Trip Report: New Experiences at Animal Kingdom

I’m sad to report that we really neglected Animal Kingdom on this trip. On the eighth day of our trip we were making our second visit to the park, but the first was on Diva’s birthday when we park hopped through all four parks. We had only a short amount of time that day in the park. This day our plans were taking us to areas of the park we had never explored in our prior trips.

Our FastPass+ reservations were set for the day and we weren’t intending to arrive at rope drop as usual because we were switching resorts for the final night of our stay. We had cleaned up most of the room the prior evening after enjoying time at Mickey’s Backyard BBQ so we just had to tidy up the last of our things and have a cast member come tag everything for transfer. We ate breakfast and I snapped a few last pictures of the resort as we headed to the bus stop and were on the way just before 9:30AM.

Bye, bye, Beach Club

Bag check lines were long with everyone making “late” arrivals. It just before 10:00AM we were finally catching a glimpse of the Tree of Life. I directed Grumpy left around the crowds and to follow the signs for Pandora. The new land that opened the day after we left to return home in 2017. Photos made it look amazingly beautiful so I was interested to see it for myself.

Grumpy and I have a long-running back and forth with two of our friends. I was bored to tears with the movie and felt it was a waste of my time and money watching it in theatres. Grumpy wasn’t impressed either. Our friends though loved it! They even went all out for Halloween one year as Avatars.

I went into the land expecting to appreciate the detail that Disney uses throughout every inch of their parks and resorts. I was actually blown away by the beauty and stunned by the floating mountains. They are more massive and impressive then can be seen in any picture. I really wish I hadn’t broken my good camera earlier in our trip.

We went to Flight of Passage with had a posted wait over 200 minutes. Peanut and I scanned for our FastPass and had the new digital rider swap added to Grumpy’s MagicBand. It was time for our family to split up. Grumpy and Diva were supposed to ride the Na’vi River Journey.

Peanut and I went into the line for Flight of Passage wandering by the standby line and trying to still take in some of the beauty around us. Then suddenly we were in what I equated to subway tunnels. Forgive me for not using the proper terms since the movie was made a decade ago and I’ve tried to block most of it from my brain. I was immediately not impressed with my new surroundings.

Once we met up with the line I stopped to read a card that had been handed to me. This is exactly why I test the rides before Grumpy takes a chance on it. He has so much concern over getting sick from the motions. This card would have had him heading for the exit!

I text our Avatar-loving friends this picture of the pre-ride video and mentioned I was rolling my eyes at the video. I just wanted to get on with the ride and see what the fuss was all about.

Peanut and I took our spots and were very tightly restrained in our seats. Then within seconds of the ride starting I was completely amazing. I could hear him next to me saying “WOW” and I had the had the same thought running through my head. The movie didn’t even matter. We were flying– really it felt like we were flying– through the air and into a magical and beautiful world. Albeit, with a few banshees flying around. That didn’t even matter anymore. The over four-minute ride felt like it was over in seconds.

Peanut and I walked away completely in awe of the ride. It did have some dives, bumps, and a few twists and turns that I was a little uncertain I wanted Grumpy to experience, at least that early in the day and potentially ruin the rest of our day. Once we met up with him I explained it and he wanted to pass.

I asked how the Na’vi River Journey was and he looked at me like I was a bit crazy. They had just wandered around Pandora and picked up a bag of Doritos as a snack. (Not a good use of our snack credits at all.) He had completely misunderstood that their FastPass+ was overlapping ours. I looked at my watch and very quickly shoved them off not to miss out on it.

While they were rushing to hopefully get on the ride, we found a PhotoPass photographer, took some of our own pictures, and watched the Pandora Drummers as they wrapped up their show. When we were reunited we took a quick family picture in front of the waterfall. It provides the most beautiful backdrop!

We came, we saw, and now we were ready to move on from Pandora to another part of the park we had not visited before: Asia! The path led us behind the Tree of Life for the first time as well. I had no idea the amazing detail on the back of it!

We stopped at PhotoPass photographer just wrapping up with a group and no one else in line. This is my new favorite PhotoPass– forget the front of the tree where dual lines are usually backed up. This is gorgeous and no one was there!

I love how every area of Animal Kingdom is like walking into a new world. I love Asia and seeing snow-capped Everest come into view. It was another pretty area of the park, but the pathways were a bit narrow and congested. Peanut and I were ready for Expedition Everest.

Another ride swap was needed because Diva was just under the 44″ height requirement. Here we learned that digital rider swap would not allow him to keep Flight of Passage AND get Everest added to his band. We gave up the highly coveted Flight of Passage as I didn’t think we’d make it back and I was still nervous about his motion sickness. He and Diva waved goodbye to us and went off to ride Dinosaur.

A YouTube video we had watched went through the ride speeds on Disney’s attractions. It clocked Expedition Everest at 50mph and higher than most that we had the chance to ride so far. I was a little confused when it started it and seemed pretty slow. I was distracted from the speed thoughts by the awesome view high above the park and very shortly after realized it gains speed quickly! We laughed, yelled, were curious and confused about the hair elastics at the top of the mountain, and then laughed and yelled more as we were whipped backward and saw the Yeti! Another very fun-filled and thrilling ride for us!

We wandered through the gift shop looking for my friend that was working only to find out she had moved over to a kiosk but was on break. So we took in the view in the Rivers of Light seating area. It’s a great place to escape the crowds during the day, but keep in mind there is no shade.

When Grumpy and Diva made their way back so had my friend. We stopped and chatted with her before our last scheduled FastPass+ on Kali River Rapids. I was both excited and nervous to do yet another new ride that day. The signs at entry warn “You may get soaked, you WILL get wet.” The day was overcast and comfortable, but not overly warm by any means.

We had an awesome group of people on our ride. One rider commented that our group entire group was brave because we all we were riding without ponchos. Everyone laughed and joked throughout the ride and at each new turn looked curiously to see if we’d be doused with water. It was almost safe but at the very end Grumpy couldn’t completely avoid the splash from another boat passing. He had water down the back of his shirt and on his left side. He wasn’t quite soaked, but if you ask him he will say he was. He definitely got the most direct hit in the boat.

The morning and early afternoon had passed very quickly. We hadn’t eaten lunch yet. Without thinking I put in a quick mobile order for our Animal Kingdom go-to restaurant: Restaurantosaurus. As we were walking there I realized that I had planned to finally check out Flame Tree Barbecue. Oh well, there’s always next time.

Relaxing to eat was a good break, but we needed a little more downtime before our evening dinner reservation and visit to Magic Kingdom.

Sadly, we were going to miss meeting Chip & Dale in the Dinosaur outfits. I peeked as we walked by their meeting spot but they weren’t out.

On the way to the exit we made a stop at the front of the tree to re-take the pictures that had been poorly done earlier in the week. It was centered this time, but with a scooter coming out the side of the picture frame. It was still better than before.

Now, we needed to relax at our new resort.

Lesson for next time: don’t neglect Animal Kingdom!

As an agent with Royal Treatment Travel I offer free planning services when you book your Walt Disney World vacation with me! Request a quote now!


      1. Next trip is September!! There is 9 of us going all together. I’m so excited!! Not going last year feels like it’s been a lot longer!! I’m looking forward to checking out toy story land at Hollywood studios!!!♥️

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