We are back for the conclusion of our day with an afternoon arrival at Animal Kingdom.
In part 1: we arrived at the park around 2:30 pm, visited a relaxing spot along the Rivers of Light lagoon, and appreciated the immense level of detail throughout the park. We finished up that post with a ride on Kilimanjaro Safaris.
We begin part 2 by heading to Asia to catch the 4:30 showing of Up: A Great Bird Adventure.
For those unaware, the show is an update to the long running Flights of Wonder bird show.
We always loved Flights of Wonder! Unfortunately, the new show does pretty much everything it can to ruin it. It replaces Guano Joe (a national treasure if there ever was one) with Russel and Dug from Up.
Photo credit: wdwthemeparks.com
We love Up!, but most of the dialog here is really pretty terrible. Some of it is just copy and pasted from the film, while anything new is geared towards very young audiences.
The show starts out promisingly enough, with a bird turning on a radio.
We are then greeted by one of our hosts… who likes to dance a lot.
Eventually, Russell and Dug wander along.
Russell makes the crowd repeat the Wilderness Explorer’s Pledge multiple times, after they already had to practice it multiple times during the pre-show. The crowd could not have cared less.
Eventually, our real bird trainer Cassie arrives. The show improves at this point as we get to see some of the tricks previously featured in Flights of Wonder.
Thankfully, the singing parrots are still part of the show. These guys are amazing and are alone worth seeing the show for.
The bird tricks continue, mixed in with some boring nonsense from Russell and Dug here and there.
The bald eagle also returns from the old show.
Overall, there are still some very entertaining parts of Up! A Bird Great Adventure. But all those things were already in Flights of Wonder. Nothing added to the show is all that good, and we lost Guano Joe in the process.
We really enjoy Up! quite a bit so its a bit baffling.
The Kevin roaming character experience is one of our favorite additions to WDW in recent memory.
While you are in Asia, don’t forget to check out Maharajah Jungle Trek.
Another one of my favorite little spots in the park is down by where Baloo and King Louie used to meet.
I wish this meet n’ greet was still around as both characters are fun and fairly rare. In the mean time, you can still catch Baloo dancing in the Hakuna Matata dance party on Discovrey Island.
In addition to Harambe, Asia has a few really entertaining street performers as well!
Moving on, it was time to use our Na’vi River Journey fastpasses so lets start heading towards Pandora. We will use this opportunity to appreciate some more details throughout Harambe!
The main entrance to Pandora is via Discovery Island near Tiffins, however I usually like to take the stroll past the Festival of the Lion King theater and head in the “back” entrance to the land. It’s a nice low traffic path along the water with some great views.
I really want to take a fishing tour with Mr Mutumbo now!
I find Pandora pretty difficult to photograph. It’s hard finding decent sight lines with its compact design.
We entered the fastpass entrance for River Journey with a 90 minute wait time posted for standby. As a PSA, we’d like to tell you that if you wait 90 minutes (or even more than 30) for this ride, you will be disappointed!
We only waited about 5 minutes with fastpass. Something to note, Disney has been adamant about filling up the boats to increase capacity. The boats are a tight fit for 4 across a row, but if you are a group of 2, be prepared to be paired with 2 strangers for a cozy ride.
Since we do not have a fastpass for Flight of Passage, our plan is to return at the end of the night and get in line right before closing. For now, we’ll head to Satu’li Canteen for dinner.
We will be back soon with a full review of the quick service restaurant, but I will tell you now that we are big fans!
After dinner, our 3rd fastpass of the day is for Expedition Everest. We normally would plan our fastpasses a bit more efficiently (instead of going Africa to Asia, to Pandora, and back to Asia) but since we booked these the day before, there wasn’t a ton of availability to allow for that.
From here, we decided to grab some adult beverages and head back to our relaxing spot near the water to try our luck at the fastpass refresh game!
On the way, I decided to grab a few evening shots of the new facade for the Up! bird show. This is the one highlight of the update as the facade really looks great, especially at night!
After about 10 or so refreshes, we are able to grab a 4th fastpass of the day for Dinosaur.
Unfortunately, about 5 minutes after the above photo was taken, the storm clouds rolled in and the skies opened up big time! Because of this, I put my camera away for the trek over to Dinoland.
After a quick ride on Dinosaur, we had a decision to make. As mentioned above, the plan was to jump in the Flight of Passage line right before closing to minimize our wait. However, this was still about an hour and a half away at this point.
My previous most recent visit to Animal Kingdom had been when I attended After Hours during a monsoon and I just was not up for getting that soaked again. Because of this, we decided to skip Flight of Passage this trip.
Instead, I will refer you to this post from Josh over at EasyWDW in which he shows how effective riding Flight of Passage at the end of the night can be.
Photo by Easywdw.com
You can expect a wait of under an hour by utilizing this strategy if you are unable to snag a fastpass, or even if you just want to ride again.
Overall, we were able to accomplish quite a bit at Animal Kingdom, despite arriving late and not having the full cooperation of the weather. We were able to hit all major rides aside from Flight of Passage, which would could have done had we decided to stay until closing. On a perfect day, we would have watched Festival of the Lion King in lieu of the Up! show but all in all we had a great afternoon / evening.