Our morning at Disney’s Animal Kingdom continues after a longer stop in Pandora than we would have probably liked. The arrival and rope drop experience to Flight of Passage is covered in Part One. Despite being among the first 25 cars to arrive before the Park opened, we waited nearly an hour for Flight of Passage, and 34 minutes for Na’vi River Journey. Almost all of that was after the Park opened and the waits were just about as long as I’ve ever experienced for either attraction since they opened. As it turned out, we probably should have abandoned our plans to ride Flight first thing given how many Disney resort guests arriving on buses made it there before us, but I was curious how long we would actually wait given the length of the line. Such is the burden of the blogger.
As a reminder, this is where we ended up in the Flight of Passage line, with hundreds more people behind us. That’s with an arrival 35 minutes before Park open, several minutes before the parking lot and temperature check started, and about as good as we could have done from coming off-site. The 90-minutes the ride posted in the morning is probably accurate for the last person in line.
Here’s the wait time chart for the day of our visit:
As you can see, waits for Flight only go down as it gets later in the day. The day of my visit did see short wait times overall with most weekdays seeing similar waits, while there would be far more people on the weekend. Waits are on the rise, which is why we continue to visit the Parks and see what’s possible. That does seem to be less and less as the people arrive earlier and in larger numbers overall as Disney has increased the Parks’ capacities without adding much to absorb the crowds outside of the ride lines. We’ll take an overarching look at wait times since the Parks reopened to highlight this.
The other thing about the chart is that we’re really not going to run into appreciable waits for the rest of the day at other attractions. That’s despite waiting almost an hour for Flight and more than a half hour for Na’vi. I think our longest wait for anything will be Kilimanjaro Safaris, and that line both started basically backstage and only took about ten minutes before we boarded. Kali will also be a little longer because of the ~10-minute cleaning cycle that we waited through.
According to the wait time trends that we’ve been seeing over the last few weeks, Kilimanjaro Safaris posts waits between 25 and 45 minutes between 10am and 11:45am most days. The above is the number of people headed over to Safaris just before 11am. It’s certainly not a lot, but we can assume there are people already over there after seeing the line for River Journey. Or finding out what River Journey is.
Here’s a shorter chart of posted waits for the Safari over the last few weeks:
The chart is color-coded in two different ways, neither of which may make any sense but to me. Along the bottom, we have green wait times when the posted wait is under 20 minutes, yellow when it’s 20 to 30 minutes, and red when it’s longer than that. On the far right column, the averages for Saturday and Sunday are color-coded in a burnt orange with Fridays highlighted in light blue.
Even with the longer hours on Saturdays and Sundays, the averages are typically longer, often by 50- to 100-percent compared to the better weekdays. Fridays are better, with average waits that rival other weekdays, thanks in large part to shorter waits during the first and last hours of the day. In the last post, I pointed out how Fridays typically see longer waits than other weekdays, but not by much. That may make a Friday with longer hours attractive, while Saturdays and Sundays should be avoided when possible. You can do okay on a Saturday or Sunday if you have to, but be prepared for afternoon waits that are about twice as long as weekdays. If you can get in and out, or spend the afternoon doing low-key things, you can still make the day work with an early arrival and/or a late stay.
For our day-to-day touring, we want to avoid the Safaris from 9:45am to 11:30am if we can. Any time after 3pm is better, with waits that only continue to drop as closing time approaches. Avoiding the late morning is easy since we’ll head to Asia and DinoLand first before heading over to Africa. It’s even easier when you wait 90 total minutes for Flight and River Journey. With Tusker House, Festival of the Lion King, Harambe Market, and the live entertainment off, there isn’t a whole lot going on over in Africa. In the afternoon, you may want to take the Wildlife Express Train over to the air-conditioned Rafiki’s Planet Watch to look around and potentially do the Animation Academy.
With the short eight-hour day on most weekdays, there isn’t a great opportunity to take an afternoon break. Recharging with a sit-down lunch, the Wildlife Express, and sitting around Planet Watch should give you some more energy to finish the day out with som of the headlining attractions, ending the day with River Journey and Flight of Passage if you can.
We’re passing by the majestic Tree of Life on our way to the potentially less-majestic Kali River Rapids.
One wonders how far we are away from a smattering of controlled meet and greets in the Park. Disney is already adding socially-distanced characters back to the likes of Chef Mickey’s and Hollywood & Vine, after basically reopening with characters only at Topolino’s Terrace and Garden Grill. Of course, adding characters back to the meals increases the cost to the consumer by 60- to 90-percent, while trying to do something “for free” at the old Adventurers Outpost, which was the only location where you could meet Mickey and Minnie together, doesn’t specifically add to the bottom line. You could put the characters out there with a rope for the characters to keep their space, a designated area for people to stand, and character attendants to keep the peace, but you’d still have to explain to the kids (and me) why they can’t get any closer and hug Mickey.
Apparently, adding characters back to the meals is going well enough that Disney is only adding them back to more. But we’ve still got nothing inside the Parks outside of Hollywood & Vine at Hollywood Studios.
To add to the overall confusion, certain kiosks and other venues are only open on the weekends. Drinkwallah, which you may or may not be able to identify across from Yak & Yeti, is open daily. Others, like Dawa Bar, Trek River Bar, and others are relegated to the weekends.
I think I’ve been on Kali River Rapids more often this calendar year than in the last ten years combined, thanks almost entirely to the fact that all of the water “features” and “sprayers” are turned off. While it may appear like I put absolutely no effort into my appearance, it takes a couple of hours to sort of pull off this combover. Once it gets wet, you can see that it’s just the one strand of hair. If people saw that, my blogging life would come to an end, and at least three of my girlfriends would break up with me on the spot.
You’ll want to stick everything you don’t want getting wet in the free lockers down on the left. They look like they’re falling apart, and they may well be, but they do the job. They also may be the strongest lockers on earth and just look like they’re about to fall apart. There’s no telling at Animal Kingdom. My apartment carries a similar aesthetic. “Is the door to this refrigerator attached, or just themed really well to look like it’s not?” It’s not attached.
Kali’s wait had gone up from ten minutes to twenty minutes as I was stuffing my belongings into the locker. It’s now 11:06am. With FastPass+ in the cards, the ride often posted 60 minutes around now, even with few people waiting in standby.
I pulled up the My Disney Experience app to see how things were looking elsewhere:
At least we’ve been on the rides with two of the three longest waits in the Park, even if we ended up waiting a little less than twice that for Flight of Passage.
We’ll try to push that early morning wait out of mind and keep things zen on Kali:
The website would reiterate that Kali’s queue is the most underrated on property, likely in part because if the other bloggers get wet, they go a little Wicked Witch of the West. Or the East. Of whichever one used to disappear on The Great Movie Ride. And if you do rock Kali, you’re probably not risking any serious camera equipment. The iPhone is what we’ve got here, hoping that the water resistance numbers are in the vicinity of being accurate.
We got in line at 11:06am, boarded at 11:25am, and were back out front at 11:34am, for a total experience time of 28 minutes. About ten of those minutes in line ended up being due to cleaning, which is probably why that wait jumped from ten minutes to twenty. As I’ve mentioned before, those cleaning procedures are often baked into the wait times, leading them to be ten to fifteen minutes longer in a lot of scenarios.
Here’s waits at 11:34am:
Our next stop is more of Asia where Expedition Everest is still posting 15 minutes. DINOSAUR and TriceraTop follow at just five minutes each. We’ll be headed there next as I can’t go more than three hours within a dinosaur spin.
We’re heading over to Everest. It might look like this path is on the congested side, but this is about as bad as things can get over the course of the day, outside of first thing in Pandora. The goofy thing about Animal Kingdom is that Disney had all of this experience building theme parks around the globe over 50+ years, and still elected to make so many of the pathways in the Asia expansion so narrow.
The floating cavalcades at Animal Kingdom are fun, but also the easiest to miss as they glide along, typically in the distance. The various bridges, particularly in Pandora and along the bridge in Africa, are good viewing spots, along with the seating up and down Discovery Island on the Asia side. I think we have Chip and Dale in the distance. Or just the smudge that I drew from that Haunted Mansion drawing tutorial linked in our last wait time and news post. I’d love to see your finished product if you finished with that.
Crowds are relatively light as we walk past the Palace Hotel on the left, which has been under construction for about 30 years. What on Disney property hasn’t been though.
The snack portion of Thirsty River Bar & Snacks is open daily, but the Bar portion has only been open on weekends, holidays, and the occasional busier day. It’s closed at what I would consider to be prime drinking time on a Tuesday. 11:30am.
Everest is posting 15 minutes at 11:42am, which seems perfectly reasonable.
We’ll be able to head right into the expanded queue, but the end of the line extends all the way past the Finding Nemo Theater and into DinoLand.
We’re currently in the old FastPass+ return line.
Now we’re in the regular queue with more plastic barriers than I remember as we proceed through:
Now looking out at the external queue behind the building.
And more plastic.
We’ll continue through the regular outdoor queue, the external queue, and back inside the regular standby queue:
Despite enjoying quite the tour of the Forbidden Mountain’s base camp, we were on-board just ten minutes after getting in line. It makes sense that Disney would open as much of the prettier backstage area to keep people off the main drag. The walkways in Asia are limited to about two-bloggers-across.
Here we go.
Probably by design, I don’t think I have ever seen a train down here as we make our way up.
Since we probably won’t be able to get excited about the Yeti coming back to life anytime soon, we can raise our glasses to this bird, which comes out about 1% of the time. You may not even catch it up there on he left, above the prayer flags for lower wait times on the left.
We’ll continue on since the roller coaster doesn’t offer a lot of other options:
Expedition Everest only took 15 minutes, which is about four minutes longer than the ride would have taken with FastPass+. So even getting in line near noon, we didn’t wait long.
And at least in the direction of DinoLand, we don’t have a lot of people headed in that direction. That’s a pin trading area ahead on the left.
And as pictured.
There seem to be more of these pin-trading locations around with clear instructions on how it works. The pins should be sanitized before a cast member adds them to the trading board.
Looking out, we see a barge of some characters out in the distance. The Flame Tree seating area near the water is also a good spot to watch the characters. We’re not really zoomed out with our 35mm lens, so this is as close as you can expect to be most of the time.
As I mentioned before, that Everest line backs up a good distance. We’re nowhere close to the start/end of it. This would also be a better spot to wave to the characters.
That’s still Everest queue on the left.
This on the right. Everest queue.
And also this, which may be the last one on the right alongside the queue for the shuttered Finding Nemo. If Disney increases capacity more, the line for Everest may start at another Park. Free Park Hopping to go along with that 90-minute wait. I may just make a run for it in that situation, as long as it’s not Hollywood Studios.
DinoLand is our next stop.
Yes I am here (and have been for three hours straight) pic.twitter.com/PQK2LCCkDC
— josh (@easywdw) September 29, 2020
As always, you can enjoy spinning around with me at TriceraTop Spin. What a life.
We’ve got room for more if you want to join the party.
Primeval Whirl remains closed, which is what you would expect from an attraction that is permanently closed.
With Disney removing some number of props. I would purchase any sign that says “doomed” or “our time is up.” That clock may also be handy when the angle of the sun isn’t in the picture.
It seems unlikely that Disney is on the precipice of spending a lot of money to re-work Chester & Hester’s Dino-Rama with so many other projects already canceled or on the backburner. Disney already announced the Spaceship Earth redo is delayed at best, in addition to quietly cancelling other projects, like the Mary Poppins thing in the UK Pavilion that probably did not exist at the time of the announcement or any time thereafter.
But Disney does have new prizes for the carnival games featuring plush that represents the area.
I don’t have a lot of opportunities to play tourist these days, but even I look at some of the physical-distancing markers and wonder exactly where they are headed. These markers are along the Cretaceous Trail, which would have at one time led to a very colorful Daisy meet and greet. Now, we have to assume that the line somehow connects to the rest of the DINOSAUR extended queue.
That DINOSAUR queue is probably over here, too, leading up to the pathway to the Dino Institute.
And along the right here as well.
Luckily for us, DINOSAUR is posted at just five minutes and we’ll be able to walk right into the Queue Proper. If I found myself waiting for DINO on the Cretaceous Trail, I would probably head to the bar. Any bar.
Luckily, we’ll largely be able to walk right on:
DINO is one of the rides where you’ll find a plastic barrier separating the first and third rows. We’ve seen similar additions elsewhere, and occasionally, see Disney end up taking down the barriers. Without the barriers, Disney may load fewer people inside each vehicle, which also adversely affects capacity. The plastic does make for a more reflective experience looking ahead as I look back at myself in the picture – something probably nobody wants to see. I was happy to see that both sides were loading at least, which helps dramatically decrease wait times. At DINOSAUR, you might request the front row so the reflection ahead isn’t an issue. Not that you can see a whole lot during the ride, anyway. The back row provides quite a jostle these days, so the experience up front won’t throw you around nearly as much either.
Here’s a look at DINOSAUR waits over the last few weeks:
We have a similar color-coding scheme to Kilimanjaro Safaris. Posted waits remain under 15 minutes for the majority of the morning, before climbing to 17 minutes at 10:30am, and then going up from there for the most part, before falling back to lower levels after 3:30pm. On the far right, Saturdays and Sundays are highlighted in orange, so you can see how much longer waits are on the weekends. The couple of Fridays with 8am opens are highlighted in blue and see lower waits than Saturdays or Sundays, but they’re still often longer than other weekdays. That’s a little less true this past week, with higher waits on most weekdays.
One thing we are concerned about is purposeful capacity reductions, where Disney only loads one side of DINOSAUR at a time, in turn moving through about half as many people as they could with both sides operating. We’re certainly seeing longer wait times over the last couple of weeks than we did to round out much of early September.
One problem with the capacity reductions is that Disney typically opens the day with them. It makes sense since demand in the morning is lower. But once the people start arriving, the line increases quickly, and you see those 30- to 50- minute waits in the early afternoon. From a financial standpoint, it doesn’t make much sense to be running at full capacity with empty vehicles, but Disney would benefit from moving to full capacity earlier in the day. Even if your wait at DINO is 70% of what’s listed, that can still be 30 or 40 minutes in the afternoon.
We were on-board about ten minutes after getting in line. That’s twice as long as what was posted, so the knife occasionally cuts both ways:
The pictures never really come out here in the dark in a moving vehicle doing an asteroid shower in a time machine vehicle with no roof, but here we are nonetheless:
We arrived at 12:16pm, boarded at 12:26pm, and were back out front at 12:35pm, for a total experience time of 19 minutes, which is around the time the attraction took with FastPass+. DINO is another of the pre-shows that Disney is not running in its entirety. It’s just on when you’re in the pre-show room, which doubles as more queue.
I would imagine most guests are returning visitors at the moment, but if you’re not, you may want to pull up the pre-show on YouTube for an introduction to what you won’t really be able to see in the dark anyway. You do want that dinosaur. Perhaps they could remove the yeti altogether and Disney could throw out coupons for Mickey Ice Cream Bars in that spot instead. No jury would convict.
We also had an opportunity to enjoy a look at the beautiful American Crocodile. He or she is looking a little thin. I’m just saying should you happen to be on day four or five with the in-laws.
All modern alligators and crocodiles are descendants of the crocodilian it says. Some day they will probably talk about how all of the modern Disney bloggers are descendants of the bloggerillian, which must be referring to me. I’m sorry.
I pulled up posted waits after DINO:
Kilimanjaro Safaris is our last ride of the day and it’s currently posting five minutes according to the app. Our options are to head over there now or stop for lunch first. Short posted wait times aren’t always our friend, particularly after dropping from the higher numbers that we saw earlier. Disney is typically slow to update the wait and you can bet a lot of people are headed over with five minutes posted.
I can barely wait to find out what we decide in the next Part.
Spoiler: It’s Kilimanjaro Safaris and then lunch at Yak & Yeti with a couple of new-ish quick service entrees. You know I hate to leave you hanging.