We head back out to Disney’s Animal Kingdom to catch up on the comings and goings around the Park.
Avatar construction continues as the mountains tower over the main entrance:
WDW News Today has some fantastic aerial shots of the construction from earlier this week that offer a better idea of the scope of the project here: http://wdwnt.com/blog/2016/08/photos-video-pandora-world-avatar-construction-aerial-look-august-2016/.
As the website has said before, I am more on board with Pandora – The World of Avatar than most. No, I can’t name more than one character or quote a line from the movie either, but that shouldn’t detract much from the immersive world that Disney and James Cameron are creating. Once you board your banshee and glide through the sky, the fact that the movie is virtually unwatchable on the small screen doesn’t really matter.
Winged Encounters – The Kingdom Takes Flight is always fun to happen upon.
All six shades of the macaw fly high over Discovery Island in front of the Tree of Life.
Before landing on their perch in front of the Tree.
The trainers then lead a discussion about the animals where you’ll learn things like all macaws are parrots but not all parrots are macaws. Or something about all squares are rectangles but not all rectangles are squares.
It’s particularly neat to see them fly over everybody’s heads at rope drop. Later in the day, there is just a brief announcement that the birds are about to arrive and you barely have enough time to look up before they’ve circled overhead and landed.
I continue to recommend Nomad Lounge as a serene, heavily air-conditioned respite from what many consider to be the hottest place on earth.
I don’t think I’ve visited Animal Kingdom without making a stop since it opened. Disney recently added Nomad Lounge, Tiffins, Skipper Canteen, and Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar to Tables in Wonderland, so the drinks may be a little less expensive now.
I have a more robust review here in case you missed it or have interest.
And don’t have any qualms about stopping for a non-alcoholic drink either – there are six choices all around $4-$6. With its location off the beaten path, the lounge is not typically busy, particularly earlier in the day.
Back in December, I penned what is probably the most positive Pizzafari review of all time as the quick service discontinued serving frozen pizzas and instead made everything fresh by hand. Unfortunately, with the thousands of cuts Disney made back in March, they reduced the size of the pizzas considerably. You can get a good look at the reduction in size over at Disney Tourist Blog: http://www.disneytouristblog.com/pizzafari-review/
But I am sad to report that handmade pizzas are out at Pizzafari, again replaced by the Flatbreads that have become ubiquitous at most resort quick services and others like Pinocchio Village Haus.
For the most part, they are still an improvement over the frozen pizzas of yesteryear, but six months ago I would have been excited to try a new Pizzafari pizza. They were that good. Now, I’m not so sure.
The $11.49 Cheeseburger Flatbread – Individual Flatbread Freshly Baked with tangy Tomato Sauce, seasoned Ground Beef, Mozzarella, and Cheddar Cheese, Ketchup, Lettuce, Diced Tomatoes, Mustard Aïoli, and Bread-and-Butter Pickels served with Tomato and Cucumber Salad is a new addition and somewhat surprisingly replaces the popular Meat Lover’s.
What we were served was virtually inedible. The acidity of the Mustard Aioli, coupled with the pickles, overpowered the other ingredients. The ketchup was off-putting and the lettuce lent little more than a layer of slime to every bite.
And at the risk of injury, if you were to look long and hard into the Cheeseburger Flatbread, you might see a couple of specks of poorly seasoned sausage crumbles, but that’s about it.
The side of Tomato and Cucumber Salad replaces the Antipasto Salad. I had asked the cast member how new the Cheeseburger Flatbread was and she commented that it had just been added that day. I mentioned that the side had changed and that I had liked the Antipasto Salad, which she replied, “You’re the only one.” So there you go, I guess.
It’s a fairly small portion – eight or ten small bites worth. It does contrast nicely with the flavors of the pizzas, unlike the Antipasto which tasted similarly to the Mediterranean offerings on the menu. It tastes about like what you would expect with the red onion and cucumber flavors being most prominent.
Overall, Pizzafari is probably two steps forward and one step back. You might remember that I recommended Pinocchio Village Haus over at Magic Kingdom during our last visit after they added a Sausage and Peppers Flatbread to the mix. But that’s partially an atmosphere thing and partially a lack of options that are likely to exceed expectations at Magic Kingdom. At Animal Kingdom, there are a couple better, more unique opportunities in Harambe Market, Flame Tree Barbecue, and if you ignore anything with “American Kobe” in it, Yak & Yeti.
Otherwise, hopefully the Shrimp Flatbread is still good and I like the flavors in what is now the Mediterranean Flatbread a lot as well. And the Pepperoni option should be just fine. I don’t see the Cheeseburger surviving though.
Over to Africa.
At night, this is the same place where you’d see the Star Wars Fireworks overhead.
Feels crowded at Harambe Market at 6pm. You might remember that I advise avoiding this location for lunch as it is typically much busier.
If this year is anything like the last five years, we should see an overarching quick service menu update sometime in the next week. It’s always interesting to see what gets the hook.
Work is hopefully concluding on this path across the water that has been under construction for what seems like a year now.
It’s not typically a pathway that sees a lot of action, but there may have been some electrical enhancements or something that were necessary for the Tree of Life Awakenings.
No change to Flights of Wonder, where the roof was somewhat recently installed. You’d think it would look good with a mural or something a la Rafiki’s Planet Watch.
Jungle Book: Crawling to the Finish is set to end in just a couple of weeks. I wrote extensively about visiting AK at night and what to expect in the future in this post: https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/visiting-disneys-animal-kingdom-at-night/. A lot is still up in the air, including when Rivers of Light will debut.
With five more hours of operation, Expedition Everest was already down to 10 minutes at 6:07pm.
We have the literal interpretation here as a single rider waits for single rider.
In paint news, the dinosaur that used to be yellow and is now green has spots.
Speaking of dinos, DINOSAUR is down for refurbishment.
It’s expected to reopen October 17th.
It looks like we may shortly see the return of the double quick service hamburger:
Disney offered double burgers as recently as five or six years ago, but dropped them likely due to people purchasing a second bun for less than a dollar and then having two burgers for less than you’d pay for two individual sandwiches.
With the extensive topping bar, you can really go to town. I was pretty surprised to see such an extensive selection here and at Pecos Bill after they switched to burritos and fajitas.
But while the burger is showing up online, it hadn’t quite hit the restaurantosaurus as of Sunday. The website will remain vigilante.
Work continues on the roofs/awnings/covers over Flame Tree Barbecue’s seating area.
It appears that the line to order may be rerouted through here in addition to another section of tables. You would think Rivers of Light would be ripe for a dessert party depending on how much of the show is similar/the same as what’s facing the main seating sections.
That’s what’s going on at Animal Kingdom. We’ll certainly be back if there’s a major round of menu updates and also check out what can be accomplished once Animal Kingdom moves to 9pm closes on September 6th.