Animal Kingdom

Doc McStuffins Meet at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Starts This Weekend

by on February 17, 2017

©Disney

Recently, I let you all know that Guests will be able to meet Doc McStuffins at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Well, it appears that she will officially start meeting Guests beginning this Sunday, February 19.

Doc will be meeting with Guests just outside the veterinary clinic of Rafiki’s Planet Watch. The popular toy doctor will make daily visits taking photos and signing autographs. While at Rafiki’s Planet Watch, make sure to stop and learn all about the different conservation efforts that Disney is helping with, as well as how Disney’s vets care for the numerous animals that live at the park.

Guests will still be able to meet Doc McStuffins in the Animation Courtyard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios where she appears alongside fellow Disney Junior stars Jake from Jake and the Neverland Pirates and Sofia from Sofia the First. Guests looking to dine with Doc are still able to do so at Disney Junior Play n’ Dine for breakfast at Hollywood & Vine.

Beating the Crowds: How to Handle Animal Kingdom with Avatar

by on February 14, 2017

Pandora: The World of Avatar opens May 27, 2017 at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. We don’t know all the details yet, but our experience tells us some basic things about how crowds will interact with Animal Kingdom after the new land opens. Since we hear that pictures are better than words, Brian put together a video to explain. If you would like to see more things like this, please give us some suggestions in the comments. Oh, and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel so you don’t miss anything!

How Pandora Will Impact Crowds At Animal Kingdom – A Crowd Calendar Update

by on February 13, 2017

Pandora: The World of Avatar opens officially at Animal Kingdom on May 27, 2017 and crowds will flock to the park to take in the new attractions. Expect to wait 200 minutes or more to experience the new attractions during the first week of operation. We also expect wait times at other Animal Kingdom attractions to increase 15% when the new Pandora attractions open, and we expect that increase to last throughout most of the summer.

The last major addition to a Disney Park was New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom. The expansion ended with the opening of Seven Dwarfs Mine Train on May 28, 2014, two days after Memorial Day. Wait times at Magic Kingdom rose dramatically after the headliner opened, not just at nearby Fantasyland attractions but across the park. Animal Kingdom doesn’t draw the same crowds that Magic Kingdom does, and Pandora likely won’t have the same draw that New Fantasyland did, but it is reasonable to expect a significant bump in attendance. The new Pandora attractions will see extreme wait times throughout the summer, but we expect rides like Expedition Everest and Kilimanjaro Safaris to see wait times go up, as well.

As a result, we are updating the Crowd Calendar to reflect the announcement of Pandora’s official opening date. In addition, we are making a few minor updates to other dates and parks in line with our most recent analysis.

Other New Developments That May Affect Crowds

  • Disney announced an increase to Walt Disney World ticket prices, with costs going up as much as 10% for certain multi-day tickets. A price increase can lead to a small dip in attendance, either through shorter or fewer trips. What we don’t yet know is how much this price increase will affect crowds, given the opening of Pandora and other developments.
  • We expect Disney’s Hollywood Studios to drop its evening Extra Magic Hours program. We also expect the Animal Kingdom to add evening Extra Magic Hours, and Magic Kingdom not to replace its evening parade (at least with anything new or notable) for the next few months. The net effect of those changes should be to push evening crowds to the Animal Kingdom. We’ve never seen this situation before, though, and we don’t know how much the price increase in park hopper tickets will discourage people from visiting a second park per day.

Is Pandora Animal Kingdom’s New Fantasyland?

It may take our models up to 30 days to recognize the impact of these changes. We’ll adjust each park’s crowd predictions based on that and post something to the blog explaining the changes as we get them.

What’s Behind These Crowd Calendar Updates

Here is a brief description of what you will see on the latest crowd calendar. As always, the crowd levels are subject to change as they are based on the information available to us at the time we make the predictions. We always encourage you use a touring plan as the best defense against any size crowd – they work, so use ’em!

February

The rest of February will see some minor changes that reflect dips in wait times we have seen in late January and early February, mostly at Hollywood Studios. The calendar is currently not predicting a large boost in wait times at Animal Kingdom when Rivers of Light begins regular performances but that may have to be revised once we see what happens after February 17. Unless you are visiting specifically to see the show, try to avoid that park, especially in the evening.

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Rivers of Light to Debut at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

by on February 9, 2017

©Disney

I feel like I’ve written this blog post before…only to have things change. But now, it appears as though the long wait is finally over. According to Disney’s website, Rivers of Light will begin enchanting Guests starting on Friday, February 17.

The show, which as many well know was fraught with delays and issues, currently appears to be scheduled at 7:15 p.m. on Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays through March 11.  Then things begin to change with the schedule and get kind of confusing.

Beginning March 12, showtimes change to 8:45 p.m. on Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. That lasts through April 8. Beginning April 9, Rivers of Light will have two shows each and every night – one at 8:30 p.m. and one at 9:45 p.m. leading up to the Easter holiday. Starting April 23, the park will go back to having only one showing nightly at 8:45 p.m. The final schedule change will begin April 30, when Rivers of Light will take place beginning at 9:30 p.m. each evening. Currently, the schedule has only be released through the end of June. FastPass+ reservations are now available. 

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Doc McStuffins to Meet Guests at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

by on February 8, 2017

©Disney

If you have a Disney Junior fan, then you know all about Doc McStuffins. Later this month you’ll have the opportunity to meet Doc at Disney’s Animal Kingdom just outside the veterinary clinic of Rafiki’s Planet Watch. The popular toy doctor will make daily visits meeting with guests and signing autographs. While there, stop and  learn a about conservation efforts and how Disney’s vets care for the animals that live at the park.

Guests will still be able to meet Doc McStuffins in the Animation Courtyard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios where she appears alongside fellow Disney Junior stars Sofia the First and Jake from Jake and the Neverland Pirates. In addition, Guests looking for Doc McStuffins will also still be able to see her at Disney Junior Play n’ Dine for breakfast at Hollywood & Vine, as well as at Disney Junior – Live on Stage, also found in the Animation Courtyard.

No official date has been announced, so stay tuned to the blog for further details.

Pandora – The World of Avatar to Open Memorial Day Weekend at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

by on February 7, 2017

Pandora - The World of Avatar Opening Date

©Disney

After YEARS of hype and build up, we officially have an opening date! Pandora – The World of Avatar will open at Disney’s Animal Kingdom on May 27!

This new land will transport guests to the visually stunning world of Pandora, straight from the film Avatar. In Pandora, guests will wonder at floating mountains and bioluminescent plants as they make their way through the enchanting land.

Walt Disney Imagineering has collaborated with filmmaker James Cameron and Lightstorm Entertainment is bringing to life the mythical world of Pandora, inspired the film, Avatar, to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Things We Can’t Wait To See in 2017

by on December 31, 2016

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Things We Can’t Wait To See In 2017! 2016 was another unbelievable year in the theme park world, containing a wide mix of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. 2017 is already shaping up to be even more amazing. We have a new immersive land that promises to eclipse what Disneyland has done with Cars Land and Universal with Diagon Alley, a new President being added to the Hall of Presidents, and the first of its kind “water theme park.” If that doesn’t get your blood pumping about the next 12 months you may actually be a Host from Westworld, but for the rest of you, here’s some of the things we can’t wait to see, starting with…

 

# 6 – Pandora: The World of Avatar (Animal Kingdom)

Our long national nightmare is almost over. First announced on September 20, 2011, Pandora: The World of Avatar is nearing completion. Disney is saying “Summer 2017” for this new land, and is going on record saying it is the most immersive area in any theme park. Just from what we can see from what rises over the construction walls and the Blogger-In-The-Sky helicopter camera shots, the land does look STUNNING. The info we’ve been given on the bioluminescent plants in the area along with the experience in the Na’vi River Journey make both seem like “wow” moments. Last year, this fine blog did question what Pandora will be doing in the areas of food and merchandise, two extremely important factors a theme park land needs to deliver on to satisfy its Return On Investment (ROI). These are also two areas that Disney has not released much info on for Pandora. We all know that Avatar the movie – by far and away the most financially successful film in the history of cinema – never really figured out a way to get its fans to buy merchandise the way that Star Wars, Marvel, Harry Potter, and even Star Trek have.

The Flying Mountains of Pandora. (photo by @Blog_Mickey)

Na’vi River Journey. (photo courtesy of Disney Parks and Resorts)

One of the most exciting things about Pandora is that it appears the land will be using projection mapping on its incredible rock work. This is something that has never been mentioned by Disney over the course of the Pandora project, but Johnny-on-the-spot bloggers have seen this technology being tested. Your Humble Author thinks projection mapping is one of the areas that Disney is heads and tails above anyone else in the industry right now. Whether on the castle in the Magic Kingdom, the Great Movie Ride facade in DHS, or the jaw dropping Tree of Life Awakens shows at Animal Kingdom, Disney’s use of projection mapping in the parks is amazing.

What looks to be testing for projecting mapping on the rock work in Pandora. (photo by @Blog_Mickey)

# 5 – Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon (Universal Studios Florida)

Last year Universal fans lost Twister…Ride It Out! along with its Bill Paxton performance that was so mailed in he should have put a stamp on it. In Twister’s place will be the upcoming Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon. One of the most underrated aspects of this change, is that the attraction takes place in the New York area of Universal Studios Florida, so it is a perfect fit. There are many who do not like Fallon’s broad sense of humor, but his Late Night TV dominance shows there is most likely a much larger group of people who love what he brings to the table (Your Humble Author included). While there have been some debates on how the “flying theater” ride mechanics will actually work, one thing we do know is that Universal is trying something truly different with how people experience the attraction’s queue.

Much like how Dumbo at the Magic Kingdom allows kids to play in a themed area until it is time to ride, Race Through New York looks to have things for adults to do while waiting. There will be a woman’s quartet singing songs, a chance to check out classic bits from from Fallon’s Tonight Show run (including Lip Sync Battle), write your own “Thank You Notes” at an interactive desk, and even get a meet and greet with the Tonight Show’s mascot, Hashtag the Panda.

Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon is designed to get guests to laugh, and comedy is one thing Universal is very good at delivering on. From the criminally underrated Horror Make-Up Show to the non-stop gags in Springfield USA, be prepared to bring your smile when stepping into Universal Studios Florida.

Race Through New York starring Jimmy Fallon concept art.

Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon in Universal Studios Florida. (photo by @bioreconstruct).

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Walt Disney World Holiday News and Updates

by on December 22, 2016

Walt Disney World Christmas

©Rikki Niblett

The busy holiday season is coming up this weekend at Walt Disney World and because of that, here are a few things you should keep in mind if you are planning on visiting the theme parks to celebrate.

First, at the Magic Kingdom, Guests will be able to experience many of the events that typically occur during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Here is the schedule of events:

December 23-28

  • Voiceplay (musical group) – 3:10 p.m., 4:10 p.m., 5:15 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.

December 23-29

  • Holiday Wishes – 9:00 p.m.
  • Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration (Cinderella Castle Forecourt Stage) – 7:15 p.m., 8:15 p.m., 10:15 p.m. and 11:15 p.m.
  • Move It! Shake It! Dance & Play It! Street Party – 1:45 p.m. and 5:15 p.m.

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Daisy’s Best Week Ever December 15, 2016: A Little Christmas

by on December 15, 2016

Hello, lovebugs! I had a great idea for this week, it was going to be “A Very Harambe Christmas”. I remembered seeing lots of fun Christmas shows and decorations at Animal Kingdom in the past. I was off to a good start, the Christmas tree looks gorgeous in front of the park:

As I started looking for Christmas cheer in the park I found it a little lacking. There was some garland here and there, but gone are the days of the Jingle Jungle parade and themed trees at Camp Minnie-Mickey. So instead let’s visit a few of the animals and we’ll get back into the Christmas spirit a little later. First up, check out this giraffe lying down. I don’t normally catch them relaxing, but the weather was so nice I guess they couldn’t resist. What a treat!

The giraffe wasn’t the only animal that couldn’t resist the delicious weather we’ve been having lately! Click below to see more animals and some extra Christmas fun around Walt Disney World.

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SATURDAY SIX: Third Annual Theme Park Turkeys of the Year

by on November 26, 2016

This week’s SATURDAY SIX is one of our favorites as we present the Third Annual “Turkeys” of the Year. For Thanksgiving this week we took a look back at things both Disney and Universal fans should be thankful for, but today we are going to go the other way. Gather ’round as we continue the fine tradition of awarding six Theme Park “Turkeys” to the craziest, most outrageous, or just downright weird stories of the year, concluding with the coveted Golden Turkey award. Let’s kick off the ceremony with a food situation that blew us away….

# 6 – That Time Disney Charged $12.99 For a “Hurricane Box”

turkeys_hurricanebox_juliette

Art by Juliette Elton (@JulietteElton)

In early October, the state of Florida had its biggest weather scare in almost a decade with the oncoming Hurricane Matthew. Most of the models used by meteorologists had Matthew slamming into the East Coast, and then continuing straight up through the center of the state hitting Orlando. Seemingly playing a weird game of chicken, Disney and Universal both waited until just about the last possible moment to announce their hard ticket events of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Halloween Horror Nights would be cancelled for Thursday, October 6th,  and all the Orlando theme parks would be closed on Friday, October 7th.

With the storm bearing down on Florida, food everywhere was being cleared off the shelves at Walt Disney World. Lines appeared at the hotel food courts that seemed impossible to believe were true (but they absolutely were.) The food court at Port Orleans French Quarter was in the process of being refurbished, and there WDW was offering a $12.99 boxed meal that included a sandwich, an apple, a bag of chips, and a cookie. Pictures of the paltry boxed lunch hit social media and news outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel, with most of the reaction being very unfavorable to Disney.

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