Off to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park on a cool winter afternoon. It’s 4:25pm on Monday January 18th or Martin Luther King Jr. day.
I missed the money shot as we went over the bridge on the way over, which would have provided an elevated look at the Avatar construction. I’ve again circled the humans in the picture to give you a little bit better idea of how big this is.
But it’s still impossible to capture:
Since last Monday, some additional landscaping has appeared on top.
You may remember that Riverside Depot, the new store attached to Disney Outfitters, opened last month.
Disney Outfitters is now closed as it receives facade work and what is likely a shuffling of some of the merchandise inside.
If you head inside, you’ll be greeted by this wall.
I’m not sure how anybody can hate on Toy Story Pajamas Duffy.
This portion of the facade is still out in the open. That bright purple sign will be coming down.
The walls otherwise extended around to the new-ish stage area across from Flame Tree Barbecue.
Island Mercantile is out from behind walls as it joins the other Discovery Island stores and kiosks with the new, more muted color scheme.
There’s active work on the Tree of Life as Disney continues preparing the Park for its new nighttime offerings.
There’s a crane over to the right as Disney works on the lighting package. Most of the Discovery Island Trails around the Tree remain closed.
The website continues to be concerned with the amount of seating available at Rivers of Light. Other than Flame Tree Barbecue, there are very few places to see the show outside of the seating section. It’s not like Disney is going to let anybody stand and watch from the bridge or something – all walkways need to remain clear. We all know how narrow the pathway in front of Everest is. You’ve also got these tall light posts marring the view from the back and on top of that, walls that are over six feet tall in the back of this section above. So we’ll see. Animal Kingdom has a long history of installations that don’t really work in practice. We’ll get to Harambe Market here momentarily.
Disney could conceivably close this walkway prior to showtime, but I’m not sure how tall the walls are going to be here. And once the shoulder kids go up, the views for a lot of people will be blocked anyway.
Disney installed some small windows to look in at construction on the bridge.
The control towers are pretty massive.
The website covered a lot of changes to the names of the various kiosks last month in this post.
This one is located to the left of the Flame Tree Barbecue seating area. It’s now on its third major menu change, moving away from salads and into grits and drumsticks. These are smart uses of those snack credits should you have some left over. You can make out very well along here piecing together a meal with a couple of credits.
Tiffins, the new waterfront signature restaurant attached to Pizzafari, is expected to open sooner rather than later. Nomad Lounge will open alongside it, featuring “hand-crafted cocktails using the art of mixology with African, Asian and South American flavors, beers and wines from those regions, and a selection of specialty non-alcoholic beverages in addition to small bites.” I’m pretty excited about it if for no other reason than it will give me a fresh list of bottles to pick up from Total Wine.
This was moved from somewhere else? It’s now in front of Pizzafari. I almost tweeted about it a couple of months ago but you have to be very careful if you try to call anything “new.” If whatever you deem to be “new” debuted any later than eight minutes before, you will be inundated with tweets saying nothing other than, “not new.”
Sorry about that blizzard guys.
Burudika is always a pleasure in Africa.
At Kusafiri in Africa, the panninininis outlasted the holidays:
I know what you’re thinking. “Josh, is there really a Florida Tomato Committee that guarantees that all tomatoes shipped out of state come in between 2.28 and 2.78 inches in diameter and requires a ‘smooth, uniform silhouette?'” The answer is, of course, yes. I mention this not because of my obsession with produce, but rather because the sandwiches offered here arrive avec a specific brand of red fruit. There was actually a lengthy legal battle between the growers of UglyRipes, which are bred from a specific French heirloom that was then cross-bred with non-heirlooms for a more flavorful, disease-resistant tomato, and the rest of the growers. Then governor Jeb Bush ($$$$) even weighed in with an official statement in favor of the “prettier,” less tasty fruit. What you get is, subjectively, an “unattractive” tomato that is potentially more flavorful. Of course, most of us make our purchases in the produce aisle and elsewhere based on what we “perceive” as attractive, and the Florida Tomato Committee was particularly concerned that Procacci Brothers’ wrinkled fruit would be off-putting to the discernible househusband. Luckily, Disney is willing to overlook potentially misshapen tomatoes, probably because they receive them for free in exchange for stating the brand name on the menu.
Harambe Market, which serves very good, relatively unique food in Africa, has seen a number of changes since opening. The website has pointed out the confusion, long lines, and longer waits to order in past posts, going so far as to recommend avoiding the place entirely during the lunch hours. Here at 5pm, it’s a virtual ghost town, even given elevated crowds for the holiday. Originally, each window offered a separate menu. Despite Flame Tree closing for 6+ months to expand the awnings over the ordering area, the Market also opened completely exposed to the elements save for a couple umbrellas for cast to stand under and distribute printed menus. Amusingly perhaps, Flame Tree’s work is ongoing after starting over a year ago.
Each of the menus at the various windows now list every item available. You may remember that the Sausage Window’s menu used to look like this:
While you could still order any of the other items, you’d have to read a website like this one to know that. Since opening, the Market has added the Tikka Masala Chicken and Grilled Vegetable Stack, in addition to switching out the watermelon lemonade for tangerine and reducing the number of wines available, among other changes.
With plans to visit Sanaa for dinner, I opted for a snack in the form of the $6.99 “Kids’ Grilled Barbecue Chicken Skewer” with apple slices and yogurt.
As you might expect, the chicken portion is on the small side, but it’s otherwise the same as the adult version, only doused in a sweet barbecue sauce.
Another positive aspect of visiting for dinner is your choice of seats.
During lunch, the area will likely be full.
A pretty evening.
Kali River Rapids was down for its annual refurbishment. They never seem to fix much.
The closure does afford an opportunity to look at the water.
Being a holiday with an 8pm close, things had not quite died down at Everest yet. The website recommends visiting DinoLand with two hours to close and then Asia in the final hour, ending the day with Everest.
This way to DINOSAUR.
Right at 6pm the wait for Primeval Whirl is posted at 10 minutes with both sides still operating.
The whole process took exactly 20 minutes.
Of which you’ll never get back.
Everest in the dark is a lot of fun and anybody visiting this time of year should take advantage.
Fast forward a few months and we’ll likely see a lot more late closes for Rivers of Light.
With your eyes acclimated to the darkness, you can get a much better look at the yeti. You also can’t really see where you’re going, which adds to the thrill.
I got in the single rider line with a 15-minute posted wait and about 15 people ahead of me.
And was back out front just ten minutes later, which was about a minute longer than FP+ took.
Festival of the Lion King usually sees one show per hour, on the hour, from 10am through one hour prior to Park close. The first and last shows of the day are typically least crowded. My advice would be to see the second to last show so you can take advantage of short standby waits elsewhere and still enjoy a relatively uncrowded viewing.
The theater is maybe half full here:
It’s been the highest rated show at Walt Disney World for some number of years now.
I’ll have to take the tripod around one of these days, but you can’t beat Animal Kingdom at night.
It’s exciting that so many more people will be able to experience it here in just a few short months.
With the 8pm departure, we got to watch the Star Wars fireworks from the parking tram.
And then in the parking lot. It was actually pretty cool.
That’s what’s going on at Animal Kingdom.