Started my morning off with a long bus wait for the Animal Kingdom. All other destinations cycled through 2-4 buses before one for AK showed up. Eventually made it to the park and arrived near the Tree of Life a few minutes before the 9:30am Winged Encounter was to start so found a spot and waited. After the show walked through the Otter Grotto then into Pandora. Used a Flight of Passage FastPass+ then made our way to Africa to use a FastPass+ for Kilimanjaro Safari. Then walked through Gorilla Falls. Grabbed lunch from Pizzafari then made our way by the Tree Of Life and took a left into Asia to walk the Jungle Trek. Once back decided to head for the park exit and caught a bus to Coronado Springs. Took a look around and met a friend. We then headed back to Pop Century and walked over to Art of Animation. Decided to grab dinner at Everything Pop! Then caught a bus back to the Animal Kingdom. While onboard the bus I was able to pick up a FastPass for the River Journey in Pandora. Upon arrival we had some time to kill so wandered around Discovery Island and the Otter Grotto then Pandora. Used our FastPass and while onboard I picked up one for Kilimanjaro Safari. Since Gorilla Falls closed at 7pm decided to take a stroll through there then used our Fastpass+ for the Safari. Once back picked up a time slot to meet Mickey but the others were tired so I changed that to Rivers of Light as they left. I walked out to the River viewing area by Flame Tree BBQ then out to Dinoland to catch the finale to the Dance Party at 8pm. Still had an hour so walked back to Pandora to see how it looked after dark then took the trail to Africa and walked over to Asia, stopping on the way for the first Tree of Life Awakenings at 8:45pm. Opted not to use my FastPass+ and instead stand for Rivers of Light. After the show made my way to the park exit and caught a bus back to Pop Century to wrap up the night.
Thoughts & Observations:
- We started the day with some bad bus luck. We got in a fairly long line for Disney’s Animal Kingdom. We saw bus after bus come and go for other destinations. Some of the other queues were basically empty and buses were still coming. We counted between 2 and 4 for other parks before the first Animal Kingdom one showed up. It of course had to load a scooter so that process was slow. A second bus showed up but stopped outside the load zone for several minutes while the scooter was being loaded. Finally the transportation CM on site noticed and instructed that bus to pull up so they could load two at once. This made a dent in the line and we managed to make it onto one of the two but as we pulled away there were still another busload of guests waiting. I find it funny how it always seems to be the route I want that had a problem. If we wanted to go to Epcot or the Studios we could have walked right onto one of several buses. But we choose poorly today.
- Arrived at the Tree of Life just as the 9:30 Winged Encounter was getting underway so stopped for the brief show. This animal encounter offers some great photo ops of parrots flying by the Tree of Life and through Discovery Island.
- I had a FastPass+ for Flight of Passage today and thought about using it or not. One in our group opted not to. The attraction is executed well but between the content and computer graphics it just does not draw our group in. Plus it takes quite a while to go through, even with a FastPass.
- Our Kilimanjaro Safari driver today was not that good. They would stop where they could see but the back half of the truck was usually obstructed by trees or something and saw nothing. Of course I was near the back.
- Strolled through Gorilla Falls and you could not get a good view of baby Grace this morning. Her mother and her were back from the viewing areas up on a ridge.
- Throughout the day I managed to roll through quite a few FastPass+. The final count was Flight of Passage, River Journey, two Kilimanjaro Safaris, Rivers of Light. I had FastPasses but opted not to use them for Tough to Be a Bug and the Character Meet and Greet.
- After lunch made my way to Coronado Springs Resort to check out the final stages of construction there. The Gran Destino tower opens in July and the restaurant looks like it could open sooner. The tower seems out of place in scale and look compared to the rest of the resort, but it is not as bad as the Riviera from Caribbean Beach Resort.
- Ate my first meal of the trip, and turned out to be the only one, at Everything Pop! this evening. I ended up with chicken strips and fries and the tray had more fries than I could possibly eat. Overall it was a decent meal and for Pop Century it was on the hot/warm side too thanks to the area being quiet.
- We were ahead of schedule in terms of park touring since the weather had been fairly favorable so far so decided to return to the Animal Kingdom for the evening since I had not been there after dark.
- I walked through Dinoland USA and Donald’s Dino-Bash! As the sun was setting and caught the very end of the Dino-Riffic Dance Party! I found it very odd how it used Walt’s Disneyland Dedication speech and an attraction medley from the parks as the finale. I enjoyed it but it seemed very out of place for the event. As I walked around it seemed almost all entertainment was over by the 7pm hour and the dance party by 8pm. Not a lot was going on until the 9pm Rivers of Light. With the late sunset even the Tree of Life Awakens did not start until 8:45pm.
- I picked up a late afternoon FastPass+ for Rivers of Light and when I showed up 10 minutes before show time there was plenty of space to use it or even stand by. I opted instead to stand with a dead center view. I had the area to myself for the first half of the show (well there was a security CM and another CM also roaming the area too but no guests). Then a couple groups stopped for the second half.
- I think its going to be interesting to see the reworked show in a couple of weeks and if that will help to make it more entertaining for more guests. I am not a fan of the current version and it seems to always have problems. During this showing the finale did not work quite right, everything did not light. Some guests have other opinions. While walking out I overheard a father talking to his sons saying how that show just blew away any fireworks show he had seen before.
- Watching crowd flow in the parks is always interesting to me. As I walked out of Animal Kingdom this the crowd was taking the path to the right as you left Discovery Island and entered the Oasis area. It was a crowded walkway. I went left and had the entire walkway to myself. No guests in front or behind me. Cast members near the stroller return looked a little puzzled that there was no one else coming down the walkway.
- The bus back to Pop Century this evening was slow showing up and boarding. I made it onto the first bus so that was a plus.
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