We were on our way to Disney’s Animal Kingdom just after 8am arriving about 8:30am. Walked out to Kilimanjaro Safari and had an extended wait due to animals in the pathway so the line did not move for quite a while then when it did the Lightning Lane was backed up so the ratio was not favorable to those of us in Standby. Finally boarded and had our safari. Once back in Harambe made our way over to the Festival of the Lion King for the 10am show. Walked over to Asia to see the tigers then decided to exit the park. Stopped on Discovery Island to see the Merry Menagerie and Winged Encounter before taking a bus over to the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Took a look around at the Christmas decorations and animals then boarded a bus for Disney Springs. Stopped by the Chicken Guy for lunch then decided to walk through some stores and do the Christmas Tree stroll. Stopped to listen to an air national guard band too. After circling through the Marketplace and then out to the West Side noticed I missed a picture of one tree back in the marketplace so hiked back to get the picture then boarded a bus to the Boardwalk. Dropped off some things and then caught a bus back to the Animal Kingdom. Wandered around Pandora then the Tree of Life and Dinoland before returning to Discovery Island around 6pm for the Tree of Life Awakenings. Watched the new Avatar one as well as the Holiday ones before making my way back to the bus stops. The Riviera bus was preparing to leave so hopped on it and spent some time walking through/around the resort on my way to catch the Skyliner to Epcot. At Epcot stopped by France to pick up some food and ate in Morocco. Decided to walk around World Showcase and took in the film in Canada. Made my way to the front of the park to watch the Beacon of Magic for a while then returned to World Showcase for Harmonious from the International Gateway bridge before walking back to the Boardwalk to call it a night.
Thoughts & Observations:
- This morning we decided there was not a need to get up and go for the early entry at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and instead arrived about an hour after (30 minutes after park opening). The wait times were mild again for all except Flight of Passage. We headed for the Safari which had a 5 minute posted wait and were moving well until the bridge.. then we stopped. As did all the trucks. Seems some animals were in the road and everything backed up. So it took about 20 minutes to board and by that time the queue had filled up quickly behind us. Once onboard we drew an entertaining driver so that was a plus.
- Festival of the Lion King has returned to its full show and its great to see. Also interesting they seemed to let us in early, over 20 minutes before show time, but we were unable to choose our seat instead guided to a row to ensure they fill all the space.
- In Asia we visited the Maharaj Jungle Trek and saw a couple of tigers out this visit. Last visit the area was closed for renovation. There was only one tiger in each area.
- Stopped by the Animal Kingdom Lodge to take a look around. This year they have a gingerbread giraffe and zebra in the lobby. They are interesting to see but in a poor spot for pictures with a lot of back lighting due to the windows.
- Out on the savannas it was really quiet. Only saw animals in one portion and not many.
- For lunch we stopped by Disney Springs. As always it is a time investment to head out there. The bus lanes seem to help a little but its still a long feeling trip. As we walked around for a Monday afternoon it felt busy but was not wall to wall people like the weekend would have been.
- Ate lunch at the Chicken Guy and seating there is still a challenge. They moved all the tables close together again. It would be nice if they did that plus added more.
- The Christmas Tree Stroll has returned and the trees are spread out around Disney Springs again this year. Maps and buttons are available at a number of locations. The trees are status quo with the new addition of a Disney Wish Topiary that is considered a tree. We saw a good number of groups doing the maps as we walked around.
- I returned to Disney’s Animal Kingdom after a brief stop back at the Boardwalk. The park really starts to empty out after 5pm with most animal attractions closed and entertainment over. There were a number of guests still in the park mostly in Pandora.
- I hung around for the Tree of Life Awakenings that included an Avatar: The Way of Water segment starting tonight. I am not a huge Avatar fan so I did not find the projects that interesting. Many in the crowd were not overly impressed either, I overheard several asking if that was it and then shrugging their shoulders and leaving the area.
- Decided to stop by Disney’s Riviera Resort on my way to Epcot this evening. The bus was sitting there ready to depart as I was walking through the bus stop at Animal Kingdom so I hopped on. It is interesting to me how the bus stop for the resort is a good walk from the building/lobby. I think this was my first time using it. I remember seeing where it was but once you walk it you realize it’s a good hike.
- I thought the Christmas decorations were minimal again. They were tastefully done but not extremely festive or Disney to me. I sent a picture of the tree in the lobby to someone and they asked me if I was in a department store for some reason?
- I took the Skyliner to Epcot. I walked up and they seated me in a gondola right away. They noted the car was an accessible one. I saw noting inside the car to account for this, the benches and spacing seemed the same as the other ones to me. The only difference was the doors did not open at the International Gateway station until the car was off the main line.
- This evening Epcot was open late for Deluxe Resort guests and the park felt busier than previous evenings walking around World Showcase.
- I visited Canada Far and Wide and it was a ghost town. There were more cast members than guests in the area.
- I hung out in the entrance plaza of Epcot enjoying the music and Spaceship Earth lights. One downside is a lack of benches. You can sit on the planters but if you wanted a back you had to sit off on the side and give up the view.
- As Harmonious ended I checked the wait times and they were climbing quickly so I decided to skip the extra hours and head back to the Boardwalk as usual.
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