Hi, Everyone! Welcome to the Best Week Ever here at Walt Disney World! First, I owe you an apology. I had a family member go into the hospital for emergency surgery, so I’ve missed the last couple weeks. That not only took me away from my writing, but I also had to cancel my solo Disneyland trip. They are recovering well, and I’m back on duty bringing you all the best of Disney weekly! Boy, I missed you guys! But don’t worry, I have one epic update for you! This week we’re getting wild at Animal Kingdom, cooling off with a little Frozen at the Disney’s Hollywood Studios, seeing what’s new at Magic Kingdom, and finishing up at DisneyQuest.
Now, let’s get started on the best week ever! For the past several weeks I’ve been stopping into Animal Kingdom around 6:00pm. This time of year the park is often open until 8:00pm, but the crowds tend to leave the park early. It’s become a tradition to hop on Kilimanjaro Safaris then dash over for the last showing of Festival of the Lion King. Since I hadn’t taken you guys there in a little while, I thought it was fitting to feature Animal Kingdom this week. All of the photos used were taken on the same evening (no cheating)! The safari was really this good! With the hot weather I’ve found after 6:00pm is when the animals are most active. Above is my favorite photo of the week of a female greater kudu. I love how she’s peeking back through the trees. Below is one of the female elephants and, if you can believe it, cheetahs that are actually awake!
Is it just me, or do these giraffes look like they’re gossiping? These guys are the one exception on my active evening safaris. The gate where they go in is just to the left of where they are pictured below. In the evenings they tend to just go stand around this gate waiting to get inside. The Ankole cattle, on the other hand, were still out adventuring! I’d noticed them missing for a while and heard a rumor that Disney is starting to cycle animals to stay out late. This schedule change would be in preparation for later Avatar related hours. I’m not sure how much truth is in that, but it would be amazing if Disney was working this early to prepare the animals!
Here are the last couple animals from my evening safari. I’m happy to report that the zebras seem to be fitting in better. They’d moved around a lot and always seemed to be far back away from the vehicles until recently. Unlike the white rhinos, which get closer than most of the animals!
Did I get to see your favorite animal on my evening safari? I hope so! If not, let me know in the comments below. It’s never too long before my next safari, and I’ll keep an eye out for you. Below you can see just some of the construction walls all over Animal Kingdom. Everyone is aware of Avatar being built, but lots of the park is quietly going behind walls. There haven’t been a lot of reports of what will emerge from all this construction. It’s good to see work going on in the parks, and I’ll keep you posted on what develops.
Outside the park you can see several cranes over the future site of Avatar. I’m always struck walking in when I see all the equipment. Animal Kingdom is so lush that I never notice this construction equipment from inside the park. If they could find a way to mask it from the outside, you’d never even know it was happening. The parking lot construction (pictured right, below) is a little more difficult to miss. They’ve just started work paving the grassy area that was left here. I can’t remember when Animal Kingdom was parked to capacity, but again they’re preparing for Avatar.
I couldn’t let my last view of Animal Kingdom this week be construction photos! So how about a couple shots from Festival of the Lion King? Even at the last show of the day these guys are still giving it their all! It’s easily the best show on Disney property. If you’d like to see more photos from the show, I posted some here when it reopened. I’m also curious if you guys would rather see a ride through of Expedition Everest or something else? I tend to stop into Animal Kingdom at least one night a week and do the same things over and over. But I’ll break my pattern if anyone has a request. Let me know in the comments below.
Next let’s stop over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, where the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant got its missing sign back. The colors are so vibrant now! It obviously just needed a little TLC, and it’s nice to see needed maintenance getting done. It seems like the Frozen gals are bringing some much needed attention to the park.
Guardians of the Galaxy has also arrived at the park! The preview has been there for a few weeks, but I noticed the addition of this magic photo wall. While I didn’t have a PhotoPass card, I found this online. It seems like a fun photo, especially for little boys that will likely love this movie! Heck, looking at the preview it seems like everyone will love it!
I’d noticed on my last visit that the Frozen VIP experience was indoors in the Disney Jr. Theater. It seemed like a great idea to me because guests were able to relax in the air conditioning; in front of the stage, it was hat, and there wasn’t as much room. It must have just been a test, or they were worried about the weather, because this week tables were set in front of the stage again. Also, I came across Frozen temporary tattoos this week! I haven’t seen these anywhere else yet, and there was a great selection. I know these are meant for kids, but I’ll admit I was tempted. I mean, they have Sven! Doesn’t everyone need a little more Sven in their life?
Now let’s check out what’s new at Magic Kingdom. This weekend was my first time seeing the new construction walls in Fantasyland. The popular rumor is that Peter Pan’s Flight is finally getting a highly anticipated interactive queue. Fingers crossed that one is true! Close by, the old Snow White gift shop has finally gone behind walls. Is it just me, or does this look like a likely location for Arendelle? Disney had better hurry, though! The shine might be wearing off the Frozen princesses a bit. This weekend the line was 90 minutes to meet them at opening and dropped to 75 minutes by lunch time.
I also stopped by to see the newly reopened PeopleMover. This is one of my favorite rides, so I was excited to report back any changes. What I have for you is… paint. Yep, that’s it. A new, bright exterior is the only visible change made during the refurbishment. When I first looked at it in person, I was shocked. But after a little time to adjust, I like the new colors. At least it’s bright and cheery rather than just gray. What do you think?
I’d also heard that over in Storybook Circus new furniture was added to the old FASTPASS machine location. It looks like pieces of furniture from all over property have come here to die. Honestly, it’s a random hodgepodge like I’ve never seen at Disney. But most of the chairs are comfortable, and there are lots of places to charge your phone. Once the weather cools off, this will be a nice, shady spot to rest. I also stopped in to meet Minnie, Daisy, Donald, and Goofy since I was in the neighborhood. Would I be a bad blogger if I admitted I’d never stepped foot in this meet and greet before this weekend? If you (like me) haven’t tried this meet and greet, then put it on your list! This is the cutest character spot I’ve ever seen. We had such a great time with the characters!
Our last stop this week is DisneyQuest. I hadn’t stopped by here in years, and my last memory was that it was lame. But I think a lot of that came from getting used to it and losing the slack jawed wonder of just walking in this place. When you first enter, the photo below is looking up at the two stories above you. Dreamy music is playing throughout the building. It reminds me of a casino in Las Vegas: inside you lose all sense of time.
Inside are five floors full of video games, interactive experiences, and classic games. The design of the building isn’t like anything else on Disney property. Even if I wasn’t there to play I’d want to walk around and explore. It only took a few minutes to wonder why I’d written this place off years ago and start having fun.
Our first stop was the Buzz Lightyear Astroblasters. These are bumper cars with a twist: each car has a cannon that shoots balls at other cars. If your car is hit, it will spin for a few seconds before continuing on. Below is a view from the floor above, watching other people play.
There are also tons of current video games, most which we’ve paid to play at Dave & Buster’s. The NASCAR game below allows ten people to race at the same time. There are also classic games, pinball machines, and standards like skee-ball all on free play. Unlike other arcades, you do not win tickets, but I think it’s worth it for free play. Who ever won anything good from tickets, anyway?
Speaking of pinball, here is a giant game where you get to be the pinball! (One fun note: the player in the upper right that seems to be barely moving… she beat all of them!)
One last little hiding place is the Wonderland Cafe. The food offered is mostly desserts, and it doesn’t start serving until 2:00pm, but the seating area might be one of my favorite in all of Disney property. Of course, you’re welcome to hang out in these plush chairs before they open. With a Starbucks across the street, this would be the perfect haven for a parent to have a relaxing morning while the kids enjoy the arcade. We’ll be back to DisneyQuest for sure! Would you guys like to see more? Let me know in the comments below!
That’s all for this week. If you’re heading to Disney World next week, here’s a look at what you can expect:
Crowd Calendar: We’re finally getting a little relief from the crowds, with some days dipping all the way down into the 4 range! Maybe now I can get a FastPass+ for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train!
Weather: Ya’ll – it’s gonna rain! I know, I keep saying the same thing, but be prepared for very hot temperatures and daily showers. More often the rain seems to be lingering for hours, so be ready.
Remember: Halloween will be here before you know it! Be sure to book your Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party tickets. You don’t want to miss this annual event.
Here’s my top tip for this week: If you see some beautiful sky but aren’t in a great spot to take photos, head for the monorail. This week I was at Magic Kingdom when an incredible sunset exploded in the sky. I took a trip on the resort monorail with some great results. By the time we pulled back into the Magic Kingdom I was taking photos of the moon! Amazing skies die fast around here.
Do you have any news I missed or any requests for coverage next week? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below, and thanks so much for reading! I’m wishing all of you the Best Week Ever, until next time!