You may or may not be happy to learn that the website did survive The Great Sprinkle of October 2016 as the Orlando area was spared from major damage resulting from Hurricane Matthew. Other areas were and are much less fortunate. For a lot of people on property, Thursday was rough as Disney was ill prepared to deal with the theme parks closing at 5pm. And the theme parks likely would not have closed had it not been for Orange County’s mandated curfew, which began Thursday night at 10pm and was initially supposed to continue into Saturday morning, before being waived off early on Friday afternoon after damage in the area ended up being minimal. By Friday, Disney seemed to have their act together, increasing the availability of hot food and sending out characters and additional cast members to entertain guests at their resorts. If anyone needs a case of canned ham, I might know a guy.
For now, we’ll take a look at what’s happening at Animal Kingdom from the afternoon of Wednesday October 5th. We’ll follow that up with a walk through Hollywood Studios, as short as that jaunt may be.
It’s still impossible to capture the immense size of the Avatar construction, which is a little more visible across from the bus stops.
Considering we still don’t have a date for the Rivers of Light debut, nearly six months after it was scheduled to begin, it “feels” like Disney will announce the Avatar date two or three months after it actually opens to guests. Sometime in 2017.
People were getting a big kick out of the Br’er characters hanging around outside the Park’s entrance. I am not usually a character person myself, but it’s a lot of fun to interact with them when they’re playing around with guests rather than standing in their designated spots for one of their eight 25-minute sets over the course of the day.
If I could hang out with any Disney character, I think it would be Br’er Bear. He seems pretty chill. You might notice Fox’s yellow hat down to the left. I’m not sure if it’s possible to predict when you will see characters out here and it had been a while since I had seen any. But they are typically located past security on the far right as you head in.
That’s Avatar hovering in the distance.
One character that is more predictable but potentially even harder to find is Divine, currently appearing for about 20 minutes at a time at 8:45am, 9:35am, 10:25am, 11:15am, 12:05pm, and 12:55pm. The last few times I have seen her she’s been standing just inside the entrance on the far right, just past stroller/ECV rentals.
But she is not always so easily seen.
A few shots of the Tree of Life:
It looks like the walkway behind the Tree of Life is finally ready to be reopened after however many months its been.
Roof work continues throughout Flame Tree Barbecue’s seating area.
I had updated on the status of Rivers of Light in the forum a couple of weeks ago in this thread. We continue to wait.
Here’s the current menu at Flame Tree Barbecue:
The Safari Fruit Salad replaces the Watermelon Salad.
This is the previous menu:
There aren’t a lot of other changes, though this would not be easywdw.com if I didn’t point out that the bun on the Pulled Pork Sandwich is different – no more seeds. It’s also slightly interesting how Disney has rearranged the menu so it begins and ends with the two highest prices items. There is some amount of psychology that goes into restaurant menus with the goal of making the customer spend more money than they would otherwise.
I won’t waste your time going over every incremental price increase, but it’s potentially worth taking a look at the Restaurantosaurus menu from the DinoLand quick service:
This marks the first return of the double burger since it glowed away a few years ago now. You might also notice that the bun on the relatively new Grilled Chicken BLT Sandwich is of the seedless variety while the burgers still host seeds. For some reason, Disney is bundling the Nuggets and Vegetarian Black Bean Burger with a side Southwest Salad for an extra dollar, which pushes the price of the defrosted black bean patty higher than the bacon cheeseburger.
The iffy Sea Dog Sunfish Ale has taken over for what was a better beer in the Funky Buddha Florida Hefeweizen at Trilo-Bites.
At Trek Snacks to the left of Expedition Everest, Disney has done away with a couple of the unique sandwich and salad offerings that were originally available in favor of a Chicken Wrap and the same Asian Noodle Salad that a lot of the kiosks offer. Note that Disney is now bundling the Mickey Pretzels with Cheese Dip for a snack credit on the Disney Dining Plan. You might remember that Hollywood Studios started that trend a couple of years ago now.
The very good Kungaloosh Spiced Excursion Ale is also available on draft here after first appearing at Nomad Lounge/Tiffins. It replaces the Kingfisher.
You might remember my rant about the meaninglessness of the “American Kobe Beef” designation at Yak & Yeti and how it really only serves to confuse guests with the implication that they’re receiving a higher quality product. But Disney is using the “American Wagyu” designation themselves at quick services like Contempo Cafe, where they offer an “American Wagyu Beef Slider Duo” for $12.99.
While Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios has not yet gone vertical, despite claims to the contrary, Yak & Yeti’s menu has:
There are not a lot of changes here though a couple items are up in price by a few cents. The Wings are no longer on the Small Plates menu and the Mahi Mahi and Tempura Shrimp are off the Specialties menu. A “Kale Caesar Salad” replaces the Mandarin Chicken Salad and you will no longer find Sweet & Sour Pork available. The House Fried Rice is a new addition. So not a whole lot going on there.
At Kusafiri, on the left side of Harambe as you walk towards Kilimanjaro Safaris, the Smoked Turkey Sandwich replaces the Herb-roasted Turkey Sandwich for the same money. The old version was served cold, which might have been surprising given the panini header.
Oikos, which is actually produced by the French Danone Group, continues its takeover of snack carts across property. You might also note the Village Farms tomatoes towards the bottom of the picture, which were introduced to the theme parks a few months ago, but play a more prominent role at Greenhouse Guru at this year’s Food and Wine Festival. Interestingly(?), in a throwback to Living with the Land, “Village Farms vegetables are grown hydroponically (without the use of soil) in a glass enclosed high technology environment using sophisticated computer systems to control irrigation, fertilizers, carbon dioxide, light, temperature, ventilation, humidity and other climatic factors.”
Personally, I am boycotting both products until the Jalapeno Cheese Pretzel returns and I urge you to do the same.
We’ll see how long the Refillable Popcorn Buckets last as the expiration date was extended until the end of this month. I am assuming we will see a holiday version with the initiative extended through the end of the year.
Just a reminder that Terra Treats is located on the right side of the path as you head towards Africa from Discovery Island almost across from the Starbucks. They are no longer offering the Chicken Salad Sandwich, but the Flavored Rice Chips come in a large bag for a Disney Dining Plan snack credit. And even if you are not adverse to gluten, you might still consider a bag as they are a nice snack to have back in the room. You never know when it’s going to start sprinkling again.
A reminder that under no circumstances whatsoever do you want to order the Cheeseburger Flatbread at Pizzafari. In a big blow to being American, the Garlic Butter Dipping Sauce is no longer available as an accompaniment.
Tiffins sees just a couple of changes:
You might remember that I reviewed every original appetizer and entree in this post. Otherwise, the Duo of Lamb replaces the Berbere-spiced Lamb Chop and the Apple-Walnut Salad replaces the “Archaeologist Salad.”
Perhaps with the next Animal Kingdom update, I’ll run another review of Nomad Lounge, which has upped the number of chicken wings to five from three and dropped the price by a dollar in something that almost never happens. The number of ribs is also up to five. New additions include decent Wagyu Sliders for $14 in place of the three bites of beef that they used to serve for $21. Fish Tacos also make an appearance.
(Editor: If that is the short version of incremental price increases at Disney World fast food outlets, I would hate to see the long version.)
A word of warning that there is an inverse relationship in temperature and the number of artsy pictures that will appear on this website.
Pocahontas continues meeting in the Discovery Landing space across from Flame Tree Barbecue. While it’s been a while, the removal of the Winnie the Pooh characters from the Park is a potentially interesting move. You used to be able to meet a couple here and Winnie the Pooh was often in rotation in front of Great Movie Ride at Hollywood Studios, in addition to appearing at Epcot in the United Kingdom Pavilion.
The Lotus Blossom popcorn buckets, which are not refillable, are hit or miss in terms of availability. They were available in a couple of locations on this particular afternoon, both at the popcorn cart in DinoLand and at the one near the entrance to It’s Tough To Be A Bug. Halloween branding is otherwise in heavy circulation.
While the website has been known to occasionally joke about the “feeling” that it’s crowded, even with nonexistent wait times and some of the lowest crowds of the year, I thought this particular afternoon “felt” crowded with the number of people milling about.
On the other hand, 25 minutes at Everest during the busiest time of day isn’t bad at all:
With a FastPass+ I had booked that morning, my total experience time was just 12 minutes, which is below average. And just by luck, they stuck me in the front row with another gentleman that was very not excited to be there.
It was still 88 degrees, which means the 30-minute wait for Kali just after 1pm is below average as well. A look at wait times over the course of the day:
16 minutes is of course more than reasonable, though some rain from around 6pm to around 7:15pm pushed a lot of people out. I waited it out on a bench at the International Gateway entrance to Epcot.
Just because you can shoot at f1.4 doesn’t mean you should.
That’s the Baloo & King Louie meet and greet to the right basically across from Flights of Wonder.
The roof over Flights of Wonder remains un-themed.
I’m not sure if it’s debatable that Harambe/Africa is the best themed land inside any Walt Disney World theme park.
A stilt walker teaches kids how to play the drums.
Not a great picture, but the gentleman in purple is playing live music in the Harambe Market seating area.
One of Disney’s best live shows in Festival of the Lion King in New Harambe.
With grand plans to stop by Min & Bill’s later, I stopped by Harambe Market to grab a bite to eat.
Having previously reviewed all of the adult entrees, I went with the Kids’ Barbecued Ribs and the new Warm Malva Spice Cake, which replaces the Milk Tart for dessert.
The meat on the rib had already fallen off the bone, which is not necessarily what you want from barbecue. It was otherwise basically a smaller portion of the Spice-Rubbed Karubi Ribs, which I’m not sure most kids will be into. It’s very tender, very fatty meat in a sweet. tangy barbecue sauce. If the kids are adverse to “gristle,” as I was at that age, you might want to prepare the meat for them by cutting off the excess fat. But even then, it remains a pretty fatty piece of meat.
The $13.39 version is a huge portion. If somebody in the group is ordering it, you might cut off a few bites for junior instead of purchasing an additional entree.
Overall, I thought the meal was “just okay” with most kids potentially preferring the chicken leg from Flame Tree or a burger/nuggets from Restaurantosaurus.
Known as “Malva Pudding” in South Africa, Disney’s $4.39 take is an improvement on the Milk Tart, which had an unsavory soft texture I thought.
The flavor is similar to a more heavily spiced carrot cake without any of the carrot, if that makes any sense. And I’m not really sure where that flavor comes from considering there really aren’t any spices in the recipe…Anyway, it’s a very moist, sweet, light, and airy cake that’s further enhanced by the glaze on top.
I think most people will prefer it to the Milk Tart though those paying cash might want to head across the way to Zuri’s Treats.
Where there’s a much larger selection of treats for similar money.
The Flame Tree Barbecue Spicy Barbecue Sauce and Spice Blend Tins are back in stock after being unavailable for a few months.
Kilimanjaro Safaris was still sporting a 20-minute posted wait just after 2pm.
But there was literally nobody in the standby line beyond the merge point, rendering my FastPass+ useless.
There’s only so much you can do at 35mm, but here we are.
I wish I could have zoomed in on the baby mandrill in the back of the frame there. Right after I took this, the Old World monkey tried and failed to hop on mom’s back. I almost smiled it was so precious.
All in all, Safaris took about 35 minutes, which is basically the minimum.
That’s what’s going on at Animal Kingdom.
We’ll see about Hollywood Studios – I have a review of the new Min & Bill’s menu, in addition to lunch at Mama Melrose and some various construction pictures.