By the time we got back to our hotel after catching the last monorail of the night it was probably about 2am, but by an act of Disney magic the next morning we were up bright and early and couldn't care less. I was actually wide awake somehow... probably because I knew that we were headed to the Happiest Place on Earth! Brit was wide awake too knowing that she was only 24 hours away from her happiest place on earth.
We knew that rain was in the forecast so our plans were sort of all over the place. We knew we were starting the day at Animal Kingdom since I had reserved Kilimanjaro Safari and Navi River Journey for the morning 30 days out but that was really the extent of our planning for most of the day. We also had an Everest FastPass for that night which I think I ended up cancelling.
Anyway, we didn't bother to get to the park right at rope drop since it was a late night before but we were pretty close and decided to start off with Everest since we assumed basically everyone would be over in Pandora (but we had no reason to go there since we had a River Journey Fastpass and a plan to ride Flight of Passage right at close which was a strategy that Robb had been preaching for weeks).
Good Morning! Just in-case you forgot that you were in the most insane and amazing theme park ever, these birds just fly around the midways in a circle every day to greet the guests.
We made our way over to Everest and were greeted with a short 15 minute wait. This ride is just exceptionally good. I covered my thoughts on it in that last report, but I was really happy to get another ride in despite the crappy forecast and it only solidified the fact that this is my new favorite coaster on WDW property. What a home run...
After (yet another) insane Everest ride, it was time to make our way over to Kilimanjaro Safari for our Fastpass reservation. This meant walking into the Africa section which was the only area of the park we didn't manage to hit the previous day. As was the case with the rest of the park, this area was flat out gorgeous. The level of detail here and in Harambe market is just so, so good. This is an area where the park really shines at making things look bad on purpose (which looks awesome). Again, that's a direct contradiction but nothing in this park makes any sense. It defies the laws of awesome.
One thing I need to say about this ride is that it has to be the most amazing operation I've ever seen in a theme park. Not only are there tons of vehicles, but there are tons of unload platforms also and I have no idea how they coordinate all of this. I wouldn't be shocked if this ride has well over 100 "ride operators" and it's amazing how quickly they move people through this thing (especially when you're used to Six Flags). The fact that the truck itself can open and close the gates rather than at Great Adventure where they need to have the ops manually open and close a giant cage thing really helps with operations also. They don't mess around when it comes to efficiency.
Another thing I found interesting was that the driver also serves as a guide while at Great Adventure they have someone sitting back with the riders doing this. It's actually shocking that Great Adventure doesn't do this since they could eliminate a lot of labor in a pretty sensible way. I almost feel like the chains operate in the exact opposite way that I would expect them to in that regard.
Satans Hockey wrote:Did you get a chance to ride the safari for the next report? I'm curious to see what you thought of it and how it compares to great adventure. It's one thing I think great adventure actually beats Disney at because I feel like you get much closer to all the animals at great adventure. Both are still fantastic though.
Okay, so let's talk about this.
Kilimanjaro Safari's is a beautiful attraction with insane, highly immersive theming. You really FEEL like you're on an African Safari. Things like the foliage, bridges and rock formations for the lions (that I believe are heated to encourage them to get up there) are amazing. Great Adventure's ride feels like you're riding around New Jersey in a safari park with huge fences around it, this ride makes you feel like you're in Africa.
That said, Great Adventure's ride is longer and they have a better selection of animals. The bear section is one of the highlights at Great Adventure and I don't recall seeing bears on this ride. To be fair, this ride has Cheetahs (though they are far away) so it has a few unique things also but Great Adventure does win in terms of ride duration and the selection of animals.
I can't really pick a favorite. I'm tempted to say Kilimanjaro but that's probably just because it's different. Both are amazing experiences for different reasons and the two rides actually feel very different to me.
After Kilimanjaro we had really ridden everything we needed to ride at Animal Kingdom between this day and the previous day so we decided to open up the show schedule and see what was playing. We had the opportunity to see the Nemo show which I hear is amazing, but the Lion King show was also playing before we needed to be at River Journey for our Fastpass and since it was close by and we liked the movie better, it was an easy call.
We made our way over and were immediately directed to the front row (seriously? awesome!). I won't go into much detail but it was a really fun show. Basically it's a sing-along with acrobatics, animatronics and just the right amount of dancing for people like us who can appreciate it, but would generally rather die than watch a dance show.
If you've seen the show on Broadway, this really has a pretty similar vibe to that with less of an emphasis on storyline and more of an emphasis on acrobatics (if that makes sense).
I highly recommend this show. They roll in some awesome animatronics on floats right next to the seating areas and the performers interact with the crowd a lot so you're right on top of the action and it feels really immersive. There's no story but everyone already knows the story. It's pretty much just a giant Lion King party with (obviously) fun music and it's a great excuse to get off of your feet and into the air conditioning for a bit. The show also has a TON of showtimes so it would probably be a welcome escape from the daily summer storms also since there's pretty much always another show starting within 30ish minutes.
What a fun show!
Not only was the show tremendously entertaining, but it also served it's purpose of filling our gap before our River Journey Fastpass window so as we left the theater we started to make our way over to Pandora. Apparently this pathway to Pandora from Africa is new, but you wouldn't know it because it's absolutely gorgeous and everything is fully grown in.
As is the case from the other entrance, the transition is very gradual into Pandora and everything is seamless. I was worried that it wouldn't have that same "Wow" factor in the middle of the day, but I can confirm that it's still completely amazing.
River Journey was once again posting a massive wait time, and once again we were on within 5 minutes with Fastpass. Our second ride was just as great as the first, but (like last time), the people behind us were openly bitching to anyone who was willing to listen once we hit the unload platform. I REALLY like this ride and I think it's a great attraction so it's a shame to see that. Hopefully when the hype dies down a bit and the lines get a bit more reasonable people will start to appreciate this ride for what it is.
This animatronic is so amazing...
After River Journey we decided that since we had hit everything at Animal Kingdom except for Flight of Passage and since we were still holding 2 skip the line passes for Magic Kingdom we would make our way back there for the afternoon. The sky was looking ominous and we knew that they had much more to offer in terms of indoor rides than Animal Kingdom so it seemed like the sensible thing to do.
I cancelled our reservation for Everest that afternoon and messed around on the app on the way out to the car, eventually scoring Big Thunder Mountain Fastpasses. We knew the weather was iffy, but that was too appealing to pass up.
We opted to take the tram back to the car and (by some miracle) we managed to get to the entrance, get on the tram and have it drop us off before the rains came. We knew what general section we parked in but were unsure of the exact location of the car. Unfortunately, while we were looking the heavens opened up in ridiculous fashion and we got completely dumped on. Oh well, we knew it was a risk. We finally found the ugly A$$ rental car, but by the time we did we were soaked to the bone. Whatever... we didn't let that dampen our fun and we began our drive over to the TTC where the sun was shining and it still hadn't rained. God... Florida is really something else.
Up Next: Magic Kingdom Part 2 and an Animal Kingdom Encore with Robb!