We started things off in Part 1, where we took a look at how early you’ll need to arrive and what you’ll need to do in order to experience Avatar – Flight of Passage with a short wait at rope drop. With an average wait that still exceeds two hours, an early arrival is of paramount importance if you’re starting the day with what remains Walt Disney World’s most popular attraction. Part 2 largely focused on our touring strategies for the rest of the day. After blazing through Flight of Passage and Na’vi River Journey, how do we stay ahead of the crowds for as long as possible? We also delved deeper into how Disney updates the operating hours of its theme parks and how we might be able to key in on days with 8am opens and what benefit those days with longer operating hours might hold.
We pick things up at 9:20am on the morning of Friday, May 24th, 2019.
So far, this is what I’ve accomplished:
- Flight of Passage: 7:35am – 8:05am
- Na’vi River Journey: 8:06am – 8:19am
- Na’vi River Journey: 8:20am – 8:35am
- Kilimanjaro Safaris: 8:46am – 9:16am
To get here, I arrived at the Park at 6:51am and waited outside the entrance for about a half hour. At 7:25am, we were first let into the Park and at 7:31am, the walk across the bridge and towards the Pandora attractions commenced. I waited about ten minutes to ride Flight of Passage, followed by a six-minute wait for River Journey the first time and a seven-minute wait for River Journey the second time. Then it was off to Kilimanjaro Safaris, where there was “literally” nobody waiting to board the next vehicle and I walked right on and sat down.
That means I’ve managed to make it through Animal Kingdom’s three most popular attractions without using any of my FastPass+ experiences in about 75 minutes of actual Park time. If I skipped the second ride on River Journey, I could subtract about 15 minutes and be even further ahead of the game, having only spent an hour of Park time to ride Flight of Passage, Na’vi River Journey, and Kilimanjaro Safaris. Part of my success is due to the 8am regular open, which is of great benefit because far fewer people are going to be in attendance that early in the morning. Even those who know they’ll be able to walk right on Flight of Passage, and bypass a 2+ hour wait later in the day, still balk at the idea of arriving at a theme park at 6:51am to do so. Imagine what all of the people that think arriving at 9:30am is plenty early will do.
With a 9am open, I’d probably need to skip the second ride on Na’vi River Journey in order to stay ahead of the crowds, given the fact that far more people would be inside the Park. I’d probably also wait about 15 minutes for Kilimanjaro Safaris instead of zero minutes. We’ll return in the future for a 9am open and follow a similar touring plan to see how that goes. For past coverage, see how easy it is to rope drop Na’vi River Journey with a 9am open in this post. And here’s a look at rope dropping Flight of Passage with a 9am open.
Back to the day at hand, I stopped to check in on the otters at their Grotto. I can confirm that they were merry.
I’ve got a lot more information and many more pictures about the Otter Grotto at the end of this post, which also includes a look at Finding Nemo the Musical, the current cupcake situation(!!!) at Restaurantosaurus, and a Smokehouse Chicken Salad at Flame Tree Barbecue, among other topics.
We’ll pass the vibrant Tree of Life on the way to our next destination, which happens to be the parking lot that is Chester and Hester’s Dino-Rama. With most people headed to their first attraction, now is a good opportunity to snap a few pictures, ideally with the bright blue sky in the background. The more time you spend out here, the longer it will be until you find yourself on Primeval Whirl.
DinoLand is home to three rides, a large playground, a major quick service, a couple of minor quick services, and a large number of meet and greets.
Arriving this early, we should be able to beat the crowd and move through the three rides in short order. People hate on DinoLand, but this dinosaur skeleton is wearing a Donald Duck hat. I rest my case.
This is a somewhat lousy representation of what you can expect to find at DINOSAUR because the ride was apparently down for technical trouble first thing in the morning. It had just reopened as I made my approach. I figured this out because the person walking in front of me yelled, “ARE YOU OPEN???” at the cast members in the distance. The question seemed a little personal in nature, but the answer was evidently, yes. One almost-surefire way to know that a ride is down is by checking for the presence of a posted wait time. If there isn’t one illuminated or displayed where it should be, then the ride is likely down.
Here at 9:29am, the wait time sign is illuminated, so we should be in business. Regardless of downtime, you shouldn’t run into a wait of more than two minutes for DINO at this point in the morning. The posted wait remains ten.
Here’s a look at DINO’s posted waits since May:
I’ve highlighted 9:30am, since that’s our arrival time. The average posted wait is just 19 minutes at that point in the morning with an actual wait that should be less than half that.
The 8am regular open is what allows us to get here so early after already experiencing four rides. With a 9am open, after first riding Flight of Passage, Na’vi River Journey (once), and Kilimanjaro Safaris, I’d be here closer to 10:30am, when the posted wait averages 33 minutes and the actual wait approaches 20 minutes, on average.
To stay ahead of the game as much as possible with a 9am open, I’d want to head to DinoLand after Pandora and use FastPass+ at Kilimanjaro Safaris after using it at Expedition Everest and either Kali River Rapids or one of the Pandora rides.
As it happens, there’s “literally” nobody waiting to enter the pre-show.
And potentially nobody in the pre-show, either. Thanks 8am open:
I was back out front at 9:42am for a total experience time of 13 minutes and what is now a 15-minute posted wait. We could jump right back on if that’s what we wanted and wait all of two minutes, if that.
But who can resist wanting to get over to Primeval Whirl as quickly as possible.
I was happy to see both sides of the ride already operating, which means we can probably ignore this 30-minute wait.
Of course, if the wait really is that long, I will look dumb.
For years, I’ve gone back and forth about whether it makes more sense to ride Primeval Whirl or DINOSAUR first. Primeval is a much lower capacity attraction, but it’s also shorter in duration and less popular. DINOSAUR enjoys a much larger capacity, but the total experience time is longer and it’s much more popular. The bottom line is that you’re going to wait a couple of minutes longer for whichever attraction you elect to ride second. On this particular morning, if I had ridden Primeval Whirl before DINOSAUR, then I would have gotten in line about 14 minutes earlier. That would have resulted in a shorter wait because fewer people would have had an opportunity to get over here. But then I would have arrived at DINOSAUR 15 minutes later, when more people would have had an opportunity to arrive there. And I would have waited a couple of minutes more.
Comfort may also come into the equation. DINOSAUR will bounce you around a little bit, particularly in the back corner of the vehicle, but it’s a far cry from getting whipped around on the spin cycle here at Primeval.
Definitely consider skipping it with any sort of back, neck, leg, arm, hand, rear etc. problems. And perhaps also skip it if you don’t want to develop any.
Do we base our total experience time on the angle of the sun or on a clock that doesn’t move? Both are still more accurate than the TouringPlans crowd calendar.
I arrived at 9:45am and was on-board at 10am, which meant my actual wait was 15 minutes. That’s about twice as long as I’d wait with FastPass+ later in the day. While it would be easy to get Primeval Whirl as a 4th or subsequent FastPass+, it would also mean that I’d have to trudge back to DinoLand at a certain time to use it. And While I was holding onto that Primeval FP+, I wouldn’t be able to select another experience until I used it. So the 15-minute wait is probably tolerable. It likely would have been closer to ten if I had ridden before DINOSAUR. DINO’s wait would have probably been five minutes longer if I had experienced Primeval Whirl first. So that’s all probably a wash. The website will continue to toil about it.
A variety of characters appear around DinoLand beginning at 10am, including Daisy Duck, Donald Duck, Goofy, LaunchPad McQuack, and Scrooge McDuck. Chip and Dale come out at 10:30am and Pluto arrives inside The Boneyard at 12:30pm.
I’ve got a full rundown of Donald’s Dino-Bash in the second half of this post.
If you’d like to meet any of them, around now would be a good time as it’s 10:05am and the characters all would have just appeared. You should be looking at a 5- to 10-minute wait per character, if that. Donald is typically the most popular, due in part to his obvious location across from TriceraTop Spin.
Things otherwise remain chill here in DinoLand at 10:05am, or a little more than two hours after the Park officially opened.
TriceraTop Spin is up next.
Most people without kids probably skip it.
But the views can be fun.
If nothing else, you can watch the joy from people’s eyes immediately leave their bodies as they careen around the first sharp turn at Primeval Whirl.
That’s Donald down there with what looks like eight groups waiting to meet him.
Your wait for TriceraTop shouldn’t be any longer than it takes for the next cycle to load, which is typically less than five minutes. I ran into a considerable amount of flapdoodlery myself with a number of people unable to follow directions. Somehow one family managed to fit eight children, all under the age of ten, in one dinosaur. The parents, alone in the dinosaur behind them, set out to film the experience. That didn’t happen. The shenanigans delayed my flight by a solid five minutes, but it did offer an opportunity for me to sit there in the sun contemplating who was watching me at that particular time.
here is me whining about getting harassed by some variety of security personnel on my walk into animal kingdom the other day. “we’ll be watching you” pic.twitter.com/u3XiV1iXwY
— josh (@easywdw) June 3, 2019
“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.” – Joseph Heller
I waited 15 minutes about 15 minutes ago, so it makes sense that Disney replaced their 30-minute wait with a 15-minute wait. As we know, Disney’s posted wait times are typically 15 minutes behind reality. I arrived at TriceraTop Spin at 10:06am and was back out front at 10:18am for a total experience time of 12 minutes. It would have been about eight minutes if weren’t for those meddling kids.
Next, we’ll head towards Asia for Expedition Everest and Kali River Rapids.