After a busy morning touring Epcot, it’s time to head over to Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park at 2:25pm on Memorial Day.
Avatar construction continues in the old Camp Minnie-Mickey plot.
The top of the new show building, which is expected to house a Soarin-esque ride, peeks out over Guest Relations. There’s otherwise not much to see other than steel.
Walls still line part of the walkway leading into Discovery Island and across from the Wilderness Explorers headquarters.
Work continues on expanding Disney Outfitters. This is about as exciting as visible vertical construction gets at Walt Disney World.
Whatever the politically correct name for a cherry picker is is on site at the base of the Tree of Life with the expectation that LED lights will be added to the branches as part of a nighttime projection show.
A potentially better idea about what the area in front of the Tree of Life looks like with the walkway back to The Oasis on the right.
Tarzan is a meet-able character at Animal Kingdom for some reason. Disney is probably wondering whether it’s viable to paint him blue and attach a tail in some number of years for an Aliens meet and greet.
Lines at the moment are short, not unlike they’ll be at the Avatar store come 2017 or 2018 or whatever.
Probably because he dresses like everybody else during the summer and looks like he would fit in better at Seattle’s Hempfest. Actually he’s wearing more than a lot of guests these days.
This week’s Times Guide:
I wouldn’t prioritize the Tarzan meet above anything other than maybe It’s Tough To Be A Bug at the moment. Lining up right around 1:05pm should eliminate a wait much longer than seven minutes.
Summer apparel is out in force.
It’s taking longer to put a roof on Flame Tree Barbecue than it will take to build the new King Kong ride.
I don’t even remember what the original reopening date was supposed to be. It closed January 5th and there was never an official reopening as far as I can remember, though internal projections were April. It’s now on its fourth extension through at least June 25th.
Viva Gaia Street Band performs across from the Flame Tree construction and to the left of the Discovery Outfitters’ construction usually just on the two or three busiest days of the week. If you look at the Times Guide above, you’ll notice that they only perform on Sunday and Wednesday this week, which are both busier days with morning Extra Magic Hours attached.
Pocahontas now meets here at Character Landing to absolutely no signage whatsoever, unless you consider burlap part of the #story. You can bank on a largely nonexistent line here as well.
Daisy Duck still meets on the pathway to Africa a little past Tarzan’s location.
Rivers of Light construction across the water:
A 40-minute wait for DINOSAUR at 2:47pm. And with the extended queue in use, that’s probably close to accurate.
Looking over posted waits over the course of the day:
This is worse than most of the summer will be, perhaps with the exception of the days around the July 4th holiday. As you may recall from the morning at Epcot, this is an incredibly busy day. Waits from this past Saturday, May 30th, are indicative of what we can expect daily through the third week in August:
Afternoons are pretty ugly at the attractions that post wait times. You want to rely on FastPass+ at the major attractions and visit the various shows, animal trails, and possibly check out Wilderness Explorers or Rafiki’s Planet Watch in between. Waits fall off again in the evening, but perhaps a little less with maximum FP+ allocation keeping more people around. Still, if you hit DinoLand with two hours to close and Asia in the final hour, you’ll find much shorter waits than the afternoon.
Donald is still here on the Cretaceous Trail. Lines are typically under 25 people long.
Pluto and Goofy across from TriceraTop Spin can be a little longer.
It would be nice if Disney would bring back the DinoLand dance party thing. Kids always enjoy the informal dance parties, which are a good way to interact with the characters without long waits. One wonders why Disney doesn’t abandon Characterpalooza at Hollywood Studios in favor of something similar.
Primeval Whirl is a good use of a 4th FP+ in the afternoon. The posted wait is 40 minutes here, which is 37 too many.
30 at TriceraTop Spin. Both of these are rides you want to do around 10:30am or after 5pm.
Walls still line DinoLand up and through Asia for Rivers of Light construction. Here we see about as much progress as ever – a mound of dirt and some heavy equipment.
35 minutes for Everest at 3:03pm.
This is the back of the line.
In pathway news, this one opened up a little over two weeks ago. If you’re walking from Expedition Everest to Kali River Rapids, walking through here is quicker and easier than continuing up and taking a right before the Yak & Yeti quick service.
And we’re walking.
Pretty exciting stuff.
It does help bypass what can be a busy corridor. And even if you don’t walk it for another six months, you’ll still probably be among the first to pass that way.
Here in the heart of the summer, you’ll find abominable waits at Kali on the daily. You want to ride before 10:30am, with FastPass+, or last thing.
Baloo and King Louie’s hangout is in the hut on the right.
It will be interesting to see what Rivers of Light does to Animal Kingdom’s daily attendance, park hours, and how much later into the evening it keeps people, in addition to the other expected nighttime enhancements like the nighttime safari and Tree of Life show. If it’s good and people stick around through 9pm to see it, we can assume nighttime entertainment elsewhere will ease a bit with fewer people park hopping to Epcot and the like for dinner and fireworks. That’s why we’re seeing some of these enhancements openings now. Harambe Market isn’t necessarily built to handle today’s crowds. It’s built to handle the Avatar crowds. That Asia path isn’t going to help reduce congestion much tomorrow, but it probably will once Rivers of Light comes online next year.
Baloo and Louie still meet across from Flights of Wonder to relatively low waits.
Some of these very low priority characters aren’t a bad way to spend the afternoon. You’d be looking at waiting 10ish minutes here for a fun picture.
Every other Disney blog and their mother (and a lot of the time, they travel together) has covered the Harambe Market opening from a couple of weeks ago, but here we are anyway. The addition is behind and off to the right of the main drag. From Asia, you can easily head right before arriving at Tamu Tamu Refreshments. The Festival of the Lion King theater in New Harambe is basically straight ahead.
A little further up the path, the Market will come into focus.
Tamu Tamu Refreshments has gone dessert only in the Market’s wake, though that may change when the Zuri’s Sweets dessert window opens in a couple of weeks.
Tusker House added characters at dinner months ago, but I’m not sure I ever chronicled the price increase that accompanied it:
Dinner is about $7 more expensive with characters than it was without back in February, which potentially isn’t a bad value if you’d like a pic with Donald and Friends. I haven’t been back since the changeover, but always enjoyed the low key, characterless dinner that was basically a more convenient, slightly less expensive Boma-light.
Here we are outside Tusker.
Disney has changed the definition of what a snack credit is as of a couple of days ago. I am out of town through Monday, but it will probably be prudent to reshoot all of these menus in front of the usual major update that comes during the last week in August.
Otherwise, Harambe Market is basically behind Mombasa Marketplace.
And here we are.
The walkway into Pangani along the exit from Safaris.
So Harambe Market is the new outdoor food court of sorts in Africa. As you might imagine, there are a lot of “details:”
It’s a very well done area that “feels” like it’s always been a part of Harambe. Unfortunately, you can’t really ride details like you can ride screens.
Inside you’ll find four separate windows. One key point is that with the exception of the drinks window, you can order any of the food items from any of the other windows. So if you want the ribs, corn dog, and chicken skewer, you can order all three from any of the windows rather than having to split up and head to numerous lines.
In addition to a variety of relatively-difficult-to-find South African wines, Strawberry Sparletta and Bibo are available in regular and large sizes. Both Coca-Cola products are available at Epcot’s Club Cool, but those that enjoy them might like an opportunity to order a much bigger cup with ice.
Each of the four ordering queues is visible here – first is drinks, then the grill with the chicken skewer/beef kebab flatbread, then the corn dogs, and finally the ribs in back. Disney adeded bright red umbrellas and fans after the first day or two as each line is otherwise uncovered. Even so, it’s not going to protect you much from the rain or sun. Considering Disney has spent the last 5+ months extending the roof over the ordering area at Flame Tree Barbecue, one wonders how wise that was.
All seating is also outdoors – more than half of the tables are covered by themed roofs or umbrellas, but you’ve still got RealFeel’s well above 100 degrees for more than six months of the year, in addition to daily showers.
Obviously outdoor theming makes thematic sense, but it would have been nice if someone in Imagineering had come up with an excuse to enclose some of the space.
Reviews of the food have been overwhelmingly positive so far.
The $9.49 Beef Kabob Flatbread comes in two pieces, each with two slices of mildly spiced beef with tomato, cucumber, and diced tomatoes with a yogurt-y sauce inside of the soft pita-like flatbread that isn’t altogether unlike a gyro. The beef was a lot tenderer and more flavorful than it probably looks like in this lousy picture and overall, it was one of the better executed quick service dishes I’ve enjoyed in recent memory. And with two pieces, it makes for a surprisingly filling meal that would be easy to share if you wanted to go that route.
I am not really a tomato person, which is what my portion of the side salad consisted almost entirely of, in addition to a few slices of red onion and a single broccoli floret. The vegetables are tossed in a vinaigrette, which adds some acidity and livens up the flavors a bit, and everything is otherwise freshly made. I’m just not sure this is the way I would have gone with it – the red onion flavor is going to linger if you go to town on the salad before eating the flatbread and I’m not sure how many people enjoy popping a dozen grape tomatoes into their mouths. But it’s what you get.
The $3.59 Watermelon Lemonade Featuring Odwalla was cold and refreshing – sweet but not cloying and on a hot day, I appreciated it lacking the carbonation of the soft drinks that will just end up dehydrating you more. This and a complimentary cup of water would be my drink choices here.
I left impressed with Harambe Market and excited to return to try the other items. I’m not sure this is necessarily what Animal Kingdom needs at the moment. I like Yak & Yeti’s quick service arm in Asia, but the outdoor seating always makes me put an asterisk next to the recommendation. I almost had to walk all the way back to Tamu Tamu to find a table and those that were seated largely had their heads resting on the tables face down. And while interesting wines are usually welcome, it seems unlikely most people will be adding a $7 glass of something they’ve never heard of in this atmosphere. I’m not sure you can say the lack of vegetarian options is surprising, considering Disney included exactly zero at the recently opened Trader Sam’s and originally included exactly zero at its Namaste Cafe food truck at Downtown Disney, but it seems unfortunate. It wouldn’t be hard to skewer some vegetables up on the grill menu. We’ll see what the future brings.
This same picture appears on this site 100 other times.
Overall, Harambe Market and the Festival of the Lion King theater really flesh out the Africa section of Animal Kingdom. You could make a solid argument that it’s the most cohesive land in all of Walt Disney World. Just remember this was my favorite theme park before it was yours.
Work continues on the Starbucks and whatever is going on behind the walls outside Baby Care.
Our next visit will likely include a look at a late arrival over the summer and a return to Harambe Market to try the other new items.