Journey 2: Animal Kingdom AKA Pandora, Dinos, and Yetis
It's about time I update this thread again. Albeit, almost a year after taking the trip. And some of you thought that coasterbill was a procrastinator when it came to writing up trip reports.
It was my last semester of college before graduation. The school was sponsoring a trip to Animal Kingdom. So I knew I had to go before leaving Tampa for the utter cold that is Minnesota.
The first thing I had to do after getting my ticket was download the My Disney Experience App on my phone to hopefully get fastpasses for River Journey. But since my phone at the time was a piece of crap, the app was incompatible with my device.
Whatever, since I wouldn't be able to sync my ticket with the app until I was at the park gates anyway. In the days leading up to the trip, I was keeping an eye on the weather: 80% chance of thunderstorms. And the trip would be during the Star Wars Marathon weekend. The initial plan was to leave early enough to rope-drop the park, though it was pushed back an hour.
Day of the trip comes, knowing how much I hate walking around in wet shoes, I make the decision to wear my new sandals and leave my point and shoot camera behind in favor of my POS phone camera.
We make good time from Tampa, arriving about an hour after the park opens.
I'm about to graduate college but what am I going to do first?
I'm going to Disney World!
When we get off the busses, we're given bottles of water, single meal passes at one of several quick-service establishments, and fanny packs, because who doesn't love fanny packs?
My first stop is the fast pass kiosk to see what I can get. *Steve Harvey Voice* Survey says...
Nothing really at this point.
Knowing the forecast, and seeing some dark-ish clouds overhead, my first stop needs to be Everest in case it closes down for weather.
On the way, I said Wingapo to Pocahontas.
Then I made a mistake.
I hadn't ridden these spinning mice yet. And being a credit whore with an eye on the weather, I hopped in a way longer line than a mouse deserves. Especially one this crap. How is the Kissimmee spinning mouse so much better?
Now in pain, there was no longer denying destiny.
I jumped in a 40 minute single-rider line.
Oh great, is that snow up there? I came here to get away from the snow. At least it should cool me off as we climb the mountain.
As someone who spent the last couple years ride operating, I was thoroughly impressed at how quickly they could get trains out. It helped that the ride had no seatbelts--which I spent way too much time looking for. And then we were off on an expedition up the mountain.
I'd ridden the ride back in 2010, but I forgot how intense it was. But more importantly, it was fun. Totally getting in on the story and just having fun with the story and experience.
Practicing my Prozach point. Please don't arrest me for stealing it.
Then I headed back into Dinosaur land to get a ride on the Dinosaur ride.
First I had to stand in the extended queue which gave me time to get some themeing shots.
I wonder if this Dinosaur used its teeth to get a head in the food chain?
I'll show myself out now.
Well it's not King Kong, but it is big. And probably hungry.
And then we came to the ride. So, we're going back in time on a sight-seeing tour/rescue mission just before the extinction? God help us, we're in the hands of engineers.
It was less intense than I remembered. But still fun, even if the story is a little hokey and the animatronics are no longer state of the art. But it was exactly what it wanted to be: a fun romp through dinosaur times while sitting in a vehicle that occasionally felt like it was being driven by Mad Max. Oh what a day! What a lovely day!
After we brought a Dinosaur back to the future (Great Scott, that's a bad idea), I was beginning to feel like a bit of a carnivore myself. So I sought out a tasteless bacon cheeseburger and decent fries at Restaurantosaurus using my meal ticket.
By this time, the clouds were starting to clear up. WTF. Forecasted 80% rain all day. And now the clouds are gone. And me walking around with new sandals in the Orlando heat. Can we get Toto to come bless the rains down here in Animal Kingdom's Africa section please?
While eating lunch, I checked the times that Festival of the Lion KIng was playing. Finishing lunch, I made my way over to the theatre, but I had to make a very important stop first.
Of course I had to go see Mickey and Minnie.
And of course the rest of my family was jealous.
I was born in 1994, a couple months before Lion King hit theaters. So my parents took little baby infant me with them when they saw it. Apparently I slept through it all. But I could not sleep through this show. The energy and choreography were so much fun. And of course I had to sing along with the cast.
Though I didn't get any pictures due to A: my phone's camera sucks as previously stated, and B: my 6 foot self was seated in front of little kids so I worsened the Primeval Whirl pain by hunching over throughout the whole show.
When the Festival was over, I had delayed the inevitable long enough. It was time to go to Pandora.
Wowsers, is this place impressive! I wish I had a decent camera to better document how bat-sh!t awesome the themeing here.
Why am I doing this? It's an alien planet! Is there air? You don't know?
Holy alien skull, Batman!
He's blue, da ba dee, da ba da, da ba dee, da ba da!
Holy Hannah Montana, Flight of Passage is awesome! The posted wait was 150 minutes, but I was in the gift shop in just under 2 hours.
While I still think that the movie's story sucks, Disney did the right thing here by doubling down on everything that made Avatar the highest grossing movie of all time (unadjusted for inflation; but frankly my dear, they don't give a damn): the visuals. The movie was gorgeous thanks to its ground-annihilating visual effects work. And that's what Pandora is: a feast for the gods' eyes.
I walked by the entrance to River Journey to see an 80 minute wait. By this point in the day, my sandals had really started chafing my feet and toes. Not wanting to worsen the pain by standing in that line, I regretfully skipped River Journey on this visit in favor of seeking out First Aid for my foot that was in massive pain.
Leaving first aid, I sought out the fast pass kiosk to see if I could get anything. There was a Dinosaur fast pass available so I grabbed it.
On the way, I picked up another ride on Everest using the single-rider line.
Dino on the hunt.
It's behind me isn't it?
Oh noes! A meteor is headed right for me!
Ultimately, the fast pass ended up costing me time if I had just done standby instead. Oh well.
Oh yeah, and the Dinosaur ride also took inspiration from the visuals of its IP instead of story to the ride's benefit. What other mediocre movies with great visuals can be made into rides at Animal Kingdom?
Letting out of the Dinosaur ride, I saw a 10-minute wait for Primeval Whirl. Again, being a credit whore, I was hoping I could get on the other side to see if it was better/get the credit. Spoiler alert: it wasn't.
I have been chosen!
I thought about catching the Rivers of Light nighttime show, but I realized there unfortunately there wouldn't be enoough time after the show for me to get back on the bus back to school.
Knowing there wasn't enough time for another ride on Everest, I began my way out, passing through as many gift shops as I could to kill time until I saw that an attraction I enjoyed nearly 2 decades ago was open, I had to see how well my nostalgia of the It's Tough to be a Bug attraction fared. Never meet your idols, kids.
The queue, if you can call it that was unfortunately beautiful (Curse my camera) as it wound endlessly around the Tree of Life's roots.
The show itself pandered to the lowest common denominator and had the misfortune of being tied to Kevin Spacey (although the Hopper animatronic was neat). But it feels like it was built to torture the poor parents of children that demanded to experience the attraction. Dear Disney, please find a replacement for this abomination.
So now it was finally time to leave the kingdom for animals. And if you're wondering if I did any of the animal trails or Kilimanjaro Safari, the answer is unfortunately no because of the camera on my phone. These animals deserve better pictures than my phone can provide, and I love animal photography, so I chose to prioritize other attractions over bad animal photos.
So I left the park, took the bus back to campus, got some food from the late night place on campus and went to go nurse my chafed and blistering foot because it was a beautiful day in the kingdom.
And of course, the hats I purchased: