Posts Tagged ‘Animal Kingdom’

Best (and Worst) Attractions to Get Stuck On

by on April 6, 2016

Thankfully, I had the good sense to bring some reading material along just in case I got stuck

Thankfully, I had the good sense to bring some reading material along just in case I got stuck

It happens. You’re right in the middle of an attraction, and everything just grinds to a halt.  Sometimes you’re down for a few seconds, sometimes it’s several minutes, and sometimes you actually have to be evacuated from the ride.  I was talking with someone in line on a recent trip, and he relayed a story where he spent an hour at the crest of the big drop on Splash Mountain before eventually having to walk off of the attraction without experiencing its climax.  To me, that seems like a pretty awful way to spend an afternoon, and it got me to thinking — what are the best and worst attractions at Walt Disney World to find yourself so stuck that you actually have to exit the ride using your feet? This article attempts to answer this pressing quandary that I suspect most of you had never bothered to contemplate before.

Here are the parameters of the challenge: you’ll be in the midst of the ride, and then at either the most or least optimal moment, the ride will stop moving, although the effects and show elements other than motion will continue to work. You’ll thereafter spend 30 minutes plus whatever time it take to get you rescued in that spot, and then you’ll either be ushered out by Cast Members, or extracted from the ride if necessary. Shows that you could just stand up and leave do not count (i.e., you cannot get “stuck” at Hall of Presidents). Also, you should assume that any momentum-based ride (e.g. roller coasters) is going to come to a natural resting place, such that you won’t be stuck upside down or in the middle of a steep hill.

So, without further ado, let’s go!

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Where To Eat At Disney’s Animal Kingdom

by on March 14, 2016

Disney's Animal KingdomIf you’re like me, you’re probably really excited about all of the new offerings on the way at Disney’s Animal Kingdom (nighttime Kilimanjaro Safaris? Rivers of Light? Count me in.). We’ll finally get the chance to see this park come to life after dark every night, spending a whole day exploring new and old attractions alike. Along with that extra exploring, though, comes a few practical considerations – mainly, where to eat. I’ve certainly enjoyed some great meals in Animal Kingdom over the years, but now I, like many of you, am faced with deciding where to eat multiple meals in one longer touring day at this park. To help tackle this problem, I recently dined with a few friends at the big three quick service locations in the park – Pizzafari, Flame Tree Barbecue, and Restaurantosaurus. Here, you’ll find a quick overview and dining review of all three locations (including some of the recent menu changes), and then a look at how the three compare to each other and the park’s various dining offerings to help you best decide where to head on your next trip.

First, I’ll address the elephant in the room – why only these three restaurants? It’s pretty simple: they’re the most popular, centrally-located, and accessible (menu- and price-wise) eateries in the park. I love the current table service offerings at Animal Kingdom, and really enjoy snacking my way around the park. More than likely, though, you’re going to find yourself looking to grab a quick and relatively cheap meal before taking in the park’s upcoming nighttime entertainment. Dining at these three restaurants doesn’t require a lot of pre-planning and they cover a pretty wide variety of cuisines suitable for palates of all levels of adventurousness. I’m skipping Harambe Market in this review, as it’s been pretty widely covered recently, and is located a bit further back in the park. Same for Yak & Yeti Local Food Cafe – it’s pretty remote, featuring Asian cuisine not unlike what you’d find at Lotus Blossom Cafe at Epcot. That’s not to say either of these aren’t great options for you to consider, but if you’re looking for food in a pinch (as you arrive to the park for the evening, or running between attractions on a longer touring day), the three restaurants outlined here are your most likely options.

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Disney Haiku Challenge

by on March 11, 2016

"Disney Haiku"

“Disney Haiku” (yes, that’s really what it says)

I’m not sure why exactly, but I’ve always found haiku to be a fun little creative outlet. My law school roommate and I would often sit in the back of our Estates & Trusts lectures and compose absurd haiku as a way to pass the time. This might explain why neither of us do estates and trusts as a part of our practice, by the way, but that’s a discussion for another day.  

Anyway, as a reminder for those of you that have not encountered it since elementary school, haiku is a form of short Japanese poetry that follows a particular format: a traditional haiku is 17 syllables in three phrases that follow a 5-7-5 pattern.*  In other words, the first phrase is 5 syllables, the second is 7, and the final phrase is 5 syllables.  To the extent that it requires you to wedge your thoughts into a small number of words and still convey something worth reading, you can almost think of it as an ancient version of Twitter (minus the abbreviations, emoticons and vitriol).  Alas, I digress.

Haiku have traditionally been used to convey very Zen-like observations regarding the serenity of the natural world.  Accordingly, the juxtaposition of this simple, beautiful form of poetry and its traditional use, and different subject matter — like the decidedly un-serene and not-particularly-natural Disney Parks — can lead to some wonderfully absurd results.  Soooo, here’s a challenge for all of you — come up with some Disney park haiku and share them in the comments below.

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How Disney’s Animal Kingdom is Preparing for Rivers of Light

by on March 10, 2016

The most under-appreciated theme park in Walt Disney World is about to be the proud recipient of a brand new nighttime spectacular that promises to be unforgettable.  Rivers of Light is set to debut on Earth Day, April 22nd, the 18th anniversary of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Disney has begun releasing more details about the show, its themes, and major visual elements. In fact, they held a brief chat on the Disney Parks Blog to share some information about the show and its development. I also visited my favorite Walt Disney World theme park a few days ago and checked out the construction of the show’s amphitheater. Finally, there’s some other preparations being made in the park to get ready for the arrival of Rivers of Light.

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Disney reveals more details about Rivers of Light

Disney recently released a few videos showing footage of technical rehearsals as well as construction of some of the shows key floats. In case you’ve missed the concept art and basic storylines, Rivers of Light will take place on the lagoon in between the back edge of Discovery Island and Asia, essentially in front of Expedition Everest. Fountains, water projection screens, lighting, floats, boats, and live performers will bring this spectacle to life. Even the parks icon, the Tree of Life will become part of the show. If for some reason you are really wanting to stay away from any spoilers whatsoever then it may be best to skip ahead to the next section regarding the amphitheater construction.

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The Basics: Meeting Characters at Animal Kingdom

by on March 2, 2016

AK-Characters-1-467x700This is a continuation of our Back to Basics Series. Scroll to the bottom to see our other Basics posts.

 

Character meet and greets – love them or hate them, they’re a pivotal part of a Walt Disney World vacation. I already waxed nostalgic on the magical memories that can be made at a character meet, and I encourage you to check out my first article (which focuses on Epcot) in the Character Meet and Greet portion of our Back to Basics series. For my second foray into the detailed world of characters and where they live, we’re headed off to the Animal Kingdom!

Animal Kingdom is not a park I traditionally associate with a large number of character meet and greets, but one major thing it has going for it is uniqueness. While you can find your traditional characters there (Mickey, Minnie, etc.) you can also find others who only appear in Animal Kingdom. In actuality, Animal Kingdom has a pretty solid line-up of characters! (I have no idea why I have some sort of mental block saying that Animal Kingdom isn’t prime real estate for characters – it is!) Before we start on the rundown of characters you can find here, let me give you some basic meet and greet tips. (Feel free to scroll past the following section if you read it in the Epcot article. Do I at least get bonus points for swapping out the photos?)

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The Best of Walt Disney World for Babies

by on March 1, 2016

TouringPlans logoWelcome to Part 1 of my new blog series – The Best of Walt Disney World! Over the next several weeks, I’ll be sharing with you the top picks in attractions, entertainment, and experiences for various groups of travelers visiting the Walt Disney World theme parks.

How is this going to help me with my planning, you ask? Great question! Here’s how…Maybe you’ve always traveled to “the most magical place on earth” as a couple and now you’ll be taking your new baby, maybe this time grandma and grandpa will be joining you, or maybe this is your very first visit. No matter who you’re traveling with, I’ve got you covered with The Best of Walt Disney World series! And here’s how it will work…In each post, I’ll give you a rundown of the must do’s from each park along with some key information about that particular attraction or experience and a link in case you are looking for even more in-depth details.

Now that we’ve gotten all of the basics out of the way, let’s begin Part 1 of The Best of Walt Disney World with the tiniest of travelers – babies!

So if this is your first time taking a baby with you to Walt Disney World, you may have heard people say there is no reason to bring them. They won’t be able to ride anything! Let me reassure you that is simply not the case. There are plenty of things for baby to experience at Walt Disney World. In fact, as long as there isn’t a height restriction, your little one is permitted to ride. My youngest son has been enjoying a wide variety of attractions and shows at the parks since he was just six months old. Please read on for a full list of The Best of Walt Disney World for babies!

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Movies to See Before Your Disney World Vacation

by on February 28, 2016

image

Ready for a Disney Movie Marathon?

When counting down a trip to Walt Disney World, there are a number of things that need to be done from deciding how many suitcases to take, to setting a souvenir budget, to breaking in that new pair of walking shoes. But for me, there’s one more thing that I always have to do when counting down those last few anticipation-filled days, and that’s refreshing my memory and getting in the Disney spirit with a few movies! Kicking back with some popcorn to revisit a classic Disney flick, or even checking out a film for the first time, will only add to your overall Disney World experience. So go pop some popcorn and get ready for a movie marathon with my list of movies to see before your Disney World Vacation!

But first, let me explain how I came up with this list. Naturally, I included a number of Disney animated classics, even though it was really really hard to narrow down my favorites; but just so you know, I based my selections on what films I felt were represented the most at Walt Disney World or a huge part of Disney World history. Secondly, my list is not just Disney animated films, but also live-action Disney films and non-Disney films which are either represented in the parks or, again, played a big role in Disney history or as Imagineering inspiration! But as always, if you feel that I missed an important movie, or would simply like to add to the list, please do so in the comments.

Okay, are you ready for the list? Here we go…

Photo - Disney

Photo – Disney

Cinderella

Disney’s first princess film since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella is one of the most beloved and important films Walt Disney ever made. The film’s release in 1950 was so successful that it revitalized the Disney Company after World War II and kick-started the decade in which we would get the first Disney Park: Disneyland. Why you should revisit Cinderella before your Disney World retreat is because the Magic Kingdom’s castle is called Cinderella Castle! Inside the castle, a sparkly mosaic tells Cinderella’s story and there’s even a themed restaurant, Cinderella’s Royal Table, where guests meet Cinderella herself and dine in a medieval, fairy tale setting. Characters from Cinderella are also known to meet guests around Cinderella Castle and throughout Fantasyland; and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa offers a special character meal at 1900 Park Fare where Cinderella, Prince Charming, and her dysfunctional family meet with guests as they dine. All in all, Cinderella is an important film at Walt Disney World and is definitely worth a watch before you pass through the park turnstiles.

African Queen by IMDB

Photo – imdb.com

The African Queen

Why is this film my first pick? Well, believe it or not this 1951 classic, starring Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn, inspired the Disney Park staple, The Jungle Cruise. Walt Disney saw this film himself and wanted to recreate the experience in his upcoming Disneyland Park. Although, he planned for guests aboard his boats to see live wildlife on the shores, just as the characters in The African Queen did! Of course, live animals wasn’t exactly doable at the time, nor would they be willing to appear and entertain when a boat passed by every few minutes; and so, the plan for live animals was scrapped in favor of one of Walt’s newest innovations: audio-animatronics. Walt’s vision for an attraction where guests could be entertained by live African wildlife was finally realized in 1998 when Kilimanjaro Safaris opened at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park. In this way, The African Queen technically inspired two attractions at Walt Disney World! This is why I encourage anyone going to Walt Disney World to check out The African Queen. While I’ve always loved the Jungle Cruise, seeing the film which inspired it gave me a whole new appreciation for this classic attraction. Tip: Look for The African Queen poster on Sunset Boulevard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

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Animal Kingdom AtMousePhere: The Music of DinoLand U.S.A.

by on January 18, 2016

And here we are! After almost two years of Walt Disney World AtMousePhere, we have come to our final post. We’ve done four parks and 22 articles, and it’s been a lot of fun to dig into the rich history and deep connections the music creates in the parks.

Photo courtesy Brian McNichols

Photo courtesy Brian McNichols

To wrap up our series, we are going to take a look at perhaps the most divisive area of the Animal Kingdom, DinoLand U.S.A. Some people enjoy its kitchiness, and others can’t stand how much it contrasts to the rest of the park. I don’t spend all that much time in this area, but can appreciate the backstory. (It’s meant to be tacky!)

The music of DinoLand U.S.A. contains a lot of pop and rock music, which can be heard generally around The Boneyard play area and Restaurantosaurus. The music is based around dinosaurs and extinction (remember, the original name of the Dinosaur attraction was “Countdown to Extinction”), and some of it will definitely be recognizable.

Listen carefully, and you can hear that it supposed to be akin to an underground radio station, taken over by a couple of the interns who work at the Dino Institute nicknamed “Digger” and “Bonehead.”

Photo courtesy Disney

Photo courtesy Disney

Here’s a nice list, if you’re curious:

  • “Dancing with the Dinosaur” by Steven Curtis Chapman
  • “Ugga Bugga” by Barnes and Barnes
  • “I’m A Little Dinosaur” by Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers
  • “Watch Out” by Barnes and Barnes
  • “If I Had a Dinosaur” by Raffi
  • “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” by R.E.M.
  • “Sweet Dinosaur of Mine” by Barnes and Barnes
  • “Brontosaurus” by Cheap Trick
  • “Walk the Dinosaur” by Was (Not Was)
  • “Godzilla” by Blue Oyster Cult
  • “Bad to the Bone” by George Thorogood & The Destroyers
  • “Grazing In The Grass” by Friends of Distinction (part of the chorus is “Can you dig it?”)

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Christmas Day at Animal Kingdom

by on December 30, 2015

Christmas Day at Animal Kingdom

Enjoy Christmas Day at Animal Kingdom without getting out of your pink bunny pajamas. (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

No matter which park you pick, the Christmas holiday is one of the busiest times to visit Orlando. But if you must attend a Walt Disney World theme park during the peak travel system, I discovered that you could do worse than spending Christmas Day at Animal Kingdom.

Animal Kingdom may seem like a strange Christmas Day selection, since the park is positively Scrooge-like in the seasonal cheer department when compared to the other WDW parks. There’s nothing at Animal Kingdom on the scale of Magic Kingdom’s Holiday Wishes, DHS’s Osborne Family Spectacle, or Epcot’s Holidays Around the World; there isn’t even an Animal Kingdom Christmas parade anymore.

But that lack of seasonal draws made Christmas Day at Animal Kingdom a great idea, if your plans included enjoying attractions without asphyxiating in capacity crowds. This may change after Avatar arrives, but as the least-attended Walt Disney World park Animal Kingdom was a relative oasis for those seeking a smidgen of elbow room.

On my way into Walt Disney World property on Christmas morning, road signs advised that the Magic Kingdom was closed. Over at Animal Kingdom, however, there were acres of empty parking spot. Since this lot is the easiest of the four parks to get in and out of, consider using it when heading to one of the other parks on peak days.

 

For Christmas 2015, the entrance to Animal Kingdom was decked out with the usual giant tree, and new security scanning stations. Unless you are one of the few folks randomly selected for scanning, the new procedures appear have little to no effect on your entry speed.

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Underrated Attractions at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park + Video

by on December 29, 2015

Photo - TouringPlansFor this week’s Trivia Tuesday, I’m going to discuss some underrated attractions found in Animal Kingdom park at Walt Disney World.

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