Started off the day sleeping in till almost 8am. Then grabbed some breakfast and was on my way to the Animal Kingdom by 9:15am. Arrived at the park just before 10am thanks to a long wait for the bus to show up. Wandered around the Oasis waiting for the rest of my group to arrive then around Discovery Island. Caught a winged encounter and then we all set off for Africa. Stopped by the Market area to get some pictures then explored Pangani Forest as we waited for our Safari FastPass+ time. Used our FastPass+ then strolled by Asia and into Dinoland to grab a bite to eat at Restaurantosourus. After lunch had 20 minutes until the next Festival of the Lion King so headed that way. Made it in with a few minutes to spare. After the show some of the group headed back to the hotel to regroup and the rest of us to Asia so some could use their Expedition Everest FastPasses. Then circled around the lagoon and returned to Discovery Island. Caught another Winged Encounter and then roamed back through the Flame Tree BBQ and out to Africa. Took the Wilderness Express to Conservation Station and walked went to see if anything was going on. It was not. So returned to Harambe and waited about 20 minutes in the standby line for the Safari. After my trip returned to Discovery Island and noticed the new Riverside Depot was open so walked through taking some pictures. Then headed for a bus back to the Beach Club for dinner. It took almost an hour thanks to waiting for the bus, a driver switch, then a stop at a closed Blizzard Beach to get back. Ate dinner at Yachtsman Steakhouse this evening with some friends. After dinner made my way to Epcot. Walked around World Showcase counter clockwise from the International Gateway to Mexico then doubled back to the American Adventure area to catch the 8:15pm Candlelight. After the show ran into some other friends so visited with them and watched Illuminations from near Germany. Then strolled through a quiet World Showcase back to the International Gateway and the Beach Club to call it a night.
Thoughts & Observations:
- Started my day off just after 9am at the Beach Club bus stop waiting to head to the Animal Kingdom. It took over 20 minutes for a bus to show up. Near park opening this seems really poor and seems my day 1 transportation delays are continuing into day 2.
- I arrived in the park before the rest of my group and spent some time roaming around the Oasis which is always fun to do. It is fun to be on the middle trail and watch guests running by to get into the park.
- I caught the Winged Encounter on Discovery Island. This brief show features a flock of parrots flying in from backstage and landing on a perch near the Tree of Life. Cast Members are there to talk about the birds and give them treats then they are sent off again. The show is very brief and was not listed on the times guides, app, nor near the area. It was great to see the birds in flight. I would have really liked to have seen them do a second pass around the tree to give you a better view of them in flight. But all and all it was a nice moment to catch.
- I spent some time photographing and walking around the Harambe Market before it opened. The level of detail in this newest addition to Africa is great and worth checking out if you are in the park. When not crowded you can really appreciate it more.
- This morning on the Safari the African Painted Dogs were out. The guide said they have been out on and off for the past week. They were very active when we passed by and they were moving around their area quite a bit. It is a little challenging to see them with the lighting and fence line, but a nice addition to the Safari.
- After lunch headed to the Festival of the Lion King. Used the Standby entrance and found they were loading the theatre odd. Guests that showed up after us were being let in another entrance while we waited for the FastPass queue to clear then they let some of us in the doors they were using for the handicap queue then the rest of us they walked through the FastPass doors. The bad part of this was we were seated as the show had already started. I thought this was poor. If you show up prior to show time why not allow you to be seated before the show starts vs holding you. Speaking of show time they simplified the show schedule and made it every hour on the hour most of the day. That makes it much easier to communicate with people and remember vs random times.
- Walked around by Expedition Everest today and Dinoland. The area is still walled off on the lagoon side and this makes the walkways feel narrow and busier than they were. I am curious how this will work once Rivers of Light arrives. It seems there is going to be some big bottlenecks in the area with the existing walkways.
- Paid a visit to Conservation Station. I still wish they would post a schedule of what is going on out there at the train station or even on the app so you can plan your trip out. There was nothing going on during my trip. The area could really use some updating and more to see/do.
- Opted for a second Safari later in the day in hopes of getting better pictures of the new dogs but no such luck they were not out. Did get some decent Cheetah and Lion pictures though.
- The Riverside Depot opened today. This store is an addition and really plain on the inside. It adds more square footage of regular retail space. The area felt a lot like the Emporium to me (different props but the same idea with displays, queues, etc.. inside). I was expecting more.
- It took me over an hour from when I left the park until I was back at the Beach Club. I had to wait over 20 minutes for the bus to show up. Then they switched drivers and waited and waited. Then we finally started rolling and the driver decided to go to Blizzard Beach which is closed for renovation. So we drove through an empty parking lot with everyone looking confused. Then eventually made it back to the Beach Club.
- Dinner this evening was at the Yachtsman Steakhouse with some friends. We had a great meal as always. Everything was as expected with the meal and all walked away satisfied. In talking to our server she shared something I remembered that the bread that is served is still the original recipe from opening and then something I did not know which is they have two bakers that do the bread for the Yachtsman and that is their only role.
- After dinner headed to Epcot for the rest of the evening. The crowds were not too bad. Noticed you could still get stand by seating for the 8:15pm Candelight just before 8pm. I opted to stand so I could move around. The narrator this evening was Joe Morton. I think his delivery is a good fit for the ceremony and I have seen him before. In watching the show I did not notice any substantial changes to this year’s ceremony. It seemed the same as last year.
- I met up with some other friends after the Candlelight and ended up watching Illuminations with them from near Germany. The area was not crowded and you could see the Holiday Wishes show at the Magic Kingdom in the distance.
- Then I had a leisurely walk back through World Showcase to the International Gateway. It is always nice to walk through a non crowded World Showcase and it was a perfect way to end the evening.
Pedometer Information for the day: