All Photos by Alex Westcott.
If you’re trying to identify your delinquent neighbor at the end of the street who has not yet disposed of their Christmas tree laid out oblong against the curb or put away any of their holiday decorations then there’s at least a 25% chance that Walt Disney World is the culprit.
Usually, Disney keeps most of the decorations up through marathon weekend, ostensibly to give those willing to pay $275+ to run the streets of Florida arbitrarily an opportunity to see something that isn’t related to Hanes t-shirts or apple juice squeezes.
Of course, all of the races were “virtual” this year. On one hand, I’m trying to be more honest in 2021. On the other hand, I’m sure everyone I interact with will be interested in hearing about my 26.2-mile journey, and the many sacrifices I had to make to reach that milestone, so I’m not sure where to go with that one. I wear the medal either way.
The decoration continuum actually plays against us for once. Usually, I’d have to trash a Magic Kingdom rope drop series because I didn’t get around to writing about it until after the pumpkins and fall colors had long been replaced by festive reindeer and candlesticks. I do actually have that post in the coffer. And I might just post the pictures.
But I guess we will just enjoy one more day of decorations. You’d have to think they would be able to find the person who knows how to condense everything down into little storable boxes by now. Or someone who knows someone who knows someone on the condensing side of the of the box operation. Or maybe they will be able to find a person who knows where the holiday decoration facilities/storage are located. The Imagineer The Zach Riddley can use his big blue flashlight from the Epcot pylons fountain to help in the search. It’s around there somewhere, buddy. There is exactly one hero and you are apparently it.
Just about everything is a little wonky these days. If we can celebrate Halloween from August 13th, then Christmas through January 15th makes a similar amount of sense. Most years, Christmas sort of gets the short end of the stick with Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party running from around August 14th through as late as November 1st or 2nd. So maybe we are just seeing a level playing field this year. Or maybe there is a lot more holiday merchandise to try to move than expected.
Nothing says, “buy me weird light up plant statuettes in Pandora” than an inviting wreath. Maybe the yuletide marketing was more subliminal than I expected considering I’m currently surrounded by eight weird light up plant statuettes from Pandora, none of which I want, and none of which will change color no matter how many times I beg Siri, Alexa, Google, or a variety of Chinese knockoffs to make them anything but blue.
We’ll check out Discovery Island and the decorations as we take a right towards DinoLand:
When you are an industry titan such as myself, you have the ability to send your ummmmmmmm…”paid interns” to check out the likes of some of these drinks that will kill most of those of us 35+. Since Washington State didn’t make it to a bowl game this year, I’m surprised Disney is offering their signature drink – apple alcohol mixed with cinnamon apple alcohol. On the plus side, it’s usually good news for the pocketbook and worse news for everyone around you when all of the ingredients are booze.
Animal Kingdom is largely back to its usual quick service operating schedule with the busy holiday season behind us. If you’re planning on trying one of the “off-the-beaten path” quick services, then you probably want to make sure it will be operating during your visit. For example, Harambe Market is opening Saturday, Sunday, and Monday during this week, then closing on Tuesday and Wednesday. We’ve discussed Disney “artificially” increasing capacity by opening larger venues that people may not actually intend to visit for any substantial amount of time, but also gives Disney a rational excuse to sell another ticket before they announce they’re running at closer to a maximum of 40% of capacity at next month’s earnings call.
For Animal Kingdom, you have two very good, very convenient quick service options:
- Flame Tree Barbecue
- Satu’li Canteen
One of those should get you through the day without consequence, but sometimes on theme park day, you just want a nasty theme park hamburger. And that’s okay. As always, enter the Restaurantosaurus, which looks to be open every day from 10:30am to 5pm whether you want it to be or not:
The ‘Osaurus has probably improved in recent memory, bringing over Columbia Harbour House’s Fried Shrimp and sticking with their very good Green Goddess Dressing on the various Cobbs Salads.
I think these are “literally” the only two quick service entrees at Animal Kingdom that we don’t have recent pictures of, here with the 11.49 “Impossible Spicy Southwestern Burger – Plant-based Burger Patty, ‘Pepper Jack’, Chipotle Sauce, Lettuce, and Tomato.” Only the cheese arrives in air quotes, so we may be in luck. This is one of the more delicate of the veggie burgers. It doesn’t taste like your typical Impossible patty; it enjoyed a milder “meat” flavor with the cheese and sauce providing a tiny, distanced pepper jack kick.
As is often the case, arugula dominated the palate. You can always try to sling some the lettuce at the other bloggers, but somehow Testa’s algorithm guarantees that you’ll be hit in the face harder and more times than you’ve ever been before, but the arugula fight is still a 1/10 since there were more serious salad shootouts among finer gentlemen in Tuscany in the early 1700s. You can’t argue science.
In my experience, Disney going with Impossible and Beyond on the vegetarian/vegan front has been a smart move, and most times when you see those sausages or burgers offered, they are pretty decent. Of course, you can’t load up at the fixin’s bar at the moment, but you can ask cast for additional condiments and they’ll see what they can do. It’s otherwise your basic Disney World vegan burger. Thoughts and prayers.
Satu’li Canteen’s Tofu option may be more attractive.
And Flame Tree also offers their Vegan Hot Link that packs more of a punch. But if the group is headed to Restauratntosaurus, as thousands do every day, it’s nice to see a couple decent vegetarian options. And also options just about everywhere else.
The $9 Restaurantosaurus “Cobb Salad – Fresh Greens, Cucumbers, Tomato, Hard-boiled Egg, Bacon, Blue Cheese, and Green Goddess Dressing” is also $11 with chicken. It’s a solid, fresh, light choice and quite a bit of salad for nine bucks, but you’ll have to do some work mixing it up before going to town because the dressing typically goes in first way down low. Fortunately, the House-made Green Goddess Dressing brings a garlic and herb flavor that mellows out the many components of the salad, particularly the hefty sprinkle of blue cheese on top.
Back outside at Chester and Hester’s Dino-Surprised-We’ve-Still-Got-Ya, which you would think they would just move to the hole in Epcot in Future World since it would blend in so nicely, you’ll find that it’s typically easier to purchase tickets for the various carnival games, almost all of which now sport prizes specifically themed to the Land.
Of course, we would be remiss not to hop on TriceraTop Spin. Ten minutes there is on the lengthy side, even if it’s actually just five, if that. Any amount of time is a worthwhile investment to experience the excitement of flying on a dinosaur that probably didn’t catch a whole lot of wind while waddling around back in the Cretaceous times. Going into TriceraTop roofless will also prepare you for the upcoming 12 mph jaunt through a certain extinction.
It was a busier holiday week during their visit, which means the line for DINOSAUR does start down here at 1:23pm. At least we can see the walkway up to the attraction from this particular angle far off to the right. I don’t think you could see it from the back of the line. Maybe if you turned your head. Also not good.
The queue then winds its way around the outskirts of Restaurantosaurus.
And then filters through the regular queue with 80 minutes posted, which is about as long as the wait gets. Here’s the long chart of wait times for DINOSAUR:
Interestingly(?), DINOSAUR was one of the first rides where Disney made modifications to both the loading area and the vehicle. But I have never seen them put anyone in the middle with my own eyes. We should see a more substantial drop in waits at Expedition Everest, where we know they’ve been loading every row as the trains barrel down one after the other.
Here’s a graph of the same data:
The average looks to go up and down with the weekends and the overall crowd flow, but unless the ride makes it through the weekend with relatively short waits, it’s likely business as usual.
You can see how the back of the first row has the divider, but no guests are routinely seated in the middle row. This setup is pretty standard – just two in the front row and two in back, which is a third of the vehicle’s capacity. These pairs would ordinarily be placed in the same row, at least if it was prior to March of this year. With just the one middle barrier, it’s possible that parties of five or more are put in the back two rows, since rows two and three would be traveling together regardless.
Then the on-ride reflection from the plastic.
We’ll take a look at some last-minute holiday stuff, check out Pandora at night, and see how wait times are stacking up so far in the new year as we move along.