We continue our coverage of Disney’s Animal Kingdom with a late morning visit on Monday February 19, 2018. We start with a reminder that you probably do not want to find yourself buying theme park tickets on a holiday.
Being a holiday, Animal Kingdom was staffed well with almost all of the tapstiles in operation. The longest line was for Annual Passholders on the far right with 20+ people waiting. We marched up to a center tapstile with two people in front of us that were done scanning by the time we arrived. People should be able to tell that you’re an Annnual Passholder simply by the fact that you start every sentence with, ” First of all, as an Annual Passholder.”
You don’t need to wait longer to achieve the acceptance of others.
Presidents Day Weekend is one of the busier times of year, though the 8am-9pm operating hours and morning Extra Magic Hour from 7am-8am should help distribute heavier crowds better.
Here’s a look at posted wait times during regular hours:
A couple of things stand out. First, while the 157-minute average wait for Flight of Passage is obviously long, it’s actually below February’s 160-minute average and below the overall average wait since the ride opened. The 9pm close helps with the 75-minute posted wait after 8pm. Those getting in line a minute or two before close should only wait 30-45 minutes to ride instead of the 45-60 minutes that we experienced earlier this month with the 8pm close.
You might also remember the following chart, which shows a combined average wait time for DINOSAUR, Expedition Everest, Kilimanjaro Safaris, Primeval Whirl, and TriceraTop Spin for each day in January over the last four years:
The average wait for those five rides in January 2018 is the 32.1 number at the bottom.
Herer’s a look at wait times at those five rides on the Monday Presidents Holiday:
The average wait is 37 minutes or just 15.1% higher than the January average. There’s also eight days in January when the wait is the same or higher than Presidents Day, which is kind of surprising given how much higher attendance is on the holiday. And this is with the morning Extra Magic Hour attracting resort guests.
Here’s the chart for the last Saturday in January, a day that you might assume is less crowded given the fact schools are in session and there’s no specific event driving attendance:
The 56-minute overall average in January is 9.8% higher than the 51 minutes we see on the Monday holiday. If you were to ask the “crowd calendars” if you’re better off visiting during the last week in January or over Presidents Day Weekend, what do you think they’d say? The wrong answer, of course.
Let’s get over to Pandora.
Erin and I were visiting together and she somehow managed to refresh the app often enough to score Flight of Passage FastPass+ with a late morning return time.
At 11:02am, the posted wait was “only” 150 minutes, which is well below the 190+ minute average wait for this time of day.
The morning Extra Magic Hour helps push people through early and the 8am regular open means that we’re three hours into regular operation.
Still, this is probably not where you want to find yourself, particularly given the unseasonably warm weather that we’ve been seeing over the last couple of weeks.
An 88-degree RealFeel in the middle of February.
Since Flight of Passage gives the same percentage of its hourly capacity to FastPass+ users on a “busy” holiday compared to a “less busy weekday in January,” our total experience time shouldn’t be all that different even given a lot more people in the Park.
We arrived at 11:02am and were past the standby/FastPass+ merge just five minutes later at 11:07am.
And into the pre-show just five minutes after that.
And we were back out front about a half hour later at 11:35am for a total experience time of 33 minutes.
That’s a couple minutes below average.
You probably want to budget 40 minutes to ride Flight of Passage with FastPass+ even given the 5-minute ride time.
Plastic shoulder toys remain a hot commodity, though lines to choose between yellow, green, blue, or purple seem to be diminishing.
That may be due in part to the addition of a kiosk to the left of the entrance to Na’vi River Journey that offers a no-nonsense “buying opportunity,” much like Universal started doing with the Wizarding World wands.
I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen anyone sitting for Avatar Maker.
85 minutes for Na’vi River Journey at 11:37am is 95 minutes longer than I’m willing to wait.
It’s Presidents Day.
A reminder that photography is a scam. Here is the picture of New Harambe straight out of the camera. It’s just fine on its own, but nothing about it “pops.”
And the same picture after going through minimal edits in Adobe Lightroom.
Don’t believe anything you see.
Our next FastPass+ was for Kilimanjaro Safaris.
With some pleasant live music on the way.
Safaris was posted at 65 minutes at 11:48am.
OtterBox, the popular phone case company, has partnered with Disney to make a variety of exclusive cases. There’s a small note underneath the Wild Africa Trek sign that the tour is now “supported” by said protection.
Despite the crowds and the above-average standby wait, we arrived at 11:49am and found ourselves past the merge point just five minutes later.
It’s a good time to experience the safari.
You might run into a baby bongo.
Here taking the opportunity to properly hydrate.
Kilimanjaro Safaris is also where you’ll find the baby hippo.
Here snoozin’ with mom.
Sleeping all day.
What a life.
Four other safari trucks moving through the savanna:
It looked like Disney was introducing some new elands and bontebok into the area surrounding the flamingos – we actually saw an eland bounce about six feet in the air as the safari truck startled it as it rounded the bend. Very cool.
Safaris took 41 minutes, which is one minute longer than average.
Not sure where the line for Yak & Yeti quick service starts.
I decided to walk my Landry’s Select Club card over to the restaurant, which was quoting a 95-minute wait for a table. The Landry’s card promises the user the next available table and we ended up waiting less than five minutes without a reservation. You can sign up for the card here – it costs $25, but you’ll instantly be credited with $25 to use towards a Landry’s restaurant, including Yak & Yeti, Rainforest Cafe, and T-Rex. There’s no renewal fee and you’ll be given a $25 bonus around your birthday each year. It’s a no-brainer.
Here’s the menu:
You can pull up my last formal review of the restaurant here. I like Yak & Yeti for its accessible menu, variety, pricing, atmosphere, and ease of the overall experience, particularly when I’m not interested in dropping signature-level money at Tiffins.
And a reminder that the $17 Ahi Tuna Nachos are probably a top-5 value on property. A ton of fresh, flavorful food. I review that dish in detail in this update from December.
Pricing is relatively reasonable for the most part and portions are typically on the larger side.
This time around, we started with the $10 “Pork Pot Stickers – Pan seared or steamed, soy lime dipping sauce.”
The tangy, salty, citrus-forward sauce is what carries these crispy, seared wontons that are filled with just a little bit of spiced pork. They’re probably not compelling, but it was a tasty way to start the meal and they were on the table about ten minutes after ordering.
In the mood for something straightforward, we went with a known-entity in the $19 “Crispy Honey Chicken – Tempura chicken, sugar snap peas, carrots, honey sauce served with choice of jasmine or brown rice.”
The dish arrived with about ten sizable, crispy pieces of chicken lightly battered and topped with a pleasant, aromatic sweet honey sauce. The crunchy, fresh, and flavorful julienne of carrots, peppers, and snap peas was also delicious on top of the sauce and added a welcome textural contrast to the meat. It was significantly better than what you’d get for $11 outside at the quick service arm and the larger portion helps justify the higher price.
We went with Fried Ride over Jasmine or Brown. The soy, along with the chicken and vegetables, made for a filling accompaniment.
Particularly if you’re sharing, adding a side of delicious, garlicky naan is a good choice to add a little heft to the meal.
Add the comfort of the air-conditioning and the fun vibe of the restaurant and you have a very good, very relaxing break from the heat and the crowds. With two Diet Cokes, our total came to $42 after tax and tip and before any discounts, which isn’t all that much more than you’d pay for a couple of quick service hamburgers and sodas. You can’t beat the priority seating, either.
After lunch, we used our third FastPass+ at Expedition Everest with a 65-minute posted wait at 1:51pm.
Even with the return line stretching outside the queue…
We still found ourselves in the front row of the train just ten minutes later:
And we were back out front 17 minutes after getting in line, which is about five minutes longer than average.
One last note – Finding Nemo the Musical had been closed for refurbishment for the majority of February, but is now back open.
We arrived just before 10:45am and were on our way out at 2:15pm after experiencing Flight of Passage, Kilimanjaro Safaris, and Expedition Everest, in addition to spending about an hour enjoying lunch at Yak & Yeti. It was a busy day, but the crowds remained manageable and it’s hard to look past the fact that wait times are actually lower over the course of the day compared to “less crowded” days during “less crowded” times of year. The extended hours also offer more opportunities to enjoy short waits in the early morning and relatively late evening.
We’re headed over to check out holiday crowds at Magic Kingdom next.