We pick things up from Part One, where we began the day with Flight of Passage during Extra Extra Magic Hours, which began at 7am. The Park will host the same Extra Extra Magic Hour every day through November 2nd for those eligible for Extra Magic Hours.
It’s 8:38am on the morning of Thursday, September 5th, 2019. As a reminder, this is where I’ve been:
- Flight of Passage: 7:09am – 7:37am
- Flight of Passage: 7:37am – 8:06am
- Na’vi River Journey: 8:07am – 8:20am
- Na’vi River Journey: 8:20am – 8:31am
Considering the average wait at Avatar Flight of Passage is still more than two hours, with Na’vi River Journey’s average still around 60 minutes, I’ve saved about six hours in line during just the first 90 minutes of operation. My total wait for my two River Journey rides was about 90 seconds – only the time it took for the gates to open on the next arriving boat. At Flight of Passage, I waited about ten minutes each time before entering the first pre-show room.
It’s worth noting again that September 5th would have naturally been one of the 15 or 20 least crowded days of the year on its own, but with Hurricane Dorian passing the day before, it will probably end up being one of the five least crowded days of the year. Still, the order of attractions that we visit is the same regardless of when you visit. With more people on hand for Extra Extra Magic Hours, only one ride on Flight of Passage may be viable. You won’t want to get in the standby line after 8:05am as those guests who are ineligible for Extra Extra Magic Hours will arrive at that time. The actual wait for Na’vi River Journey won’t hit ten minutes until at least 8:30am, so you’ve got more of an opportunity to get over there. Originally, my plan was to ride Flight of Passage once and River Journey twice, before moving on to Kilimanjaro Safaris around 8am when it opens. I’m a little behind that schedule because of the second ride on Flight of Passage, but it won’t end up mattering as we move forward on what is the least crowded I’ve seen Animal Kingdom since September of 2012 or 2013.
If you’re ineligible for Extra Extra Magic Hours, then I would plan on doing Flight of Passage with FastPass+ or last thing at night if you can. If you’d like more information on what to expect late at night, see this post. Those who get in line a couple of minutes before the Park officially closes should wait between 35 and 50 minutes most days. With the low turnout for Extra Extra Magic Hours, riding Flight of Passage first thing remains viable if you’re among the first couple hundred people to arrive after the Park opens to all, but FastPass+ will be in use from 8am onward, which means much less of the ride’s capacity will go to standby. And by the time you’re done, after about an hour, wait times will begin to creep up at other priority attractions. You could still very easily begin your day at Na’vi River Journey, which will take about 18 minutes, and then continue on to Safaris or elsewhere from there.
40 minutes into operation, there’s a handful of people headed to the Safaris.
At 8:45am, the posted wait is 5 minutes. On a busier day, it could be as high as 15 minutes with the wait climbing relatively quickly beginning at 9:15am. You’ll want to be here before 9am, unless you’re visiting the day after a hurricane.
Despite seeing some number of people walking in this direction, they were having trouble finding enough people to fill the trucks. Not only did I have the row to myself, but there’s nobody currently waiting for the next truck.
I only had my 35mm lens with me, so these pictures are going to be pretty lackluster, but it was fun to see the rhino out and facing us. Usually they’re towards the back of the enclosure facing the wall.
You can see the dogs better in the full size version.
We saw Jabari, the youngest member of the tower.
It’s breakfast time on the savanna.
Looks like she’s hustling so she doesn’t get charged that $10 no-show fee.
At least three mandrills were out playing.
An elephant is out on a stroll.
The lion’s alarm is set for 4pm. This is one guy that isn’t going to make it to Extra Extra Magic Hours. With the early morning, you’ll probably want to take a break as early as noon. That’s five great hours of touring. You can spend some time recharging and then potentially head out in the evening to enjoy some more easy touring or see one of the nighttime spectaculars.
These guys have no idea what time it is, where they are, how to fly, or what they’re supposed to be doing.
Imagine being able to run 35 miles per hour, but only being able to see 30 feet in front of you. Actually, most of us probably operate in a similar fashion.
“What you see with your eyes, you feel in your heart.” – Brian, the Safari driver guy
It’s a little too early for that, Brian pic.twitter.com/diQDfGNOza
— josh (@easywdw) September 5, 2019
We enjoyed a safari that may have been a little more existential than I would have liked before my third Irish Coffee of the day.
We arrived at 8:45am, and were back out front at 9:17am, for a total experience time of 32 minutes. That’s just about the absolute minimum amount of time that the ride takes. Moving forward, I’d expect the actual wait to come in between ten and fifteen minutes. It’s posted at ten here, with the likelihood that you could still walk right on.
Speaking of Irish Coffees, Kusafiri will sell you one with Conor McGregor’s Whiskey, Proper 12. A number of outlets have stopped carrying it since the fighter recently punched some poor older gentleman at a bar. On the other hand, if anyone actually saw the carnage from all of the elbows I throw…well…I’m not sure what else they could take from me.
Dawa Bar was closed, which “feels” like it should be illegal.
One of my favorite details here is that “Imported Beers” are the ones that are brewed here in the United States, since we’re actually in Harambe:
My least favorite thing is seeing Beso Del Sol Sangria on any menu. $10 is more than half of the price of a 3-liter box.
Sadly, all of the cocktails are pre-mixed now, but the Ngumu Jungle Juice is still pretty good. Thirsty River Bar near Expedition Everest is currently my favorite outdoor bar at the Park. Nomad Lounge is still your most relaxing bet.
There are people out there who will have visited on this day and told you that it was crowded.
As usual, Mahindi Popcorn across from Tamu Tamu Refreshments offers the widest assortment of popcorn buckets and other various souvenir vessels. We’ve got a newish souvenir Canteen on the left, next to the drum popcorn bucket with the Hakuna Matata sipper above it. There’s an Alien Straw hanging off the disposable Halloween popcorn carton with the souvenir popcorn bucket underneath. Then a poison apple cup and popcorn bucket on the right. All of the items together would set you back more than $80.
The Tam Tam Drummers appear at 9am, and again at 9:15am. On a day like today, you’d basically have them to yourself.
I thought this was supposed to be a low crowd time.
I lamented the grey, washed out sky. But it beats a hurricane.
UP! A Great Bird Adventure is again closed for script rewrites. This may be the third such closure. They could just go back to Flights of Wonder.
“UP! A Great Bird Adventure will go on a brief hiatus in mid-September as we prepare some updates to the show. It is planned to return with even more fun, while continuing to feature a cast of exotic birds along with Russell and Dug from the Disney and Pixar film Up.”
The show should return September 22nd.
Yak & Yeti Local Foods Cafe continues serving breakfast with the following menu:
At least this Breakfast Burrito is no longer on the menu, replaced by what I’m sure are questionable Breakfast Bowls. I’ll try it again the next time I’m looking to spend $15 on weighing myself down before I’m usually awake on terrible food. That might be sooner than you’d expect.
I’m on my way to Expedition Everest, but it’s so humid that a stop at Kali River Rapids before 10am might not be the worst thing. You might even have the raft to yourself.
At this point, I’ve been in the Park for almost two and a half hours, and the walkway still looks like this. It certainly would have been interesting to see how things would have panned out without the hurricane complication. But I’ll be at Extra Extra Magic Hours at Hollywood Studios again this week along with a visit to Magic Kingdom’s version. We’ll take a look at those experiences next. If crowds are “artificially” low, there isn’t a whole lot I can do about it. This may just be a reminder about how good things can be. And while crowds certainly are at the lowest levels that we’ve seen in years, part of that “feel” is due to the early opens.
Regardless of whether the Park opens at 7am for Extra Magic Hours or 9am for a regular open, there’s going to be a similar number of people in the Park come 10am. I’m willing to arrive at 6:30am for the 7am open, but I’d also arrive at 7:45am for a 9am open. The people arriving at 9:30am are going to do so whether the Park opens at 7am or 9am. Part of the difference in “crowd feel” and wait times comes down to the number of people who are already moving on to secondary attractions and experiences come later in the morning. Here at 9:30am, I’ve already done both Pandora rides, and Kilimanjaro Safaris, and I’m no longer in line waiting and increasing the wait for those attractions in front of everyone who arrived after me. With the 7am Extra Extra Magic Hour and 8am regular open, you’re giving everyone who arrived that early an easy opportunity to quickly experience the popular attractions before the droves arrive. But because those who arrived early are already on their way, everyone who arrives later will also wait less, because fewer people who arrived earlier will still be in line in front of them. I’m nowhere near Pandora at 9:30am with the 7am Extra Extra Magic Hour. With a 9am open, I would still be in Pandora, taking up space and making wait times longer.
Fortunately, not a whole lot of people are this far ahead of the game at this point.
An hour and a half after the Park opened to everyone, and two and a half hours after I entered, the wait for Everest is still just five minutes.
That’s below the 15-minute average over the last two weeks at the same time of day. But even a 15-minute wait wouldn’t be too bad at this point, and if I hadn’t ridden Flight of Passage and River Journey a second time each, I’d also be arriving here earlier in the morning.
In my original plan, I was going to get here around 8:50am.
But even now, trains are leaving the station less than half full.
We waited behind one other pair for the front row:
I’m back out front 14 minutes later at 9:44am.
On my first ride, cast were sending everyone through FastPass+, because the walk is shorter and people have the opportunity to board faster, increasing throughput.
I got back in line and, this time, we were sent through standby.
I usually use FastPass+, so it was a bit of a treat:
Now accepting any row, my total experience time was under ten minutes.
Things are picking up a bit. I could easily walk back on Everest a couple more times if I wanted.
But I’m old and tired.
So we’ll head to DinoLand USA.
With not a lot of other people.
You’ll find just two rides in DinoLand these days.
Primeval Whirl has been closed since June 17th for “unplanned maintenance.” Currently, DisneyWorld.com shows the ride operating again on September 29th, but the reopening date has been pushed back multiple times already. Disney has not said why the ride has closed, but there was a serious accident involving a young guest falling out of a similar ride vehicle at Lightwater Valley in England. We’ll see if the ride reopens in a few weeks.
What a life pic.twitter.com/A2N4rpgg6s
— josh (@easywdw) September 5, 2019
There was no wait for TriceraTop Spin, with only about a third of the dinosaurs occupied.
DINOSAUR’s wait times have also lagged considerably since Extra Extra Magic Hours took over, with the posted wait rarely exceeding ten minutes before 10am. That’s what’s posted here at 10:07am.
We filed right into the pre-show.
And there was “literally” nobody waiting to board in the next room:
Arriving back at the station at 10:18am, there is nobody waiting to replace me on-board.
I could easily ride again with no wait. My total experience time ended up being 14 minutes, which may be my lowest ever recorded.
TriceraTop Spin remains empty.
Primeval Whirl is still closed.
While all of that is normal, the line for Donald Duck being just two groups long is far below average. Even if the rides in the area are walk-ons, you’ll typically see at least 25 people waiting to meet Donald after 10am.
At this point, I had done everything that I wanted to do as far as rides are concerned.
Summing things up:
- Flight of Passage: 7:09am – 7:37am
- Flight of Passage: 7:37am – 8:06am
- Na’vi River Journey: 8:07am – 8:20am
- Na’vi River Journey: 8:20am – 8:31am
- Kilimanjaro Safaris: 8:45am – 9:17am
- Expedition Everest front row: 9:31am – 9:44am
- Expedition Everest: 9:45am – 9:54am
- TriceraTop Spin: 10am – 10:05am
- DINOSAUR: 10:07am – 10:21am
I waited about ten minutes for each ride on Flight of Passage, followed by about a minute for each ride on River Journey. We walked right on Kilimanjaro Safaris before waiting about four minutes to ride in the front row at Everest. My second ride on Everest was basically a walk-on, as were TriceraTop Spin and DINOSAUR. I could ride either DinoLand ride again if I wanted.
The above is the best case scenario during the period that Extra Extra Magic Hours is offered, now through November 2nd. On a busier day, what I achieved should still be possible, with the exception of the second ride on Flight of Passage. In order to stay ahead of the crowds, you’d likely want to skip that, not only because you’d wait longer than I did when you get back in line around 7:40am, but also because you’ll then arrive at each of the following attractions later in the morning, after more people have had an opportunity to arrive and fill the queues. Of course, you could also ride Flight of Passage a second time and then skip River Journey or Kilimanjaro Safaris and instead use Fastpass+ there later in the day. I didn’t use any FP+ myself, so I could instead book them at a different Park or for later in the afternoon, when appreciable waits would have an opportunity to accumulate.
I decided to take a walk around the Park to see if crowds had demonstrably increased.
And that really did not appear to be the case.
While it’s fun to experience the Parks with so few people, it’s not so great for the content of this website. Typically, I like to visit on a day with above-average crowds and show off why our touring strategies are so efficient. Ideally, I’d arrive at Expedition Everest in time to wait just a couple of minutes and then an hour later, the wait would be much longer. On a day like this, I could have shown up to Everest at 10:30am, or three and a half hours after the Park opened to those eligible for EEMH, and walked right on. Of course, I didn’t do much hurrying either. At 10:30am, Everest’s average wait is 41 minutes over the last couple of years. During the Extra Extra Magic Hours period, which began August 29th, the average is just 12 minutes.
I guarantee you that someone in this picture thought this was a crazy crowded day.
At 10:37am, Safaris is still posting ten minutes. The average is an hour over the last couple of years. During the EEMH period, it’s just 25 minutes.
Work continues on what we’re expecting to be the Club 33 location at Animal Kingdom.
This is on the walkway over to Pandora from Africa, just to the left of the Festival of the Lion King theater.
And near the restrooms.
It is pretty over here. At one point, it was expected that Club 33 would be attached to Tiffins and likely use the same kitchen. This looks like it will have to be its own thing.
Ordinarily, I wouldn’t be able to access Pandora from Africa before 11am because the line for Flight of Passage would still be backed up across the bridge. That is not the case today with the ride showing a standby wait of just 40 minutes at 10:45am.
That’s less than a third of the average.
River Journey’s posted wait is typically about half of Flight of Passage’s, but it’s only a five-minute difference here.
For Flight of Passage to have an actual wait of 45 minutes, with FastPass+ in the picture, there would need to be only about 250 people in line.
Looking at the Tree of Life at 10:55am, it’s unlikely that we’ll see this few people for a very long time.
Even without the hurricane threat, crowds would have been at the lowest levels of the year.
Outside the Park, things are a bit of a mess at the moment. The old tram loop is closed.
A temporary loop is in use instead, much further away from the entrance.
You’ll find yourself walking along here.
Walls separate the walkway to the bus stops and the parking lot.
Here’s the old tram pick-up/drop-off, which dropped off guests much closer to the entrance than the buses. The current drop-off is probably about even with the further bus stops.
It seems likely that we’ll see changes similar to Hollywood Studios, where bag check is moved further away from the entrance tapstiles and the tram drops off guests over to the side, instead of directly in front.
During the work, the walkway here may be walled off. Ordinarily, right where that arrow is located, is the drop-off/pick-up area for Uber/Lyft/etc.
The rideshare area has moved out into the parking lot in the interim. It makes some amount of sense since vehicles have to travel around this way to exit, anyway. But it is farther away.
In a move that doesn’t “feel” like it’s the safest option, guests are routed through the parking lot and around the walls in order to get to the entrance.
Hopefully the project will move quickly, but it seems like the sort of thing that’s going to take Disney another six months to complete, with a number of different configurations and entrance patterns over the course of the project. While I was sent walking through the parking lot on this visit, I was told to do exactly the opposite the week before.
Crowds should remain low for the next three weeks, before things pick up a bit heading into the heart of October.
We’ll return to Disney’s Hollywood Studios for another set of Extra Extra Magic Hours there and then stop by Magic Kingdom to see what a 7am EEMH gets us at the most popular theme park in the world. We’ll return to Animal Kingdom in early October as well.