Experience two top-rated Animal Kingdom shows in this Best Week Ever (photos y Seth Kubersky)
For this edition of Best Week Ever, I was inspired by Derek Burgan‘s recent Saturday Six, in which he lauded two Animal Kingdom shows as the top live entertainments that Walt Disney World has to offer.
Though a fan of both his picks, I had not seen either selection in several months, so I decided it was time to visit Animal Kingdom again and see how these acclaimed shows are holding up.
Welcome to the Animal Kingdom parking lot! You can see Avatar construction just behind the tree line.
This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Best SHOWS at Walt Disney World. Here at the SATURDAY SIX we have done several articles looking at the best-of-the-best attractions, resorts, and restaurants at Walt Disney World, but we haven’t spent much time on one area they do better than any theme park in the world: shows. The live shows across the WDW parks range from the smaller scale and intimate experience of the Dapper Dans singing on Main Street USA, to the elaborately choreographed Trolley shows, all the way to the Broadway caliber Finding Nemo – The Musical at Animal Kingdom. So grab a seat – hopefully in air conditioning, and let’s begin the countdown of the absolute best shows starting with…
# 6 – Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! (Disney’s Hollywood Studios)
Sorry to disappoint any Shia LaBeouf fans, but one reason for Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectaculars‘ amazing 25+ year run at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is because it is based around the iconic Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Arc film. The show recreates several famous scenes from the movie while explaining how they were accomplished. It is a fascinating look at the movie making process (one of the only things of its kind at a “studios” park) and has a fair share of good natured humor along the way. It speaks volumes to the overall quality of the show that it has remained almost completely unchanged since its debut in 1989 and regularly packs its 2000 seat stadium.
Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! (photo by Brandon Glover)
Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! (photo by Brandon Glover)
Take a day — or at least 2/3s of one — to walk around Animal Kingdom with Touring Plans (photos by Seth Kubersky).
This week it was time for me to make some observations from Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and is there any place in Walt Disney World more welcoming on a muggy, humid day? Wait, don’t answer that… As an infrequent visitor to Animal Kingdom, it was my objective to visit as many of park’s major and mid-tier attractions as possible, in order to test Derek Burgan’s controversial theory that DAK is indeed more than a “half-day park.”
While the typical Touring Plans approach is to arrive before rope drop, I decided to give Animal Kingdom a fighting chance by pulling onto Disney property a half hour after the park’s 9 a.m. opening time. The first sight that greeted me past the toll booths was a large section of the overflow parking lot where grass was being replaced with asphalt.
We’re at the half way point in our Favorite Parks journey! (Read about Disney’s Hollywood Studios here.) Before doing research for this article, I’ll admit that Disney’s Animal Kingdom was my least favorite park. However, the more I delved into the MAGIC* behind the park, the more I realized how spectacular and incredibly unique Animal Kingdom is.
Since Animal Kingdom is known for its hot environment, Kali River Rapids is just the attraction to cool you off. As the unpredictable rapids decide which way the raft spins, no one is safe from the surprising splashes and torrents. Once you’ve become thoroughly soaked, dry yourself off by enjoying two delightful shows; Finding Nemo– The Musical and the Festival of the Lion King. Adrenaline junkies will love running into the Yeti on Expedition Everest, while those looking for further adventure can experience DINOSAUR. An underrated attraction at Animal Kingdom worth attending is Flights of Wonder, an educational and entertaining exotic bird show. You’ll be ‘squawking’ about it for days!
Jambo, Everyone! Welcome to our look at the very blustery opening day of the Festival of the Lion King. When FastPass+ were released just a couple days before, I jumped at the chance to see this show return after a six month closure. Unfortunately, I was only able to reserve the last show of the day. Around 1pm I couldn’t wait any longer and decided to head to the park and attempt to get into the 2pm show through the standby line, even though it was drizzling outside. The new theater looks great and fits in perfectly with the rest of Harambe.
I arrived at the theater at 1:45pm and hopped in the line. It wasn’t as long as I’d expected, but I noticed people were only trickling in a few at a time. When I was closer to the podium, I was advised that only standing room was available for the show. I didn’t remember this from the old theater, so I decided to check it out for you guys. Basically, Disney is allowing guests to stand on the staircases around the seating areas and at the very back of the theater. I was pushed off to one side, so my photos didn’t turn out at all. The below photo will give you an idea what this view is like. Full disclosure: this is an older photo from the previous theater.
The show has moved to the Africa section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom from its previous location in Camp Minnie-Mickey. (Camp Minnie-Mickey is currently the construction site of the upcoming Avatarland, slated to open in 2017.) The theater can be found just over the bridge to Africa, right behind the Dawa Bar and Tusker House.
In addition to this new theater, rumors indicate that Disney has built a brand new gift shop in the area, which should be called Mariya’s Souvenirs.
The show, Festival of the Lion King, tells the tale of the movie, The Lion King, utilizing song, dance, acrobats, puppetry, and more. Festival of the Lion King will be performed daily, and FastPass+ reservations will be available.
The new Harambe Theater will also be utilized for the upcoming Harambe Nights hard-ticket event, which will feature an all new, 55-minute show, “The Lion King: Concert in the Wild.” The show will be a never-before-seen take on the The Lion King, with a celebrity narrator, choir, orchestra, and dancers. Harambe Nights begins on June 7 and takes place every Saturday evening through August 9.
Festival of the Lion King has been under refurbishment for the past few months. The previous show was located in the now closed Camp Minnie-Mickey section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom (which is now the location of construction for Avatarland). A brand new theater is being built in the Africa section of the park.
I previously suspected that the fantastic theatrical attraction telling the story of The Lion King via song, dancing, and acrobatics, would reopen in June, thanks to the yesterday’s news about Harambe Nights.
Today, Disney confirmed that Festival of the Lion King will indeed reopen in its new home in June! An exact date was not given, but given that the first Harambe Nights party is on June 7, I expect it to reopen sometime around then. (My conjecture…not official.)
This new section of the park looks fabulous! I’ll be sure to keep you updated on an exact opening date as soon as it is announced!