Headed out to Animal Kingdom on a day that was, quite frankly, much busier than either of us would have liked. There were more people through the turnstiles at 10:15am than Disney was expecting to pass through over the course of the entire day. Since Disney generally staffs according to anticipated crowds, we’re going to see wait times and congestion even worse than they would be if Disney was properly prepared for the onslaught. And as busy as it’s probably going to look, it was even “worse” today (Friday the 30th). Next week is looking to be legitimately bananas.
Arriving at Disney’s Animal Kingdom around 8:35am for the 9am open.
With a lot of people in each of the turnstiles down here to the left already. They’re past the ticket booths in some instances and lines will only get longer as we get closer to 8:45am when the turnstiles open.
I prefer to hang out here to the right where the turnstiles are already open for those with Donald’s Safari Breakfast reservations. As we get closer to 8:45am, these turnstiles will be converted to regular turnstiles that anyone can use. We’ll also have one more turnstile open on the far right. Anyone down here will be able to easily move over to one of these newly opened turnstiles while the people further down to the left will be stuck at the turnstile they’ve chosen.
Here I am at about 8:40am at one of the Safari Breakfast turnstiles after they were converted over to general admittance.
I’m about eight people back from the turnstiles rather than 4o or more.
At 8:43am, a cast member reads a short spiel welcoming us to Animal Kingdom and advising us to spend some time in the Oasis looking at the various animal exhibits before moving to the Tree of Life. Yeah right, buddy. The turnstiles opened at 8:45am and we were let into the Park.
You’re free to look around the Oasis and move up here toward the Tree of Life and Discovery Island.
But this is as far as you’re going to get.
Ropes all along here.
And two more sets of cast members with additional ropes to walk the mass to Kilimanjaro Safaris to the left and Expedition Everest to the right.
The mass amassing behind us all the way across the bridge to the Oasis.
There’s the always-magnificent Tree of Life to inspect while you wait.
The boss looking on. He already seems to have an “uh oh” expression on his face. At 8:55am, we had an additional real life spiel here at the Tree of Life. He mentioned that they knew everyone would be headed to the Safari and Everest and that we would be following cast members in the two directions. Then at 8:57am we began walking to Kilimanjaro Safaris to the left and Expedition Everest to the right.
I have no idea why Disney moved away from the “ropeless rope drop” that’s currently taking place at Epcot and Hollywood Studios to regress back to the “hold and release” program at Animal Kingdom. When Animal Kingdom had a brief “welcome show” in the morning, guests were let into Animal Kingdom to venture where they pleased after the show concluded, much like we see at the other three theme parks. That means people would casually walk to Everest or Kilimanjaro beginning around 8:50am. The attractions didn’t begin operating until official Park opening, but it was a much more pleasant time walking over to the major attractions. The current hold and release program makes the initial walk to Everest or Kilimanjaro unpleasant. You’ve got hundreds of people jostling for position with the elderly and young in tow. Strollers and ECVs everywhere. It doesn’t seem to build excitement as much as it is simply annoys and disheartens. There’s no reason for it and it’s an archaic way to conduct business in 2k12 and beyond.
I grabbed a Kilimanjaro FASTPASS for 9:40am – 10:40am and hopped in line. Even with all the people here in front of us, I still boarded the Safari at 9:14am. With FASTPASS enforcement and the length of the Safari, you may want to hold off on picking up a set of FASTPASSes until after you disembark, depending on what you want to do. It’s going to be difficult to ride the Safari and make it to Expedition Everest, DINOSAUR, and Primeval Whirl before heading back to the Safari before 10:40am. If you’re planning to head to Camp Minnie-Mickey after or have other business in the area, then it would make more sense to collect a FASTPASS with a return time of 9:40am and 10:40am. If you collected FASTPASSes after disembarking Kilimanjaro around 9:40am, your FASTPASS return time would be 10:20am – 11:20am or so, which is easier to make if you’re headed to Everest and DinoLand next.
The cast member must have seen my “big camera” and assumed (correctly) that I’m sort of a big deal. I got the row to myself so we’ll be able to get pictures from both sides.
Disney just has truck after truck after truck after truck lined up in the morning to help shuttle the masses through the attraction. The wait is really just as long as it takes for the people in front of you to load into a waiting vehicle.
Kilimanjaro Safaris is my personal favorite attraction at Walt Disney World. I love the live narration, driving, and animals. It should be even better when they revamp it later this year and remove that silly animatronic elephant at the end and replace it with zebras.
The rhinos were charging around their area, potentially marking their territory for another day of laying around doing nothing. I like rhinos because they can see less than 50 feet in front of their faces and can charge up to 35 miles per hour. Get out of the way because they ain’t stoppin’. I’ve heard they like bourbon and women, so be extra careful if you’re one of those two things. Wait, I’m getting myself and rhinoceroses mixed up again. Once I start talking about things that can’t see good I get all confused.
Yuppies on the $189-$249/person Wild Africa Trek looking down at a hippopotamus that seems to want nothing more than to eat them. I don’t blame you, hippopotamus. Should you see these sorts of people, it’s more than appropriate to boo and hiss at them. They, along with everyone around you, will truly appreciate it.
Get your finger out of there lady, can’t you tell these pictures are for the Internet? The nerve of some people.
The birds directing the hippopotamus traffic. Do hippos tip well?
I have to assume these crocs are real because they always seem to be lounging on top of each other in a different combination. But they never do anything. Maybe because there aren’t any golf balls to eat?
After the watering hole, the Safari opens up to the savanna.
Looks like this giraffe heard there was a party in the safari vehicle. Sorry giraffe, but this isn’t the party bus. It’s 9:25am!! Okay, it’s the party bus. Hop on, there’s plenty of room next to me. Just watch your head.
I’m all the way zoomed out here and you can (hopefully) see how close the giraffes are to the truck.
A pack of beasts.
This particular safari was light on elephants.
And whatever is supposed to be here.
Didn’t want to chill with you either.
Just the lioness on her rock. The entire savanna is beautiful even without animals.
I’m not sure if you’ve ever met an ostrich in person before, but they are really mean! I feel sorry for them because they don’t operate very well, but if you’re going to be a jerk to me I really don’t care if your wings don’t work!
I would guess these bros are too busy playing Pogs to hang out with us.
As you disembark from your two-week safari, you’ll see the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail to your right. Most people will want to return later, but this is the least busy you’ll find it. Pangani gets more congested than Maharajah Jungle Trek in Asia because there’s less room to move around and so many people visit after riding Kilimanjaro. My favorite time to visit is during the Parade. It basically cuts traffic to Africa until shortly after 4pm, even though the Parade no longer travels through here. I like to get on Kilimanjaro Safaris right at 4pm, before most people that want to see the Parade can get back over here.
The only reason to head to Rafiki’s Planet Watch this early would be if you want a better chance to see some of the veterinary procedures that are more likely to occur in the morning. The Wildlife Express and the Conservation Station/Planet Watch usually begin operating at 9:30am.
I got off Kilimanjaro Safaris at 9:37am, which is about right. This is the line backed up from the entrance to the attraction already.
With a posted wait of 20 minutes and FASTPASS return time 40 minutes in the future at 10:20am – 11:20am. This is one attraction with a wait time more difficult to gauge than most. The line can be out here and the actual wait time can be shorter than if the queue is all the way inside the hut. My guess would be this wait is more like 40 minutes with the amount of people that are around here.
The Tamu Tamu Refreshments breakfast menu if you’re so inclined. Nothing says “Good morning Florida” like a Chocolate Milk Shake and French Toast Sticks. Tonga Toast can suck it.
Baloo and King Louie greeting guests along the trail that connects Africa and Asia. We’ll take a closer look at where this is located a bit later.
They are a ton of fun. The line is usually just two or three groups long, so you get a lot of time with them.
Heading toward Kali River Rapids and Expedition Everest.
The drencher that is Kali River Rapids. Most people will want to walk right by this early in the morning. FASTPASS return is 10:20am – 11:20am with a ten minute posted wait.
Busier over at Everest.
With a 30 minute posted wait and the line out the door. Ordinarily, I would expect that the posted wait would be inflated this early in the morning, but I don’t think that’s the case with this many people in the vicinity. If the crowd level was a 6 or below, we would be able to ride Everest at least once at this time of day with a wait time less than ten minutes. In September, you would be able to ride five or six times with short waits before 11am just because so few people are in the Park.
Single Rider would be viable. We only have about a dozen kids in line.
A lot a lot a lot of people for this time of day.
I opted for FASTPASSes.
I’ve “wrestled” inside my brain with whether it’s smarter to visit Expedition Everest or Kilimanjaro Safaris first thing in the morning. For a long time, I preferred to ride Expedition Everest first and then head over to Kilimanjaro Safaris after. Everest is a much shorter attraction and you could ride once or twice with a short wait in the morning before heading over to the Safari. By the time you arrived, the first wave would be through and wait times were again short. On the flip side, you can do Kilimanjaro Safaris first in the morning and then head over to Everest, where normally you would also find short waits due to a higher capacity.
The smart decision would be to visit based on where you’ll be headed after these two major attractions. If you’re headed to DinoLand USA, you’ll probably want to do Kilimanjaro first and then head over to Everest, which will be on your way to DinoLand. If you’re headed to Camp Minnie-Mickey for the characters or Festival of the Lion King, you’ll want to do Everest first and then Kilimanjaro Safaris, which is on the way to Camp Minnie-Mickey. This would significantly cut down on the walk back and forth between the two attractions. On a day like today when crowds are so heavy, you’re looking at a 30+ minute wait at whichever major attraction you didn’t ride first thing in the morning.
Over at Primeval Whirl, which you’ll want to do prior to DINOSAUR in the morning because its capacity is so much lower. I arrived at 9:57am, rode, and was back out front ten minutes later at 10:07am.
Primeval Whirl is right up there with Space Mountain on my “please don’t make me ride this” list. Whenever I’m riding with another party, I always ask if they’ve ridden before. If they haven’t, I’m sure to let them know that it sucks so that they aren’t surprised. Somehow I think the theming is underrated though. This image is a good example of that.
Please don’t make me get in.
Is there a chicken exit?
I’ve reconciled with the burned out lightbulbs here and I’ve decided that they just add to the run-down ambiance of the attraction. The TouringPlans Memorial Advisory is lifted and it’s now safe to ride Primeval Whirl! If you’re insane, that is!
There’s no wait for nearby TriceraTop Spin. This is a good choice for the kids while others in the group ride DINOSAUR and/or Primeval Whirl. The Boneyard Playground is right around the corner too.
No rush to get over here, even with the number of people we saw elsewhere. Multiple dinos are flying empty. Sad for them.
There’s a lot more coming, INCLUDING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Lunch. Getting denied at Kilimanjaro after trying to use our 9:40am – 10:40am FASTPASS at precisely 10:45am. Finding Nemo the Musical. Some nice pictures of Everest and the surrounding countryside. AND MORE!