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Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Walt Disney World [Day 2] - Animal Kingdom & Hollywood Studios

This morning, we had park reservations for Animal Kingdom. Buses start running 45 minutes prior to park opening. Since Animal Kingdom opened at 7:30 for resort guests, bus service started at 6:45. It was right on time! I mentioned before that Coronado Springs Bus Stop 2 at Casitas is actually the first on the pick-up loop. We then circled the resort to Ranchos, Cabanas, and then Gran Destino Tower.

On the way to the park, I purchased Genie+ for everyone and booked Expedition Everest at 11:15 AM.


They started letting resort guests into the park before 7:00, but held us at Discovery Island.


Most of the park guests were also there to rope drop Flight of Passage. There really isn't another rope drop-worthy attraction in the park. If you're going to get there at opening, you might as well go straight for Flight of Passage.


Operations is clearly very used to the Flight of Passage rush, and they have a very organized morning operation and extended queue.


Although Aaron is now a seasoned Disneyland park-goer, he had only ever been to Walt Disney World once before, back in 1998 (when he was 9 years old!). While some things were familiar, this was, for the most part, a new experience for him. 


Aaron was most excited about Flight of Passage. He'd heard about the attraction on some of the Disney Parks and Imagineering documentaries we've watched, but I made sure not to spoil the ride system. The most I told him was, "It's kind of like Soarin'."


The extended queue for Flight of Passage gives you good views of the Pandora landscape.


And once you're in the regular queue, it's also visually interesting with waterfalls and lush plants.


Landon did not care about spoiling the ride system, and he really wanted to know what all of the hype was about. Rachel and Judy attempted to describe it without spoiling it for Aaron, but I think they may have led him to believe that it was a different type of attraction. After that, Landon Wikipedia'd all of the attractions in advance.


I timed us, and it took us 50 minutes to get to the preshow - not too bad (that was the time posted on the app when we got in the park). We thought it was worth the early morning rush.

Aaron agreed that the preshow is super awkward. As for the ride, he wasn't blown away. He said he prefers Soarin'.

Personally, I think that the picture quality has really gone downhill since this attraction first opened. The past few times I've ridden it, the 3D glasses have given me trouble, creating double vision either in the foreground or the background. I'm not sure what the cause of that is... if the projectors are misaligned, or if the 3D glasses have been worn and washed too many times.


After Flight of Passage, we grabbed a bite to eat at Pongu Pongu, then decided what to do next. The wait time for Kilimanjaro Safaris was already really high, so we headed to Dinosaur which had a posted 20 minute wait. As soon as we got in line, it changed to a 45 minute wait.

Aaron agreed with Rachel that this ride is terrifying.


Aaron and Landon wanted to do Tough to be a Bug because it was only a 10 minute wait. We got in line, and it turned into a 20 minute wait! It's not long, but it's the longest I've ever waited for this show.

The Hopper animatronic wasn't working which made for a rather unclimactic humans are bad scene. But Aaron was totally surprised by the stinger! (I lean forward during this show.)


We then went on a long hunt for popcorn for Rachel's refillable bucket (spoiler - we turned the wrong way when exiting Tough to be a Bug and did a giant loop) and spotted Kevin!


It was time to use our Genie+ for Expedition Everest. We walked right on, and everyone agreed that alone made Genie+ well worth it. I then decided to make my next Genie+ for Hollywood Studios, where we planned to hop at 2PM.


The posted wait time for Kilimanjaro Safaris was 120 minutes! We also didn't know what better to do, so we got beer from Thirsty River Bar two-fisted it over to the safari standby queue which wrapped all the way around Dawa Bar.


I had never seen the line this long before!!


At one point, the line came to a noticeable stop, and they made some announcements to the queue about animals on the ride path.


Alas! Time to board! The actual wait time was only 95 minutes (as opposed to 120 posted).




We were treated to an incredibly active safari! I think it was worth the wait.

Hippos were out of the water....


That crocodile had just been fed (see the blood all over its mouth?) -


I think it was the giraffes who were in the ride path earlier, because they stopped us a few times, too.


The wildebeest were headbutting one another!


More giraffes!


The giraffes were getting very close to the vehicles. It must have been feeding time.



Elephant sighting -



The white rhino was playing in the mud!



None of the lions were standing, but we got a pretty good view of three, including the male -


Seriously, I think that was one of the best safaris I've been on, especially in recent years. I was also surprised by how much Aaron and Landon loved it.

After the safari, we could hop on over to Hollywood Studios. With all of the crowds, I was especially happy that Aaron was carrying my yellow backpack because it made him so easy to spot.


As we crossed the bridge to Oasis, we caught some Flotillas!


I love these - so cute!



We took the bus from Animal Kingdom to Hollywood Studios.


I guess Aaron just needed a little AC because he was ready to ham it up for the camera again once we arrived at Hollywood Studios.


So was I... and Rachel in the background, too.


We got lunch at ABC Commissary, and Aaron and I tried the Frozen Hot Chocolate (yum) -


Then we stopped by BaseLine Tap House before heading to Toy Story Land for our upcoming Genie+ reservations.


Rachel is pretty slick with Genie+ refreshing and managed to snag a reservation for Slinky Dog Dash!



Ahhhh.... is he Wheezy because he's a bath toy that is not for use in water????




Next up, our Genie+ reservation for Alien Swirling Saucers. As we were shifting from one rotation to another, Aaron full body slammed into me and bruised my shoulder.... I wonder what could happen to a little kid if that happened!


Luckily it was my left shoulder, so my right arm and shoulder were ready for our Toy Story Mania. I got 175,200 and won the car!


This is the only "video game" that I am good at. And I'll take it!!


We then grabbed a Genie+ for Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. It was Landon's first time on the ride! He and Aaron piloted our ship, and they did a pretty good job not crashing while the rest of smashed buttons in the back.

Galaxys Edge

We then headed over to Epcot where we planned to grab some bites and drinks from the Festival of Holidays and stake out a spot for Harmonious. Landon headed back to the hotel because he wanted to watch the Alamo Bowl (he was not pleased with the outcome).


This is our favorite "secret spot" for Epcot firework viewing. For Disney Fairytale Weddings, it's known as "UK Lochside" (this venue can be rented out for private parties) but if you're searching on the park map, it's by the water near Yorkshire County Fish Shop.

We left Rachel to defend our spot while the rest of us got food and drinks.*


*I'm kidding!!! We left Stove and Judy to hold our spot while Aaron, Rachel, and I set out for food and drinks. We wanted to check to see if the Via Napoli pizza window was open, but when we made it to the American Pavilion, we realized that Candlelight Processional was taking place.... and we were worried that if we went over to Italy, the processional would let out, and we'd be unable to get through the crowd and back to our spot in time for the start of the show. So instead, we got drinks at Regal Eagle Smokehouse and headed back, beating the processional.


I really like Harmonious!! The set pieces are a little obnoxious sitting in the center of World Showcase Lagoon, but they were so much easier to see than the glove in Illuminations.


I still love the Illuminations soundtrack, but Harmonious pyro really pops!


We took our time leaving the parks because we weren't in a hurry to walk with the crowds to the bus stations.

UK Pavilion

Also, I had to take a very important phone call.

UK Pavilion

We did some shopping in Creations on our way out of the park.


When we got to our bus stop, crowds had died down, and we got on the next bus to arrive!


When we got to Coronado Springs, Rachel, Aaron, and I hopped off at Gran Destino Tower for a nightcap at Barcelona Lounge.


Then we remembered that we hadn't eaten dinner, so we ordered Taco Bell on Door Dash.

Here's a little breakdown of our Genie+ attractions for the day (purchased at $20 per person):
  1. Expedition Everest
  2. Slinky Dog Dash
  3. Alien Swirling Saucers
  4. Toy Story Mania
  5. Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run
So.... $5/attraction. We started the day in Animal Kingdom, but I only made one Genie+ reservation for an AK attraction (Expedition Everest at 11:15 AM), and then I started making Genie+ reservations for Hollywood Studios.

For comparison, these are the attractions that we rode Standby:
  1. Avatar Flight of Passage (Posted Wait: 50 minutes / Actual Wait: 50 minutes)
  2. DINOSAUR (Posted Wait: 45 minutes / Actual Wait: 45 minutes)
  3. It's Tough to be a Bug! (Posted Wait: 20 minutes / Actual Wait: 15 minutes)
  4. Kilimanjaro Safaris (Posted Wait: 120 minutes / Actual Wait: 95 minutes)
Considering the crowds and standby wait times, I thought that Genie+ was worthwhile.

1 comment:

  1. Throughly enjoying the trip report! Thanks for posting!