With the walls changing position, Animal Kingdom beckons our return.
Walls around the front of the Tree of Life have been removed to unveil new carvings and more space.
Some of the Discovery Island Trails are open, while other paths are still roped off.
It’s artsy because it’s tilted and not tilted. Basically the trifecta of photography.
The majority of the walls around the Park are still up.
New walls are up on the Island Mercantile side near Pizzafari.
Since walls cover up the Mercantile FastPass+ kiosk, iPad-wielding cast members have moved down toward the Disney Vacation Club booth area near Pizzafari. They can set up your original FP+ or get you that coveted 4th FP+ after you use your initial three.
The FP+ kiosk on the other side outside Disney Outfitters is still there.
The exact location of the Asia FP+ location moves a bit, but you’ll find it somewhere near Yak & Yet Restaurant.
The fourth and final kiosk is still located near Tusker House Restaurant on the walk over to the New Harambe Festival of the Lion King theater.
Walls still line Flame Tree Barbecue during its refurbishment, which is expected to continue at least through March 31st.
Last month’s post covered where the food is available during the refurb in more depth. This is the kiosk in context.
And the menu. I like how the same piece of cornbread is photoshopped into the old pictures.
This kiosk nearby is also refurbished.
The Frozen Mango Rum Lemonade is new.
Portions of Flame Tree’s seating area are still open:
With views of the Rivers of Light construction across the water:
Not much to see.
The view from above with Avatar construction in the distance.
Not much of the Avatar construction is visible from the ground.
It’s a big building is about all that can be said.
Otherwise, walls still line the entirety of Asia and continue down along the water through DinoLand.
Rivers of Light, the new parade on the water, isn’t expected to arrive until spring of next year. So the walls will be up for the foreseeable future.
Kali River Rapids reopened on February 12th with an entrance that now goes through where the paper FASTPASS machines used to be located. It’s a little more obvious than the entrance off to the right. With high temperatures in the low 60s, the wait is only 5 minutes. Fast forward three or four months and the wait will be 60 to 90 minutes.
FP+ entrance in the same area.
The entrance to Maharajah Jungle Trek is located behind it:
It’s fun to walk the path in the afternoon when wait times peak elsewhere.
Back on February 3rd, Lisa and I had FastPass+ for DINOSAUR in the afternoon, but the ride broke down:
That allowed us to visit Kilimanjaro Safaris instead at our leisure. This post covers what alternate attractions will be offered if your choice goes down. The replacements are set regardless of time of day or availability.
Due to some technical problems, it was 27 minutes between the time we got in line and the time we were out on the savanna, even with FP+ and the 10-minute posted wait. Lisa took some terrific shots:
You almost never see the cheetahs up and about like that.
There’s not much to see at the new shopping/dining district opening this spring in the Africa section.
Back to food and beverage news, the website noted changes to Pizzafari’s menu last month. The generic Meatball Sub replaced the very good Hot Italian Sandwich. The Heart of Romaine Salad replaced the usual Caesar Salad and the Baked Pasta Bolognese replaced the Chicken, Vegetable, and Pasta Salad. The Tiramisu replaced the “Cheesecake in a Glass.”
Lisa ordered the $9.79 Wedge Salad with Chicken – Fresh Heart of Romaine with Herb-marinated Chicken Breast, Candied Nueske’s Bacon, Crunchy Croutons and a sharp Caesar Dressing.
It was very good with significantly better ingredients than the standard Caesar. Even the dressing, which wasn’t the usual Ken’s, was an improvement. The chicken had a little more flavor than usual and was less dry and the bacon added a salty component. Even the croutons had a nice crunch. The only potential problem is the wedge itself. While fresh and crunchy, it’s kind of a hassle to cut it up yourself with plastic silverware on a slippery paper plate. But other than that, it’s a proficient salad in a Park that actually has a couple other great salads.
Hopefully when Flame Tree reopens, they’ll still serve their Smoked Chicken Salad.
On the other hand, Restaurantosaurus’s Chicken BLT Salad is pretty boring.
Tamu Tamu Refreshment’s Roasted Chicken Salad is quite good. We’ll get to Yak & Yeti’s momentarily.
Back to Pizzafari, I ordered the $11.99 Penne Pasta in a hearty Tomato Meat Sauce topped with Mozzarella and Parmesan Cheese served with a Breadstick and Side Salad.
This is more or less Marie Callender’s frozen entree quality with stringy melted cheese on top of undercooked pasta and a bland meat sauce. It wasn’t terrible by any means – but I don’t think it’s necessarily a compelling purchase at this price, which is a couple dollars higher than average. Quick service theme park pasta is a rarity these days now that Pinocchio Village Haus did away with it a few years ago. It is a nice change of pace, but don’t expect anything gourmet or freshly prepared.
It’s paired with one of the breadsticks that you can order separately. Without the marinara, it’s just okay – soft with a prominent cheesy garlic flavor. Just in case you didn’t get enough carbs with the pasta.
Side Caesar salads are now served in these small plastic cups instead of the paper bowls. This is pretty basic – fresh crunchy lettuce, a few croutons, and Ken’s Caesar.
The price point I recommend avoiding on quick service desserts is $4.19 – a sure sign that what you’re ordering is going to be prepared in massive quantities and served to you in a small plastic cup. Pizzafari’s $4.99 tiramisu was better than I was expecting. The mousse enjoyed a nice subtle coffee/chocolate-y flavor on top of the light and sweet sponge cakes underneath. It’s not a particularly compelling value out of pocket, but would be a better addition than most to a quick service meal on the Dining Plan.
Overall, these are nice changes to the Pizzafari menu. The salad is a nice option and while not a standout, the pasta is a nice change of pace from burgers and pizzas.
We’ve covered a few of Yak & Yeti’s new items over the past couple of months.
Today, we’ll look at two more.
You may remember the Roasted Vegetable Couscous Wrap was a bit of a disappointment, at least if you were expecting any amount of actual vegetables outside of a few shreds of red pepper and onion.
This time around, Lisa tried the $9.99 Ginger Chicken Salad – Mixed Greens, grilled marinated Chicken, and Ginger Dressing. It’s served compartmentalized in a plastic container with a lid. There isn’t a whole lot to it – fresh greens, dry chicken, crunchy chow mein noodles, and the small cup of atomically-orange-colored salad dressing that had a sweet, very pronounced ginger flavor. Like the Southwest Chicken Salad at Pecos Bill at Magic Kingdom, there isn’t nearly enough salad dressing to adequately cover the lettuce. You’ll want to ask for a second cup should you order it. It’s otherwise fairly basic – not unlike any generic Asian salad mix at the grocery store. If your group opts to dine here and you’re looking for a salad, this would do. But it’s not worth seeking out in our opinion.
I ordered the $9.99 Korean Stir-fry Barbecue Chicken – Chicken, Peppers, Onions, Pineapple, Sweet and Tangy Korean Barbecue Sauce with White Rice, which recently replaced the Sweet and Sour Chicken at the same price point. This one isn’t deep fried, but you never know how much oil it’s bathing in.
The stir-fry was prepared well – there’s a ton of green and red peppers, in addition to sliced onion and a couple bites of pineapple to sweeten it up a bit. It’s not an overwhelmingly spicy dish, but there is a mild kick. My one complaint is that there wasn’t a ton of chicken in it and it wasn’t a particularly filling dish. One potentially nice thing about your typical Asian takeout is that the chicken is deep fried, which adds a lot of heft to the dish. You don’t get that here. What is served tastes good though. The side of rice is pretty boring and there isn’t a lot of excess sauce to help liven it up, but it was prepared well. All in all a fine meal, but not something I’ll be raving about in every post or sad when it inevitably gets pulled for something else.
My favorite thing here is still the Honey Chicken.
The Asian Chicken Sandwich here is also pretty forgettable – pre-made long ago and served in a plastic clam shell with a side of bagged chips. If you’re going to go for the chicken salad or the chicken sandwich, I think I’d go with the sandwich – it’s a little more interesting with the sesame-flavored relish.
We also tried an egg roll, which I’ve ordered a few times before. They’re Costco freezer aisle quality fried up nicely.
The Egg Roll cart in Adventureland is a little more fun.
The quick service is still offering the Chicken Curry as a “daily special.”
Hmmmmmmm, what else? This is a bug.
Expedition Everest had a 25-minute posted wait when we approached to use our FastPass+ at 1:35pm on February 13th. We were back out front just 11 minutes later to a 40-minute wait.
Disney had installed screens in the queue that appeared like they would interact with My Disney Experience, but those screens have either been covered or moved to an attraction at Universal.
The single rider line to the right of the main entrance is usually viable given a longish wait. Since the line is fully visible, you can see how many people are in front of you, unlike the single rider lines at the other two attractions that have them – Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster at Hollywood Studios and Test Track at Epcot.
Some of this merchandise is new. This is just about everything the store at the ride’s exit carries with the attraction name on it:
The drum sticks are pretty random. The hand made in Nepal stuff will set you back a pretty penny, but it’s for a good cause.
Daisy Duck recently relocated from Character Landing to a more obvious location on the walk to Africa.
Waits are a little longer than her previous location, but still under 15 minutes most of the time.
Last month I made fun of the menu at the temporary allergy kiosk on the walk to Africa:
It makes it sound like the chicken salad sandwich is topped with the vinaigrette, potato salad, and banana. The description was changed along with some other changes to the menu:
No more Tofutti.
Looking toward Everest.
New Harambe and the Festival of the Lion King theater.
That’s most of what’s going on at Animal Kingdom these days – a Park with some exciting things in store.
A few Park specific items:
That’s about it!