Started off with a cold morning as the sun was rising, it was in the 40s. Waited for some friends and boarded a bus to the Animal Kingdom just before 8am. Arrived at the park a good 45 minutes before park opening and hung out in the entrance area, linking our tickets and picking up some FastPasses until around 8:45 when they started letting guests in. One member of our group had a problem with their ticket so our first stop was guest relations to get that sorted out. Half an hour later we were on our way into the park. Wandered through the Oasis and out to Discovery Island. Kept walking out to Harambe and onto the Safari (no wait at all). Once back stopped by the Theatre to use our first FastPass+ and catch the 10am Festival of the Lion King. After the show hopped on the train to Conservation Station and spent some time exploring the station and area. Once back in Harambe visited Pangani Forest. Decided it was lunch time so walked to Pizzafari. After lunch explored the Tree of Life Garden then back to Harambe to use our FastPass+ for a second Safari. Made our way to Flights of Wonder for the 1:45pm show then ventured into Asia and the Jungle Trek. Walked by Everest and around DinoLand USA. Returned to the Theater in the Wild for the 4:00pm Nemo show to use our last FastPass+. After the show some shopped and I paid a visit to the Flame Tree dining area to take some Everest and Rivers of Light construction pics. Met up at the walkway to the exit and roamed around the Oasis a bit before boarding a bus to Fort Wilderness. Thanks to great bus time we arrived 45 minutes early for our priority seating time at Trails End. They seated us early. After dinner hopped on a boat to the Magic Kingdom and then a bus back to the Beach Club. Some called it a night and I continued on to Epcot. Walked around world Showcase a bit before Illuminations. Watched the show from the bridge near the International Gateway. Afterwards walked along the water on my way back to the Beach Club to call it a night.
Thoughts & Observations:
- Today we spent with friends who were visiting for the day. They had never been to the Animal Kingdom so we spent the day there and showed them the park. They bought their tickets from Shades of Green for the day. We had no problem linking their single day ticket to myDisneyExperience and booking FastPasses for the morning (we did this while we waited at the front entrance to the park).
- We entered the park, well most of us entered the park. It seems one of the tickets had a problem. So instead of getting the early jump we had anticipated we instead went straight to guest relations to sort it out. The Cast Members there scanned the ticket several times, entered codes, asked for ID, and then eventually issued a new ticket for him. I think asked if the FastPasses transferred. They checked and they had not so they fiddled with the computer for a few more minutes then issued another new ticket and linked this one. It took a good half hour for this process. This was a frustrating and first impression for a new guest. The Cast Members were friendly but were very consumed with the system and not able to really talk or interact with us.. instead they just kept clicking and scanning. Also was disappointed they did not do anything to "make up" for the lost time. We did not ask for anything but in trips past if there was a problem they would give you a FastPass or popcorn or something. They did not even offer a first time button to them and we made sure to say it was their first time. The correct solution was reached but getting there was not pleasant and it was time consuming.
- We picked the right day to go to the Animal Kingdom in terms of crowd and weather. It was cool to start the morning but the sun was out and no real wind. Waits around the park were very mild. The longest I saw posted for the Safari was 25 minutes.
- Due to the short waits we really did not need our FastPass+ reservations but since we had them we used them. The first one was for Festival of the Lion King. This saved us some steps not having to walk through the Standby queue but not much time and since it was not a full show no concerns there.
- Went out to Conservation Station. On the way out the conductor said something that caught my attention. While going by the back stage houses they mentioned new arrivals.. hyaenas that were going to be introduced to the park soon. It was sort of a by the way comment and I looked at others in my group and asked if I heard correctly. Everyone nodded so we all heard the same thing. Should be interesting to see where and when they show up.
- Out at Conservation Station there was a check up of a wild bird that was brought in. They found it had swallowed a washer and they were trying to remove it while we were there. Very interesting to see the procedure and the number of people in the room from the state, Disney, and other agencies.
- Walked through the Pangani Forest which is under renovation. Going through the regular entrance you can only go as far as the Okapi. The aviary and hippo area were blocked off. To see the Gorillas and Outlook you enter through the exit. The family group of Gorillas were not out yet. They said due to the cold weather the babies were not being allowed out. There are two new born since my last trip. Born in August and September. Continuing out to the Outlook Zebra have moved in.
- Walked around the front of the Tree of Life. The trail still dead ends near the tree and there are nets over the walkways here still.
- Out on the Jungle Trek in Asia no signs of the Komodo Dragon due to the cold weather. The tigers were not doing much either.
- Always interesting to get a first impression of the park from new guests. The two we were with really enjoyed everything and were pleasantly surprised. But when we reached Dinoland they both looked at us asking what happened here. There impression was they ran out of money or something? They did not think it fit with the quality and theme of the rest of the park.
- We left the Animal Kingdom just before closing and headed for the bus stops and Fort Wilderness for dinner. A bus showed up quickly and even the transfer at Fort Wilderness had no wait so we arrived almost an hour early for our reservation at Trails End. Luckily they were not over busy and we were seated in about 15 minutes. The meal was great as usual. Tonight they had carved Turkey which I had not seen before.
- After dinner we took the boat to the Magic Kingdom then caught a bus back to the Beach Club from there. Interesting the boat did not slow down for the no wake zone going over the bridge.. first time I can remember that happening.
- After saying our good byes our friends left and I noticed I had about an hour until Illuminations so decided to walk over to Epcot to catch the show. I really enjoyed having that option of a couple minute walk to the park.
- I talked to another friend who was visiting and had was going to be at the Studios tomorrow. I got their FastPass times and tried to book the same. After 20 minutes of adding then re booking I managed to get into the same Sing Along show as them and Star Tours window. I also threw in a Toy Story time that worked too. Two others then decided they wanted to join us. I tried to copy the times and that gave them a bunch of random times for the same three attractions. No where near mine. For example my Toy Story was at 9:30 and theirs was at 3:30pm. Not sure how that is a copy. Also the two of them got different times.. at one point all three of us had different show times for the sing along. I managed to get two of us into the same sing along but failed on the third and no luck with Toy Story either. I decided to call it a night at this point because I was getting frustrated. I do not understand why the system says it is doing something then it does not. If it cannot copy due to capacity why not just tell you that vs randomly moving them to another time/attraction. I understand not being able to copy but not the lack of proper error messages and the way it would move things without confirmation and you would have one out of three the way you want then you copy one from another person and all three would be changed. So I ended my day with myDisneyExperience frustration just as it had begun.
Pedometer Information for the day: