We continue from Part One, where we reacquainted ourselves with what to expect from Early Entry, and the 50th Most Magical Legacy Celebration Marvel The Mandalorian Pixar Soul Disney World Anniversary. That isn’t the name of the celebration, but I have 18 months to get it right, and I plan to take each and every day to get one step closer. Actually, we’re probably here from Part Two.
Here’s a handy banner reminder of the actual name:
That doesn’t seem that difficult to remember, so we may be able to get it right in a mere 12-14 months. But we both know you still call it MGM Studios and Downtown Disney, so cut me a little slack here. I am one of you after all.
Speaking of Early Entry, Disney has since moved the proposed start up from its expected October 1st beginning to every morning beginning September 26th, ostensibly to work out the kinks before the official Anniversary. There’s nothing like a complete meltdown to offset the best laid plans. Unlike the Park’s reopening back in July, it’s possible that the company can’t recover from another Instagram story from a theme park journalist who has never actually entered the Park as a regular guest before. Horrors instead of red carpets and shrimp, indeed. Fortunately(?), all of the bloggers seemed to have survived the onslaught of the virus. I think we can all thank the immunity that only the Italy kiosk over at Epcot could provide. It wouldn’t surprise me if Pfizer’s vaccine is 90% Food and Wine Rigatoni.
We’re making our way over to Asia, stopping by Africa’s snack stand in the meantime, for a quick menu check, where popcorn buckets and refills remain on the menu. You’d think Disney would only need one popcorn bucket to cover all four of Florida’s glorious seasons. “Too hot.” The artwork would just be flames and perspiration and agony and frowns and zeros on your bank account statement. But alas, we apparently try for things like Thanksgiving, where the high falls to 86 degrees.
But Halloween is vaguely upon us. I actually like the look of this year’s container, which boasts a number of spooky characters. You may not refill the popcorn bucket at home, but I’ve heard it works well for margarita mix. The website doesn’t judge, endorse, or have any experience either way.
Things haven’t changed much at Tamu Tamu Refreshments as The Lion King still ties into the nearby “The Shortening” over at Harambe Theater.
We have another digital wait times board that is sort of readable, if not scratched up like your typical South American’s iPhone that they won’t be declaring to customs:
Like the board we saw at Pizzafari, the screen only lists nearby attractions, so you’ll have to rock the Disney World app for a more robust view. Considering smartphones are basically a requirement these days, it’s a little interesting that Disney decided to install these boards around the Park. But Disney will be dealing with a number of guests who aren’t able to use the Genie+ system on their phone or figure out how to book Individual Lightning Lane Attraction Selections no matter how many times they try to click. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with a third go-around on Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy. Lightning is already in the name, after all. It’s like he’s calling out to us. Kachow.
The Guest Experience team should be able to help with any issues, and it’s possible that Disney will uncover the old FastPass+ machines and reprogram them for Lightning Lane selections for users that need to rely on 1999 technology running Windows Millennium in lieu of the app. It’s either that or Windows XP, which powers the whole resort.
Looking above, the wait for Expedition Everest is a paltry 15 minutes, or less than half of any of the attractions that we’ve seen so far. Na’vi River
Travesty Journey is posting 45 minutes. That’s one reason why Expedition Everest seems unlikely as a second Individual Lightning Lane Attraction selection, in addition to the 3+ months of downtime that it will experience early next year. We’ll see how things look over at the Forbidden Mountain after lunch. I don’t let the Sherpas drag me up the mountain until I’ve had my second bowl of Reese’s Puffs. If nothing else, I’m sure Yak & Yeti and Expedition Everest is a favorable 1-2 combination.
It’s a bit interesting how an outlet’s placement can affect sales so significantly. Warung Outpost, which you’ve probably never heard of, is the name of the margarita stand to the left of the entrance to the Bird Show of Various Names in Asia. Very few people are going to naturally pass by it because it’s off the beaten path. And we have no time for such shenanigans.
Hence, it looks like Caravan Road, along the main walkway in Discovery Island that connects Africa and Asia, will pick up the slack in the near-term:
I would guess whoever is tasked with finding those shoulder banshees is also in charge of moving the frozen mixing machines over here. And who knows when he or she will be able to climb out from underneath all of those boxes and get our drinks spinning to a consistency that’s technically frozen under OSHA guidelines. But anything under 93 degrees is frozen as far as Florida is concerned, so I wouldn’t necessarily keep your hopes up. Caravan’s menu is basically identical to what you’d find at Warung. Which you probably already forgot where it is.
Mr. Kamal’s, located right across the way from Caravan Road on Discovery Island, and nearing even with the entrance to The Asia Bird Show, is open daily.
The Dumplings are a rough value proposition at two bucks a pop, and Yak & Yet’s quick service arm usually provides more food for less money. You can always grab the condiments to go, which do add some interesting flavors to a crispier crunch than Disney’s usual french fry.
I’d hold out for a draft beer over Caravan or Kamal’s offerings in most situations, with the Trek Bar coming up ahead of us, and the Dawa Bar cage back in Africa, but if you have some guy taking a never-ending amount of flower pictures in your group, you’ll have some time to guzzle that Tusker. At least, it always seems like people are drinking around me for some reason.
I don’t think we’ve seen any of the 0.0% non-alcoholic beers available around property, perhaps because there’s little demand for a $9 beer that won’t make your family/blogger accompaniments any more tolerable, but the major companies are releasing and marketing the alcohol-free options fairly heavily on the television.
We’ll all miss Ed Asner. Despite being known as an emotionless robot of sorts myself, I’m actually a huge crier. Like, embarrassingly so. It will be interesting to see if we see the continuation of the current, “Feathered Friends in Flight” show, which should pack in a similar number of people without the need for the UP! characters. Or if those performers arrive again around the time the new Finding Nemo show debuts.
Currently, the Feathered Friends show is slated to continue through at least November, with starting times of 10:30am, 11:30am, 1:30pm, 2:30pm, and 3:30pm. Disney’s official word with available showtimes are available here. Keep in mind that the world’s largest media conglomerate until Universal’s Mario movie brings in 400 trillion dollars updates things only updates showtimes, reservations, park hours, etc. about 60 days in advance, so if you don’t currently see showtimes for a December date or something further in advance, it doesn’t have any bearing on the status of the show. That goes for about everything else if you’re checking more than 60 days in advance.
We move on to the Yak & Yeti Restaurant:
Larger: Here. Or more readable on their website, and a link to the Landry’s Card, which you want if you plan to dine here, Rainforest Cafe, T-Rex, or one of their other hundreds of restaurants. The restaurant was quoting a 75-minute wait on a modestly-busy day before noon and perhaps half of the tables full. The Landry’s Card, which pays for itself in one visit, will get you to the front of the line of those waiting, typically including guests with reservations that arrived before you. Oh, the side-eyes you’ll receive on that one. It will feel like you made. FUN. of one of. DISNEY FOOD BLOG’S. CUPCAKE REVIEWS. and she recognizes you. In. THE parks. On the plus side, Yak & Yeti does use a texting service where they’ll alert you to when your table is ready. We were quoted a wait under 15 minutes, so we stepped outside to enjoy the Siamangs. If you’re without Landry’s Card, which is not intelligent, you can get on the same waiting list and receive the same text some number of hours later. It does beat hanging around the lobby:
We’ll pop out for some Siamang action:
They may or may not be discussing the portion size of the potsticker appetizer at Yak & Yeti, and whether adding an additional piece would increase guest satisfaction at just a meager cost increase. Or there may be a new cupcake at Restaurantosaurus that’s dry, made yesterday, filled with gunk, and topped with too much icing. I give it a 10/10.
Quality at Yak & Yeti’s quick service outlet, located to the right of the entrance and with all outdoor seating, has dropped low enough in quality relative to price that it’s hard to recommend much:
At least there’s no “American Kobe Beef Hot Dog” on the menu. Or I have an American Kobe Beef Bridge to sell you. A Side of Pork Egg Rolls and Fried Rice was my longstanding go-to snack, but with the greasy rolls and the reduction in Fried Rice quantity, $12 is a rough spend compared to similarly-priced full-size entrees at Flame Tree. Satu’li may or may not be a couple dollars more depending on what you order. Either is worth it.
There’s virtually no chance that Kali River Rapids will be the second Individual Lightning Lane Attraction outside of the Genie+ system, as it sits here with a standby wait of ten minutes, even with peak temperatures and humidity. It will always be the wet t-shirt contest that we both wish you didn’t participate in.
Thanks to the Landry’s Card, we were summoned to our table in just a few minutes:
Given the heat of the day, I went with the $21 “Chop Chop Shrimp Salad – Chopped romaine lettuce, red and Napa cabbage, carrots, marinated grilled shrimp, tossed in miso sesame dressing, and crispy wontons.” I suppose you could go to town with it via chopsticks, but you’d have to be more nimble than I.
I didn’t really care for the salad, with the overbearing dressing, which seemed to be more mayonnaise-based than anything. I expected it to be pretty similar to the $19 “Ahi Tuna Nachos – Sushi grade Ahi tuna, Asian slaw, crispy fried wontons, wasabi aioli, sweet soy glaze,” which I would recommend either as a gigantic shareable appetizer or entrée choice in its own right. The portion size was certainly large, and the shrimp, while dry and seemingly-seasoned with Old Bay, was plenty to eat. But I’d rate it pretty low on the potential options available here.
Axel went with the $25 “Teriyaki Chicken – Marinated All Natural Joyce Farms chicken breast, pineapple mango salsa, teriyaki glaze, coconut-ginger rice, stir-fried vegetables.” It was a wiser decision, with the mango salsa doing a nice job of brightening up the flavors of the juicy chicken and helping cut some of the salt and soy from the glaze. The kitchen prepared the vegetables well – they maintained and cooked them to a nice firmness, but they were soft to the bite and helped add some variety to the flavor profile.
I think I’d stick to the tried-and-true entrees here, like the various Lo Meins, Honey Chicken, and those delicious Tuna Nachos. Mistakes were definitely made. But you never order something you have a picture of. Such is the plight of the blogger.
Those Nachos and the $15 “Korean Fried Chicken – Hand-breaded tenders tossed in gochujang maple syrup, dipping sauce” should be plenty of food to share for less than $20 per person. The eight-or-so delicately-battered, crispy fried chicken tenders are sweet and satisfying, and actually come in at less money than a couple of the entrees at the outdoor quick service. In addition, they would provide a lot more protein in a much more air-conditioned, relaxing atmosphere where you’re waited on. Plus, Landry’s Card.
Kali’s wait had more than doubled during lunch, but was still among the shorter waits in the Park. Since we’ve taken a look at waits during peak summer weeks in July, rolling into much less crowded days in August, we can make sure that there aren’t any surprises:
Kali River Rapids, which is also slated for a refurbishment from November 1st of this year through mid-December, much to the dismay of six to eight people fooled by that previous RAFT sign, actually surprises on the average wait times front, coming in with a total average of 39 minutes, which is just three minutes shorter than Safaris, and less than ten minutes shorter than Na’vi. But with the refurbishment beginning right around the time Genie is expected to launch…coupled with the fact that it’s Kali River Rapids, I’d be willing to bet that there’s no way it’s an Individual Attraction Lightning Pass off the regular Genie+ system. If I’m wrong, I promise to live-stream me riding it over and over and over again on the coldest day of the year, when the low drops to 62 degrees.
Plus, as temperatures cool, waits will drop by about half, when Florida starts freaking out that the lows are in the upper 60s and it’s time to find that eighth box full of Turtle Necks. It’s somewhere in the storage room with the unopened Funko Pops and limited edition pins, both of which will definitely go up in value as time goes on. It’s like Beanie Babies, which is why we’re all rich.
While one wonders where exactly the cutoff is between advertising a ride that is nothing like the picture and the reality of the situation, RAFT doesn’t exactly encapsulate the Kali River Rapids Experience.
What’s depicted seems like more of a squid game, where you’re given oars and sent down what looks to be a riptide to the right, only to manage to scramble to the left, depending on whose point of view we’re taking. Whatever horrors await out of frame, I can’t say. Probably Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café.
I don’t know, maybe it’s the same ride. I wouldn’t hand any of us large oars, either.
We’ll stretch things out one more time as we take a look at KiteTails activation preparations, enjoy some easy-to-photograph birds along Maharajah, and finish things up in DinoLand.