We return to Animal Kingdom after a few updates based on pictures from April 7th, including:
- Rivers of Light Runs Into Problems as Theater Construction Concludes, Kali River Rapids and Disney Outfitters Reopen – Animal Kingdom 4/7/16
- The Smiling Crocodile Smoky Cheddar Grits and Chicken Drumstick Review, Odds and Ends, and the Likelihood that Rivers of Light Isn’t Coming Anytime Soon
- The Signs of Harambe Market
- A Walk Through Pangani Forest Exploration Trail
Probably the only time you’ll hear “Avatar” and “rocks” in the same sentence. The scaffolding up to that rock in the sky is new since our last visit. Not as exciting as a 12-cent increase on bottled beverages but we’ll take what we can get.
How far along this project actually is is anybody’s guess. You could go Full Jack Bauer on park operations and they would swear on the box office success of Avatar 37: Journey to a New World that we’ll be gliding down the Na’Vi River Journey in magnetically propelled boats come this time next year, while it would only take construction the promise of two beers to warn that we may still be trying to peer over these walls in late 2017 and into 2018. “So Josh says Avatar is going to open sometime between tomorrow and two years from now. Thanks.”
Pretty much the only previously unknown snippet of news coming out of the #ShillsAwaken event from a couple of weeks ago was that a Jungle Book themed show would debut in place of Rivers of Light, which is delayed indefinitely.
The walls are down around the theater.
The ECV/stroller/wheelchair ramp into the standby section of the theater is located down near Chester and Hester’s Dino-Rama.
It looks like they will enjoy some unobstructed views from the top.
The standby entrance otherwise looks to be directly across from Finding Nemo the Musical.
Like a lot of things that debut at Animal Kingdom, the logistics of actually holding the show remain a big question. Consider Fantasmic and the Hollywood Hills Theater over at Studios. Granted that has twice the theoretical capacity of this stadium, but think about how long that walkway up to the theater is and how much space there is to wait for the gates to open.
I have no idea where around DinoLand 2,000 people are going to wait 60+ minutes to enter this theater, particularly in between the first and second or third shows. Finding Nemo seems like the only viable option, but you know how many people are going to try to cut in while the group crosses the walkway over to the seating area.
There are two FastPass+ entrances in Asia across from Expedition Everest.
Disney released FastPass+ for the late night rides from May 27th through July 2nd, with the exception of Expedition Everest, which will likely be closed to reduce noise and ease crowding in this area. We’re still waiting on the details about when/if FastPass+ will be offered for the Jungle Book interim show. That information should come out in late May.
But there is seemingly no easy place for 5,000 people to wait in front of what should be a popular show.
A few more pictures:
So the good news is that, no matter what show is playing, the theater looks fantastic. I’m not sure how they could have done a better job with it.
Back to the front of the Park where we’ll take a lap around beginning with Discovery Island and then head into DinoLand and up and around through Africa.
Finding Dory merchandise has arrived with more on the way, in addition to some of the old “Mine Mine Mine” merchandise from Nemo:
I’m sure that Disney would like me to remind you that it opens June 17th.
Merchandise is rarely exclusive to any one location now as the TAG stuff from Marketplace Co-Op in Disney Springs begins its dissemination.
A couple of these luggage tags are on the new-ish side.
Finally a scarf for people that just don’t have the time.
Almost all of the nighttime enhancements that were set to debut on April 22nd will arrive alongside the nighttime Jungle Book show beginning May 27th, including the Tree of Life Awakenings.
I popped over to Flame Tree Barbecue for lunch, where tarps still cover some of the seating sections as more awnings are installed over the walkways.
While one of Walt Disney World’s most popular quick services added two expensive entrees in addition to the already-expensive-ribs-and-chicken-combo, half of the entrees are still $11 or less.
In today’s edition of “what are you thinking josh…no really…what are you thinking” I was planning to head over to Martha’s Vineyard (at the Beach Club Resort) for dinner and was contemplating whether or not even I wanted to visit the least popular lounge on property on a relatively empty stomach.
I ultimately decided that it would be for the best, so I opted for a “lighter option” in Flame Tree’s $8.99 Watermelon Salad – served with Feta, Arugula, Pickled Red Onion, and White Balsamic Vinaigrette.
This isn’t unlike a similar dish served at the Flower and Garden Festival – this year at Urban Eats. The flavors contrast nicely with the tanginess of the vinaigrette and acidity of the red onion combining with the sweetness of the melon against the creamy, salty cheese. The watermelon was obviously “fresh,” but there is a reason that you don’t see it in a lot of dishes. It tends to get a little slimy after being cut, even if the incision was recent. This suffered a bit from that phenomenon, but not enough to make it off-putting. But combined with the thinness of the vinaigrette and the water from the greens, it was a bit of a slip-and-slide affair trying to eat the last few bites.
The portion size is certainly not overwhelming. There are a few bites of watermelon hiding underneath the arugula near the top of the plate, but we’re still talking about the main components of the dish consisting of a couple ounces of watermelon and a pinch or two of cheese. As bizarre as this might sound, it made it easier to rationalize the cost if I considered it two side salads rather than one entree salad, perhaps because there isn’t a more substantial protein. But if you are looking for a lighter meal or want to split another entree and have a cold, light accompaniment rather than fries or onion rings, then you might want to consider this. I thought the flavor was surprisingly addictive and somewhat unique.
In today’s edition of BREAKING NEWS that you won’t find anywhere else, Discovery Island Character Landing added a sign that fits in with the aesthetic of New Discovery Island.
Back on April 7th, you might remember that I was freaking out over Disney running Primeval Whirl at half capacity, which resulted in actual standby waits of 40+ minutes that skyrocketed all the way to 80 minutes just an hour before close.
I was happy to see both sides operating at 4:30pm here on Saturday the 23rd. And guess what operating a ride at full capacity does to wait times??????? That’s right! Less than a 10-minute wait as there are only a dozen people waiting before FastPass+ merge.
I lucked into scheduling an Everest FastPass+ in the afternoon and arrived at 4:38pm to a 40-minute posted wait. With the maximum number of FastPass+ experiences distributed for every single slot, you’ve got less than a third of the attraction’s capacity given to standby. So even though some of these people have been waiting for 30+ minutes, I’m going to trot in well after their arrival and still be on my way earlier.
Just before boarding is another example of Disney’s StoryMaker initiative.
This quote on the left is attributed to “Jenny” who was (apparently) in front of me in line.
Here the yeti is welcoming “duke” who was in front of them. The majority of people seem to get a kick out of this stuff with the girls giggling and taking pictures with even more vigor than me.
Considering how popular Everest, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Space Mountain, etc. are, it’s kind of surprising that Disney doesn’t add another coaster or two to eat up crowds and increase capacity. Compared to a lot of other attractions, they’re also dirt cheap to build. It seems like a Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster/Mine Train hybrid would be money with a Star Wars theme- launching into hyperspace, followed by slowing down through a dark ride scene or two, back into barrel rolls and drops.
With little backup, my ride on Everest took less than ten minutes between the time I got in line and was back out front, which is below average.
Yak & Yeti’s quick service arm has resisted raising prices, though their portions have come down considerably as they’re served in those nondescript black plastic take-out boxes rather than the fun Chinese-food-to-go style containers of yesteryear.
The Flights of Wonders facade work continues while the show is back to operating with its usual five-shows-a-day schedule.
Surely there will be a way to cover this up once they can figure out how to get the birds down.
A couple pictures from the back:
I’m still not sure exactly what is going on back here as the Discovery Island Trails around the Tree remain closed.
Remember when all we could see of Harambe Market was the water tower?
The website reasserts its dinner recommendation here when Harambe Market is about 4.7% as busy as lunch.
Beginning May 27th, the quick service should continue serving through 8pm before giving way to the “Harambe Wildlife Parti (yes still with an ‘i’).”
The Teriyaki Beef Slider missed the March price increase, but saw a 10% increase in April.
It’s worthwhile as a snack credit perhaps, but I think the Smiling Crocodile offers more value and a better variety of flavors out-of-pocket. Two of these equal your average quick service meal on cost and would only provide about 40% as much food, if that.
I was happy to see that Dawa Bar in Africa is no longer advertising its specialty cocktails with the souvenir tumbler that brought the prices of the drinks up to $17 or so.
Everybody but Disney would try to lure people in with the promise of a $10 cocktail and then try to upsell you to a plastic souvenir container. Above were the prices as recently as April 1st.
Animal Kingdom is going to look so good as darkness creeps in this summer.
The tall wall was at least down on the entrance to this Discovery Island Trail.
Less than a month to so many nighttime happenings.
Tiffins, the waterfront signature restaurant attached to Pizzafari, and the Nomad Lounge attached to that, will open on May 27th as well. One wonders what the view out the back will look like with construction contnuing.
I think that mostly does it for Animal Kingdom. We’ll certainly be spending a lot of time there at the end of next month and headed into June.