Sorry for calling you a bunch of doofuses in the last post about Animal Kingdom. I didn’t mean it. It was the alcohol talking. I just get worked up about my baby, Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Not that it’s an excuse. Just keep in mind that we can’t be friends if you consider Animal Kingdom a “half day park,” whatever that even means.
Speaking of Animal Kingdom, a new event began yesterday, titled the “Sundowner Celebration.” The name itself sounds kind of depressing, with a heavy emphasis on the “downer” portion. No one likes a Debbie Downer after all. But it was a term I had never heard before, so I looked it up on Wikipedia. Apparently, Sundowner is the name of one of the “little ships” used during the Dunkirk evacuation during World War II. That can’t be it. It’s a model of Mazda truck. That probably isn’t it either. Sundowning is a “psychological phenomenon associated with increased confusion and restlessness in patients with some form of dementia.” I hope not. It’s also an “old Australian and New Zealand term describing an underclass of transient temporary workers, who traveled by foot from farm to farm carrying the traditional swag (bedroll).” That gives a new definition to the word swagbag at least and it sounds like us. According to Wikipeida, “A Sundowner, in colloquial British English, is an alcoholic drink taken after completing the day’s work, usually at sundown.” Somehow I doubt we want to bring up British Imperialism in the Africa and Asia sections, where most of the events take place.
Scouring deeper into the bowels of a Google search for “sundowner celebration,” I happened upon a post from the Houston Zoo:
“Sundowners are cocktails and hoers d’ oeuvres in the bush, on the savanna or by a hippo pool, where wildlife can be seen up close and personal. The rules in Kruger National Park are that you can’t get out of your car because of the danger of being charged by a hippo or eaten by a lion. When it comes to Sundowners, however, the rules are somewhat flexible. If you get out of your car and you get eaten by a lion, then the park has no responsibility. It’s your own fault for getting out of your car in the first place. This adds an element of danger and excitement to the Sundowner celebration. Fortunately, we didn’t get eaten.”
Fair enough I guess, though it remains a pretty obscure reference.
The new bus stop order with the introduction of the Art of Animation Resort. This is one theme park where the buses for Art of Animation and Pop Century are nowhere close to each other.
Art of Animation’s station is actually as close as possible to the main entrance. You’d have to keep walking all the way around to the left and then down a bit to get to the Pop Century bus. Since Pop Century and Art of Animation are in walking distance of each other, it is possible to hop on whichever bus arrives first should you be staying at one of the resorts. If that leads to overcrowding, we can expect Disney to move the stops further away from each other. Remember that they stops are either right next to each other or virtually right next to each other at the other three major theme parks. It was about 12 minutes via Disney bus from Art of Animation to Animal Kingdom.
Arriving at exactly 4pm. With the 3:45pm Parade finishing up, there will be at least 10 people leaving for every person entering. If Animal Kingdom is closing at 7pm or 8pm, then arriving around 4:30pm is perfectly viable. Waits are only going to get shorter as it gets closer to close and more and more people leave for evening entertainment/dinner elsewhere. Both Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest will be near walk-ons in the final hour.
This truck should look familiar from the now defunct rope drop show.
What may be less obvious is the fact that the Sundowner Celebration schedule is actually listed on that sign. I didn’t even realize it at the time. While the schedule is intended to be informal, it’s actually sort of confusing to look at with various items circled and times written far away with arrows all over. Actually, that sort of reminds me of this website I go to sometimes.
The Sundowner Celebration isn’t listed on the Times Guide or seemingly anywhere else, so this is it. The only way you’d know about it is if you frequented the various Disney blogs. I don’t even think Disney Parks Blog has touched it yet, which is Disney’s usual way of disseminating information these days. If you look at the top, it notes that all of these events occur before sundown. So I guess we are celebrating the fact that the sun always goes down, regardless of whether or not we’re snacking on guava-flavored popcorn? I’m not sure.
It’s 4:06pm, which is not a good time to be in Discovery Island with the Parade finishing up nearby. I don’t like to be anywhere near Discovery Island from 3:30pm to 4:30pm because the narrow walkways are lined with people and then it’s virtually impossible to walk around from 3:45pm – 4:20pm when the Parade/People are circling the Tree of Life.
I decided to duck into It’s Tough To Be A Bug. The nets are still up since a piece of the Tree of Life supposedly broke off and hit the ground after-hours. I think it’s been a couple of months now.
I don’t find them to be particularly obnoxious. Even without them, it’s difficult to see the Tree of Life from the Bug’s queue and the canopy sort of feels like it fits the overall ambiance of the area.
The downside is that most of the Discovery Island Trails around the Tree of Life are still closed, including these two the left of the exit.
Heading inside the Tree of Life to the Repertory Theater.
Cute posters similar to the ones found over at Muppet Vision line the walls:
And the show we’re here to see.
Honestly, I think It’s Tough To Be A Bug is one of the scariest experiences at Walt Disney World. There’s always children that start crying shortly after the show starts. It’s extremely dark. Spiders fall from the sky. Fog fills the room. It goes pitch black several times. Hopper threatens to murder everyone. Anyone over the age of nine should be fine, but I’d be a little wary for the younger set, especially if they’re apprehensive about attractions like Haunted Mansion.
And Hopper is one of the best, least represented villains from any Disney movie.
Overall, it’s a fun 4D show in a very well themed theater. I just think it’s a shame they decided to go so dark with it. Heimlich, one of my favorite characters of all time, doesn’t even make an appearance. No appearances from Dot, Atta, Molt, or really anyone else either.
What the warning sign says.
What it should say (This attraction is Terrifying).
Let’s take a look at the components of this Sundowner Celebration.
In Asia across from Yak & Yeti we have two demonstrations. This one is cooking Pan Asian Fried Rice.
And this one is brewing teas.
Considering the kiosks are so small, it doesn’t seem like more than about six people could watch at any given time. Since it’s so noisy (as we’ll see momentarily), it would also be difficult for too many more people to hear.
Instead of dedicated kiosks selling food/beverages, like we see at the Food and Wine Festival, several of the quick services/carts have extra items available after 3pm. These drinks are available at Drinkwallah across from Yak & Yeti Restaurant.
The drink kiosk across from Yak & Yeti Quick service remains.
With some decent looking, freshly made drinks. I’ve been wanting to try that Dragon’s Hollow cab, since it’s straight out of China and I’ve never had a Chinese wine before!
The Bhangra DJ Dance Party continues in Asia near the entrance down to Kali River Rapids. This has actually been going on a for a couple of months now. It’s more fun than the usual DJs Disney tends to throw at Downtown Disney, Magic Kingdom, and the like.
As you can see. Cast members and the dancers help lead easy to perform dance moves, which helps a lot with interaction and participation.
The only problem is that it clogs up what is already a crowded walkway between Expedition Everest, Kali River Rapids, and Kilimanjaro Safaris.
Over to Expedition Everest, which had an emergency stop earlier in the day causing the attraction to be closed for a couple of hours. Here, the actual wait is probably shorter than 25 minutes and wait times will only go down as it gets later in the evening.
The single rider line only had about eight people in it, so you could get on with a three-or-so minute wait should you be willing to split up or otherwise have no friends or people willing to visit a theme park with you (me).
The kiosk set up across from Everest is still operating with the same menu.
I’d skip the “mixed drinks” because as you’ll remember, they are just pre-bottled Smirnoff/Cuervo concoctions.
Elsewhere in Asia, you can purchase Asian Style Hot Dogs (there is such an easy joke here that I’m not going to make), Asia-inspired “Chex Mix,” Wasabi Peas, and Ginger Beer (non-alcoholic).
Heading into DinoLand USA where there are no Sundowner Celebration activities. You’d think maybe Chester and Hester would want to get in on some of the action, but they are known to be reactionary. They’ll probably wait and find out what is most successful and then rip it off and charge less.
No wait for TriceraTop Spin.
You make them sad if you don’t ride!
A 10 minute wait at Primeval Whirl with only one side running. FASTPASSes are 40 minutes out.
Apparently they are reworking the entrance to DINOSAUR. No appreciable wait.
The crocodiles and cheetahs are trying to see who can be lazier without getting kicked off the reserve. The smart money is on the crocs.
Over to Discovery Island across from Flame Tree Barbecue we have another band set up. This time with a girl twirling an umbrella on stilts.
They do sound very good.
Also in Discovery Island is a photography/art exhibit. It’s located directly across from the wait times board outside Island Mercantile.
A little better than mine….I guess.
Continuing up to Harambe Village in the Africa section for the Wine Walk:
It looks like your options are (with typical grocery/wine store bottle pricing):
- Excelsior Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 – $6.99
- Fleur du Cap Pinotage The Bergkelder Selection 2009 – $11.99
- Glen Carlou Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 – $17.99 (rarer)
- Glen Carlou Grand Classique 2006 – $14.99
- Goats Do Roam Red 2008 – $12.99 (rarer year)
- Indaba Shiraz 2010 – $7.99
- jam jar sweet shiraz 2011 – $9.99
- The Winery of Good Hope Vinum Africa Cabernet Sauvignon- $15.99 (rarer)
- Zambra Sangria – Not sure, it’s from Spain
- De Morgenzon Chardonnay 2011 – $15.99 (rarer)
- Paul Cluver Elgin Sauvignon Blanc 2008 – $13.99 (rarer)
- Rustenberg Brampton Unoaked Chardonnay 2009 – $9.99
- Thelema Riesling 2009 – Not sure
There were three little kiosks located to the left of the Dawa Bar just after you cross the bridge into Africa serving these wines. I didn’t see anyone actually participating.
Tamu Tamu Refreshments was offering fruit salad.
The problem is that none of these items are on the menus and it didn’t seem like there were examples or little temporary flyers with pictures/descriptions either. That will probably change in the future once Disney figures out what exactly they’re doing with this.
The Harambe Popcorn Stand has additional offerings:
Again, pricing/choices were unclear. I think you would have to wait your turn and ask.
Another beer kiosk:
I like the Bedele Pilsner. All of these are usually available at the Dawa Bar, so they aren’t particularly special offerings.
Across the way you could buy a Bud Light (BOO! HISS!) or a St. George Beer.
A demonstration outside Tusker House looked to be the most interesting of the bunch, though it wasn’t quite clear what they were up to.
And another exhibit of beads and jewelry. The problem with these little tables is that only two or three people can be looking at any given time.
Back near the Fruit stand, a cast member is demonstrating how to cut a pineapple. I would guess you just slice off the inedible portions, but there’s always YouTube if you really want to see how it’s done. I find myself looking up videos on how to do all sorts of mundane things these days. I had never opened a champagne bottle until a few days ago! Had to Google it!
Looks like he’s going to be very good at it by the time all is said and done.
Kusafiri is offering Mandiza African Donuts. Not sure what they look like, how good they are, or how much they cost. No one else does either!
The main entertainment is the Harambe Street Party.
Another talented group – especially the saxophonist.
Of course, these sorts of events are always welcome. I was glad to see that Disney wasn’t simply throwing generic DJs around like they were Winnie the Pooh. The main problem is that the event as a whole doesn’t feel cohesive. Part of that is inherent in the way Animal Kingdom was designed. First, it’s impossible to see from one land to the next. From Harambe, you can’t see Asia, DinoLand, or Discovery Island. The energy is lost the moment you step away from one band or one kiosk. Because there isn’t another obvious experience to move to, people just look at each other and move to another of the standard attractions. That isn’t as much of a problem at an event like the Food and Wine Festival, where it’s easy to move from Pavilion to Pavilion in a somewhat orderly fashion. You’re passing thousands and thousands of people that are also having a good time and it’s always clear where your next food/drink might come from, even if you choose to skip it. The Sundowner Celebration is closer to a game of hide the Asian-Inspired Hot Dog. If they could figure out a way to make better defined clusters of experiences, I think it would be a lot more fun. As it stands, things are simply too spread out and it’s impossible to figure out what’s available or where it is. Hopefully this run-through will give you an idea about what you can expect. I’ll return and try to nail down specifics.
I don’t think the unfortunately-titled Sundowner Celebration is worth going out of your way to experience, but it’s certainly a nice addition if you’re visiting Animal Kingdom after 3pm. Moving forward, we may see better signage and a clearer explanation about what’s available and where it is.
Dinner is at Tusker House.