Category Archives: Animal Kingdom
With Pandora in our rear view mirror, we spend a few more hours taking in some of the highlights of Animal Kingdom. While we do give Kilimanjaro Safaris a miss, top attractions like the Finding Nemo musical, Dinosaur!, and Expedition Everest wind up as priorities and we indulge in a wonderful meal at the still excellent signature dining restaurant Tiffins. Hmmm…I’ve just basically told you almost everything about this video. Watch it anyway, okay?
In case you didn’t know, Walt Disney World is in the process of a complex-wide rejuvenation that will see scads of new attractions over the next few years as the biggest tourist destination in the country looks to rebound from years of inaction and make themselves ready for their 50th anniversary on October 1st of 2021. That might seem like a long time off, but in construction time, it’s not that much.
Their big project opening this year, prior to next year’s Toy Story Land and the following year’s Star Wars themed Galaxy’s Edge, has been a full land in the Animal Kingdom devoted to James Cameron’s huge blockbuster Avatar. Believe it or not, Cameron is in the process of planning four more Avatar movies and Disney parks have bet big on the series and their new land devoted to it, Pandora, keeping visitor interest high. So far, so good, as Pandora has been a huge hit with Walt Disney World’s park guests, seeing big crowds and long lines in the new land since its Memorial Day opening. There are some reports that overall park attendance has not actually been helped by Pandora, just Animal Kingdom, but my guess is that this is looked at as just one step in their overall move to re-invigorate the profile of the parks complex, making it not just the favorite amongst families and nostalgics, but also with more modern audiences.
The still crowded Pandora would be the big target for us on the third day of our Labor Day weekend trip, and if you know me you know that means three words: Rope Drop, Baby. In fact, we took the prudent approach of getting to the park close to an hour prior to opening time. Although you will see us in the middle of a huge crowd anyway, what this will ultimately mean will be boarding the big buzz ride Flights of Passage just twenty minutes after the scheduled park opening. This means we ended up waiting roughly 80 minutes for the attraction, as opposed to people who showed up at the actual opening time who appear to have been facing a full three hour wait. The early nerds clear the berm.
follow us as we take you into the amazing world of Pandora, into the queue for Flights of Passage, for a bite at the Satu’li Canteen, and for a beautiful Navi River Journey.
A big part of planning any trip to Walt Disney World is choosing how and where you want to eat. After all, even if you’re in your absolute favorite place with all of your favorite things, eventually you’ll have to put something into your stomach. There are plenty of people who intentionally sidestep making set in stone dining plans on their Walt Disney World trip. These people either only go to whatever counter service spots are nearby or they just take the pressure off and try finding walk-ins at appealing table service locations. They sit at the bar without any qualms and they shrug and move on if there aren’t any seats to be had. But those people are decidedly in the minority, and there are certainly likely to be few of them reading an article like this. Most of us enjoy the planning and the anticipation that goes into our vacation and one thing we’re looking forward to is that well-chosen table service reservation.
After my long Labor Day weekend trip to Walt Disney World I’m still pretty far from having tried all of Walt Disney World’s table service restaurants. There are something like sixty different table service restaurants in the Walt Disney World theme parks and resort hotels. These are places where you either are being served by a member of the wait staff who will bring your food to you at your table or where you get to carry your plate up to a buffet and select your own meal from everything there. These are the restaurants I’ll be covering here. The places where you order at a window and carry your food on a tray while you look for an available table are called counter service restaurants and won’t be included in this list. I’m also leaving out Disney Springs places because there is so much new there that I haven’t had a chance to sample (and it makes my list seem a little less feeble that way). I’ll have more to say at the end of the rankings, but for now here are my personal rankings of the 23 Walt Disney World table service restaurants where I have dined.
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Yes, I was just there less than five months ago, but believe it or not, there are still more than enough Walt Disney World experiences that fit the bill here in my typical trip preview article. If you paid any attention to this year’s Disney convention, called D23, you’re probably pretty aware that the whole Walt Disney World complex is in massive flux. After constant expansion between 1982 (Epcot opened) and 1998 (Animal Kingdom opened), the complex fell into a bit of stagnation for a while. Despite this, you’ll notice that I’ve been able to fill this article pretty well each time I’ve written it over the last few years, and as long as I keep showing up in Orlando over the next five years, I’ll continue to be able to do so. Preparations in hopes of having Walt Disney World in a beautiful and exciting state when the place turns 50 years old in 2021 will see to it.
Come along and we’ll take a look at some of my plans this time around which are unique or new.
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This past weekend Disney held their D23 Expo, a fan biennial event which Disney uses to make make announcements and promote upcoming products. It’s kind of like the company’s own private Comic-Con. The last couple of events have been light on Disney World news, but the 2017 expo was packed with goodies for fans of the Orlando resort.
If you have been following Disney World rumors, none of these announcements were all that surprising. We’ve been talking about Star Wars for years now and last year we were buzzing about a Guardians of the Galaxy project and a replacement for the Great Movie Ride. But the Expo provided additional details as well as confirmation that these things are happening.
Let’s take a closer look at all of this year’s announcements.
In today’s installment of Daffy Does Disney, I take advantage of the changing face of Animal Kingdom by taking a different approach to a day there than would have been wise in the past. Central to the change this time around is the new nighttime spectacular, “Rivers of Light.” Then join me again for a renamed daily wrap-up as I review the best and worst of my third day in the parks.
My day at Animal Kingdom continues with a couple of the experiences central to my plans. One is a tentpole attraction that is widely considered one of the best in all of Walt Disney World, and the other is a signature restaurant which was added to Animal Kingdom just a little less than a year ago. Aside from this, there’s a good bit of wandering around and enjoying the park’s environments and collection of wild animals.
Come along as I get an exceedingly early start on my day at Animal Kingdom. Then watch as I gawk at wild animals on a safari and take on one of the roughest rides in all of Walt Disney World. It’s NOT a zoo!
When the man whose name is also the name of your company indicated publicly that the company’s mission included constant growth, change, and progress you tend to be held to that standard. The fact that you’re charging an arm and a leg to visitors at your “Vacation Kingdom” also motivates mixing things up a bit. The Disney parks don’t always live up to this ideal and have certainly come under valid criticism because of it. But when you’ve got a large number of customers who are willing to visit over and over (like me) it indicates one of two things, or maybe a bit of both. A: They have actually provided a huge amount of experiences that stand up to lots of repeat business and have expanded over my lifetime from a single park with a few adjoining resorts to a mega complex with four theme parks, two water parks, close to twenty resort hotels, a huge entertainment and shopping complex, and a wide variety of other vacation options. B. With crowds continuing to be strong and earnings even stronger…maybe it doesn’t matter as much as it should.
Either way, they haven’t made me want to stop going yet. Not yet. We’ll see how that develops in the coming years though. In the meantime, I’m still finding myself capable of enjoying new things every time I visit. The above-pictured Mickey’s Premium Ice Cream Bar is something I haven’t sampled since I was a kid and there was just one theme park on property. Maybe I’ll make a point to remedy that on my newest trip to Walt Disney World which is coming in just two weeks. Let’s take a look at what is new for me and what is tried and true.
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As my Walt Disney World vacation approaches I continue hitting guideposts along the way. Today was a major one as my MagicBand arrived in the mail! Join me as I open it up and give it a look over!
Okay, I’ve got to warn you right up front. This is a trip planning video that has a pretty limited audience. If you’ve never spent time over-planning a trip to Walt Disney World what you see in this video will probably seem arcane and a little bewildering. If you’re one of those people who got annoyed with Lebeau’s 50 day countdown to his trip a few years ago, this post isn’t for you. There is no video of the beautiful parks. There are no bouncy sing-along songs. This is pure obsessive trip planning. Keep in mind that I actually trimmed more than four minutes from the original run time.
You’ve been warned.
Okay, so for the last week and a half or so I’ve been sharing videos detailing my recent trip to Walt Disney World with friends. It has been a fun project, and might be the kind of thing I’d like to try again in the future. There are definitely things I have to learn about how to make such a project better than I have this time around, and I’d probably strongly consider an upgrade in my overall equipment next time around. My own camera skills are still a little questionable too, with plenty of shaky and meandering examples to be found even in the final videos.
This last Daffy Does Disney video for my Autumn 2016 trip will just be a fun set of highlights with no story to tell or information to share. It will just be some fun shots from all four days of the trip, sometimes organized thematically and sometimes grouped relatively randomly. If you’ve been watching my videos up to this point you will have seen a lot of this already, but there will also be video and photos that I have not yet shared included, mostly from our Saturday night park hop over to the Magic Kingdom which was very rainy at first. Not long after the rain stopped and filming resumed, I ran out of data storage, cutting short any shooting for the rest of the night.
Hopefully this last little bit of fun is enjoyable for everybody. Thanks for humoring me in this new approach to reporting on my trips!