We’ll take a look around each of the various Lands that make up Disney’s Animal Kingdom beginning with Africa and then moving to Asia and DinoLand.
The website has been rather busy the last couple of months. As you might be able to guess, I am not particularly organized and rely on the “vaguely titled folders” method of categorization:
One does wonder what a few of these things mean. What is the “Kids Rib?” Who is “Old Bill?” What makes 11/7 “Raw” over 11/8? Do I really want to know? How often do you actually go to Nine Dragons? What’s in that “Rivers of Light Preview” folder? And where are the reviews for all of these things?
There are some holiday decorations around New and Old Harambe, tastefully themed to fit in with what I think is the most cohesive land in any Walt Disney World theme park.
But this might be about it.
A bicycle wheel wreath.
Harambe Market has been open for about 18 months now and continues to make some modifications to its menu.
The quick service opened with six wines offered for between $4.25 and $7 – all South African in origin – which was kind of cool. But that number dropped to zero with the October menu update. For some reason petite sirah and RealFeel 140 degrees don’t go well together. Who knew?
The Orlando I-4 IPA was also replaced with the Reef Donkey and the bottle of Tusker Lager also came later, in addition to switching out the Watermelon Lemonade for Tangerine Lemonade before coming back to the Watermelon.
I may have to give the Reef Donkey APA another shot as what I purchased at the store in a 4-pack was horrific – easily one of the worst beers that I’ve ever tried. But looking over the reviews, they are overwhelmingly positive.
Elsewhere in food news, the hole in the wall that is Kusafiri to the right of Dawa Bar/Tusker House offers sandwiches throughout the afternoon:
With so many interesting options at a Park that is about to add even more with Avatar, there probably isn’t going to be a reason to stop at Kusafiri for a sandwich, but if you’re in the area and lines are long at Harambe Market, then it may make sense. I’ve never seen more than three groups in line. The pastries are also popular. One thing to note on the menu is that it’s “Paninis and Sandwiches” – the Herb Roasted Turkey and Tomato & Mozzarella are served cold.
This is the $10.49 Ham and Cheese Panini – Rotisserie Ham, Comté Cheese, and Sweet Mustard Butter on Cibatta Bread. Served with House-made Curry Spiced Chips. The sandwich fillings are on the sparse side as the sandwich is particularly thin without any vegetables. But the grill marks are present and this is served nice and hot – the ham is higher quality than your typical lunch meat and there’s a pretty decent layer of the soft, nutty cheese underneath. Both pieces of bread are slathered with the sweet mustard butter, which seemed to be dijon mustard mixed with sweet butter and some other spices. It tasted mostly like spicy brown mustard with some added creaminess – quite good.
I am not usually a Disney chips person, but the house-made curry version is my favorite of the various flavors. The chips are very salty and very crunchy and the curry adds a distinct spiciness that isn’t overwhelming against the potato. Overall, if you’re in the mood for a sandwich without any fuss, Kusafiri would be a good stop.
Waits at Harambe Market can hit 20+ minutes for lunch, though it’s usually a ghost town after 4pm.
Africa is home to more than half a dozen live performances.
The Karibu Sisters typically perform at 11:50am, 12:40pm, 2:05p, 4pm, 5pm, 5:50pm. If you arrive in Africa at 5pm, you can enjoy five different acts through 6:30pm while enjoying a cocktail from Dawa Bar or a snack from something like Kusafiri. Virtually nobody does this, though.
Looking over Kilimanjaro Safaris wait times over the last month:
Wait times vary pretty wildly from day to day and in places, hour to hour. Take the first row where you’ve got a 60-minute wait at 12pm and a 10-minute wait at 1pm. The next day, it’s 75 minutes at 1pm then 20 minutes at 1:15pm and 10 minutes at 1:30pm. There are a few things going on here, but sometimes long posted waits aren’t your enemy as they cause very few people to get in line, thus reducing the actual wait. Sometimes to help with demand, Disney will temporarily open the second loading area and other times they will close it when it turns out they need it. So actual waits can quickly increase or decrease based on staffing and when/how people arrive.
But there has been renewed interest in Safaris with the whole nighttime aspect – at a minimum, the extended hours at least mean that it’s going to be open through Park close, even if riding after dark is arguably a lesser experience. Last year, the attraction would have let its last riders in line at 4:45pm.
Here in December, sunset is right around 5:30pm and at that time, Safaris’ wait time is posted at 20 or fewer minutes on 9 of the last 30 days. I like to get in line with FastPass+ a couple of minutes after that time so that the animals are still plainly visible, but you do get a bit of that nighttime mood to start and by the end of the ride, it will be just about pitch black.
I think Disney has made some improvements in the nighttime experience by moving some of the feeding stations closer to the trucks. This station is cleverly placed inside of the “tree trunk.” Others are basically right next to the road.
But nighttime photography is largely a fool’s game. This is a 35mm lens at f1.4 at ISO 25,600 with a 1/15 shutter speed as the truck bounces along.
But I’ve had a lot more luck seeing animals in recent memory compared to the summer when it seemed like you could go the entire ride and see little more than the speakers they use to pipe in the animal noises.
My one successful shot. But if you don’t want to burn a FastPass+ and want to experience the ride in complete darkness then you will run into literally two other people if you get in line last thing at night. Assuming Rivers of Light comes online, you can expect an increase in wait times about 15 minutes after the first (and second?) show lets out as we saw with Jungle Book. But the nighttime safari offers a new experience and while I think it would be improved with a new storyline or something to otherwise spice up empty enclosure after empty enclosure, it’s still fun to ride after dark. Just don’t expect to see as much as the afternoon.
Speaking of which, we’ll roll through:
Disney changed the name from Pangani Forest Exploration Trail to Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail back in May.
Back in April, one wonders how many people got to the end of the trail only to exclaim, “So where are all the panganis?”
Pangani is of course actually a town in the northeast of Tanzania.
But it’s worth taking 15 to 30 minutes to walk the Trail, perhaps before or after a Festival of the Lion King show depending on timing:
That’s what’s going on in Africa.