Animal Kingdom Pandora Rope Drop Part 2 – DinoLand, Asia, Pandora, and Africa

We pick things up from Part 1, where we began the day riding Na’vi River Journey twice in the standby line. Our ultimate destination is Flight of Passage, which will have a 240-minute wait when we arrive with FastPass+ before 12:30pm. So far, this is what I have accomplished with my arrival around 8:15am with the regular 9am open:

  1. Na’vi River Journey: 8:32am – 8:50am
  2. Na’vi River Journey: 8:50am – 9:04am
  3. Kilimanjaro Safaris: 9:10am – 9:43am
  4. Primeval Whirl: 9:55am – 10:02am
  5. DINOSAUR: 10:05am – 10:20am

That’s a pretty solid lineup for the first 80 minutes of regular operation.

And that puts us here at TriceraTop Spin of all places at 10:27am.

While the line initially “looks” long, there was nobody in the actual queue. I took this picture six minutes later at 10:33am. For most adults, TriceraTop is probably not the pinnacle of Walt Disney World entertainment, but with a total time investment of under ten minutes, you might as well. You can at least scout the area out and post on a forum that there are big things coming to Chester & Hester’s DinoRama in 2036. Insist you’ve seen the plans.

Then two minutes later I was on the receiving end of some basketball advice from Pluto and Goofy at the Bronto-Score. They were telling us to take a modest pay cut and sign with the Warriors. Nobody actually gets paid what the contract says.

The Rivers of Light theater seating remains open to those that enjoyed the show from the night before. I think there are probably more comfortable spots to take a load off, but the views are scenic and there will only be a few other people around.

Nothing makes me want to board a roller coaster that plummets backwards at 50 miles per hour quite like a blank wait time followed by the wrong time of day. It’s 10:42am and cast members were telling guests that the wait was 15-20 minutes. The wait on My Disney Experience showed 25 minutes, which looked closer to being accurate given the backup.

This was my FastPass+ lineup – I originally had Kali River Rapids from 10:45am – 11:45am, but didn’t really want to ride that. And given the cloud cover and relatively cool temperature, waits wouldn’t be very long anyway. You might remember that my original plan was going to Everest after Na’vi River Journey, when a FastPass+ wouldn’t be necessary for the roller coaster. But with an arrival in Asia closer to 11am, FP+ is probably a good decision, though there was “literally” nobody in the single rider line.

My actual wait with FastPass+ was under five minutes.

Weeeeeee.

And back out front at 10:53am for a total experience time of 11 minutes, even if still says it’s 8:32.

Light to moderate crowds outside Everest.

Temperatures are starting to cool a bit, but it’s been awfully grey for much of the last week and we’re still seeing highs in the upper-80s.

Given that, Kali River Rapids sits at 20 minutes. Here’s waits over the last 5ish weeks:

Larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports15/kali_river_rapids_waits_september_2017.jpg

Being September for much of the chart’s datres, waits remain short for the most part, though we do see the usual 40+ minute peaks turn up during the afternoon. The hurricane also did a number on it from September 10th through the 14th. Moving forward over the next month or two, waits similar to October 3rd should more or less be the norm. The hotter it is, the higher waits will be as more people are willing to put themselves through it.

While we’re at it, here’s Expedition Everest waits:

Larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports15/expedition_everest_waits_september_2017.jpg

Wait times that build quicker in the morning are why it’s prioritized over other attractions. Even in September, by 10:30am you’re looking at a 30+ minute wait more often than not. If I walked over here after Kilimanjaro Safaris, I would have arrived just before 10am, when the wait could be anywhere between 10 minutes and 50 minutes depending on the day. Using FastPass+ as early as 10:30am typically makes some sense. If it turns out you don’t need it, you can enter the standby line and reschedule for something else later in the day.

It’s just before 11am, which would be a good time for Maharajah Jungle Trek or It’s Tough To Be A  Bug before lunch.

Both are convenient to Asia.

These days, the first Flights of Wonder doesn’t start until 12:30pm.

The Lion-Tailed Macaques were introduced late last year and I was sad to hear that one of the females had bitten the poor male monkey’s tail and it became infected, to the point where veterinarians had to remove it on October 2nd. The macaques will be out of view while the male regains his balance, which should take a couple of weeks.

In more uplifting news, the Sumatran tiger baby twins should be out for viewing sometime in December/January after Sohni gave birth to them back in August.

Some birds:









All in all, I took 25 minutes walking Maharajah and returned back to Kali to see that it was no longer sporting a posted wait either. At leas the clock works.

While I’ve tried everything on the menu at Flame Tree over the years, it had been a while.

And after sampling the Vegetable Tikka Masala at Yak & Yeti a couple of nights before, I was ready for a plate of meat.

Flame Tree is home to a couple of the most expensive quick service entrees that you’ll find on property in the $20 Sampler and $19 St. Louis Rib Dinner, in addition to the $16.49 Chicken & Ribs Combo.

Actually, I should point out that while these pictures are “just” three days old, Flame Tree’s menu has since changed. The quick service no longer serves cornbread, which has dropped the price of a couple items by about 70 cents. The abomination that it is the “Baked Macaroni & Cheese with Pulled Pork” is new and I am very happy that it wasn’t available when I visited as I would have been obligated to order it.

 

The best value on the menu and one of the better values property-wide is the Onion Ring Basket.

These are so good dipped into the sweet & spicy barbecue sauce and you get a ton of them for the money. It’s been this way for years. Don’t tell anyone.

This time I didn’t mess around, going with what was the $19 “St. Louis Ribs Combo Served with Beans, Coleslaw, and Jalapeno Cornbread.” It’s now served without cornbread for $18.29.

I was impressed by the quantity and weight of the ribs – the plate arrived with twelve meaty bones with a lot of tender, juicy meat trying to cling on for dear life.

The rub had a nice spice to it and the sweet & spicy barbecue sauce is delicious.

The beans exceeded expectations as well. So often reduced to mush, the beans were soft, but retained just a little bit of a bite to them and the sauce was thick and surprisingly flavorful.

I’m not much of a coleslaw person because I “feel” like the cabbage is so often swimming in mayo, but Flame Tree’s was nice and light with a little bit of a sweet crunch that was actually a nice accompaniment to the spicy barbecue.

I really couldn’t believe how good everything tasted and it was incredibly filling. Add onion rings and you have enough food for two hungry people to comfortably share, I think.

Flame Tree participates in Mobile Order via the My Disney Experience app, which you may want to take advantage of if you’re not using Disney Dining Plan credits or taking advantage of any discounts. Annual Passholders and Tables in Wonderland cardholders receive 20% off, but there is no way to activate those discounts within the app (yet). Otherwise, I arrived in line at 11:29am and took my first of 400 photos of my food at 11:39am, which isn’t a bad turnaround at all. Lines can be significantly longer, though.

And on the way over to Pandora at 12:10pm.

I think this is the most people we’ve seen headed in all day.

It was just starting to rain as you can see people starting to unfurl ponchos. And unlike our experience first thing in the morning, the line for Na’vi River Journey actually is backed up through the entire extended queue and spilling out back here. It’s a 90-minute posted wait. You might that remember I managed to ride twice in less than 35 minutes first thing in the morning.

Flight of Passage is a solid 240 minutes, which I would remind you is “four hours,” not “two hours forty minutes” as so many people seem to think.

But to be fair, it may be difficult to get your head all the way around waiting four hours for, uh,  a 5-minute theme park ride.

With the rain coming down, I can’t imagine this is a particularly pleasant experience.

And they probably ended up being out there an awfully long time as the reason for the long wait was partially due to technical difficulties. I got in the FastPass+ line at 12:20pm and wasn’t into a pre-show room until 12:45pm, which is about 15 minutes longer than usual. A cast member announced the delay twice as we stood there.

I’m not sure if they’ve moved.

Shoulder banshees are back in stock as I was taking this picture of the rookery at 1:06pm, which meant my total experience time was a whopping 46 minutes. That’s about 20 minutes longer than average.

Looking over Flight of Passage from the last 5ish weeks:

Larger: Here.

As with other attractions, the September 10th-12th downtime was due to the hurricane, but the 2+ hour downtime to start the day on four dates since September 1st is a bit concerning. Otherwise, the trends that we’ve seen since the middle of June continue with the longest wait times of the day occurring between 9:30am and 11:15am. As I mentioned in Part 1, waits are actually lower in the afternoon when virtually every other ride sees its highest wait times of the day. But now that Disney doesn’t close the ride to capacity in the evening, and hasn’t in months, the second best time to get in line is a few minutes before official Park close when the actual wait should be 60ish minutes. That way you wait less and aren’t wasting precious touring time since the rest of the Park is closed. The third best time of day to ride is either as late in the day as possible or around 11:30am when people are probably interested in lunch. The best time to ride in standby is first thing in the morning with this post showing what that entails.

The rain sends some of the street performers to some interesting locations, with these guys appearing underneath this bridge. If they ever cast me as an entertainer, I think under a bridge somewhere is probably where I would start. And end.

With a light sprinkle coming down, Kilimanjaro Safaris was posting 35 minutes at 1:23pm.

The Karibu Sisters playing in the FastPass+ queue.

I was onboard and taking pictures as the rain smacked my camera lens within a few minutes:






And back out front at 1:56pm for a total experience time of 33 minutes, which is the exact same amount of time that it took to ride in standby immediately after Na’vi River Journey early in the morning during Part 1.

A few pictures along Gorilla Falls. Watch your tails:








25 minutes at Safaris just after 2:30pm. Looking over wait times, just because we can:

Larger: Here.

Wait times in September actually build similarly to Expedition Everest and peak higher, probably due to Disney running the attraction at a limited capacity just a little too late into the morning. We’re visiting on October 3rd, when the wait actually hits 135 minutes in the afternoon, which is two-hours-and-fifteen-minutes rather than one-hour-and-35-minutes.

Disney makes daily capacity decisions long after they decide how many FastPass+ experiences to distribute for any particular return window. And then with Safaris, you can run into the rare occasion where an animal on the road slows things down. A 10- or 15-minute delay can see 500 or more people enter the line, in turn pushing up standby waits as the remaining capacity goes to FastPass+.

But the takeaways here are that Safaris does build waits reasonably fast in the morning, meaning you either want to ride it after experiencing the Pandora ride(s) or with FastPass+ later in the day. Wait times are typically short during the last hour of operation if you’d like to ride after dark. But from 10:15am-5pm for most of the rest of the year, you’re probably looking at a wait that exceeds 30 minutes in standby.

While in line for Safaris around 1:30pm, I refreshed FastPass+ availability, and found a Na’vi River Journey for 2:15pm after just two refreshes. Why anybody would give that up…

Refreshing FastPass+ availability is the best way to find the FP+ you’re looking for at a desirable time. As people change and cancel their FP+ reservations, those FP+ experiences become available for anyone else to book. Keep clicking different times under “Search by Time” to refresh availability and remember that smaller parties see more availability.

I meandered past Flight of Passage with its 3-hour wait at 2:33pm. On the way over to Na’vi:






Na’vi was sporting a 60-minute wait at 2:36pm.

These poor people:


And back out front at 2:50pm, for a total experience time of 14 minutes.

Overall, I thought the day went well. I did:

  1. Na’vi River Journey: 8:32am – 8:50am
  2. Na’vi River Journey: 8:50am – 9:04am
  3. Kilimanjaro Safaris: 9:10am – 9:43am
  4. Primeval Whirl: 9:55am – 10:02am
  5. DINOSAUR: 10:05am – 10:20am
  6. TriceraTop Spin: 10:27am – 10:33am
  7. Expedition Everest with FastPass+: 10:42am – 10:53am
  8. Maharajah Jungle Trek: 10:58am – 11:23am
  9. Lunch at Flame Tree Barbecue: 11:30am – 12:10pm
  10. Flight of Passage with FastPass+: 12:19pm – 1:06pm
  11. Kilimanjaro Safaris with FastPass+: 1:23pm – 1:56pm
  12. Gorilla Falls: 1:58pm – 2:20pm
  13. Na’vi River Journey with FastPass+: 2:36pm – 2:50pm

That’s a pretty solid effort for about six hours of relatively chill touring. At this point, I could work in some more FastPass+ experiences along with some shows. If I was taking a break, it probably would have made more sense to leave after Flight of Passage, which would give me a few hours of relaxing before heading back out to the Park with the 8:30pm close. Otherwise, I don’t think there’s anything I would change outside of riding Na’vi River Journey and Primeval Whirl less. It also makes more sense to go to Expedition Everest after Pandora if you want multiple rides on the roller coaster early in the day.

We’ll see about returning when crowds are a little heavier. Wait times were pretty average overall.

Comments

  1. Katkat says

    Awesome post. This really helps with our up coming AK day because we wanted to do safari after navi river. We now know it is possible with an impatient toddler to do both, and have an easy rest of the morning. Thank you for all the detail you put into these posts.

  2. ex007 says

    All of this is great, except when Flight of Passage is down and, thus, doesn’t start until after 10 am. Yesterday was a very frustrating day. And then today Rock n Roller coaster is down at HS opening. It was still down almost two hours later when we left the park. Going to MK tomorrow so assuming 7DMT and Space Mtn will be down…

    • RebeccaMcK says

      That was a bugger yesterday with RnRC being down. It was my second fp of morning, so when the email finally came from MDE to pick another thing I just did Star Tours and got out of there. Star Tours was my third fp anyway so i let that one expire on way to Epcot. No luck with Flight of Passage today for me but boat ride was lovely. Scored a FP for RnRC for tonight so will hop there in a bit. Yesterday in late afternoon had no decent lines at mk but I did fp late at jungle cruise after fireworks. And after I came out of Monsters Inc earlier the big rain started, lol. Partial flooding in Tomorrowland but at least I stayed put and rode people mover twice before dessert party. It’s so hot and crowded, the rain felt good and pretty much all we have are long lines and FP if you can get it. Good luck out there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *