We’ll head out in the early evening of Friday December 5th to check on what Animal Kingdom has to offer this holiday season.
With the closure of Camp Minnie-Mickey for Avatar construction and the cancellation of Mickey’s Jammin’/Jingle Jungle Parade, those offerings are slimmer this year, but the Park maintains a festive feeling:
As far as I know, the themed mini-trees that used to be scattered around Camp Minnie-Mickey aren’t available for viewing this year.
If you’d like to reminisce, check out last year’s look in the middle of this post: https://www.easywdw.com/uncategorized/yak-yeti-review-an-animal-kingdom-christmas-epcot-holiday-waffle-its-packed-111413/
Like Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom has an unadvertised, unmanned FastPass+ kiosk at Guest Relations should you find yourself near the entrance/exit with kiosk needs.
With all the construction walls, PhotoPass is having to get a little more creative with their shots, here photographing families with the swamp as the background instead of a walled Tree of Life.
The website continues to plug Wilderness Explorers, which was the Themed Entertainment Association’s winner for “Outstanding Achievement – Interactive Park Attraction on a Limited Budget,” which may be an amusing indictment on the direction the company is going. It’s a fun way to get the kids interested in areas of the Park that they may otherwise not realize are engaging.
Construction continues on expanding the Disney Outfitters store.
The walls around the Tree of Life have moved closer to the icon, revealing new details and providing a wider walkway for guests.
If it was any artsier the Smithsonian would probably spontaneously combust.
If you’re the kind of person that gets excited about new signage in lieu of new attractions, this area might be for you.
Walls still surround much of Discovery Island with even more work on the horizon.
This Joffrey’s coffee location is moving down by Flame Tree and is currently closed.
Walls out at the Wilderness Explorers meet and greet.
Flame Tree Barbecue is expected to close January 5th, 2015 for approximately three months, reopening in early April 2015.
The roof will be expanded to cover the ordering area. Walkways between the seating areas will be covered.
More covered seating areas are also expected, though it’s possible we may lose a couple closer to the water for Rivers of Light seating.
Speaking of Rivers of Light, most of the amphitheater construction is visible across the water:
Hopefully we won’t lose the pretty fountain area in the center.
The future Joffrey’s across the way.
Daisy Duck no longer meets at Animal Kingdom outside of the character meal for breakfast and lunch at Tusker House. She is replaced by Pocahontas, who moves here to the Character Landing across from Flame Tree. Tarzan now meets on Discovery Island in place of Pocahontas. Tarzan is a new regular meet and greet character – he has historically only met during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. He meets across from Creature Comforts on the walkway to Africa. That’s also where the newish cotton-top tamarins are located.
Walls hiding construction all the way up past Theater in the Wild where Finding Nemo is performed.
So far there’s nothing on the books for a DinoLand expansion, which is a shame because it seems ripe for a “reimagination.” While the website’s opinion remains that the area is one of the smartest in any theme park, the hokey theme is lost on most park visitors who believe the carnival atmosphere “has no business being in a Disney Park.” (That’s the whole point.) You’d think a Mine-Train-esque roller coaster would be a good fit. More animatronic dinosaurs are always a good thing.
Lines are a bit longer at the Canine Pals Meet and Greet with Goofy and Pluto dressed up for the holidays.
Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba
Sithi uhm ingonyama
Lines for Santa Goofy are typically shorter during the day at Hollywood Studios, which also has the benefit of a more interesting backdrop. Nighttime waits at the Studios are significantly longer than they would be at Animal Kingdom, and this is the only location to get Santa Goofy and Pluto in the same picture.
The DinoLand Dance-a-Palooza is a lot of fun. This week it’s scheduled at 3:30pm and 5pm near TriceraTop Spin and Primeval Whirl. The Goofy/Pluto meet is to the right. And Donald meets to the right of that. This week’s Times Guide:
The other side:
It’s expected that a couple of the various kiosks will begin serving some of Flame Tree’s food during the closure. I’d expect to see Pizzafari operate through Park close during that closure as well. Note that it currently closes one hour prior to Park opening. Also note that Kilimanjaro Safaris and anything that includes animal viewing closes at 4:45pm with the early dusk. That means you need to be in line by 4:45pm if you’d like to experience it.
Back to the dancing thing, it’s a lot of fun with kids that have interest. The holiday season brings some Santa hats, wreaths, and holiday music.
The characters are usually “rare.” It’s been a long time since Princess Atta (is that who this is?) was around.
Mr. and Mrs. Bunny or the characters from Hop or something.
The grasshopper is particularly cool – you can see how tall he is.
Walls with Finding Nemo on the left.
Walls continuing up through Asia.
Here at 5:37pm Expedition Everest has a 20-minute posted wait with the 7pm close and recommended status. Posted waits over the course of the day:
These waits are well below average. Even at 10:30am, your longest posted wait outside of the low capacity Mickey meet is 15 minutes. We do see some long peak waits with the relatively limited number of attractions, but note how much waits drop in the evening again. Even Safaris is virtually a walk-on for two hours from 2:45pm to 4:45pm.
Props to Disney I guess for continuing to send out live entertainment with so few people in the Park. Chakranadi is playing for two or three people.
It’s potentially a shame because it’s great stuff.
Kali River Rapids waits are low here with cooler temperatures. I’m not sure why you would want to, but you could walk-on as many times as you like here in the evening.
Speaking of cooler weather, Royal Anandapur Tea Company across from Yak & Yeti has some holiday offerings for the season:
Joffrey’s offers a type of free loyalty card that they don’t actively advertise. If you drink a lot of it, you may want to inquire.
Baloo and Louie with holiday scarves on the walkway that connects Asia and Africa. This is right around the entrance to Flights of Wonder.
Burudika performing with virtually everything in Africa closing over an hour ago. There’s three or four people around.
As you’ve probably heard, Disney released some details about the new dining/shopping coming to “Africa Marketplace” here: http://wdwnews.com/photos/2014/11/25/new-africa-marketplace-coming-spring-2015-to-disneys-animal-kingdom/. Combined with the New Harambe section that houses Festival of the Lion King, the Africa section of the Park will double in size once the new area in between Kilimanjaro Safaris and Mombasa Marketplace opens in Spring 2015. As a bonus, it will add another path from Africa to Asia, which should help ease congestion. I would guess New Harambe and Avatar Land will also be connected with a path that extends past the bathrooms in New Harambe.
Speaking of Lion King, some lousy high ISO in-camera HDR shots:
It’s a pretty area.
The website continues to shake its head at Dawa Bar, which used to be one of its favorite bars on property.
The large drink menu with prices that include the $6 souvenir cup seem strange. The high prices are sure to turn people off and the drinks are available without the souvenir cup for the usual $9.25 or $10.25 price. All drinks are also pre-mixed in large batches, reducing value and quality.
Disney has cut down on the number of African beers from six to two and instead added some “specialty beer” that doesn’t exactly capture New Harambe. Sweetwater IPA and Golden Monkey are very good so I guess we won’t be too upset.
Rocky Raccoon and Captain America merchandise available at Targets worldwide. Or here at Creature Comforts, location of the My Disney Experience service center.
All that’s visible of Avatar Land from the Park.
Pizzafari is going to see some changes as well, with the expectation that a sit-down-restaurant-hybrid will be opening next door and share some of Pizzafari’s seating sometime in 2015. Not much else seems to be known.
That’s about it. There are some exciting things on the horizon with the Africa Marketplace expected to open in just a few months, in addition to the long term construction on Avatar and Rivers of Light, in addition to whatever other nighttime additions find their way to the Park. Hopefully some details about a nighttime Kilimanjaro Safaris ride will arrive soon.