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Daffy Does Disney – Alone in the Wild

Today you’ll see my solo foray into Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom. As you’ll observe, it can’t be considered a wholly successful venture on my part, but I genuinely enjoyed myself anyway and maybe my mistakes can help guide you if you are visiting the park in the future.

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Posted on October 13, 2016, in Animal Kingdom, Daffy Does Disney, theme parks, travel, Trip Report, Walt Disney World and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. You had mentioned previously that your Animal Kingdom experience wasn’t Disney at its best. That was pretty rough. When you said you were going to Rafiki’s Planet Watch I was almost shouting at the screen like a horror movie, “No! Don’t Do It! It’s not worth the long train ride just to pet some goats!!” But that didn’t turn out to be the issue.

    What you ran into was classic Disney cost cutting. People think it’s no big deal when Disney decides to save a few bucks by reducing the hours of operation for their restaurants or cutting staff. But your video shows the impact quite clearly. Disgruntled guests forced to decide between waiting in a long, slow-moving line or go with Plan B. It definitely sounds like you made the right call with the pineapple wedge.

    That’s something else we have discussed. No matter how well you plan, there are going to be unexpected surprises. Some are pleasant, many are not, but they are all disruptive. The key is to be flexible. If you don’t have a Plan B, it’s hard to know what to do when things don’t go your way. A lot of guests are so set on Plan A that any deviation sours the whole experience for them. If you want to enjoy your (very expensive) vacation, you have to be able to shrug it off and enjoy the things that are going right.

    Once again, the video does a great job of showing the beauty of a Disney park. Of all the parks, Animal Kingdom offers the most immersive environment. If I were going to pick a park to just walk around and take in the sights, AK would be it.

    Of course the cloud around that silver lining is that AK remains an attraction-light (half-day) park. If Expedition Everest is down, it starts to feel a lot like a zoo. That leaves you with the Safari and Dinosaur as E-tickets. Ridewise, there’s not a lot else worth doing. (Kali River Rapids carries too high of a risk of getting soaked.) Avatar will help with that, but I don’t think it will be enough.

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    • Yeah, I was well aware that I was taking a chance in doing Rafiki’s Planet Watch. It has a well-deserved reputation for offering less than what is appropriate for the train ride out there. Perhaps my impression of the place would be different if the animal operation they were prepping had appeared more quickly. I stood and waited twice while a cast member explained the preparations they were making with the animal. I walked away once to go pet some goats, listen to some animal sounds in a dark room, and watch a presentation on snakes for a while before returning to the operation window…and they still weren’t ready to bring the patient in. I would never suggest they should hurry up on my account, but I also just didn’t feel like I could wait any longer. Overall, the place struck me as a mildly under-funded nature museum in a moderately-sized market. I’m glad I’ve done the train ride and actually seen Rafiki’s Planet Watch, but I can’t imagine doing it again unless it’s an item on the Wilderness Explorers activity which I’d like to try on a future trip where I have more time to devote to the park.

      As I said in the video, opening Kusafiri just 30 minutes earlier would have made a huge difference. As it turned out, I really liked the pineapple spear I had. It was big and delicious. But I can imagine there would be plenty of people who would not be satisfied by that. If you’re letting people into the park starting at 8 instead of 9 you are obviously going to have people looking for breakfast inside the park rather than getting it beforehand. As someone who packed my bags in the dark that morning I was definitely one of those people.
      Missing out on Expedition Everest could have been a real downer if I’d let it, but A) I’ve been on it before and will likely get on it again, and B) I’d rather have fun than let something like that get me down and as you mentioned, the environments there at Animal Kingdom just tend to wash away any stress or unhappiness. I could definitely spend a long day mostly just walking around that park and have a good time. It’s just so beautiful.

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      • After our 2003 trip, when asked, I named Animal Kingdom as my favorite park and Hollywood Studios as a close second. I hadn’t been to either one before and I really enjoyed the immersive atmosphere. Especially at AK where (aside from Dinorama) the theme remains consistent. Of course those parks have a lot less to do than Epcot or especially the Magic Kingdom. So repeat visits has lowered my estimation of both of them to the point where we often skip Animal Kingdom. Having the Cincinnati Zoo and Kings Island in our back yard makes Animal Kingdom largely redundant. It’s still beautiful, but we can get very good animal exhibits and roller coasters much more affordably from local attractions.

        I have seen a lot of meltdowns in Disney parks when things weren’t going according to plan. The one that is freshest in my mind happened on last summer’s cruise when Cinderella was absent from a princess meet and greet she was scheduled to attend. The mother of a little girl in a Cinderella dress lost her shit. The poor girl seemed more concerned with her mother’s antics than Cinderella’s absence. You have to keep these things in perspective. Sometimes, things won’t go according to plan and you just have to make the best of it.

        I’m sure you have seen the persistent rumors that Magic Hours may one day fall under the cost cutting axe. That’s one solution to the problem you encountered and probably more likely than Disney extending operating hours to accommodate their hotel guests. It’s a sad state of affairs and definitely frustrating. Believe me, I have been there.

        On our honeymoon trip, when I was a Disney novice, we had a comedy of errors on our first day. The park Mindy wanted to visit the most was Animal Kingdom which is why we were staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge. So we made it our first park on our arrival day. But I hadn’t paid attention to park hours. When we arrived at Animal Kingdom, it was 5:00 and the park was getting ready to close for the night! That never crossed my mind as even being a possibility. But since tourism was so low and it was the off season, hours of operation were being cut down to the bare bones.

        So we hopped on a bus to the Magic Kingdom. The first ride we came across was the Mansion, so that ended up being Mindy’s first Disney attraction. Not too shabby, huh? But it turns out the Magic Kingdom was getting ready to close down at 7 and a lot of the restaurants were closing their doors already. I think if I had known what I was doing, we probably could have found a place that was open, but the only place we could find was Casey’s and Mindy didn’t want a hot dog. She was getting hungry, so finding a proper meal was a top priority. With the MK in shut down mode, we decided to hop another bus to Hollywood Studios.

        The smart thing would have been to hop a monorail to one of the nearby resorts or even just eat back at AKL. But I was woefully under-prepared. We got to DHS just as Fantasmic! was getting ready to start. The park was deserted because anyone who was there was headed to the show. But the 50’s PTC was open. We were probably their last guests of the night. The entire wait staff pretty much hung out with us while we ate. Our server literally say down and started giving us Disney World tips for the rest of our trip. 50’s has been a tradition on every WDW trip since. Things turned around once Mindy had some fried chicken in front of her, but there was a lot of frustration up to that point.

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        • WDW has also recently been polling guests about how they would feel about an Uber-like guest-paid car service that would be run by Disney and could carry people from park to park or to resorts, etc. My guess is this is a way to try to charge for transportation, which they would claim they’re “giving away for free.” This is honestly the one thing I can think of that would seriously motivate me to start staying off-site again.

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        • Yeah, I mentioned a while back that Disney was worried about losing guests to offsite hotels because they weren’t using Disney transportation. I don’t think Disney will replace the buses with a paid system. They know the buses keep a lot of guests prisoner on property. I think if they develop their own Uber substitute, it would be in addition to the bus system. Personally, I welcome anything that makes WDW easier to navigate. As you know, transportation around the resort is a major point of contention for Mindy. She still talks about how taking a cab home from the Contemporary after dinner at Chef Mickey’s was the highlight of our 2014 trip and threatens to file for divorce if I ever suggest going back. However, I have serious doubts Disney will get the pricing of such a service right. If it’s going to compete with Uber, it can’t be set at a Disney price point.

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  2. Well, you made me want to go back to Sanaa. 🙂 Although, I have to say…of all the DVC properties….AKL was my least favorite. With the restaurant being the only good thing about that stay.

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    • I’ve really only walked through the resort to get to Sanaa, but it’s just one of three restaurants there that get really strong reviews. I’m interested to know what elements of the resort didn’t appeal to you. I have had one friend tell me that it was one resort where the rooms don’t live up to the rest of the property.

      I’m seriously still not sated by my most recent trip. It was amazingly fun, but only served to whet my appetite for more.

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