no one in line, there’s also no one barreling down behind us.
A close up.
These should be the characters in the next Disney animated feature. The thing with the horns will be named Boris and the bird will be named Veronica.
A few more while we’re here:
A nice scene with four giraffes eating.
It’s pretty rare that you’ll see four rhinos together up close like this. We can hope he doesn’t decide to go on a short jog. That’s the side of the truck on the right, so they’re “literally” just a few feet away.
Little pumbas you are so cute! Actually, even as babies you’re pretty unattractive.
I wonder if males/females look for anything in particular in deciding who to try and pick up. “I like Chuck. The hair in his nose is just the right length.”
I don’t think these eggs are ever going to hatch.
Here’s a bumpy video of what the upcoming zebra area looks like at the moment.
As you’re probably aware, there’s no storyline on Kilimanjaro Safaris anymore. No Wilson. No Big Red. No poachers. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t like it. It’s boring. There’s no sense of adventure. There’s no race through the geysers at the end to try and save the baby elephant. There’s no reason our “two week safari” takes 20 minutes. The old story was definitely a little hokey, but they need to add something. The lack of a story does allow the drivers to interact more with guests and offer more information about the animals. Since you can hear the driver’s voice in the video, I won’t point out that this was probably the most boring safari that I’ve ever been on. You would think he would have played up the fact that we were “literally” within inches of rhino horns. On the other hand, my last ride with Craig and family was one of the best ever because the driver seemed genuinely interested in telling us about the animals and offered a bunch of facts that I had never heard before.
Still no one in line at Kilimanjaro with a 10 minute standby and the last FASTPASSes of the day being distributed. According to the Times Guide, the last Safaris depart at 7:45pm. Which means you need to be in line by 7:45pm.
Mostly empty here at 6:47pm.
At Camp Minnie-Mickey, Baloo and King Louie have replaced Goofy, who now only meets inside the Park in DinoLand.
They may have the most fun of any of the characters. Disney needs to buy the rights to “Ted” and get him in here somewhere. A perfect fit for Camp Minnie-Mickey.
Two people in line for Donald.
Maybe 15 people for Minnie.
Surprisingly, no one in line for Mickey.
Terrible picture. Whatever. Despite being the only person in line, the family behind me still momentarily cut in front of me before I pushed them back.
So what have we learned? I’d still plan to head straight to Expedition Everest to collect FASTPASSes when you arrive. If you’re interested in riding Kali River Rapids, you may want to collect FASTPASSes there if they’re still available. When you arrive, you can look at the wait times board to see if FASTPASSes are still available or check your mobile application (Mobile Magic and TouringPlans.com’s Lines are both excellent). Then I’d plan to do some of the lesser/high capacity attractions until about 6pm. DINOSAUR, It’s Tough to Be A Bug, Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, Maharajah Jungle Trek, and Rafiki’s Planet Watch would all be good choices. You could also do the 6pm Finding Nemo or 6:30pm Festival of the Lion King without having to arrive more than ten minutes early to secure good seats. On a day like today when the Park is virtually empty already at 5:30pm, you can pretty much do whatever you want. I’d just avoid the Kali River Rapids standby line until after 7:30pm. I like to end the evening on Expedition Everest where you’ll be able to ride over and over with virtually no waits. It’s just going to get progressively less crowded through 8pm.
So I know what you’re thinking. “Is it going to be this empty when I visit in ____________” In July, it should be on a recommended day early in the week or on a Saturday. Non-recommended days and days later in the week are busier, but not “crazy busy” by any stretch of the imagination. You just don’t have people arriving late because there’s “nothing to stick around for.” While I like Yak & Yeti, Tusker House, and virtually all of the quick services, the restaurants aren’t pulling in people. And so many people skip the jungle walks, shows, and whatnot, that a lot of people leave after just a few hours. After finishing up at 8pm, you could take the bus over to Animal Kingdom Lodge for dinner and a look around, head back to your resort, hop elsewhere, grab a late night dining reservation inside Animal Kingdom, or do whatever else you like. It’s “just” 8pm.
I like these Tree of Life topped pens.
A few more items:
This may be proof that the world is ending.
Class of 2k12 branded.
Maybe I’ll finally get around to that Pop Century post.