Earlier this year at the SATURDAY SIX we did an article looking at six things we wish theme park fans would stop complaining about. One of those complaints was that Animal Kingdom is a half day park. We gave our reasoning for why this isn’t true, but we wanted to get an expert opinion on this controversial subject. We reached out to Michael McBride of JamboEveryone.com and the Radio Harambe podcast, two of the best resources on the Animal Kingdom park. So today we are proud to present Six Reasons Animal Kingdom is NOT a Half Day Park. Take it away Mike…
It drives me crazy when people call Animal Kingdom a half day park. Yeah, I know, it’s a common observation, but still I know those people are missing out on a lot that the park has to offer. Yes, Animal Kingdom has fewer “rides” than the other parks. But there is so much more to a park then plopping down in an omnimover or coaster. The meaning of the word attraction is a lot broader than that. So when people say that Animal Kingdom is a half day park, they are not enjoying the shows, the trails, or the entertainment offerings that this place does so well. Those people skip Flights of Wonder, don’t bother with Rafiki’s Planet Watch, and have no idea what a Burudika is.
To be fair, Animal Kingdom is a different kind of park. It’s not really conducive to hustling from one attraction to the next as fast as your feet can take you. It’s a park that needs to be lingered over and meandered through. Rivers of Light will surely be a game changer, much like World of Color was at Disney California Adventure at Disneyland Resort. When that comes, guests will stick around to see the nighttime closing event, but that does not mean Animal Kingdom is a half day park now. It’s not. And here are 6 reasons why.
6 – Wilderness Explorers
Channel your inner Russell and try Wilderness Explorers (photo by Brandon Glover)
Wilderness Explorers is so stinkin’ great! Imagine that you are Russell from Up (I often do, but that’s a separate issue) and you need to earn badges. Now imagine, just for a moment, that you need to earn over 30 badges. Yes, 30! That’s this game. I have spent a lot of time discussing the little things that set this park apart from the rest. What do you do when some of your party are Disney touring commandos? Play this game. It has you delve into the little places of the park. For example, it is the best way to discovery Rafiki’s Planet Watch, which is often skipped. I think Planet Watch, alone, is a strong reason that Animal Kingdom is not a half day park. Alas, this is a list of six, so I am jamming that into this entry. This is true throughout the park. One badge takes you into a little side path along the Discovery River, and another takes you to little traveled section of DinoLand U.S.A. And the Explorers game is also a fun way to work your way through the town of Harambe in Africa and Maharajah Jungle Trek.
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Photo copyright Disney
If you are a fan of directionally challenged CGI clownfish, you better swim over to Disneyland in the next few weeks. The Orange Country Register reported, and the Disney Parks Blog confirmed, that Disneyland’s Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage attraction will close on January 6 for an extensive refurbishment expected to last until late 2014.
During the downtime, Disney says that the Tomorrowland lagoon will be drained and the coral rockwork will be made more colorful. The subs, which were (in their original non-Nemo incarnation) added in 1959 as one of Disneyland’s first E-ticket attractions, have limited carrying capacity and are notoriously expensive to maintain. Here’s hoping that the submarines do return by the end of next year, and that this isn’t the first step towards the attraction fading into Yesterland.
For many children, and adults, Walt Disney World can be an overwhelming place, filled with countless new sights, sounds, smells, textures, in an endless stream of stimuli. Sure you can surprise your family with trip to Walt Disney World, but you may have a better overall vacation experience if you give your kids some time to prepare in advance. At-home preparation for you kids might take the form of meeting costumed characters, practicing table manners, or learning to sleep in a particular crib, but one of the easiest, and most effective, ways to get a child ready for a Disney vacation is to show him movies related to your upcoming trip.
Cinderella is a must see before visiting Walt Disney World.
You’ll have a better understanding and appreciation of what’s happening in the parks if you’re familiar with the stories depicted in what you see there.
Some of these suggestions will be obvious. Your child will no doubt have a better grasp on something like the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor if he’s, you know, actually seen Monsters, Inc. Other suggestions will be more tangentially related to specific attractions, but will give a your kids a greater comprehension of the tone and flavor of Walt Disney World.
As always, use these recommendations with the caveat that you are the best judge of what’s appropriate for your specific child and his current developmental stage. For example, while most preschoolers will adore The Little Mermaid, a child who’s in fear-of-the-ocean mode might have a full-scale meltdown at the sight of Ursula. Similarly, some kids might be ready for a Star Wars marathon at age four, while others will need to wait until eight, nine, or even older. If there’s a movie that you haven’t seen since your own childhood, it might be worth doing a quick preview on your own before subjecting your child to potential overload.
You’ll no doubt note that many Disney and Pixar films are not mentioned on my list (Bambi, Hercules, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Up, etc.). This bears no reflection on the quality of the films, nor on their place in the canon, but rather speaks to their current relative lack of representation at the Walt Disney World parks and resorts. There are also a few non-Disney films listed here because, in my opinion, they do a particularly good job of evoking an atmosphere or time period represented at the parks in a more succinct way than any actual Disney film does.
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