Started off the morning catching a bus to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. We arrived just before park opening and joined the march out to Africa. Thought about the safari but we did not have enough time so opted to stroll through an empty Gorilla Falls. Returned to Harambe and checked in for the Caring for Giants Tour. Enjoyed the hour tour then wandered around Africa for a while and toward the park exit. Took a bus back to the Boardwalk then one to Disney Springs. Ate a late lunch with friends at the Boathouse and then walked around Disney Springs. Had dessert at Sprinkles and met another friend before returning to Animal Kingdom for the evening. Wandered around the Tree of Life and through Asia checking out the jungle trek. Grabbed something from the Yak & Yeti counter service and then headed for Kilimanjaro Safari to use a FastPass+. Returned to Asia and used a Rivers of Light FastPass+. After the show headed for the bus to call it a day.
Thoughts & Observations:
- Started the day heading for the Animal Kingdom by bus from the Boardwalk. We did not have to wait long and arrived just before park opening. It was nice not having to stop ay Blizzard Beach anymore. The routes have changed and all buses go to Animal Kingdom and from there you transfer to another bus to reach Blizzard Beach. This cuts several minutes off the route each way since the buses do not have to circle through Blizzard Beach.
- Discovery Island in front of the Tree of Life was filled with guests waiting for the park to open. The Winged Encounter birds are still used in the opening. A majority of those waiting made their way to Africa for the Safari and the wait time jumped quickly.
- We had to check in at 9:45am for our tour this morning so there would not be enough time to wait and experience the safari. So instead we decided to take advantage of a nearly empty Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail. All the gorillas were out and fairly active. With no crowds it was a very pleasant experience.
- This morning we went on the Caring for Giants tour that started a couple months ago. This is a one hour experience for $30 a person and you can get an Annual Pass or DVC discounts too. The check in area is located near Kilimanjaro Safari. After checking in, signing the waiver, and a brief introduction we were walked backstage and onto a small bus. This shuttle took us around the back of the savanna and out to an observation area created for this experience. As expected no pictures are allowed backstage but once you are at the observation area you can take as many as you like. We had a full bus with 14 guests. The cast member that drove us out told us some facts and pointed out some of the sites. Once there we were introduced to a guide as well as a cultural representative. As we observed the elephants they talked and answered questions. We had about 30 minutes at the viewing location. This felt like a reasonable amount of time and was a leisurely pace. I really enjoyed the experience and though the price point was reasonable for what you receive. One note really surprised tour booking is not intergrated with the website or app yet. You still have to call and your reservation does not show up in myDisneyExperience.
- I was meeting friends for a late lunch at Disney Springs so we left the park soon after the tour. It is unfortunate the Express Transportation does not include Disney Springs. Instead we had to transfer at a resort (we choose the Boardwalk so we could drop something off at the room and it was sort of on the way). It takes a good amount of time to get out to Disney Springs.
- We had lunch at the Boathouse. The food and company were great as expected. The service was a bit off today. They were friendly and there but little things like no plates for the bread arrived or had to ask multiple times for something.
- Spent a little time walking around Disney Springs and met up with another friend and was able to catch a ride back to Animal Kingdom. This saved a lot of time being able to avoid the two buses to get there.
- Spent some time just roaming around the park. The crowd was thinning thanks to the heat and normal attrition as the day goes on there. Walked through the Jungle Trek in Asia and the one tiger enclosure on the left is closed for renovation and no sign of anything on the right side. Word on the internet is they are “baby proofing” the exhibit with hopes to start a breeding program in the near future.
- Used a FastPass+ for the Safari so the wait was minimal. Unfortunately they jammed a second party into our row. That plus the obstructed views for the final portion of the ride made for a less than ideal experience.
- Decided to give Rivers of Light a second try. I had a FastPass+ again. This time I decided to sit low, in the second row. This meant I was closer to the water, the angle was similar to the first night. The show had a slightly different feel from this vantage point. The projections and some of the effects were harder to see since boats could get in your line of sight easier. Exiting was a little more of a challenge but once again the walk out of the park was not too bad. The show felt about the same on a second viewing. Still not spectacular but a nice show to see.
- The bus trip back to Boardwalk was less than ideal. As I was walking out to the bus stops I saw the bus pull away so I knew it would be a wait. There were not many guests in line and a bus eventually showed up. Then they switched drivers and had to load an ECV. This took a lot of time. Then a slow trip back to the resort.
Pedometer Information for the day:
Other Picture sets from today: