We conclude this round of Animal Kingdom updates with a look at what happens after the sun goes down.
We started by analyzing Animal Kingdom wait times in the month of January over the last four years. I think most of us were surprised to see an increase in excess of 70%. We also saw how long it would take to ride Flight of Passage in standby last thing at night, in addition to trying a couple of new Pandoran snacks. A wide ranging update on what to expect from the 20th anniversary of the Park, along with updates on a variety of projects, followed. And we visited on the Presidents Day holiday to see how wait times could actually be lower on days with higher attendance, in addition to a Yak & Yeti lunch review and a stop at Flight of Passage with FastPass+.
This time around, we’ll spend the majority of our time watching the colors change on the Tree of Life.
This is 6:19pm.
And just 20 minutes later with the dark blue sky.
Turning to purple just a couple of minutes later.
Two of the Three Caballeros join the Discovery Island Carnivale across from Flame Tree Barbecue.
They’re currently scheduled to appear through May 5th with the show starting at 4pm, 5pm, 6pm, and 7pm and lasting for about 20 minutes. It’s a fun opportunity to do a little dancing, get a couple of quick pictures with the characters, and take in the joy and fun that is the Viva Gaia Street Band. It’s definitely worth checking out if you’ll be visiting over the next couple of months.
Rivers of Light continues with two shows scheduled most nights through April 7th before returning to one show each night.
The show is now far easier to see than it was during the first few months after its debut. With 25 minutes to showtime in the picture above, half of the far right standby section is empty and cast have only filled one of two Dining Package sections.
It’s also become much easier to secure FastPass+ for the show as a 4th, 5th, or 6th selection as people are constantly canceling/changing plans. I like to show up with FP+ between 15 and 25 minutes before showtime to fill in to this far left section of the theater. I much prefer to be in the first row of this section compared to a middle row in one of the other sections, which is where I’d be if I arrived an hour early. There’s really no point.
With two shows, you can safely arrive 10 minutes before the later showtime with or without FP+ and find fine seats together. With just one show, I’d try to secure FP+ about 90 minutes to two hours before showtime to play it safe. People are more likely to be canceling their Rivers of Light FP+ at that time and they’re easier to come by with minimal refreshing of availability. Of course, if you’re planning a late afternoon or evening arrival, then you can safely book the experience in advance if you’d like. The Rivers of Light Dining Package at Tiffins (or Tusker House), which guarantees seating in the reserved section of the theater on the DinoLand side, is also a viable solution. That’s particularly true if you’re planning on ordering the more expensive items at Tiffins as you can actually come out ahead with the fixed price meal versus paying individually for each course.
You may remember that the website was present at the first Rivers of Light preview back in November of 2016.
One of the best parts of the original show, and one that didn’t appear when the show debuted to the public, was the shamans and acolytes descending the theater stairs and interacting with guests prior to boarding their boats.
Luckily, that interaction was reestablished a couple of months ago.
And most nights, you’ll have the opportunity to see the performers up close.
And see some of the exquisite costume details.
And it helps set the stage for everything that follows.
A few pictures from the far left FastPass+ section:
I think the 15-minute show is worth seeing with the current time investment, particularly with the 15-minute pre-show aspect where you can watch the shamans and acolytes move around the theater. Secure FastPass+ for the first show to guarantee seating or plan on seeing the second show if you can.
Seeing the projections on the back of the Tree of Life is a lot of fun.
These people sitting down have the right idea.
Grab a drink and enjoy the Tree of Life Awakenings.
The shows on the Back Side of Tree are not quite as elaborate as the front in my experience, but that largely comes down to a lack of lighting changes on the foliage.
The projections themselves should be largely the same.
Nighttime rides on Kilimanjaro Safaris have probably not lived up to the hype surrounding the offering when it was first announced a couple of years ago now.
The big problem, of course, is difficulty seeing the animals in the dark. But we do get lucky from time to time here with the outline of some elephants in the distance.
Sunset is the best time of night to ride the safari, when you’ll see some of the nighttime lighting enhancements in addition to some beautiful natural color in the sky.
But since the nighttime safari debuted, Disney has done a better job of leading the animals to the light.
When you don’t see so good but there is a new post on easywdw.com.
I was so close to the perfect shot of Baby Augustus as the animal care specialist was tossing jumbo lettuce heads into his waiting mouth. But we zoomed by so fast that this is the picture I walked away carrying. You can sort of see his head resting against the ground, much how I look after three hours at Boma.
The Ankole-Watusi cattle looking back at his friend, much in the same way that I do a double take whenever I see new tater tot toppings at a Magic Kingdom quick service.
I was so mad about missing the baby hippopotamus shot that I was already trying to tip the truck over while it was still in motion before I perked up a bit with what I thought was a semi-clear shot of a hyena. Turns out it stopped for exactly one reason, which conveniently takes us to number two.
Giraffes waiting outside the club for happy hour to start. Been there, guys.
“Literally” five seconds after we passed the lions, the male stood up and roared.
I did not get that shot.
The takeaway – do as I do not and leave your cameras and phones in your bag. It’s probably not going to happen and it’s just fine to give up and never leave the house again.
A look at February Safaris wait times:
Wait times are incredibly rough for the majority of the month. Amusingly, you might remember that we visited on Presidents Day, February 19th, with a morning Extra Magic Hour. Waits are actually lower than any of the previous four days and the following day, which is not a holiday and doesn’t have a morning Extra Magic Hour. The 53-minute average for the day is also the exact same as the average for the entire month with 11 other days seeing higher average waits. So much for avoiding holidays and Extra Magic Hours, I guess.
Otherwise, Safari wait times do drop in the last hour of operation. Unless you really have somewhere else to be, riding at night is a fun way to end the day. There aren’t a lot of other opportunities to board a 30-minute ride that’s different every time without much of a wait.
A nighttime visit to Harambe also affords an opportunity to enjoy a diverse set of musical acts, here with Burudika.
And the Karibu Sisters.
Pink shorts, vest, and Maserati optional.
It’s a beautiful section of the Park:
While a lot of the hype surrounding Animal Kingdom at night has subsided, particularly with an emphasis on Pandora, sticking around through Park close remains a lot of fun. Rivers of Light is much easier to see, making the time investment required much more attractive than it would have been a year ago. You might miss every shot on Kilimanjaro Safaris, but it’s still a unique opportunity to see some of the nocturnal animals. Every trip through, I see something that I’ve never seen before. The dance party is a lot of fun with Jose and Panchito in tow. And beginning in just about two months, we’ll enjoy the enhanced Party for the Planet. And you can always take the opportunity to finish things off with a relatively short wait at Flight of Passage.
We’ll revisit Magic Kingdom for some tots and some fries.