We return to Disney’s Animal Kingdom as the sun sets.
The 20th anniversary celebration continues, at least in the form of banners and cupcakes. We’ll be running into a cake pop in due time.
The Tree of Life is as majestic as ever:
You’ll typically start to see the golden sunlight on the Tree of Life starting around 75 minutes before the stated sunset time, which you can pull up for any date here.
“Golden Hour” officially begins about a half hour before sunset and can produce some pleasing light.
Most people probably enjoy the colors changing without even noticing what’s happening:
While the 20th anniversary celebration “officially” ended a couple of weeks ago, some of the treats remain for sale, including this “Cake Push Pop” at “Warung Outpost.” If you have no idea what that is, it’s the frozen margarita stand to the left of the Caravan Stage, which is where the current Up! Bird Adventure show is performed.
And I’d probably let it soar up, up, and away before dropping five bucks on a couple of bites of bland chocolate cake and an overwhelming amount of generically-sweet vanilla frosting. Cake doesn’t really “work” as a push pop and if anything, it causes the pusher to suffer through an inch of frosting before arriving at another bite of old cake. This one probably won’t be around for much longer and that’s just fine.
The website continues to hold on to its official review of the Up show that replaced Flights of Wonder. But if you’ve already formed an opinion based on one of the preview shows captured on an iPhone, I’d hold off on final judgement until you have the opportunity to see it for yourself. Unless your day is absolutely jam-packed, it’s worth arriving at the show about 15 minutes before showtime to take in the sights and sounds during its 25-minute duration.
Russell and Dug probably don’t add much for the cynical blogger, but the kids do love the characters and it’s fun to see them when they first appear. If I were redoing Flights of Wonder, I probably would have had Russell and Dug as the last two members of Guano Joe’s tour group after word got out that he was scared of birds and everyone else canceled. The three of them could have appeared on stage without doing much to change the flow of the show. But my advice is to see the show if you have the time or were planning on seeing Flights of Wonder otherwise. Try to keep an open mind.
Perhaps the one positive aspect of the brutally-hot, incredibly-long Florida summers is the opportunity to see bright, colorful, vivid sunsets:
The sky is also typically pretty over Nomad Lounge from the bridge into Pandora.
Looking in the opposite direction, this is 8:04pm with the sunset officially at 8:05pm. I’ll blame the early arrival on habit from my many rope drop touring posts.
And 8:20pm, which will be the official sunset time come June 4th. Around Orlando, the latest sunsets happen during the last week of June and into the first week of July, when you’ll see the sun fall at 8:27pm. The earliest is 5:27pm from the last week in November until the first week in December. That’s around the time I’m willing to go back outside again.
Here at 8:22pm, we have an opportunity to take some pictures with the sun down and a dark blue sky:
The Tree of Life is particularly pretty from what could probably be referred to as the “back side” now that projectors light it up. We’ll take a look at some of the Tree of Life Awakenings from back here in a moment.
The nighttime safari remains a hit-or-miss proposition that’s probably closer to a miss most of the time.
There is not always a lot to see.
But most of my nighttime visits include a ride.
At least the nocturnal lions are usually more active. You might hear the male roar on one out of six rides or so.
Here’s a look at Kilimanjaro Safaris wait times over the last month:
Just one chart this time, I promise. As far as evening safaris go, getting in line with FastPass+ about a half hour before sunset is smart. The animals are typically more active and you’ll be able to clearly see them for the majority of the ride. Unfortunately, standby lines are still typically long around 7:30pm with the 10pm closes that we’re currently seeing. You could get in the standby line around 6:45pm and wait 30 to 45 minutes, but FP+ is the way to go when it’s available.
Most people staying into the late night are probably headed to Pandora in the final hour as outlined in this post because of shorter waits at the attractions. But if you’re not, waits at Safaris also drop dramatically in the last hour. Most nights, you could get in the Safaris standby line about 75 minutes before Park close, wait less than 30 minutes to ride, and still be able to make it over to Pandora in plenty of time to enjoy Pandora and get in line for Flight of Passage. But Safaris FP+ are your friend and they typically become available as people change plans – keep refreshing availability.
A few nighttime sights in Africa as we head back to Discovery Island:
Viewing for the Tree of Life Awakenings is a lot more chill along the path the connects Africa with Asia on the back side as you won’t be dealing with hundreds of people trying to pass through on their way to the exit. This summer, expect the projection shows to start at 8:45pm.
And over to Expedition Everest on the way out:
Do what you can to take advantage of those 10pm and later closes this summer. There aren’t a lot of prettier places on property to enjoy the evening light.