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I’m in WDW this week, and today we made it out to Animal Kingdom for “rope drop,” or when the park opens up. We drove, and thankfully the parking lot was open by the time we got there around 8:15am (according to Len and others, it sometimes only opens 20 minutes before park opening). There were fewer than 50 cars on the lot when we arrived, but it swelled by opening. We lined up at the gate at 8:35am, and were given complimentary fastpasses to Festival of the Lion King (more on that in a sec). At 8:40 am we got let into the oasis and across the bridge to the “ropes” in front of the Tree of Life on Discovery Island. After a cute little park opening show with some characters, they let us go and the crowds immediately split up into two groups: one towards Safari, and the other towards Everest.
So today we (it’s just my dad and me on this trip) were checking out what the FASTPASS times were like for all the FP attractions within the first few minutes of opening (sent via orders from Fred). We split up to cover more ground, me heading towards Dinoland then around to Everest and Kali River Rapids while he hit Safari.
One thing that we noticed was some serious posted wait time inflation right after opening. While being led behind a moving rope all the way through Harambe, my Dad saw a 20 minute wait on Safaris before anyone had gotten on the ride. Less than a minute and maybe 100 people later, it had jumped to 40 minutes. Clearly, this is intended to not overwhelm the most popular attractions during early morning swells. Heading back towards Discovery Island, my dad a noticed a bunch of people balk at the long wait.
Another thing we noticed were numerous FASTPASS ticket handouts by cast members / managers. Two were for the first shows of the day (typically the least popular) of Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo: The Musical. Another was for Kali River Rapids as we stepped off Everest–which the stern warning that we must redeem before 10am. These handouts seem to be a pretty set policy now, not unlike Year of a Million Dreams “Dream FASTPASS” handouts of years past (maybe happening for even longer and I didn’t get the memo). Like the posted time inflation, my guess is that this spreads guests out by nudging them towards less crowded venues & attractions, and the recipients (us included) sure seemed pleased.
Lastly, we wanted to check out the new “central” FASTPASS distribution depot/hut/place in front of the park. Today, there were four sets of two booths distributing FPs for Dinosaur, Everest, Safari, and Kali (with Everest and Safari having the longest queues). Because the distribution times for these FASTPASSes are not posted, I asked a Cast Member what they were, who asked a family that had just gotten them distributed. Hoping they get a return times board up, and eager to see how this experiment continues.
By the way, are you following us on Twitter? Because you totally should. I’ve been furiously updating from the parks (and will for the rest of the week). This morning I live-streamed the first Festival of the Lion King show of the day from my phone. Didn’t turn out terribly (see the video here), so I’ll try to do again over the next few days. Stay tuned!