I guess we better fast forward a week and skip right to this morning. Otherwise, I’ll be pontificating on sandwich toppings until we’re both ready to see whether or not it really is possible to get out of those Expedition Everest vehicles at the top of the major ascent. BUT QUICKLY, a few very brief highlights, middlelights, and lowlights from the last few days.
July brings the “worst” of the South American tour groups. You may have heard about them on various message boards. Basically, they are large groups of excited, well-off 15-year-olds that aren’t always well chaperoned. What could go wrong, right? These are two of my favorite images of them from the last couple of days. The first looks like they have their own parade down Sunset Boulevard. In the second, they’ve decided to set up shop in the middle of the bridge that connects Tomorrowland and the Hub. Notice that about half of them are sitting down square in the middle of the bridge with another couple dozen fawning over them to the left. It’s true that the tour groups can be mighty disruptive. They are, after all, large groups. If the group in the first picture slips ahead of you in the FASTPASS line at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, that 15 minute wait/ride time is going to turn into 40 minutes. We’ll see that at Expedition Everest later. They can also be unbearable if you happen to be staying next to a group at a resort. Trust me, you’ll wonder if “slam the door” is the national sport of Brazil by the time you get out of there. And you’ll want to get out of there.
This is the Phineas and Ferb Meet and Greet around 11:30am. It’s relatively popular, but not outrageously popular, considering its prime location right outside the exit to Muppet Vision 3D. You can see that Disney has actually changed the queue around. If you look closely, you’ll see that the area on the left where the two women and the girl in the blue dress are standing is the queue entrance. From there, it’s a straight shot to Phineas and Ferb. This is still a 25 minute line, but it’s not horrendous by any means. To minimize waits as much as possible, arrive about ten minutes before Phineas and Ferb start their set. This guarantees you’ll see their introduction and the wait will be short. Very few people know about this Meet and Greet when they arrive and people don’t generally line up for something like this until they see the characters. I’m really hoping we see some Muppet characters for the launch of the new movie.
Here’s an even-more-paparazzi-than-usual shot of the big Lou Mongello Meet and Greet. I promised myself I wouldn’t make any “short jokes,” so let’s just say you can’t see him in this shot. For $585, Lou will walk you and up to five other people around the Magic Kingdom, offering up “little known facts” and “exciting new perspectives.” I offer a similar, yet obviously lower quality, service for $5. Free, assuming you’re buying lunch.
You’ll often see me refer to this as “crowds of this magnitude.” July is just nutty busy.
But at the same time, it doesn’t look so busy.
And busy again. See what I did there?
Another afternoon later in the week at Magic Kingdom, just before noon.
I’m not much for Disney parades, but the Diamond Horseshoe is looking majestic back there. I heard it was on suicide watch after that poor review.
I’m fairly positive that Stitch must know where the bodies are buried. This guy is everywhere.
Say what you will about the removal of Flynn, but check out how short this line is for Rapunzel. And don’t tell me that this proves Rapunzel isn’t popular without Flynn. They’re easily moving through 3x as many people now with waits that are about 85% shorter.
Here we are this morning (or yesterday morning if you’ve actually made it this far), right before rope drop. Disney is still doing the abridged morning show at about 8:50am. It’s about two minutes long and at around 8:53am you’ll be let free to search out your first attraction.
From the entrance, everyone will proceed up two paths on opposite sides that converge into one path that leads up to the Tree of Life. Once you make it to the Tree of Life, you’ll have two choices.
To the left is Africa and Kilimanjaro Safaris.
The Tree in the middle.
To the right is Asia and DinoLand USA.
There isn’t necessarily a “right” answer when it comes to deciding whether you want to head to Kilimanjaro Safaris or Expedition Everest first. If you head to Kilimanjaro Safaris first, you’re looking at about 30-35 minutes of wait/ride time depending on how quickly the vehicles load and how close you are to the front of the line. That means it will be about 9:40am by the time you arrive at Expedition Everest, where you can expect to find a line that is ten or so minutes long. On the other hand, you could head straight to Expedition Everest in the morning, where you’re looking at about ten minutes of wait/ride time. After that, you could head over to Kilimanjaro Safaris and find a wait of about ten minutes. Head to Expedition Everest first and you would also have the opportunity to ride three or four times in a row with just a five to ten minute wait each time. Head to Kilimanjaro Safaris first and the line will be 15-20 minutes by the time you head back around. Of course, you could grab a FASTPASS and head to Expedition Everest. Personally, I like to collect a FASTPASS for Kilimanjaro Safaris, ride Kilimanjaro Safaris, ride Expedition Everest, and then grab a FASTPASS for Expedition Everest. However, you may want to ride Expedition Everest a few times in the morning back to back and then head over to Kilimanjaro Safaris to ride or simply collect a FASTPASS for later in the day.
My goal today was to ride Kali River Rapids as often as possible with FASTPASS and in the standby line to collect “actual wait times” and “total wait/ride time with FASTPASS). Admittedly, Kali River Rapids is not one of my favorite attractions. Anyone who has ridden knows that you’ll get soaked and there isn’t a ton to the ride itself. It’s certainly picturesque floating down the river overlooking Expedition Everest, but the whole wet-factor and lack of much else going on doesn’t make it a fantastic attraction in my book. However, there is one huge perk to riding with a poncho. As you get close to the loading area, you’ll be on the right side as people exit the attraction on a path directly to your left. All of these people will be soaked. And you’ll look a whole lot less dorky in that poncho. I bring a poncho and a separate bag for my backpack. There is an area in the middle of the raft that sort of protects purses, bags, valuables and the like, but it’s also located inside the same raft that is constantly barraged with water. It’s wet in there and not at all ideal to place that Magic Kingdom 40th Anniversary Dooney Bag.
Note that I collected this FASTPASS at 8:55am and the return time is 11am. This is abnormal because most attractions distribute FASTPASSes with a return time of 9:40am first thing in the morning. We have to assume Disney does this because most people want to ride Kali in the afternoon when it’s hot out. Also note that it says another FASTPASS ticket will be available at 9:55am, exactly one hour after I collected this one. We’ll see the same one hour availability later in the afternoon as well. At least at the moment, you’ll be able to collect FASTPASSes for another attraction one hour after collecting a Kali FASTPASS regardless of the return time. The average wait/ride time with FASTPASS is about 16 minutes. One sort of annoying thing you may run into when using the Kali FASTPASSes is the fact that the FASTPASS line and the standby line aren’t well sectioned off. What I mean is, there are times where there won’t be a barrier between the FASTPASS line on the left and the standby line on the right. You may very well come to a mob of people in the standby line in an area where there isn’t anything separating the two lines. If that happens, you’re welcome to squish through on the left side as best you can. You might ask the people ahead of you if they’re using FASTPASSes and when they say no, take it as your cue (no pun intended) to “cut” in front of them.
Here’s the 9:40am FASTPASS return time at Expedition Everest. For one reason or another, Disney likes to switch the queue on Expedition Everest around in the morning. The start of the line will likely be out to the left as pictured in the second image above. If you were to go to the “regular” standby entrance, you would see a rope with an arrow pointing to the left. This is confusing to a lot of people, so look out for it. I’ve already ridden and I’m back out front at 9:13am.
Here we are for our first ride on Kali River Rapids. FASTPASSes haven’t moved much yet. You basically have Kali to yourself until at least 10am, even in the summer. It doesn’t get crowded until after people get through Kilimanjaro and Expedition Everest and the temperature gets hotter in the afternoon. Although the “RealFeel” was 102 degrees at 9am this morning. One thing to keep in mind is that Florida heat is unlike Arizona or Las Vegas Heat. That is, Florida is not “dry.” That means you won’t “dry” because there is so much moisture in the air already. You’ll just be wet and hot instead of just hot (and sweaty).
Still reasonable waits at Expedition Everest. This is why you can have success going to Kilimanjaro Safaris first. Had you done that, you’d be arriving at Expedition around now.
And a 10 minute wait at Kilimanjaro Safaris at 9:45am, though it switched to 20 minutes shortly after.
This is one of my favorite spots in all of Walt Disney World. It’s located to the right immediately before the Africa entrance sign as you enter from Discovery Island. It’s technically the end of one of the Discovery Island Trails. It’s also located right after the best ice cream truck in Animal Kingdom. Don’t get suckered into one of those soft-serve cones. The kiosk on this path serves hand scooped Haagen-Dasz. Full menu and building picture: https://www.easywdw.com/menus-and-seating/safari-ice-cream-discovery-island-haagen-dazs-and-edys-ice-cream-beverages/
Here we are back at Kali River Rapids. This FASTPASS was collected at 10:05am, has a return time of 11:50am, and I can collect another FASTPASS one hour later, at 11:05am. Still no waits at Kali. It’s a walk-on.
Back to check on things at Expedition Everest. Up to a 20 minute wait, but still not bad. FASTPASS return times getting later and later though.
Not much going on in DinoLand USA from 10:00am to 10:30am. I walked right on DINOSAUR and TriceraTop Spin is operating without people in half the dinosaurs.
Waits building at Kilimanjaro by 10:45am, but 30 minutes isn’t bad considering the overall crowd level.
Here we are back at Kali River Rapids, now with a 55 minute standby wait and FASTPASS return times after 1pm. Compare that to the Kilimanjaro FASTPASS return times we just saw for 11:24am. What we see at Kali is that it just can’t keep up with demand once people are interested in riding. It has a relatively low capacity and a slow loading/unloading time. When the weather is significantly cooler (think December), Kali may never have a wait that exceeds 15 minutes. However, in the summer it often has waits that are longer than Kilimanjaro or Expedition Everest and FASTPASSes run out much sooner. Keep that in mind if you’re planning a summer trip.
Lunch today is at the quick service arm of Yak & Yeti. Full menu, seating, and condiment pictures here: https://www.easywdw.com/menus-and-seating/yak-yeti-local-food-cafes-menu-asia-major-quick-service/. I’m a big Yak & Yeti fan. In my opinion, they serve the best fast-food “Asian” on property and the table service is vastly underrated. It’s only a dollar or two more than you would expect to pay at Panda Express too. I opted for the Asian Chicken Sandwich. I had no idea what to expect, but was happy to see it had more than just two pieces of chicken on it. There isn’t much Asian to it other than a sesame-flavored relish of some sort. It was good, but not great. It’s a nice alternative to your standard salad if you’re in the mood for something cold, as I was. I don’t think I would go out of my way to order it again though. Not bad. But I don’t think it’s going to top anybody’s favorites list.
Expedition Everest FASTPASS return times and wait times.
Kali River Rapids still has longer waits and FASTPASS return times further into the future.
I promised an image of the Brazilians in the FASTPASS line for Expedition Everest, so here it is. This has a substantial impact on the standby line as Disney will basically move through all of these kids first. If you’re planning to use a FASTPASS and you see it backed up like this, consider finding something else to do for about 20 minutes. There are a couple hundred kids in line here.
Another Kali FASTPASS. It was collected at 11:50am, has a return time of 3:30pm, and I can still collect another FASTPASS one hour in the future – at 12:50pm. I managed to ride nine times today, which is about nine times too many as far as I’m concerned. But hey, someone has to do the dirty work on this site.
Getting busy. FASTPASS return times bumped up by 45 minutes in just the 15 minutes it took me to ride with FASTPASS.
DinoLand USA still not very busy at 12pm, though there is now a short wait for TriceraTop Spin. The posted wait time at DINOSAUR is 20 minutes now that FASTPASS users are starting to arrive en masse.
Overall, it was a very manageable day at Animal Kingdom. It was the “most recommended Park” after all and we did tour efficiently in the morning by arriving prior to Park opening.