Pandora Avatar Update at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Plus Projects and Menus

We continue with what is apparently a three part update on rope dropping Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Part 1, with the rope drop procedure leading up to Na’vi River Journey and Flight of Passage, is available here. Part 2 follows here and offers some advice on how to tour the Parks after finishing with Pandora.

Flight of Passage wait times continue to be oppressive, here at 205 minutes at 2:33pm. Again, this is not two hours and five minutes – it’s well over three hours.

If both the thought of getting to a theme park at 7am and waiting three hours and 25 minutes for a theme park ride seem less than ideal, I’d check out this post, which details the experience of riding Flight of Passage last thing at night.

Here’s a look at Flight of Passage waits since that post:

Larger: Here.

The trends remain the same, though it might be interesting that the overall average wait of 154 minutes is less than the 160 minutes that we saw over the first two weeks of February and the 162 minutes from October 1st through January 11th. You’d think with Presidents Day Week and a solid week of spring break that waits would at least be longer then the first couple of weeks in February.

But as we’ve learned, unless you’re able to arrive at least an hour before Park open and immediately rush to Flight of Passage, it’s best to ride at another time. If you arrive a half hour before Park open, you’re way too late.

And if you can’t do first or last thing, getting in line around 3pm is best, though any time after 12pm is going to result in a similar experience.

Assuming all theaters are operating, I’d expect to wait 120 minutes at 3pm with the average posted wait of 147 minutes at that time.

Flight of Passage remains Walt Disney World’s highest rated attraction, somehow beating out other alien-based attractions such as Stitch’s Great Escape.

It might be Russian intervention tipping the scales in Cameron’s direction.

The Swotu Wayä Na’vi Drum Ceremony started up again after briefly closing to change the show up a bit. I care so little that I didn’t even bother to
walk around to the front of it to take a picture.

I mean I did, but I considered staying put. The show has been shortened from 17 minutes to 12 minutes, which also aids in reducing congestion outside Na’vi River Journey. You can pull up the schedule here with the show frequently starting on the hour with shows every 30 minutes during the afternoon. It might make you wish you were in a 205-minute line for Flight of Passage instead.

Na’vi River Journey remains far more forgiving, though I’m not sure who is waiting 105 minutes for the opportunity. These people apparently.

A look at wait times:

Larger: Here.

The 88-minute overall average is a little more than half of Flight of Passage, but easily surpasses any of Animal Kingdom’s other attractions.

As we learned from Part 1, it’s possible to ride River Journey as early as 20 minutes before regular open, making three rides in standby possible with little effort and a total wait of about 15 minutes on your average day. How long it will take to recover varies.

Pandora remains surprisingly uncongested for the most part.

It was smart to build it as a peripheral land where guests don’t need to use the walkway to get to another Land.

Elsewhere, construction continues on the Caravan Stage in front of the new Up! show debuting on April 22nd in place of Flights of Wonder.

We’ll see the extent of the theming.

It seemed plausible that Drinkwalla, the snack place that you’ve probably never heard of, could see an Up tie-in.

But it reopened across from Yak & Yeti Restaurant looking exactly the same.

The menu is the same as well.

The Rum Lemonade is fruity and refreshing, but doesn’t pack much of a punch.

We will be seeing some substantial entertainment changes in the next couple of months as Disney confirmed the new dance party led by Donald Duck and featuring Scrooge and Launchpad.

Look for that Memorial Day Weekend, which is a week or two later than originally expected.

Dug is also expected to return alongside Russell at the Wilderness Explorers Club House Meet and Greet to the left of It’s Tough To Be A Bug.

Other characters should get the boot.

We’ll see what happens.

There isn’t a whole lot going on in menu news, but that’s never stopped us from going over every single item before.

While it took longer than I would have liked, the website will take credit for the removal of the Cheeseburger Flatbread from Pizzafari.

This thing was so gross. I don’t think a lot of people are selecting “slimy lettuce, “pickles,” and “unidentifiable green sauce” as toppings at Blaze Pizza.

Pizzafari Vegetable Pizza

On the downside, we’re back to the same reheated frozen pizzas that are available all over property, including PizzeRizzo.

The Caesar Salad also arrives in place of the Wedge Salad and the pasta has gone the way of the dino.

The single Flatbread option should be pretty decent, but it’s on the expensive side at $13.49. But if the kids are demanding pizza, it’s a fresher option that at least wasn’t frozen in place at one time.

The Cannoli Cake replaces the Tiramisu.

On this particular afternoon, I stopped by Flame Tree Barbecue and contemplated whether it was worth standing in line to save 20% via my Tables in Wonderland card. I ended up doing just that and it was 15 minutes between the time I got in line and had taken the first picture of the food. Mobile order would have probably cut off five minutes, but it’s not typically the fastest process these days. By 12:30pm, Flame Tree’s wait to order would have been at least 30 minutes. Mobile order is your friend, even if it takes 15 minutes.

The menu is the same since our last visit – note the lack of cornbread.

I really enjoyed the St. Louis Ribs and it, along with the $19 Sampler, is one of the most expensive entrees available on the Disney Dining Plan. I wasn’t even mad paying that much out of pocket.

This time around I went with the $12 “Baked Macaroni & Cheese with Pulled Pork – Baked Macaroni and Cheese topped with Smoked Pulled Pork, Onion Rings and Coleslaw.”

These trays are ruining my life, but it does offer an opportunity to highlight the two onion rings on top and at least I can’t really turn the colors up too high on brown.

This worked a lot better than I was expecting and was a ton of filling food. The pulled pork is meaty and flavorful with Flame Tree’s sweet barbecue sauce sparingly added over the top. I was a little “worried” about the sauce mixing in with the cheese, but there was actually a nice tang that worked well with the melted cheese on top of the pasta. It wouldn’t have worked nearly as well with your typical creamy cheese sauce. There’s just a little bit of dry coleslaw providing a little bit of a crunch and the onion rings on top add a crispy quality to a couple of bites. I was surprised and slightly disgusted by how much I enjoyed it. Another nice option at Flame Tree that’s proven to be quite popular.

You might order a Pasta along with an order of Onion Rings. That should be plenty of food to share for around $9/person.

Quinoa is out at Satu’li Canteen in favor of “Mixed Whole Grain & Rice” and “Hearty Salad.” You can also pick up a “Combination Bowl: Grilled Beef & Chicken” for $16.

I’m usually wary of such changes as the new options are typically “dumbed down,” but we’ll see. On the other hand, Tom Bricker hates quinoa so much that he moved to Japan just to get away from it. Let’s hope he doesn’t hear that it’s gone.

Over at Tamu Tamu Refreshments in Africa, Disney has finally copped to the fact that they’re serving Pineapple Dole Whip. Or Dole finally cut Disney a $50 check to adequately advertise it. It was previously known as “Pineapple Whip” and people would constantly ask me whether or not I was sure that it was really Dole Whip. YES!!!! I’M SURE!!!! They don’t let just anyone have a blog license. You have to be really smart.

As long as temperatures remain cool, African Coffee with Amarula Cream Liqueur is available. I love Amarula with its subtle, but present fruity flavor showing through the cream. Hold the coffee.

Also in Africa, here’s Kusafiri Bakery’s afternoon menu. Speaking of being dumb, there was a time when the names of most things in Africa ended with “afari.” So I called this “Kusafari” for years. Great story.

I’d probably stick to the pastries, though the sandwiches are okay in a pinch. It’s probably time to reprint that menu.

The Anandapur Ice Cream Truck serves a Hard Cider Float with McKenzie’s Black Cherry.

Along with its usual assortment.

Ananapur Ice Cream Truck

This is where we are.

Some detail.

The snack kiosk to the left of It’s Tough To Be A Bug is adding a shot of Mango Rum or Raspberry Vodka to its Frozen Lemonades.

Over at Restaurantosaurus in DinoLand, the Provolone on the Black Bean Burger still strikes me as odd. The Battered Fish could just be an Easter thing.

If you’re looking for a burger, the Combo is a good deal as the burger alone will run you $13.29 elsewhere. You’re adding dessert and the drink for $2.70, which is less than just the fountain beverage. And while we did lose the Hot Dogosaurus, we do have the option of adding the Cocktailosaurus in the lower right. I still want to try that Potato Soup, too.

Yak & Yeti Local Foods Cafe is still offering a breakfast that you very much do not want.

I reviewed the offerings in this post. I have never seen another review of breakfast here, so I’m assuming it’s just as bad as my experience.

“American Kobe” continues to mislead guests during lunch and dinner.

The phrase has absolutely no meaning. This is what 15 bucks looks like.

Yak & Yeti has an oddly located window down to the right of the main quick service ordering area that offers several of the same items, in addition to an expanded drink menu and a different version of the typical theme park Turkey Leg. Lines are typically nonexistent, which means you can save 15+ minutes in line so long as everything you want is offered.

Yak & Yeti Quality Beverages

Note that it operates with limited hours – expect to see it open only during peak lunch time.

I actually lived inside of the Dino Diner in college.

The Nachos Supreme is/are a very large, very shareable snack or a big meal on their own. You can also get your Churro fix here, in addition to the Sunset Ale Draft or Frozen Lemonade with Bacardi Black Razz Rum. The Sunset Ale tastes much like the exterior of the Dino Diner, which is to say, metallic-y.

Over at Dino-Bite snacks to the right of Restaurantosaurus, the menu’s the same. I miss the Bug Sundae, although I’ve found all ice cream can be a bug sundae if you sit there long enough.

Also in DinoLand, you’ll find Trilo-Bites on the walk into the Land.

The Buffalo Chicken Chips are actually worth seeking out – a ton of fresh food and the chicken has a pleasant buffalo spice to it. Lots of cheese, too.

Souvenir Popcorn Buckets are still available with $1.50 refills “valid for the length of stay.” I’m going on eight years myself.

We haven’t seen changes at Harambe Market in a while.

The Beef and Lamb Gyro Flatbread is my favorite.

Animal Kingdom Beef Kabob Sandwich

You also benefit from Mobile Order, in addition to being able to order anything off the menu at any of the windows.

Animal Kingdom Curry Corn Dog

You might remember that originally, each window offered different entrees, since that worked so well at the likes of Cosmic Ray’s. And at the All-Star food courts, everyone says they love having to walk all over the place to figure out what’s available and then have everyone wait different amounts of time to order and pick up their food. There was totally not a precedent for setting up Harambe Market that way. A complete surprise.

I’m not sure if this is a majority opinion, but I don’t like the Vegetable Stack . In my experience, everything is incredibly mushy and flavorless.

Harambe Market continues serving a variety of pre-packaged snacks and other goodies, in addition to Roasted Corn and Sno-Cones that they call “Shaved Ice.”

I’d skip the latter – it’s very gritty crushed ice.

The Roasted Corn is legit though.

You can also pick up a 6-piece pack of the Babybel Snack Cheese. Still not a snack credit. Don’t ever say Disney is unable to believably transport you to your grocery’s dairy aisle without even needing the aid of screens or 3D glasses.

I’m even boring myself here and I have a very high tolerance for meaningless quick service changes.

Mr. Kamal’s is a kiosk that you’ll find on the walk in between Africa and Asia, closer to Africa. I’m assuming it will offer a new menu come April 22nd for the Party for the Planet, but until then, you’ll find items like these Seasoned Fries. The flavors work better than you’d expect – there’s some tomato and cucumber mixed in with the yogurt sauce that does a nice job of cooling down the heat from the chili sauce.

Across the way is Caravan Road.

The Slider isn’t a terrible use of a snack credit, but it’s awfully small for $5+.

African popcorn.

I review each of these “BLTs” in this post, but the Pimento-Cheese version is the only one I’d recommend.

More Macaroni & Cheese options across the way at the Eight Spoon Cafe in Discovery Island. Another good use of a snack credit, but the Flame Tree entree is easily more than twice as much food for less than half as much money.

Tiffins, the Park’s signature restaurant, continues serving the “Chef’s Lunch Tasting Menu.”

I review that (positively) in full in this post.

Some pictures from Maharajah Jungle Trek:









And the Tree of Life:














Gorilla Falls, Discovery Island, and The Oasis:












Whew.

With more than 350 pictures and 7,000 words, I think we’re caught up on what’s happening at Animal Kingdom. We’ll certainly get over there again before Party for the Planet starts on April 22nd. For now, we may get over to Epcot.

Comments

  1. L says

    A sad fact of my next trip is that I’m looking forward to the Buffalo Chicken Chips more than I should. This post had me worried that it had disappeared…but then you gave me hope that they’ll last another 25 days.

  2. Petra says

    Thanks for sharing, love to see my options in 31 days :)

    Quick question, is de bacon cheeseburger combo on the qddp?

  3. dusty cheatham says

    flame tree is pretty good chow but goodness if they keep $$$ up . also the birds can be pretty funny . take your eyes off your food for just a second . I know it happened to me . the cast was good about replacing my tray as the dogone bird took the whole thing .

  4. Alice says

    Love this series! I just ordered your book for my friends who are planning their first trip soon. I told them if they ignore everything else, just get there ten times earlier than you think you should ?

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