After a late night in Magic Kingdom, we started the day with an 8 AM Animal Kingdom opening. In one way, it was nice to have that sense of normalcy where you go from late night in the parks to early morning in the parks. In a much more real way, I was tired. We were moving on from Art of Animation to the Riviera that day, so we dropped off our bags at bell services for them to transfer and then were off to Animal Kingdom.
We arrived at the park right at opening so going straight to Flight of Passage was a no go. If you want to do that attraction first thing then I’d arrive at Animal Kingdom at least 45 minutes before opening. Honestly, showing up right at opening wasn’t a bad option as all of the other attractions in the park outside of Pandora were mostly walk-ons for the first hour. We did make a mistake and went straight to Expedition Everest instead of Kilimanjaro Safaris. The crowds usually flow from left to right in Animal Kingdom so starting a step ahead with the Safaris and then moving to Everest and Dinosaur makes the most sense. Anyway, there’s never a bad time to visit the Yeti!
From there, we walked over to Kilimanjaro Safaris and got in a very long line that stretched all the way to the Festival of the Lion King Theater. Our wait was under half an hour though and it gave ample time to eat this.
The ginormous cinnamon roll from Kusafiri Bakery in Africa is delicious and my personal favorite cinnamon roll at WDW. We devoured them before a fairly active safari. It seems that the morning is generally the best time for activity on the attraction. Here are some photos from the ride through.
It’s always a treat to see one of the lions awake! Speaking of being awake, the group split up for a little while for some to make a coffee run. The rest of us walked around the front of the Tree of Life, one of the prettiest paths in a beautiful park. With the waterfall and all of the different carvings, there’s no shortage of things to see.
Eventually we met back up for a ride on Dinosaur. This was the longest wait of the day and the queue extended into some backstage areas. I’m guessing the crowds all just caught up to us at that point and Dinosaur loads slower than any other attraction in the park. Long wait aside, it was a good time and we played some Heads Up while waiting in line. Afterwards we got to see this crazy dino!
We had an early dinner reservation so we didn’t want to eat much for lunch. Melissa and I ended up sharing the Mac and Cheese at Flame Tree Barbecue, which is one of the best counter-service values in Disney World. I highly recommend it! Not to mention, the view couldn’t be much better.
We walked across the bridge from Discovery Island to Asia, which is the theme park mecca for signs! Truly incredible signage throughout both that land and Africa. There’s a nice sense of practical and fictional signs that all blend into telling the story of the theme park.
We walked through Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail but sadly all of the Gorillas were MIA. That’s never happened to me before and think the trail is well worth your time. After walking through the trail, we checked out Feathered Friends in Flight which is the interim bird show. Honestly, I preferred it to UP! A Great Bird Adventure as the hosts were personal and the script was funny enough without being cheesy. Obviously, the birds are the star and a blast to watch fly throughout the theater.
Continuing our bird afternoon, we went to Winged Encounters which shows 15 minutes past the hour in front of the Tree of Life. A flock of macaws fly around the tree and end up settling in the hub around the guests. All in all, it doesn’t last more than five minutes but it’s a blast to watch and a fun show to happen upon.
We wound down our day at Animal Kingdom with a meal at Tiffins, which remains one of the best theme park restaurants in the world. Our meal was wonderful and the menu is diverse enough to offer some affordable options. As usual, the service was far and above the usual restaurant.
With stomachs full, we headed off to the Riviera to check into our room and spend some time poolside. At this point, I’ve covered the hotel pretty thoroughly so I won’t bore you with more details. We enjoyed our stay and remain big proponents of split stays with the nicer hotels at the end of the trip if possible.
After a swim and rest at the hotel, we caught the Skyliner over to Epcot. The park was open until 11 that night and we thought some late night snacks from the Flower & Garden Festival would be a nice way to cap off our last night of the trip. Before starting the eating portion of the night (since apparently that’s all we did on this day) I went back up to the front of the park to get a few more photos of the new entrance. It’s a beautiful change!
Mixed in with the snacking that night, we also watched Impressions de France. Eating and watching that short film make for a pretty perfect night. By the time the park was reaching close, it was completely void of people. We started our usual post-close World Showcase stroll and saw a total of 2 people that weren’t Cast Members. Usually I’m not nervous about transportation not running or little things like that but the park was so empty that we started wondering if we missed a memo along the way. It led to some fun times taking photos of topiaries though!
Eventually we caught a Skyliner back to the Riviera and took a few photos around the resort before going to bed. The grounds really are picturesque and peaceful, especially at night with a lack of guests around. There’s never a bad time for some beach sitting!
With a very late night, we decided to sleep in an extra hour or two on our last day before heading back to Animal Kingdom. The goal for the day was essentially to get on Flight of Passage before it was time to leave for the airport. We had skipped it the day before and were fine waiting an hour or so on this particular day! Before it got too hot though, we walked through Maharajah Jungle Trek. I’ve been raving about this attraction since this blog existed but it remains as beautiful and full of story as ever.
From there we got in line for Flight of Passage and ended up waiting for about an hour. With the scenery and some ice cream, the wait was actually pretty pleasant. As far as the actual Flight of Passage queue, it is one of the best in any Disney Park. It mixes a nice blend of environments with plenty to look at in all phases. Plus, we had this wonderful ice cream cart that we walked past on the bridge in Africa.
It’s been nearly five years since Pandora opened and Flight of Passage’s shine hasn’t worn at all. It’s an excellent attraction and one of Walt Disney World’s best.
Speaking of WDW’s best, we had lunch at Satu’li Canteen. I still have it as the best counter-service spot in all of Disney World and nothing about that meal dissuaded me from that opinion. It’s delicious and always tastes fresh. While they don’t have quite as many options as some other restaurants, what they do serve is fantastic!
We caught another showing of Winged Encounters after lunch and then spent the next hour or two just walking around and enjoying the park. Disneyland and Animal Kingdom remain the best and prettiest parks in the country, although they are completely different from each other. If Animal Kingdom could add a few more quality attractions then it would really add something to the park, as the pandemic has shown that there isn’t a ton to do there without entertainment. Still, walking around the park is enveloping. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.
Sadly, it was time to head back to the hotel and catch the Magical Express back to the airport. The trip came and went quickly and we were lucky to have beautiful weather! The crowds did get higher throughout the stay but it wasn’t anything we couldn’t manage and we still were able to enjoy all of the rides we wanted. As always, I wish we were back there all the time but the trip should hold us over until the 50th anniversary! Thanks for following along with this trip report!
If you have any questions or comments, including any additions you’d like to see in future trip reports, please let us know in the comments below. Planning a trip to Walt Disney World? Check out our WDW Trip Planning Guide to help you out. If you enjoy what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney please share this post with your friends and like our social media pages. You can also subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email. All of those links are on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!
Categories: Trip Reports