We’ll take a brief break from our omnipresent coverage of insignificant changes at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to turn our attention back to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. You may click any image for a larger version.
Specifically, we’re interested in the Disney After Hours event that debuted at Animal Kingdom on December 4th.
I covered the event in quite a bit of detail in this post, including some advice on how to go about your evening should you spring for the additional cost of the event, along with whether or not I thought it was worth plunking down the money.
I returned for the second night of the event on Wednesday, December 12th, for two main reasons.
One, to make sure there wasn’t some sudden increase in popularity, resulting in much longer waits than our first night.
I read some number of conspiracies alleging that Disney had artificially capped the number of tickets sold on the first night as a way to help hype the event’s nonexistent crowds and wait times.
I’m not surprised pic.twitter.com/hk6LolWYcF
— josh (@easywdw) December 9, 2018
The sign above is from the night of the first Studios’ event. I can assure you that like most other opportunities, Disney is more than happy to take your money.
You might remember that on the first night, entire rows on Flight of Passage sat empty.
And I’m happy to report that unless the conspiracy is continuing, and Disney is willing to bleed tens of thousands of dollars now in order to make a couple of the spring After Hours events more popular, that I think the second event night was even less crowded than the first. This is 10pm on the walk into Pandora and there is “literally” nobody in sight. After Hours continues for another 90 minutes, through 11:30pm. Flight of Passage was posted at 15 minutes from 8:30pm through 8:50pm and then five minutes from then through 11:30pm.
This is Asia at 8:35pm, or exactly five minutes into the event time, and “just” 25 minutes before the “special” 9pm showing of Rivers of Light that’s exclusively available to After Hours guests.
This is the walkway into DINOSAUR at 9:05pm or 35 minutes into the event. There is nobody edited out of these images. There is also nobody in them.
Second, all of our pictures from the first night were of the run-and-gun variety, which is a necessity when I don’t want to report that I spent the After Hours time riding Na’vi River Journey twice and taking pictures for the other 2.99 hours. That’s not particularly interesting, although you could make a strong case that what we ended up with wasn’t, either.
We’ll take a little more time on our second go-around – still not enough time to get any good shots, but I don’t think this website has ever been about quality over quantity.
Occasionally, someone will say, “Josh, why do you shoot so wide, the pictures always look stupid.”
The answer is very simple: times are very tough at easywdw.com and I can’t afford the other half of the lens.
Maybe Santa will deliver the other half of the tripod, too.
Actually, I’m just trying to save up so I can quit before Galaxy’s Edge opens.
It’s 5:15pm on a cool “late fall” evening as we take a walk around the Tree of Life:
Also, you never screw the lens all the way on to the camera or you won’t be able to get these artistic tilts. A tight, secure lens also stifles creativity.
We’ll get back to food at Animal Kingdom too.
Harambe Market is sporting a new Chipotle-esque menu without any of the customization.
The Chicken Gyro and Roasted Vegetable Bowl are highlights, while the Ribs Bowl was a big disappointment.
You might remember that the quick service opened as a sort-of food court with each of the various “shops” offering a different menu.
That turned out to be a miniature disaster with some very long lines for the popular items and short lines for the less popular items.
These days, all of the windows offer the same menu.
But the quick service only operates from 11am to 4pm, most days.
With Rafiki’s Planet Watch “temporarily” closed, the Wildlife Express doesn’t steam on by every ten minutes.
While that’s unfortunate, Old Harambe offers character to spare:
Unfortunately, at the same time that Disney expands some of its paid After-Hours events, it has cut back on some of the nighttime program at Animal Kingdom that debuted just a couple of years ago.
The nighttime safari was a big part of Animal Kingdom at Night.
These days, the Safari does operate after dark, but the line currently closes at 6:15pm with the 8pm closes and the last truck of the night departs shortly after that. Safaris was posted at 45 minutes at 6:10pm, but everyone you see waiting in standby in this picture was past the merge point with FastPass+ in less than two minutes.
It still took over ten minutes to depart with just one loading dock open and only a handful of trucks running.
The nighttime safari was marketed as its own thing, which helped differentiate the experience from the daytime safari. Now without that differentiation, I think people that ride after dark will be even more disappointed.
You can sort of make out a rhino’s rear end towards the back of the enclosure (sorry buddy), but this is about as much as we’re going to see.
Without exaggerating, we saw fewer than ten animals along the 20-minute ride.
Even so, I’ve never been on a safari where at least one animal sighting wasn’t cooler than any of my previous experiences in that area and that remained true with the lion up, walking around, and roaring at the trucks passing by. Perhaps it was a warning to board a little earlier next time.
If you’re a returning visitor that’s “done everything,” then it may still be worth experiencing the safari after dark.
But I wouldn’t make it my one trip through the savanna.
There was so much potential here for a fun, cohesive ride, even if most of the animals weren’t feeling it. Imagine joining Wilson on a late night rescue mission where the animals have been spooked by poachers and every sighting is special.
I’m not sure what the over/under on Planet Watch’s reopening is, but my money is on sometime after Stitch’s Great Escape.
Which isn’t reopening.
The Theater in the Wild has seen some plussing for the holidays:
During “UP! A Great Bird Adventure,” there’s about 30 seconds devoted to the Diwali, or Festival of Lights, Celebration.
Of course, Diwali concluded more than five weeks ago, which was a couple of weeks before the addition to the show here.
Additional waterfront seating recently opened next to Drinkwallah, which you’ll find across from Yak & Yeti restaurant.
The seating is also convenient to the Yak & Yeti Local Foods Cafe quick service.
I’d suggest walking your food over here should you plan on picking up some egg rolls and fried rice. It’s also a lovely opportunity to enjoy your drink from the nearby coffee stand or some nuts or a frozen drink from Drinkwallah itself:
A few more as we head over to DinoLand:
Of course, Pandora will likely be a major part of your vacation, whether you opt to take part in After Hours or not.
And there’s probably no better opportunity to enjoy the Land at night with very few people around.
Hopefully you’re taller than my tripod:
That about does it for our After Hours walkthrough. The event remains even less crowded than the savannas on Kilimanjaro Safaris at night. And that’s really saying something.