Disney · Omnibus · Trivia

WDW for the Single Guy: an experiment, Part 19 (Animal Kingdom, pt ii)

expedition-everest

[DISCLAIMER: The following was originally written by Jerry Skids back in 2009. He is a big Disney fan. He has his own WDW-themed podcast, which you can find here, or here. This is 100% Jerry’s words, completely unedited, out of respect to Jerry. If you are confused by any of the acronyms, check out the previous posts. My comments are listed in [ ] – anything in ( ) or { } are all Jerry’s words. I have not fact-checked any of this information. Obviously some things have definitely changed since 2009, e.g.: prices, and should be used for comparative purposes only, as many attractions have come and gone since the time this was written. However, that does not invalidate his suggestions one iota. This is still useful, and I think this is so amazing, that I want to share his knowledge and wisdom. Thank you Jerry! Posted with his permission. – Editor]

WDW For The Single Guy: an experiment, part 19

Animal Kingdom, pt II

ASIA

You can get here by: A) Crossing the bridge from Discovery Island; B) Taking the path from Africa; or C) Hiking around Dinoland USA.The architecture is themed as the ruins of India, Thailand, Indonesia, and Nepal as the fictional village of Anandapur. The village is very well themed, and has lots of slight nods to the Asian nations not represented in Epcot’s World Showcase. You will find yourself checking out the not-so-common nations. With lush vegetation and broken down pathways you can follow the Chakranadi River and check out the giant Mount Everest, which holds the now most-popular ride in DAK. But first…

Flights of Wonder (A-) (B- if you are sick of DAK’s preachiness about the environment) (FoW)

This 20 minute show is pretty cool. AND there’s two different versions. First, I’ll tell you about the normal one. When you show up early, this chick will tell you about an owl. For like 10 minutes. She’s really nice and I highly recommend listening to her. Once you get in, find your way somewhere close to the front and in the center. This show is no fun in the back or on the sides. They really did their audience research for this one, because it is extremely well-paced and leaves you begging for more. Basically this is a show about birds. But not just little birds.Besides the singing parrot (who knows 7 songs), they also have a hawk, an owl, a giant crane, and an actual bald eagle. The show is so ridiculously fascinating… I thought I’d hate it at first, but now I can’t get enough. There is an ornithologist as well as a comedic actor/actress who both carry the show as a team. Not only do you see the birds, but they sometimes will fly over your head (the hawk & the owl) or even land on a few selected volunteers (you gotta raise your hand). And one of the birds steals money!!! But mostly, the birds are showing natural behaviors (sometimes including pooping). The other show occurs when it’s raining – it is actually informative, but not as funny. Although there is a LOT of Q & A about the birds, and more audience interaction. The actual show, however, does have a lot of audience participation.
When To Go – the 12PM – 2PM shows are the best to attend because all the other attractions will be swamped around that time. But arrive 10 – 15 minutes early.

Kali River Rapids (A-) (C+ without all the great theming) {FP sometimes} {Kali}

This attraction was originally called “Tiger River Rapids” because it was supposed to include a short trip through the real tiger enclosures (from Maharajah Jungle Trek – see later), but the animal behaviorist told them that all the screaming from the “wet guests” would probably make the tigers hang out further back and out of sight. So they changed it to Kali River Rapids. This whitewater raft ride is fucking cool, but also a bit preachy. All of DAK is, so shut up. It’s a trip down a man-made river in one of those big, circular rafts – it holds 12 people. The ride is only about 5 minutes, with probably 2 minutes (and that’s stretching it) of rapids, but the scenic nature of it is totally worth it. The only way this ride sucks is when you go down the big waterfall and you are in the back. This promises you’ll stay basically dry throughout the ride. However, when you are the ones facing away from the fall when you drop, get ready for a fucked up, wet-ass ride. Again, don’t wear a poncho unless you’re a pussy. If you don’t want to get soaked, don’t go on it. The first portion of the ride shows how the logging companies fucked up the beautiful rainforests of Anandapur, and the second portion has you careening down a waterfall created by logjams and other unnatural dangers. The queue is outstanding. It’s like a Buddhist temple and then the rainforest itself… it is so mystical and beautiful. You can tell that they spent a lot of time on the visuals. Again, about the “wetness.” Go on early and let the sun dry you off. “Don’t wrap yourself in plastic. Wet butts dry fast and keep you cool in the meantime.” – A hot chick yelling at an older couple on line for Kali. I agree with that statement fully. [As someone who has been on plenty of water rides, I second the notion] Stop being retarded, dammit! Oh! And at the end, you can go onto a bridge that overlooks the last 30 seconds of the attraction. There’s a few buttons you can press to spray the riders with a stream of water from an elephant’s trunk. It’s fun to soak people and get back at the people who sprayed you! 🙂
When To Go: It’s best to go right after Expedition Everest and right before the safari. Don’t use FP, unless necessary.But definitely before 11AM. If it’s cold, that’s better for you cos fewer people will be on the ride. There’s a nice plastic covered cubby in the middle of the raft to put you camera and phone in.

Maharajah Jungle Trek (A) {Maharajah or Asia Trek}

This trail is slightly better than Pangani for a few reasons. The main difference of the two trails is that this one is themed with an Asian setting and Asian animals. They have scary-ass Komodo dragons, Malayan tapirs, bats, and tigers. Bengal tigers. It starts off as a regular trail in the jungles of Asia. When you get to the bats, you can choose to go in or be a scaredy-cat and bypass it. Inside the bat hut, they have other cool animals too; reptiles and rodents mostly. The space is wide open but the bat’s wingspan too big to fit through the bars in front of you. Next, as you pass towards the tigers, you enter the ruins of the Maharajah’s palace. This is cool in and of itself. Then you see deer and then, the aviary. This trek is definitely a great addition to the Asian section.
When To Go: This is a trek you can go at any time of the day. Just remember, the tigers are more active the earlier you go. Either way, the best time to go is probably [between] 12PM – 2PM.

Expedition Everest (A++) {FP} (Everest)

The big Kahuna. This is why so many people go to DAK. This is the only rollercoaster in DAK. Let’s start with the queue. It’s modeled after a Nepalese village and has lots of cool exhibits based on Everest. If you are on the Fastpass line, you will see animal poop + “yeti” poop on display. [What, no “human poop”? Unlike DAK, the real Everest has no restrooms for climbers and Sherpas.] There are notes posted all over about previous expeditions with strange observations about the mountain. They talk about all the odd going-ons. They talk about the mysterious creature that guards the mountain… very strange, but you press on regardless – which is crazy! So here’s a ride you HAVE to request the front. It’s a MUST! You may wait 3 more minutes at the most. You are extraordinarily taken to the top of this 200 foot mountain – (it’s the tallest mountain in all of Florida – even though it’s a fake mountain.) [YOu may commence the pointing and laughing at the state of Florida everyone… except for you Louisiana.] You go forwards, backwards, almost fall off the side of the mountain, watch a creature tear the tracks apart, great hills and dips, but no loops or inversions. It’s a 5 MPH ride around Everest – both inside (in the dark), and outside and around the mountain. And guess what? Towards the end, the Abominable Snowman (aka the yeti) tries to kill you! [Wait, what? I thought he was a WB/Looney Tunes character that just wants to hug you, squeeze you, and name you “George.” How can he be in a Disney attraction?] It’s scary as shit! The twists and turns are so rapid and random that you’ll never know what’s coming. Plus, it’s the smoothest roller coaster ride you’ll ever ride on. This is the reason you came here. So have fun and watch out for the psychotic yeti.
When To Go: First thing in the morning, then get a FP for later (or get the FP, then ride – it’s up to you) – see my plan for specifics.

Live Entertainment

There’s a few people who are contortionists, who perform in between Kali + Everest. But there are no musical acts here unfortunately.

Shopping

Bhaktapur Market – This place is really cool. They have bonsai kits, origami books + kits, cast iron teapot sets, sushi kits, Asian cookbooks, clothing based on different Asian areas, pajamas, even shoes! Not to mention toys and fun souvenirs you can’t get anywhere else.

Serka Zong Bazaar – the post-attraction shop of Expedition Everest. LOTS of yeti and Everest themed merch. LOTS! Yeti plush, postcards, shirts, etc., as well as the obligatory “I survived Expedition Everest.” They also have collectibles and historical books + videos on the history of the Yeti.

serka-zong

Others

There’s a gibbon cage near Everest. It’s pretty cool to watch them jumping around and going nuts! 🙂

Dining + Snacks

Royal Anandapur Tea Company (Food/Drink: A+; Service: A; Price: a bit expensive) (tea, snacks, and other stuff) – This place is awesome. They have a great iced chai tea as well as MANY other kinds of tea, as well as lattes, coffee, espresso, and cappuccinos. The only problem is the coffee at the Dawa bar is $1.50 less than the coffee here. It’s crazy!! But the teas are why you are here. They also have fruit and cheese danishes as well as the best cookies in WDW. Especially when they are fresh. There is no stand anywhere in WDW like this, with the exception of Joy of Tea in [Epcot’s] China, but with WAY more kinds of tea. Oh, and the pastries are fucking huge, and did I mention the cookies were awesome and there are dozens of teas to choose from?

Yak + Yeti Market (Food: C; Service: A; Price: not bad, there’s big portions) (counter-service Asian dishes) – Okay, the problem here is that they made a counter service version of a great restaurant. The food would be better if it wasn’t set up as a Wok-N-Roll is. They serve crispy honey chicken, kung pao beef, lo mein, and salads. That’s literally it. It is basically Chinese food… but not good Chinese food. This would fare better at the Lotus Blossom Café in Epcot, since the food there sucks. If you want great food, check out… (something not mediocre):

Yak + Yeti (Food: A-; Service: A; Price: kind of expensive) (Asian table service) – So here they have much better food. It’s themed as a rustic, two-story Nepalese inn. The second floor has a very nice overlook of the park. THey have a yummy glazed duck, and awesome fried wontons – there’s also miso salmon, crispy mahi mahi, and a couple of great soups. They have a steak-and-shrimp combo that I heard were fucking awesome, but don’t eat the chicken cos it’s just average. The prices are a bit high for entrees, but the duck is definitely worth it. This is a good place to use the dining plan (especially free dining). The best dessert is a fried wontons with pineapple. It’s yum-diddly-umptious.

DINOLAND USA

This is a land I wish they would just bulldoze and make room for Australia. It’s the worst themed land with the best intentions. Basically, they had built Countdown to Extinction, and it was the only thing in Dinoland, which was fine. It’s in a huge building called the Dino Institute. The story goes like this: The college town nearby (with the townies) HATE the tourists, so they are constantly making fun of all the tourists visiting the Dino Institute. As you walk around, you’ll see post-its and signs from one student to another. Also, “Dino” is spray painted in front of everything… if not “Dino,” then “saurus” at the end of everything. Neighborhood assholes Chester and Hester decided they wanted to make money off the popularity of the Institute and serious professors. So they created a truckstop-style backyard carnival area to profit. And profit they did. You can see it… the thing is – the rides are actually similar to the horribly dangerous attractions at real carnivals. And it’s ugly. They also have a section with carnival games. It’s so fucking stupid. Anyway, in front of the Institute, they have a bunch of natural history exhibits, including Dino-Sue – an exact replica of the largest, most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex discovered to date.  It’s 40 feet long, and 13 feet tall. Let’s start with the stupid stuff.

The Boneyard (F) (C+ if you’re under 10)

This is just a glorified playground. You can dig for fake fossils and try to put things together in the sand. There’s not anything for an adult to do here. Sorry. Oh, it’s multi-storied.
When To Go: Never.

Tricera Top Spin (D) (Dinosaur Dumbo)

This is the last hub-and-spoke ride (like “Dumbo”) and the worst. You spin around slowly until a dinosaur pops out, and the ride is over. Wee… it’s about 90 seconds.
When To Go: If you must, then go like 4 PM – 4:30 PM.

Primeval Whirl (F) (“D” if you like wild mouse coasters) (“C+” if you like pain) {FP} (PW or shitty ride)

Fuck this ride. The CMs are always rude, and do not care what you want. This is fucking tacky and cheap. Guests constantly complain that a ride that looks this cheap doesn’t belong in Disney. The Imagineers argue, “Do you realize how much $ it took to make the ride look like this bro?” I know it’s on purpose, but it still sucks! The only cool thing about it is that it is supposed to be the fictional “Chester and Hester” making fun of the dinosaur ride. You’ll see. The ride loads slower than molasses and consists of a spinning car that constantly bangs, stops, then throws you as it spins. They jam you in a car with four people — even if you don’t know them. If you’re with someone fat, you will die. The ride throws the entire car in one direction, squishing the others. The spins brake the car to jarring halts, and just sucks, and it hurts. I’ve been in screaming pain after this attraction. The ride is 90 seconds of agonizing Hell. Only go on this ride if you need to see why it sucks so much.
When To Go: I warned you, but if you’re going to go, go before 11 AM (not recommended) or go after 4 PM (better, but still not recommended). Never waste FP here.

Dinosaur (“C-” : biased opinion; “A” : unbiased opinion) {FP} (CTX or just Dinosaur)

Before Expedition Everest, this was the ride everyone was talking about. Well, actually, I’m lying. The ride everyone loved was called “Countdown To Extinction.” It was a groundbreaking ride that involved a moving track and a motion simulator. If you look at the ground during the ride, you won’t even see the track. Here’s the way it works: the vehicle itself  shakes, pitches, and jumps in sync with the special effects and animatronics – that’s the way the simulator works. It really feels like you were in a vehicle. Basically, your job (as told by the crazy scientist, + Phylicia Rashad) is to travel back in time, and rescue an Iguanodon, and bring him back to our time to work on him. Fine. But they decide to send you back just before the giant asteroid destroyed the Earth. They changed the name to Dinosaur because of the terrible movie (with great special effects) of the same name from 2000. This ride is fucking awesome in terms of special effects, but it’s fuckin’ scary!! Dude, half the ride is in the dark, and it only gets light as meteors pass you by and stuff. So random Carnotaurus’ and T-Rex’s appear and want to murder you. You get chased by a Carnotaurus, and then another one tries to eat you right before you jump back in time. FUCK THAT! I refuse to go on this ride because there’s no reason that things should be jumping at you like that. You think it’s nothing? Fine! Go on the ride. At one point, the big Carnotaurus gets right in your face and screams at you. It’s loud, your hair flies around from the wind of his breath, and the big fucker is right in your face. That’s when they take your picture. The ride is a technological marvel, and the special effects kick the ass of any other theme park, but I’m sorry, this is freaky. I know a whole bunch of college kids (male and female) who refuse to go on it, or can’t keep their eyes open at all. I don’t lie. MANY people agree. Oh, and it’s sponsored by McDonald’s, which you’ll see constantly walking into the attraction. It’s 3½ minutes of psychotic mayhem.
When To Go: It’s best to do all of Dinoland at the end of the day. Save this for 4 – 5 PM. You can use a FP at any time of day, and is actually worth it.

marlin

Finding Nemo – The Musical (A++)

I am honestly getting sick of all of the Pixarization of every Disney park. However, this attraction is more than amazing. Almost as good as a Broadway show, it is the most elaborate live show in any Disney park. With the help of Avenue Q‘s [and The Book of Mormon and Frozen. Remember, this was written before The Book of Mormon and Frozen. Jerry surely would have mentioned this – so I will.] Robert Lopez (the writer of the songs and more), this quite similar show is filled with puppets, special effects, digital backdrops, and even trapeze artistry. Just like in the hit show Avenue Q, it features live humans visually apparent holding large “puppets” of the characters. (I say puppets, but a couple are as big as a car – no exaggeration). The original musical score is also reminiscent of Avenue Q, without dirty references. But that’s not the point. It’s a 35 minute show, retelling the story of Finding Nemo. Even if you hate the movie, you will LOVE this show. The music is very witty with a sense of self, and the story does not seem so familiar after seeing it done in such an odd way. The only problem is the show is cancelled many times due to the minimal cast not showing up. When it first opened, there was only ONE Marlin. If he wasn’t there, no understudy… so yeah. But it’s calmed down since then, and understudies are available. However, there is a weird policy they have that the CMs won’t tell you who is in the show. Confidentiality or whatever. But it’s like a Broadway show, so you’d assume they’d have a fucking cast list! Stupid. This is, by far, the best stage show in the park, so make sure you make room for it in your day. You will NOT be disappointed. It takes place in the Theatre in The Wild, home of the once horrible show, “Tarzan Rocks!” Thank God they brought Nemo in.P.S. – they should bulldoze Chester and Hester’s bullshit, and make the entire area into Australia!! Flame Tree BBQ is next door – then Dinoland – then Nemo. What the fuck is Nemo (which takes place in Australia) doing in fucking Dinoland?!!! Oh well. This show includes the song, “Big Blue World,” which you’ll also hear in EPCOT at “Nemo and Friends.”
When To Go: Usually the 1 PM show is the best show to try to get into, but the next one is also okay. The sun is hottest at that time, and the theatre is air-conditioned. Try to sit on the right side of the stage in the closest seats (3rd or 4th row) next to the stage extension. You will get to see some awesome things! Try to show up 40 minutes early for the best seats. Lines start forming up to an hour early for this gem.

Live Entertainment

There are some street performers, but I forgot their names. They are physical comedians, and they hang out in Chester and Hester’s – I think it’s like Smear, Splat & Dip. I dunno.

Shopping

Chester and Hester’s Dinosaur Treasures – the architecture and silly roadside theme is more interesting than the actual merch. It’s all random dinosaur stuff, reminiscent of a 99¢ store. They have a bunch of shit in bins, and it’s all freakin’ junk. Quite pointless.

Dinosaur Gift Shop – Get all your dino-related merch, shirts, and what-have-you. You can get a stuffed Carnotaur here if you want. And buy your “Dinosaur” picture.

Dining + Snacks

Restaurantosaurus (Food: D; Service: C+; Price: Who cares?) (McDonald’s) – They call this Restaurantosaurus, but it’s just a fuckin’ McDonald’s. Burgers, fries, Chicken McNuggets, Happy Meals… an actual McDonald’s. Do not eat here unless you have never been to a McDonald’s and want to pay $10 for a “value” meal.

Fireworks and Parades

No fireworks here! It’ll scare the animals and may even harm them. But, there is a really stupid parade. And here it is!

Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade (C-)
Yeah, there are floats… ugly ones… and there are characters… and even Br’er Rabbit sometimes. BUT they also have skaters, acrobats, and stilt walkers. Like watching travelling carneys, this parade tries to bring the spirit of Africa to you. It doesn’t work. The structures and floats are just so ugly, that even though they represent African art, it’s silly and looks cheap. Really, it’s on par with the other afternoon parades of now… (if you saw “Remember the Magic,” you’d know that rocked the house!) Either way, this parade is doubly stupid because it goes around, and then turns and comes back, so you’re stuck watching it twice! If you want to see the parade with no crowd, show up 20 minutes later than the time it’s supposed to start… at Harambe. Why? Because when the parade finishes, everyone leaves. But they don’t realize it comes back again! So you’ll see it with quite a small crowd. It’s the best way to see the parade. Anywhere in Harambe is good. I saw the parade once, and have no need to see it in its entirety again. I usually skip the parade and do the Dinoland stuff while the crowds are down there.

THAT’S IT!

[No, not really.]

[Next Chapter: Jerry’s touring plans + tips for DAK.]

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