Set off for the parks today around 8:40am. Made our way to Disney’s Animal Kingdom arriving near the Tree of Life just before 9:30am. Saw the Winged Encounter moment as we entered the stopped by the recently reopened Otter Grotto before making our way to Pandora to use a FastPass+ for the River Journey. Roamed around Pandora and then made our way out to Kilimanjaro Safari to use our second FastPass+ of the morning. Next stop Gorilla Falls and was lucky enough to see Baby Grace, who is just over 1 week old. Then walked back through Harambe and stopped by Pizzafari for some A/C and to regroup. Spent some time in Otter Grotto and then took a walk by the Tree of Life. Hiked through Dinoland and then around to Asia and rejoined my group on the way to the Festival of the Lion King to use our third FastPass+ of the morning. After the show returned to Asia and ate a late lunch at Yak & Yeti. Then made our way to the front of the park and took a bus over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios to take a look at the Disney Skyliner Gondolas that were uncovered today. Walked to Epcot by way of the Boardwalk and International Gateway. Strolled through World Showcase to the American Adventure and enjoyed a performance by the Voices of Liberty. After their set met some friends and strolled around World Showcase then took cover near Club Cool as a thunderstorm rolled through. Then spent some time the Seas visiting with friends. They went to dinner at Coral Reef and I set out to roam around World Showcase. Stopped for a bite to eat in France and then continued on around World Showcase. Made my way back to the FastPass+ viewing area for Illuminations about 10 minutes before showtime. Enjoyed the show then joined the crowds marching toward the park exit and buses. Road back to Pop Century to call it a night.
Thoughts & Observations:
- This morning started with a long bus line again. Seems every park we choose has the longest one of the morning. Other buses kept coming and going and we had to wait. Eventually two buses for Disney’s Animal Kingdom showed up with a third entering as we left. We just barely made it onto the second bus. The driver we had was great! I did not catch his name but he was telling jokes and singing as we waited at lights, etc… it made for an enjoyable trip.
- The Otter Grotto has opened since my last visit. For the most part the onstage areas look the same as before. There is a new back of house building behind the enclosure. The otters were moving around quickly and seemed to like being further in the back out of sight the couple times I walked through the area this morning.
- I had a FastPass for the River Journey in Pandora so we headed that way and used that, wait times were on the long side still for both attractions. I have done the them both several times now and they are ok, but for me they are not high on my attraction ranking list. The River Journey is short and with them trying to shoehorn in as many people as possible it is not comfortable to ride many times. Flight of Passage’s heavy reliance on computer graphics bothers me. I am not a huge CG fan so having the entire ride revolve around it does not excite me.
- Thought it was interesting that stroller parking for FastPass+ returns for Kilimanjaro Safari was in the area before you enter the queue. This makes sense to keep the queue moving and give a little more room plus it means less strollers in Gorilla Falls too. But it means the area is even more congested with a mass of strollers there.
- The giraffe herd has continued to expand. There are now five under the age of one on the savanna and we were able to see all of them on our safari this morning. They were definitely a crowd pleaser. The rest of the savanna was relatively quiet on our trip through.
- Continuing the growing family trend, along Gorilla Falls baby Grace, who was just a week old, was out with her mother near the window.
- I made a quick pass through Dinoland USA and Donald’s Dino-Bash is still going on, wonder how long this temporary addition will be there?
- I also walked by the Hakuna Matata Time Dance Party, there were some guests and several characters out. Overall the atmosphere was toned down. I think because it was near the heat of the day and hard to get people dancing in the hot/humid weather.
- Lunch today was at the Yak & Yeti Restaurant. We had a great meal and service. Plus sat upstairs with a window table, first time doing that. It was interesting to watch the crowd ebb and flow through Asia as we ate.
- Today the Disney Skyliner marked a major milestone. The first group of gondolas on the Disney’s Hollywood Studios line were uncovered revealing the character and attraction designs. I had some time in the early afternoon so I stopped by to check them out and they were fun to see. The colors really popped against the darkening skies (storms were rolling through the area). I was able to spend some time watching them and getting pictures. Then as I walked to Epcot I saw the Epcot line was testing too with several covered gondolas on the line.
- First rain storm of the trip this late afternoon. Luckily I was heading toward Future World and ducked into the hallway near the Character Spot / Club Cool and found a table to wait it out.
- For Illuminations I used a FastPass+ and had a good view. The exit crowd was not bad and I made it onto the first bus that pulled up for Pop Century after I arrived, so no issues leaving today.
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