Fair warning before you embark on this post because it may be plagued with even more spelling errors, poor grammatical choices, and directional inaccuracies than usual. I’m typing this up from the emergency room because this seven+ page DIS thread caused my eyes to roll so far back in my head that the doctors are not sure they’ll be able to restore my sight.
Animal Kingdom is celebrating Christmas avec Camp Minnie-Mickey for the last time. Hopefully whatever the characters from Avatar are called will look good with wreaths around their necks and Christmas lights on their dwellings come 2027.
It’s 2:22pm on Thursday November 14th.
Animal Kingdom was not a recommended Park. Per the Crowd Calendar:
Animal Kingdom is not recommended. While it’s true we’re coming off a popular day yesterday thanks to the morning Extra Magic Hour, it won’t do much to sway the sizable off-site contingent interested in visiting after first going to Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios earlier in the week. Since Animal Kingdom is Disney World’s least favorite theme park and the most likely to be pushed back, people tend to visit when there’s less going on elsewhere. We don’t have evening entertainment at Magic Kingdom this evening and the short hours won’t be attracting anyone. Magic Kingdom’s morning Extra Magic Hour won’t have its usual effect because so many Disney resort guests will see the 7pm close and ignore the Extra Magic Hour. Hollywood Studios will not be attracting large crowds with the 4pm close. With several recommended days around us, there’s really no reason to chance Animal Kingdom. With nothing specific attracting guests, you can still have success should you not be able to schedule Animal Kingdom on a recommended day. Arrive prior to opening, take care of Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest first thing or use FASTPASS, and get over to DinoLand before 10:30am and you should be golden. But crowds and waits will be higher than recommended days.
These wait times aren’t particularly atrocious in the grand scheme of things, but the longest wait at the same time on the following (recommended) day was 15 minutes at Everest. FASTPASS is also gone at Safaris and Everest, which is unusual with more than three hours until close. Unfortunately, it looks like it’s going to be ever so slightly more difficult to make fun of Touring Plans as they apparently no longer recommend any of the theme parks on any day and have done away with their decimal points. Plausible deniability, I suppose. As always, you can follow wait times and legacy FASTPASS return times in real time at www.easywdw.com/waits. You may also notice that comments are enabled on this post, as ridiculous as they’ve been recently.
Dug must have seen me approaching as he hastily pulled down this cover as I approached.
Never fear, the website will continue to capture the shot. I bought this zoom lens on the way home.
Mickey and Minnie are greeting in the same holiday sweaters as they used to wear at Camp Minnie-Mickey here at the Adventurer’s Outpost. Wait times are up slightly as signage has helped steer people towards the mice. That’s a 40 minute wait just before 2:30pm. Animal Kingdom really only has two FastPass+ priorities in the fall/winter – Expedition Everest and Kilimanjaro Safaris (in that order). You may want to use your third at the Adventurer’s Outpost since FP+ is more or less useless at the various shows. Kali River Rapids will be the highest FP+ priority in the summer when it’s more popular, but that’s less of a concern with highs in the mid-70s. Otherwise, try to meet Mickey and Minnie in the first or last hour of operation. Schedule your FP+ attractions now if you can because the tier system can’t be far off.
Festival of the Lion King construction in Africa in the distance. You can more or less take it to the bank that the last performances will be January 5th and the show will not resume in Africa until June. There’s always the possibility that “plans changed – Jim Hill” but I wouldn’t bet on it.
Lunch is at Yak & Yeti. The website has a more detailed review in this post, so I will not bore you with another look around.
It’s a pretty neat restaurant though. And perhaps more importantly, it features conditioned air. Temperatures are pleasant for the most part these days, but sitting outside eating at the quick service arm is nearly unbearable in July.
This is a Landry’s restaurant, which is the same parent company as Bubba Gump, Claim Jumper, Morton’s, Rainforest Cafe, T-Rex, and others. Yak & Yeti is one of the few restaurants that doesn’t accept the Tables in Wonderland discount. They do take 10% off entrees with an Annual Pass or Disney Vacation Club membership though. Cast members also receive 20% off food.
Jimmy N joins us for lunch again. People occasionally ask what the people I mention look like and I’m happy to oblige. I think it helps to know what you’re dealing with.
Jimmy ordered the Kobe Beef Burger – 10 oz. grilled American Kobe beef burger, sesame-soy mayonnaise, crispy shoestring fries. Topped with choice of shiitake mushrooms and scallion compote or Asian slaw – $18.99.
That’s about $8 more than your typical quick service burger. James enjoyed the burger, saying it was much higher quality than the usual quick service fare, but the slaw on top didn’t add much flavor. At ten ounces, it’s considerably more food than what I’m sure are Disney’s 17% lean burgers.
The fries are crispier, better seasoned, and at least “feel” like less of a gut bomb than the quick service variety.
Lisa ordered the Shrimp Lo Mein – noodles, carrots, cabbage, green onions, bean sprouts – $19.99. I’m not sure how obvious it is, but this is a heaping pile of noodles with at least 30 smallish shrimp. The noodles and shrimp were cooked well – no gumminess (not a word) or other malignancies.
I ordered the Maple Tamarind Chicken – Seared chicken breast, Indonesian tamarind glaze, coconut-ginger rice, baby bok choy, shiitake mushroom stir-fry $19.99.
This may look like a lot of chicken, but it really wasn’t as it’s propped up by mushrooms underneaf – it was only six or seven bites. The chicken was on the dry side and the tamarind glaze had a subtle, sweet flavor.
The rice wasn’t any better – dry and bland. And the mushroom stir fry was greasy, gummy, and flavorless.
I realize that isn’t a particularly positive indictment. On the plus side, the restaurant is fun and service is generally friendly. While I’m not enthusiastic about what I was served, I wouldn’t regret it over choosing outdoor fare at a lower price point, particularly when afternoon temperatures are 85+ degrees. We didn’t have a reservation and were seated within three minutes, which is another plus. That isn’t guaranteed, but it’s a gigantic restaurant and they’re usually ready to meet demand.
Plus fortune cookies.
We arrived at the restaurant at 2:30pm and made our way over to Expedition Everest at 3:52pm. That’s not a particularly quick one-course meal, but our server disappeared for a while before bringing back the check.
Animal Kingdom was closing at 6pm. Crowds wane as it gets later in the afternoon, with a ton of people leaving before or right after the 3:45pm Parade. With the early close and no nighttime entertainment to speak of, few people Park Hop over in the afternoon and this is still the only website that advocates a late arrival in order to take advantage of short waits in the last two hours.
MyMagic+ related screens in the queue, offering the most authentic Tibetan experience possible:
Although the screens do feature digital bugs flying around.
Foliage has grown in, to the delight of our horticulturist friends at MAGIC I’m sure.
Everest took a total of 20 minutes. Ideally, you’d put it off until the final hour to find even shorter waits. Or visit on the recommended Friday when the posted wait was 5 minutes.
A pretty long line for TriceraTop Spin, but this queue will be full on a non-recommended day over Thanksgiving. Actual waits here are 15 minutes or so.
20 for Whirl.
DinoLand sees a few decorations for the holidays as Santa Goofy greets with Pluto here.
The characters meet from 11am through 30 minutes before regular Park close, which gives you plenty of time to hit the major attractions before arriving. I’d get here by 10:45am to minimize waits. The backdrop isn’t quite as good as Hollywood Studios during Osborne Lights, but you have the added benefit of Pluto and a wait that’s 15 to 20 minutes instead of 60 to 90 minutes.
DINOSAUR was listed at 10 minutes. As in the past, DINOSAUR FASTPASSes may or may not be disconnected from the rest of the system, meaning you can collect them along with any other attraction at the same time. I’d only risk it if you already have FASTPASSes for a higher priority attraction as you might get stuck with only DINOSAUR if they end up being connected. Waits at DINOSAUR should be less than 20 minutes before 11am and after 4pm, so FASTPASS isn’t necessary if you arrive at an intelligent time.
If you were Noah, which dinosaurs would you have selected for the Ark?
We arrived at 4:24pm with the 10 minute posted wait. The pre-show started at 4:29pm.
And we were off the ride and I was looking at this hat with ears and attached mittens at 4:43pm. The ride looked to be in pretty good condition to me.
This is the last year for Christmas at Camp Minnie-Mickey.
Hopefully they can find another spot for the trees:
Maybe they can do a scavenger hunt around the Park or something.
For whatever it’s worth, the hot dog kiosk that used to serve ice cream now serves pretzels.
Chip, Dale, Donald, Baloo, King Louie, and Pocahontas continue greeting here. The characters not named Pocahontas have scarfs and hats. Surprisingly, lines for Pocahontas tend to be longest now that she appears in a hut. When she greeted off to the side, the line was rarely longer than a dozen people. Characters typically appear first at 10am. Arriving at 9:50am will result in the shortest waits. If you can’t arrive early, try to visit about five minutes before a Lion King show starts. At the end of a show, the area is flooded and lines swell.
Walls are up all around Discovery Island.
With all the complaints about MyMagic+, Animal Kingdom guest services looks to have closed up shop. Actually they’re still open because Disney refuses to transfer any of the poor cast members that work there.
Disney had been testing a direct route from Animal Kingdom to Downtown Disney, but that ended last month.
Switching gears, we arrive at Epcot at 5:41pm. Walls are down on the old turnstiles, which should result in shorter lines at Park opening.
The 20 to 25 minute line from 10:30am – 2pm has dropped to 10 to 15 people.
I wish this violinist would play at Guest Services whenever someone showed up to whine about something ridiculous.
The main wait times board hasn’t worked for some number of days. Not sure if they’ve fixed it since Thursday.
As mentioned a couple weeks ago, Club Cool has a new set of flavors. They are all good in my opinion, but you’re talking to someone that has built up an immunity to Beverly. Perhaps the oldest trick in the book is recommending Beverly to some poor unsuspecting tourist. When you’ve built an immunity, you can take a sip, smile, and thank them for their recommendation. Blowing minds in the process.
I can’t imagine they sell many Coca-Colas here, but they’re available along with frozen beverages.
Club Cool is located just past Fountain View Starbucks on the right as you walk toward World Showcase.
Character Spot hit 35 minutes earlier in the day, but waits have dropped to 10 here in the evening. The website continues recommending a visit as late in the evening as possible. It continues operating through Park close.
Now that Orlando is dark by 6pm, you have a rare opportunity to ride Living with the Land in the dark.
While the beginning is the same.
The greenhouse sections are a different experience in the dark.
Back when Test Track was under refurbishment and management instructed cast members to lie about The Land Pavilion staying open until 10pm, I rode Living with the Land “literally” by myself. That’s a pretty eerie experience.
The newest Epcot attraction – a working escalator.
I feel like the five bars around the Test Track marquee indicate it’s a playground area for kids.
Test Track has its usual 60 minute standby with single rider at 20.
This was the furthest back I had ever seen single rider backed up.
Spaceship Earth at 60 mph. It ended up being 15 minutes from the time we got in line to the time we were seated in a SimCar.
Anna and Elsa from Frozen continue meeting in the Puffin’s Roost in Norway.
With Akershus Banquet Hall taking breakfast reservations as early as 8am, guests are free to walk to Norway at their leisure before World Showcase officially opens at 11am. Lines for the characters build as early as 10:30am. To minimize waits as much as possible, you want to be in line by 10:40am. That may be a hassle with the headlining attractions in Future World also a priority. Otherwise, be prepared to wait 45 to 70 minutes later in the day.
This is 7:31pm, which is one minute after the character are officially scheduled to depart for the evening, but the line is still open with an actual wait around 15 minutes. If Anna/Elsa aren’t necessarily a “must do,” but you’d like to meet them if possible, you may want to risk heading over around 7:20pm. They should have a shorter wait than any other part of the day, but the line may also be closed.
A lousy picture of Spice Road Table, which is supposedly opening by the end of the year.
Refreshment Port’s menu now that the Food and Wine Festival is over.
I enjoyed the Pineapple Fritters which remain on the menu. You could do a lot worse for two bucks. Looks like the Bacardi Mojito is no longer available.
Promenade Refreshments, which is located on the right as you walk toward Canada, is serving a blurry menu for the holidays. In related news, the Canada Cart is still selling Unibroue beer, but probably only until their Food/Wine supply runs out.
It may be the poor light, but the Savory Seasonal Waffle – Turkey Waffle with Stuffing, Butter, Gravy, and Cranberry Relish is not particularly attractive.
I’m sad to report that it didn’t taste any better than it looks. The thin waffle had the texture of sand paper and the turkey was cheap lunch meat. The gravy and relish added more mess than flavor and there wasn’t enough stuffing to make a discernible difference. However, the waffle I ordered may or may not have been the first one they ever made. Well, the waffles are pre-made sitting cold in a refrigerator all day and they’re pressed “fresh,” but they really didn’t have any idea what they were doing. You might have better luck.
The $2.49 Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate hit the spot though.
I’m spending some time updating older content and then it’s crowd calendar updates come Monday.