We visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park about two weeks before the Christmas rush to catch up on some news and other happenings.
If you’re thinking, “But Josh, I want to see what the Parks look like closer to Christmas” then I would remind you that you don’t have to listen to your spouse when they say that you can’t go.
Animal Kingdom is “tastefully” decorated for the holidays, which means you won’t see plastic icicle lights dangling from the Tree of Life or Santa hats on any of the rhinoceroses, no matter how many emails you send to guest services suggesting otherwise:
Decorations only really “feel” natural in DinoLand USA, which is where you’ll find the majority of the holiday cheer. With an alien planet now sitting where Camp Minnie-Mickey used to be located, you’ll have to visit Disney Springs for the Tree Trail.
Temperatures are typically erratic during the winter months in Lake Buena Vista as visitors “enjoyed” some cooler temperatures during a stretch of about ten days in the middle of December.
The high temperature was 63 degrees on this particular Wednesday.
One might assume that cooler temperatures adversely affect animal viewing on the Safari and around the Park, but that isn’t necessarily true.
While I’m not a doctor, given chillier weather, it seems like the animals move around a little more to stay warm and are more likely to lay out in the sun rather than hide in the shade behind a rock:
With the 65-minute posted wait, I arrived with FP+ in hand at 2:37pm and was back out front at 3:20pm for a total experience time of 43 minutes, which is a little longer than usual.
Still, a pretty day:
Disney announced a couple of weeks ago that Flights of Wonder would conclude its run on December 31st, 2017.
“Beginning just in time for the 20th anniversary of Disney’s Animal Kingdom next year, this new experience will offer guests the chance to see Senior Wilderness Explorer Russell and his furry friend Dug as they discover species of birds from around the world in their newest adventure at the Caravan Theater in Anandapur village. There will be “UP” close encounters each day with amazing winged creatures!”
I’ve long been a proponent of Flights of Wonder, which effortlessly blends a genuinely funny script with educational elements and authentic interactions.
The fact that you never know what the birds are going to do adds to the spontaneity.
And in turn, the re-watchability.
It was also an easy show to see with plenty of raised overflow seating towards the back of the theater.
My estimation is that the new show will carry over some of the same elements and introduce some beloved characters that should attract more people towards the entrance to the show. And that’s a good thing. I’d expect the Up-inspired show to debut in the middle of April with an official opening on Earth Day, April 22nd.
The website’s last full review of Yak & Yeti Restaurant is available here.
The current menu:
I like Yak & Yeti a lot – it might even be underrated on value given the large size of the portions, the accessibility of the menu, and the quality of the food.
You’ll also typically find some specials that aren’t advertised online or on the menu board outside the restaurant:
Who doesn’t want to go home with a ceramic Buddha Cup?
Unless you’re looking for a particularly fruity affair, it’s best to skip the advertised cocktails, though $10 doesn’t break the bank.
The Funky Buddha on draft is a smart buy and the various sakes are fun.
Erin and I stopped in last month for a couple of relatively light bites – sometimes you’re not really in the mood for a full meal, but want something more substantial than a Mickey Pretzel or a little more relaxing than Flame Tree Barbecue.
These are lousy pictures, but the $16 “Ahi Tuna Nachos – Sushi grade Ahi, Asian slaw, crispy fried wontons, wasabi aioli, sweet soy glaze” under the “Shareables” header is among the best values on property. It’s a whopping portion with a ton of perfectly-crispy fried wontons piled high with incredibly fresh ingredients – a ton of tender tuna and crunchy lettuce topped with an irresistible mixture of a sweet and salty soy glaze and a spicy, creamy wasabi sauce. Two people could easily make a light meal out of these – it’s a ton of food but it does’t really “feel” like it with the airy quality of the wontons and the freshness of the vegetables. It’s just lettuce, right?
We didn’t come away feeling quite as high about the $11 “Firecracker Shrimp – Crispy fried shrimp tossed in a creamy, spicy sauce, Asian slaw,” but it would be hard for much of anything to stand up against the nachos and we had also ordered a similar dish at tHE BoatHOUSe a couple of days before. But you do come away with about 18 small, crunchy shrimp dipped in a straightforward, spicy sauce. They were “just fine,” but it’s not something that I’d quickly return to reorder.
Otherwise, with tax and 20% tip, our snack came out to about $37 – not bad at all for plenty of food for two in a fun, relaxing atmosphere. I wish it was a little easier to get those nachos – they destroy anything that we’ll see at Nomad Lounge in Part 2 of this update.
Speaking of the next episode, we’ll stop by Expedition Everest, try the $75 Sampler at Satu’li Canteen, and see if Rivers of Light has gotten any more engaging.