I visited all four major Disney World theme parks today, beginning with Animal Kingdom and ending with Magic Kingdom. These sorts of picture-posts will likely come in sets of two, once each week. I’d love to do one every day, but there is a lot of “real work” that needs to be done too!!
I arrived at 8:40am from the Ticket and Transportation Center. Disney was running plenty of buses to keep up with demand in the morning. You can see at least ten in this picture.
An empty tram after letting off visitors who self-parked.
Rope drop crowds right as they began letting people through the turnstiles at 8:45am. Crowds at this point might look big, but don’t worry – they’re not.
When they let you through the turnstiles for the “The Adventure Begins” mini-show, there will be three sections separated by trees in the next area. The truck with Mickey, Minnie, and Pluto will stop in the middle section. If you want to see Mickey on top of the truck as clearly as possible, you’ll want to be in the middle section because that’s where the truck stops. However, you’ll likely want to be on one of the far sides to the left or right because those are the people that will be in the front of the crowd that moves toward Kilimanjaro Safaris or Expedition Everest at rope drop. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been much to the opening show lately. I would recommend easing toward one of the sides so that you can be among the first to experience one of the major attractions.
Either way, you’ll still be able to see them drive by if you’re tall enough.
The rope drop crowds as the two paths meet in front of the Tree of Life. You’ll want to stay to the right and then take a right at the Tree of Life to go to Expedition Everest or stay to the left and then take a left at the base of the Tree of Life for Kilimanjaro Safaris. Basically, follow the crowd left or right depending on where you want to go. There’s really no upside to heading anywhere else unless you have no interest in riding either attraction for one reason or another.
Don’t follow the Maharajah Jungle Trek/Kali River Rapids sign unless you want to visit them. It’s a dead end. There’s no reason to go to Kali River Rapids first thing as far as waits and crowds are concerned. Wait times won’t hit 15 minutes until around 10:30am and it’s an easy FASTPASS until at least 1pm and often much later, depending on weather. It’s a more popular attraction when the weather is hot in the afternoon.
I went to Expedition Everest first this morning. The FASTPASS machines are located directly to the left of the standby line. They’re easy to miss if you don’t know where to look. Any attendant will be happy to point you in the right direction if you get lost. The first FASTPASSes of the day have a return window of 9:40am – 10:40am, just like every other attraction (outside of Magic Kingdom, which may have a return window later in the morning).
Still a 5 minute wait around 9:15am if you want to ride again. You’ll want to be on your way to Kilimanjaro Safaris unless you’re planning to FASTPASS it for later in the day without riding standby. I like riding Kilimanjaro Safaris at least twice during the day and Expedition Everest will have FASTPASSes available until at least 1pm (unless the crowd level is extremely high or Animal Kingdom isn’t recommended). There’s also the single rider line that usually has a 5-15 minute wait in the afternoon. It’s always an option too. I would FASTPASS Expedition Everest now and then collect FASTPASSes for Kilimanjaro Safaris after riding it. You’ll easily be able to collect another set of FASTPASSes by then.
No matter what, don’t forget to take a minute to enjoy the beauty of the Animal Kingdom. This is inside of a theme park in Orlando, Florida, in case you forgot.
I dawdled a bit taking pictures and whatnot on my way over to Kilimanjaro Safaris and didn’t arrive until 9:30am. For Kilimanjaro, the FASTPASS distribution booths are located directly to the right and the FASTPASS return line is located to the right of that, a bit further down the road.
I couldn’t help it. I rode Kilimanjaro Safaris. We went rhino-less, but the driver was a lot of fun and we got to see elephants, lions, giraffes, and the rest of the beasts.
Kilimanjaro Safaris’ FASTPASS return time at 10:17am. Not bad at all.
Expedition Everest FASTPASS window at 10:30am. Only 10 minutes past the minimum 40 minutes – that’s why today was a highly recommended day to visit!
No rush to get to DinoLand USA. TriceraTop Spin with a zero minute wait at 10:45am and it still had empty seats (or triceratops, as the case may be). I still couldn’t bring myself to ride it without a borrowed three-year-old. DINOSAUR had a ten minute posted wait and an actual wait of three minutes at 10:50am.
Ditto with It’s Tough to be a Bug. Five minute wait at 10:55am.
One last look at the wait times board before leaving for Hollywood Studios. Not bad at all for 11am and average overall crowds.
We find ourselves at Starring Rolls Cafe, my favorite of the Hollywood Studios quick service restaurants. It’s located near the Hollywood Brown Derby on Sunset Boulevard. It’s most popular for its decadent desserts, but they also serve delicious sandwiches that at least feel lighter and healthier than your garden variety 73% lean hamburgers and deep-fried nuggets, even though I assume we would both be appalled if we saw the nutrition facts on one of their sandwiches. It’s best to put these sorts of things out of mind. I ordered the $9.39 turkey sandwich on house-made foccacia bread. It comes with your choice of a piece of fruit or chips.
Here it is in all of its glory. The bag of chips is a healthy two-ounce-plus portion size. I remember that it was 310 calories and 25% of your daily saturated fat, but the exact weight eludes me at the moment. I will do better next time. You’ll also notice a professional Disney blogger trick – the free (with $88 Park admission) glass of ice water available at any quick service with a fountain beverage machine. I brought a Starbucks Via Iced Coffee packet with me from home to mix in. While the Via might be overpriced at $1 a pop, it’s less over-priced than the alternatives. Don’t be shy about ordering a cup of ice water at any point during the day. You may also want to add one to your quick service meal, even if you’re ordering a Coke too.
As usual, the sandwich was excellent. It’s a large portion, but it tastes fresh and doesn’t have the “bulk” of one of Disney’s finest Angus 1/3 Pound Bacon Cheeseburgers. It’s also a classier sandwich than you might find elsewhere, complete with a nice basil aioli , cobb dressing, and roasted peppers – not your run-of-the-mill sandwich by any means. Note that Starring Rolls is small and you won’t even know they serve sandwiches unless you look in the case in front of all the coffee equipment (and directly opposite of one of the registers). Starring Rolls is somewhat of a hidden gem amongst some pretty average dining choices at Hollywood Studios. You’ll definitely want to check it out if you enjoy sandwiches and find yourself wary about the other options.
One nit-pick is the fact that my meal came out to $10.01 with tax. Now a normal establishment might have a penny tray or the person working might be too lazy to actually count out nine dollars and ninety-nine cents. Not Disney though. I came away with nine one dollars bills, three quarters, two dimes, and four pennies. Maybe the constant jingle-jangle in your wallet puts you in the mood to buy. I’m sure they’ve run studies.
I got a kick out of this one because it looks like Minnie is a “little person.”
The always available Pixar Place crowds.
The Disney Channel Rocks show moving down (up?) Hollywood Boulevard. If you want front row “seats” for the main show, station yourself in front of Mickey’s Sorcerer’s Hat about ten minutes before it’s set to begin. If you’re on the top side there where the woman in the wheelchair is, you’ll be able to see the performers coming down (up?) the street too.
I had spent a lot of time in Hollywood Studios over the past few days, so I made my way to the exit soon after lunch and walked down to the boat launch that connects it to Epcot. On one hand, the boat ride is pleasant as it meanders past the Beach Club, Yacht Club, BoardWalk Inn, Swan, and Dolphin Resorts. On the other hand, it can also be an agonizingly slow ride if you’re in a hurry or simply want to get back to your room. I clocked the trip at 33 minutes and we didn’t have any significant delays. The boat will stop at the Swan/Dolphin, BoardWalk, and Yacht/Beach Club on the way to Epcot, which is what adds 20 or so minutes to the trip. Why Disney doesn’t add an “express boat” between the two Parks is beyond me.
The boat. I was on it.
Here we are at Epcot. Crowds moving in through the World Showcase at 1pm for lunch.
The Flower and Garden Festival is still in full swing. Unfortunately, I have an embarrassingly small Compact Flash card at the moment and I needed most of the pictures from Animal Kingdom for the website. I wasn’t able to save many from Epcot or Magic Kingdom.
Either they have 30 Mickey Mouses in there or this meet and greet really isn’t catching on…….or some of both. My lips are sealed.
Arriving at 2pm is never a very good idea. We’re talking peak crowds, peak waits, peak heat, and peak everything else (other than fun).
A lot of people walking up the wait times billboard were unhappy. But that’s what happens when you arrive at 2pm and want to walk on Splash Mountain in 90 degree heat.
Lots of people in Tomorrowland. Hopefully the people arriving around 2pm held out. Waits at Splash Mountain and Space Mountain were down to 30 minutes by 7pm and Pirates of the Caribbean, Buzz Lightyear, and Town Square Princesses were all down to ten minutes or less. A lot of people leave Sunday, which usually empties the Parks out in the late afternoon and evening.
Well there you have it – a quick look at all four Parks today, with a distinct bias towards Animal Kingdom. I’ll pick up another Compact Flash card here and I’ll be able to make these posts even longer in the future!!! If you have any questions, head over to the easyWDW Forums and ask away!