Ranking the Table-Service Restaurants We’ve Eaten At – Walt Disney World

I recently started a series ranking the table-service and counter-service restaurants at each resort.  We began in Disneyland and are now headed to the east coast, ranking Disney World’s table-service restaurant.  This list does include signature restaurants (2-credits on the dining plan).  As with the previous posts, I’ll be adding to this list as we go to more and more restaurants.  We’ve already got quite a few ranked but aren’t even half way to all of them.

These restaurants include Disney World’s 4 parks, Disney Springs, and the numerous resorts scattered across property.  Disney Springs ever-changing dining line-up has us only listing a few here.  Along with that, there are some places that we’ve eaten that I won’t list because it’s been too long to give them a fair review/ranking.

Cream puff swan Chefs de France

Another caveat is that I’m leaving Victoria & Albert’s and the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue off the list.  Victoria & Albert’s is so different (and better) that I can’t clump it in this list.  Hoop-Dee-Doo is a dinner show, making it far different from anything else on the list.

The restaurants are ranked based off food, atmosphere, and value, among other things  If there are restaurants that you love that aren’t on our list then please let us know in the comments and we’ll try to get to them next time.  Click on the restaurant name if you want to read the full review (a few don’t have a review).  Let’s get to it!

25. Grand Floridian Cafe (Grand Floridian Resort) – I didn’t really want to rate this last.  Some of my dislike for the restaurant may have come from too high of expectations.  I have certainly have worse meals at Disney World than this, but the combinations of bland food, an underwhelming atmosphere and a limited menu all combine to make this last place for now.  Your mileage may vary, I would recommend going for lunch and not dinner like we did.

ravioli GFC

24. La Hacienda de San Angel (Epcot) – It seems as if the better location a restaurant has in Epcot, the worse the food is.  La Hacienda has prime location, sitting right on World Showcase’s Lagoon.  The food misses the mark.  The Mexican cuisine is no better than your local Azteca and the prices are certainly higher.  There’s much better options in World Showcase.

23. Coral Reef Restaurant (Epcot) – Basically the same as what I just wrote.  Coral Reef is awesome because you are basically eating in an aquarium.  But, save the $30+ per person and just go the seas pavilion next door.  The food is pretty bad here.

22. Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater (Hollywood Studios) – It’s a cool environment and not a bad place to try if you really like American food.  But the burgers were average, the food is incredibly heavy and the prices were pretty high for it essentially being a burger restaurant.

Sci fi seating DHS

21. Trail’s End Restaurant (Fort Wilderness) – One of the cheaper buffets at Disney World, so if that’s your thing go here.  This place also earns points for being at Fort Wilderness and having good fried chicken.  The food is pretty forgettable though.   If you do end up here, get the Moonshine juice (non-alcoholic).

20. Cinderella’s Royal Table (Magic Kingdom) – This restaurant coasts to a 20th place finish solely because you get to eat inside of the iconic castle.  The food is mediocre and the prices are extremely high.  I’m happy we went once but I don’t think we’ll be going back anytime soon.

CRT After Midnight

19. Tutto Italia Ristorante (Epcot) – I’ve had one very good meal here and the other times were very underwhelming.  The prices are high and I’d give the food mixed reviews.  I like the inside of the restaurant but prefer other places in the Italian Pavilion and throughout World Showcase.

18. Restaurant Marrakesh (Epcot) – This restaurant is beautiful and entertaining.  Unfortunately, I didn’t love the food and thought it was lacking in flavor.  I prefer the counter-service in the Morocco Pavilion, as far as food goes.  I don’t think anyone would be disappointed in having a meal here though.

17. Teppan Edo (Epcot) – Teppan Edo has good food and the chefs are very entertaining.  This isn’t very authentic, for being in the Japan Pavilion, but it is fun and good.  The prices are fairly high and there isn’t anything that makes this place stand out above the typical Teppanyaki restaurant.

16. Trattoria al Forno (Boardwalk Resort) – A very good option for a character breakfast, with interesting characters and fairly versatile menu.  Trattoria also has an interesting dinner menu, serving mostly Italian fare.  The prices aren’t bad, the location is great and the food is good.  The environment is largely unthemed but looks nice.

15. Be Our Guest Restaurant (Magic Kingdom) – I definitely prefer lunch here.  This is certainly one of the best atmospheres of any restaurants at Disney World.  My praise basically ends there though.  The food is good but not great and the prices are quite high.  I think most would enjoy dinner here but it’s not worth the headache of trying to get a reservation and doesn’t measure up to the hype.

BOG clams

14. Akershus Banquet Hall (Epcot) – One of my top picks for character dining.  Akershus has interesting lunch and dinner options (Norwegian inspired) and I’ve never been disappointed by any of food there.  This is one of the few places where you can meet the princesses, not pay an excruciating amount, and have pretty good food.

13. San Angel Inn (Epcot) – Eating inside of the Mexican Pavilion, across from a boat ride and little volcano, makes for one of the best atmospheres in Disney World.  I think the food here is decent too, albeit inconsistent.  I liked the seafood dish I had and thought the prices were fairly reasonable.

12. Chefs de France (Epcot) – I didn’t enjoy my first meal here many years ago but we went last summer and I was impressed.  The atmosphere is festive and enjoyable, the food is delicious.  There isn’t much value to be had but this is just a good restaurant.  I recommend the short ribs.

11. Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen (Magic Kingdom) – Like the Jungle Cruise attraction it’s inspired by, Skipper Canteen is a boatload of fun.  The menu is surprisingly diverse and the items we tried were all pretty good.  The prices aren’t through the roof.  More than anything, the atmosphere shines through and makes it my favorite table-service restaurant in Magic Kingdom.

10. The Hollywood Brown Derby (Hollywood Studios) – A very good restaurant for being in a theme park.  While the looks of the restaurant won’t make your jaw drop, the food is delicious and service is top-notch.  I think there’s some value for a signature restaurant and everything I’ve tried here is wonderful.

9. Sanaa (Animal Kingdom Lodge) – I don’t love Sanaa as much as some Disney bloggers but I do think it’s one of the best values on property.  Watching the animals wander out the door while eating good, moderately priced Indian food is an idea way to spend an afternoon.  I highly recommend the restaurant though I do think there are a few better.

Sanaa bread service high

8. Via Napoli (Epcot) – The best pizza on property comes inside World Showcase’s Italian Pavilion.  There’s plenty of options here, both safe and interesting.  This is a perfect place to go and save a few bucks along the way by sharing a pizza.  The inside of the restaurant is gorgeous.  This is my favorite place to eat in World Showcase currently.

7. Narcoossee’s (Grand Floridian) – There isn’t much value here as you have to pay quite a bit to eat at this signature restaurant.  But the seafood here is the best I’ve found on property.  The location is tough to beat, sitting on Seven Seas Lagoon and is a short boat ride away from Magic Kingdom.  The lobster here is one of my favorite meals in Disney World.

Lobster again narcoossees

6. Morimoto Asia (Disney Springs) – The only negative here is that the restaurant is unthemed.  Disregarding that, the food is outstanding, the decor is very modern and beautiful, and there is certainly value to be had.  One of the most impressive meals I’ve had at Disney World.

Morimoto flowers

5. The Boathouse (Disney Springs) – Disney World’s most diverse restaurant.  The menu is large and offers a nice mix as far as price goes.  Seafood and American food are the main options here and everything I tried was delicious.  The inside of the restaurant isn’t great but sitting outside is lovely.

4. Boma – Flavors of Africa (Animal Kingdom Lodge) – An easy way to try out food that you may be a little afraid of is going to a buffet.  Boma offers that opportunity and has such a wide assortment of food that it is almost overwhelming.  Unlike other buffets, everything I’ve had here is fresh and delicious.  Not to mention, eating here entails seeing the beautiful Animal Kingdom Lodge.

3. Ohana (Polynesian Resort) – Some believe that Ohana is slightly overrated at this point but I tend to disagree.  The food is delicious and unlimited.  While the price is high, if you have a big appetite then you can make up for it.  The atmosphere is wonderful, especially if you go around firework showtimes.  I’ve always come away happy here and the first time I went was one of the best meals I’ve ever had.

2. California Grill (Contemporary Resort) – While slightly overpriced, California Grill has an incredible atmosphere, delicious food, and one of the best views in Disney World.  This is one of the restaurants in Disney World I’d describe as a rite of passage.

1. Tiffins (Animal Kingdom) – One of my favorite restaurants in a theme park, Tiffins serves interesting food and mixes it with a great design and theme.  Exploring Imagineers travels, the decor is fascinating.  The beef is some of the best in Disney World and the menu is inspired and interesting.  Tiffins price isn’t too bad, especially if you get discounts, and the service is the best I’ve found in the parks.

Tiffins green tea cheesecake

Those are my rankings of Disney World table-service restaurants.  I’m looking forward to adding to the list over the years.  What would you add or change?  Let us know in the comments!  If you enjoy what you’re reading here on Wandering in Disney please subscribe to the blog and like our Facebook page.  You can find both of those on the right side of this page.  Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!

– Andrew

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Japan Trip Report – Part 1

We have grown accustomed to planning trips in advance.  Disney World urges guests to plan their trip at least 6 months out.  By the time the trip actually rolls around, the anticipation is off the charts.  So, when we decided to go to Japan we did everything early.  We booked flights long before we needed to, we booked most of our stays long in advance, and we started planning itineraries so early that people forgot them a couple of times before we arrived.

Most of this mega-planning was because of me.  Japan had been a dream destination for me over the last five years and I wanted to make sure that we hit all of those destinations I’ve so often read about.  This was also a mechanism to calm my nerves.  Traveling to Japan was the biggest trip I’ve ever taken and being the one who planned it all made me nervous, so I tried to talk everything out with our group that consisted of my wife and our best friends, Darin and Mackenzie.

Our trip crept closer and our plans were finalized.  I ended up very happy with all of the planning we did, confident in our plans.  Our itinerary focused heavily on Kyoto and Disney, with Tokyo and places to eat taking somewhat of a backseat.  We cut costs where we could while still hoping to make this a trip of a lifetime.  One of the ways to make the cost cheaper was on flights.

We live in Seattle but flying out of Vancouver BC saved us about $500 per person.  This also entailed a long layover in Beijing both directions, sleeping in the airport.  This wouldn’t always be the case but traveling to Japan during cherry blossom (Sakura) season was a priority for me and that made the cost of direct flights quite a bit higher.  The flights went well and we even got a decent night’s sleep on our layover in Beijing.  Still, I would recommend a direct flight if the cost isn’t too high.  It will give you an extra day or two in Japan and make the travel more enjoyable.

We arrived at Kansai International Airport around 12:45 PM and passed through immigration with relative ease.  Likewise, we picked up our pocket mifi (essentially a wireless hotspot to connect your phone to the internet) and caught the airport bus to our hotel with no issues.  Our first stop was Universal Resort in Osaka.  We stayed at the Keihan Universal Tower Hotel, which was very close to the park itself.  Our travel to Japan and to the hotel all went off without a hitch.  As was the case through all of our trip, the language barrier was no issue.  People were incredibly helpful and the signage was easy to follow.

USJ City Walk

We were quite hungry by the time we arrived at the hotel so, after check-in, we headed out for the first of many ramen meals.  Like the Universal Parks stateside, there was a prominent City Walk full of restaurants and shops.  We thoroughly enjoyed our meal and were surprised at how cheap the cost was.  In total, food in Japan is cheaper than America and we knew this coming in.  Still, getting a full meal for 2 at $15, steps outside of a theme park was a bit of a shock to the system.  A pleasant shock, but still a shock.

After dinner and a quick trip back to the room, we went across the street to a little inlet on the water.  While there wasn’t much to see, being that close to the ocean was peaceful and a nice way to recover from 30 hours of traveling.

Osaka night water

We eventually went back to the City Walk and enjoyed a few crepes before a true highlight of the trip happened – our first encounter with a convenience store.  Convenience stores in Japan are far superior to their American counterparts.  The hot food is actually decent and there are plenty of options.  The snack choices are incredible and there’s so many of them.  Seeing my friend Darin, an incredible bad-food connoisseur, inside of his first Japanese convenience store was unforgettable.  He wandered the aisles with gusto, giggling and bright-eyed, that I’ve never seen from him before.  I’m only half-kidding about this being a true highlight of the trip.

Our hotel was nice, with the best thing about it being the location.  The room had 5 beds packed in pretty tight but it did the job.  Most rooms in Japan only have twin beds and this was no exception.  The cost wasn’t too high though and the place was convenient for our plans.  I’d recommend this place for a group of 4 or a family who’s planning on spending a day in Universal Studios Japan.  We headed to bed fairly early, being tired from our travel and wanting to get to the park before opening the next day.

USJ Under Hogwarts

The morning saw us up fairly early for what we thought was park opening Universal Studios Japan.  We lined up over a half an hour before what we thought was the park opening time but instead saw that everyone was just walking in.  I’m still not sure what the deal was, opening 45 minutes early seems odd.  I have since read that USJ opens their gates before scheduled times quite regularly but that morning still seems especially early.  I won’t complain though as having extra park time was fun.  We immediately rushed to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and enjoyed the attraction there.  This was one of the busier weeks for Universal Studios Japan so we were prepared for long lines.  Our first wait was under an hour and we considered that a success.

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is such an excellent attraction that it really transcends the dialogue.  This version, unsurprisingly, was in Japanese.  Melissa and I had experienced this attraction in English but our friends hadn’t.  Nothing was lost on them though as the visuals tell the wild and fun story.  USJ’s Forbidden Journey was an exact replica of those stateside and was well maintained.

We perused through Hogsmeade before heading back into the rest of the park.  Unlike Orlando and California, Hogsmeade feels completely separated from the rest of Universal Studios Japan because of a long wooded path that leads into the land.  I thoroughly enjoyed this as it built up anticipation and was quite beautiful.  Upon exiting, we found that the park was using reserved ticketing to get back into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  We planned to go back in the evening, before close, but were out of luck as there were no more spots at that time.  Instead we ended up with entry tickets around lunch time.  The reservation process was simple as you just go up to the machines near the Jaws attractions and select what time you want to go back.  Employees are eager to help you find the area.  All things considered, we were lucky to get into the land twice.

Amity Island billboard USJ

After that we headed to Amity Island to explore the Jaws mini-land.  The Jaws attraction is no modern marvel but was right up my alley.  A slow boat ride, an entertaining skipper and a shark that is trying to kill you makes for an excellent attraction.  Likewise, I thought the little land surrounding it was full of great detail and one that I would return to throughout the day because of how much I enjoyed it.

We meandered the park for a little while after this.  Happening upon Charlie Brown in his Easter best was glorious.

USJ Charlie Brown

The Peanuts and Sesame Street had an area of the park with a bunch of rides for children.  Some of this area looked okay but I wasn’t very impressed.  The space felt crowded and unthemed, other than some character faces painted on the walls or entrances of buildings.

Snoopy ride USJ

Where this area did excel was in colors.  I imagine this is already a colorful area, maybe to a fault, with its purple pavement.  The Easter festivities really sent it over the top with the bright flowers all around.  I’m not saying I liked it but if you’re going to have an unthemed little kid area then you might as well make it as bright as possible, right?..

Shortly after, we headed back to Hogsmeade for our reservation time.  We ended up having lunch there at Three Broomsticks.  As far as our whole trip goes, the meals we had were cheaper than typical.  This was one of the few exceptions.  Three Broomsticks has decent food, with British pub fare.  The atmosphere is great and I would probably recommend it but it was overpriced compared to everywhere else we ate on our trip to Japan.  I thought the Shepherd’s Pie was good and the Ribs and Chicken Combo was pretty average.  Melissa and I both liked the Butterbeer Ice Cream.

Hogwarts USJ

After lunch we soaked in the beautiful Hogwarts views.  Unlike the other Universal Resorts, this Hogsmeade has a beautiful lake that looms outside of the castle.  The view from the outside seating of Three Broomsticks is magnificent, especially on the beautiful day we had.  Reflections off the water were gorgeous.  I wish this was a feature at all of the Wizarding World’s.  I think that feature elevates it above Orlando’s version (although Orlando has Diagon Alley so it scores points elsewhere).  Another photo of the lake for good measure.

Hogwarts lake reflection USJ

Melissa got tons of compliments on her Honeydukes shirt from employees.  It was a fun way to interact with people even with a language barrier.

Honeydukes Melissa USJ

The rest of the Wizarding World was very familiar but no less spectacular.  Every corner was impeccable, with great detail and tremendous upkeep.  A great deal of care is given to both this park and the Disney parks by the people who work in them.  It is noticeable and appreciated.

Blue window HP USJ

After shopping through Hogsmeade, the rest of the group went off to ride the most terrifying and belligerent roller coaster I’ve ever seen in my life.  It’s called the Flying Dinosaur and takes guests, riding on their stomachs, through crazy loops and turns at very high speeds.  I wouldn’t be caught dead on it but if I did ride it I would be found dead from several heart attacks.  They rode via the single rider line and I sat around and took photos, a pleasant afternoon compared to the raucous they experienced.  Quick tip: Use the single-rider line at USJ.  It will save you hours of waiting in line.

Jaws truck USJ

As I said, I was drawn to the Jaws area.  Those crazy block letters in the background of this photo really pop.  They offer an interesting contrast to the somewhat realistic area.

Flying Dinosaur over lake USJ

There’s the horrifying Flying Dinosaur.  I’d rather be skinny-dipping with Jaws himself than be on that thing.

USJ bridge San Francisco

One of the more interesting aspects of the park is how little it tried to hide the outside city.  In a way, the park tried to use it as part of the scenery.  In the above photo you can see one of the busier bridges in Osaka.  If this was the main park I went to, I think the city views within the park would wear on me.  But for one day I thought the views were an interesting paradox to the incredibly immersive lands that are so en vogue right now in theme parks.  Here’s a view of the other side of the park, albeit later in the day, with hotels and sky scrapers on the horizon.

USJ Osaka skyline night

About an hour later, the others were off the coaster.  I went on Jurassic Park River Adventure (essentially a copy of the attraction stateside) while Melissa took the camera.  I came back to about a hundred photos of the Minion area.

Minion grafiti wall

It’s hard to describe how infatuated the locals are with the Minions.  This was the busiest area in the parks and seemingly everyone was either dressed like a Minion or had a shirt with one on it.  While I certainly have affection for these crazy critters, the fandom I observed was shocking.  I loved it.  The area was pretty fun too.

Minion fountain USJ

Shortly after, we stopped for a snack.  I separated from the others to take a few more photos when disaster struck.  As I was gathering up my camera gear I left my phone sitting on the sidewalk.  If you ever wondered if losing your phone on the first day of a foreign vacation is a good idea I can certainly confirm that is, in fact, a terrible idea.  I rushed back to where I left it, wandering in circles like a dog for a few minutes before I saw an employee.  I told him that I’d lost my phone and he went back to look for it.  After a few minutes, this very kind man came out holding my phone.  They looked as relieved as I did when I entered my pass-code and they saw it was mine.  This goes for all of Japan, the customer service was incredible.  People talk about the ‘Disney difference’ and how everyone is so helpful and friendly when going to a Disney Park.  It’s far more prudent in Japan and not just in their theme parks.  Anyway, I found my phone.  Disaster averted.

The group of us met back up and then we ate this:

Minion Burger USJ

It was not very good.  This was though:

Minion cream puff USJ

Mainly I was a fan of this restaurant, Happiness Cafe, because they had fountain drinks and free refills, a rarity in Japan.  It was a hot day and I drank more Coke than I care to share.  My short review for the food at the restaurant was that the entrees weren’t very good and the desserts were.  I liked the decor, as it was over the top much like the Minion Park right outside.

The sunset was fairly pretty that night so I took a few photos after dinner.

Lombard's water USJ

USJ statue

The rest of the evening was spent wandering around the park and riding attractions with short wait times.  Crowds were pretty high throughout the day so it was nice to walk around once some people left.

Universal Studios Japan is probably my favorite Universal Park.  I thought the transitions between lands were much smoother and the details were a bit more immersive.  The attraction roster is largely the same as California and Orlando, give or take a few.  As I touched on, the customer service was wonderful and that takes it to the top.  Here’s a few more photos from the rest of the night.

RIver Adventure night USJ

Amity Landing USJ

Minion fountain night USJ

USJ at night

Universal Arcade USJ

All in all, I enjoyed our day at Universal Studios Japan but probably wouldn’t do it again unless I was in Japan for at least a month.  That’s no fault of the park, as I said I really enjoyed it even though I’m fairly cynical when it comes to Universal Parks.  There is simply too much to do in Japan for me to recommend going.  The Tokyo Disney Parks are far superior to this one and I’d recommend an extra day there or in one of the many cities you could visit over this.  If you are a theme park junkie though, go for it!

We headed back to the hotel shortly after the park closed and went to bed after watching a few seemingly strange Japanese shows on TV.

Cherry blossom Osaka river

The next morning saw us up and about fairly early on our way to Osaka Castle en route to Kyoto.  We planned to get lockers for our luggage at the station near Osaka Castle but they were all taken so we were those annoying tourists dragging multiple bags behind us.  Thankfully, we saw several people doing the same thing so we didn’t feel too out-of-place.  The walk from the station to Osaka Castle was quite beautiful and included a flower market, river and lovely cherry blossoms.

Cherry blossoms Osaka

Since we had our luggage and were a little low on time we elected to just walk around the castle instead of go inside.  The castle itself was beautiful and worth a trip to see if you are in Osaka.  While there are other castles I’d rather see in Japan, this was the most convenient to our location.  It was fairly crowded but not overly so.  Next time we’re in Japan we definitely plan to make the trek to Himeji Castle though.  Here are some photos of the castle and grounds.

Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle framed

Cherry blossom close Osaka

My last thought on Osaka is that I’m not sure that I would stay there again.  Frankly, Kyoto has far more intrigue and even if I wanted to visit Osaka, the trip from Kyoto is a very easy and quick one.  Osaka’s aquarium, nightlife, Universal Studios, and castle are all worth exploring but would be fairly low on my priority list of things to do in Japan.  Staying in Kyoto gives you a little more flexibility on if you want to explore the area or not.

Shortly after we left the castle we were on our way to Kyoto and that’s where we’ll pick up our next installment of the trip report.

Osaka skyline from castle

Thank you for reading and let us know if you have any questions or thoughts!  You can do that below in the comments.  If you enjoy what you’re reading please subscribe to the blog and like our social media pages, all of which you can find on the right side of this page.  Have a great day!

– Andrew

Tokyo DisneySea – The World’s Best Theme Park

The World’s best theme park isn’t centered around a castle but instead a volcano that is ever active, smoking constantly and erupting every few hours.  Surrounding this volcano are lands both intricately detailed and jaw-dropping on a grand scale.  If this wasn’t enough, the attraction and show lineup are outstanding, mixing both classic Disney rides and incredible original attractions.   All of this led to me having a new favorite Disney Park – Tokyo DisneySea.  Frankly, there isn’t a close second.

Entering our trip to Japan I was slightly concerned that DisneySea had been hyped up too much.  Among  fans and bloggers, the park is considered the mecca of Disney Parks.  Having seen photos and having rides relatively low on my priorities for a park, I thought that DisneySea might be less of a surprise and not quite what I had pictured in my brain a hundred times over.  Those worries were completely squashed as soon as I entered the park.

While not a castle park, DisneySea sets up its icon reveal just as others set up the castle.  Guests round a corner, past a beautiful globe slowly pinning above water, and are met with the view of a volcano framed by water, an arcade and the beautiful Hotel MiraCosta.  The view is so beautiful that it’s almost shocking.  It took a moment for me to remember that I was in a theme park – a feeling that accompanied me throughout the park.

Mediterranean Harbor TDS

No matter which way you turn out of this initial view of the park, you are met with greatness.  The Mediterranean Harbor is the immediate land no matter which way you turn.  Beautiful architecture and wandering back alleys are reminiscent of the Italian landscapes that inspired them.  The canal filled with gondolas is another “Am I really in a theme park?” moment.

Mediterrenean canal night TDS

The American Waterfront is the park’s biggest land and is filled with incredible details and larger than life rides and shows.  Big Band Beat, housed in a Broadway-like theater, is the best show I’ve ever seen.  What is most striking about this sprawling land is the amount of detail packed in.  We spend roughly 3 days in the park exploring and still felt there was more to explore here.

ToT ground night TDS

Continuing through the park, Port Discovery and Lost River Delta are somewhat smaller but still pack a punch.  I’d liken Port Discovery’s spirit to that of Tomorrowland, inventive and futuristic in architecture.  Except this land is set on water and looks better.  Lost River Delta packs in thrill rides, a beautiful show and a stunning aesthetic in a land surrounding a river.  The area draws inspiration from South America.

Moving on, the Arabian Coast is one of my favorite lands full of side streets, details and underrated rides.  Like the American Waterfront, this land is gorgeous and, although I spent plenty of time there, one I couldn’t get enough of.  While this is just a brief overview of an amazing park so readers can get familiar, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Sinbad’s Storybook Voyage.  The attraction appears to be a simple dark ride at first blush but is an incredible attraction when given the time of day.

Arabian Coast TDS

Mermaid Lagoon is full of kid rides and, by all means, should be ugly.  Instead it is housed in a glorious castle that is full of color and one of the most stunning sights that the park has.  Instead of an ugly land full of rides that most adults won’t care about, the park is smart enough to make the land beautiful.

Finally, there is Mysterious Island – a land inside of the volcano.  While one of the smaller land footprints, Mysterious Island is one of the most ambitious areas in any theme park.  The views are stunning and exotic.  The water has a glorious color and no detail is an afterthought.  On top of that, Mysterious Island has two wonderful attractions that add to the intrigue of the area.

Mysterious Island TDS

Consider this a preamble to our upcoming Japan Trip Report.  DisneySea was unlike any theme park I’ve experienced and I’m excited to share the details of it, and the other areas of Japan, with you all over the upcoming weeks.  That’s not to leave Disneyland out, I think this may be my favorite castle park I’ve been to and I’m excited to share about that as well.  Tokyo DisneySea itself was enough to make our trip to Japan worth the time and cost.  Stay tuned to hear all about that, Tokyo Disney Resort and Japan over the coming weeks.

Light ToT TDS

Let us know your thoughts or any questions about Tokyo DisneySea in the comments.  Thank you for reading Wandering in Disney.  If you enjoy our content please subscribe to the blog (via WordPress or email) and like our social media pages.  You can find all of those things on the right side of this page.  Have a great day!

– Andrew

Tokyo Disney Resort Video Dump

Just in case you don’t follow along on Facebook, here are the videos we took at Tokyo Disney Resort over the week. We’ll get back to regular posting after the weekend but for now enjoy these videos (it’s much better in person).

Tokyo DisneySea

Tokyo Disneyland’s Dreamlights Parade

Tokyo Disneyland’s Dream Up Parade

Japan Photo Update

Hello readers!  Sorry for the lack of content in the last week, we are thoroughly enjoying our trip to Japan and I haven’t had time to post.  That trend will continue at least for tonight as I’m going to leave you with a little photo update of the trip so far.  These are mostly the highlights from our first 6 days, minus Universal Studios Japan.  There will be a full trip report soon, and these photos will likely show up again, but here’s a few to tide you over!

Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle

Kiyomizu-dera Kyoto view

Kiyomizu-dera Temple (Kyoto)

Bamboo grove sun

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

Monkey on top of tree and mountains

Arashiyama Monkey Park

Toji tall reflections

Toji Temple

Silver Pavilion purple and blur

Silver Pavilion (Ginkaku-ji)

Pink flower Philosopher's Path

Philosopher’s Path

aqueduct Nannzenji

Nanzen-ji Temple

Fushimi Inari entrance

Fushimi Inari curve

Fushimi Inari

Golden Temple leaves

Golden Pavilion

Fuji from Shinkansen

Fuji from the Shinkansen

Shinjuku lights

Shinjuku (Tokyo)

That’s all for now.  Tomorrow we head to Tokyo Disneyland for the remainder of the trip.  Follow along on our Facebook page as well as our personal Instagram accounts (melissalong6113 and drewlong7).  Thank you for reading!

– Andrew

April News Update

Two apologies are in order.  One, I’m generally against this type of post but I’m on vacation and don’t care.  Two, this post was supposed to be up at the start of April 1st but we ran into wifi problems in China.  So, it gets posted at the very end of April 1st.  Welcome our guest writer, Darin! 

As we all know Disney made a surprise announcement, some of the news was shocking and some sounded pretty good. Here at Wandering at Disney, I have been tasked with updating you and giving a few thoughts on the matter. So without any further ado, let’s get to the exciting news.

First of all, with the two upcoming Avengers movies being released in a few months and another in 2019, Disneyland’s California Adventure will add an Indiana Jones Adventure type ride where you will take the role of Thanos as he takes down, and mostly is taken down by, multiple Avengers. Now whatever spoilers you are worried about this ride giving away, that will not be a concern because this ride is set to open late 2020/early 2021. This seems like a very exciting idea, seems to be a fast ride and you get to meet all your favorite superheroes in action, even under the unfortunate circumstances.

As we know there is a lot of construction going on at Pixar Pier and yet another attraction is underway. Soon there will be a new dark ride themed after the movie Wall-E. While there is not that much information I can’t deny that this is a fantastic idea. Wall-E has so many sequences that could be whimsical and jaw dropping if the imagineers get it right. I really want a sequence where Wall-E and Eve dance in space. I think that would work. We will all find out sometime in summer of 2019.

In some controversial news Disney finally decide to hide all evidence of their highly offensive film, Song of the South, and will be remodeling Splash Mountain. The ride will now be themed after The Princess and the Frog. Many have already criticized the choice, but famed imaginer William Gosfey came out and made a statement saying “The whole reason behind this decision is that The Princess and the Frog is the only other product we have that has a river boat and that prop would be cheaper to keep than get rid of.” I have no thoughts on this.

Disney Movie Magic DHS

We all know Hollywood Studios has been under a lot of construction lately with Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land being opening in the near future. Well it looks like another part of the area is being worked on. This time the entrance to Hollywood Studios is getting an update. While I am excited to see what comes of this, I did find it weird that they closed it midday with people still in the park. Caley Nobbins, noted imaginer that created the dreadful Pizza Planet restaurant, said “No one will come in and nobody will come out until people appreciate my work.” No real news on ideas on what the construction will be, but it seems Nobbins is working alone on this one.

Ever since the announcement of the closing of Stitch’s Great Escape many have wondered what will be taking that spot. We all know the answer now and honestly it is a real puzzling one. The ride they decided to put is Stitch’s Great Escape (Reversed). That’s right, it will be the same ride just going the other way. When asked about the announcement imagineer Anthony Dondletums said that when polling park guests most of them said “The ride would be so much better if it were just going the other direction.” I’m confused just as much as you, mostly because the ride didn’t move, but the customer is always right I suppose.

MK from boat

For the last update on Disney parks, I would like to offer congrats to Wandering in Disney for becoming so popular that they got their own pin. Other buttons force Cast Members to wish you a “Happy Birthday” when wearing your birthday button or just a regular old “Congratulations” for many of the pins. Now, when you wear the “Wandering in Disney” pin, and only our lovely contributors can wear one, the Cast Members must answer the Question of the Week. This puts the pressure on Andrew to come up with a question of the week and takes the pressure off us because we don’t have to answer.

What do you think of these announcements?  Do you have any other announcements Disney should make on April 1st?  Let us know in the comments.  If you enjoy what you’re reading, please subscribe to the blog via WordPress or email and like our social media pages.  You can find all of those things on the right side of this page.  Thank you for reading, Happy Easter, and have a great day!

– Darin

Little Red Wagon Review

The Little Red Wagon is just that, sitting at the end of Disneyland’s Main Street.  This counter-service spot serves legendary hand-dipped corn dogs.  There aren’t any frills when it comes to this place – no discounts and not really any seating.  Come for the corn dogs, eat the corn dogs and go.  We’ve been to this place dozens of times and this review will try to sum up all of those experiences in more words than just “it is awesome.

On one hand, I can’t believe that I haven’t written a Little Red Wagon review before.  I feel like I rave about it enough.  Without having its own review, I’ve mentioned it in at least 5 blog posts on this site.  On the other hand, it’s hard to come up with a decent sized review of a wagon that solely serves corn dogs.  Here goes nothing.

As I mentioned, Little Red Wagon is at the end of Main Street as you walk towards the castle.  Assuming you are walking that direction, the corn dog stand would be on your right hand side just before Plaza Inn Restaurant.  The somewhat blurry photo above is our fountain of youth.  It’s fairly unassuming but pretty easy to find.

As I said, there is next to no seating.  Grab your corn dog and find a seat on a bench or use a trash can as a makeshift table.  If you think that last sentence is a joke then just keep it that way and don’t judge me.  While the Plaza Inn is right next door, bringing food in there is somewhat frowned upon.  Frankly, you can probably get away with it but I would not recommend it.

Corn dogs taste much better than they look so there won’t be many photos.  These corn dogs have a sweet batter that they are dipped into.  They come out with just the right amount of crisp and are extremely delicious.  Like most humans, I can’t say that I love corn dogs but these are better than any others I’ve tried.

The corn dog comes with either a bag of potato chips or apple slices.  This little meal will cost you $9.50 (as spring 2018).  You can ask for just the corn dog without the side item and this will shave off a couple of dollars.  This is quite a bit of money for a corn dog and bag of chips but everything is a little overpriced at a theme park.  I do think these corn dogs are pretty filling and would be enough for a full meal, unless you have a bigger appetite.

Overall, Little Red Wagon is perfect for what it is – a cute little place to stop and have an item that they specialize in.  I would absolutely recommend having lunch here one day while you’re at Disneyland.

Overall Rating – 9/10

Have you tried the Little Red Wagon corn dogs?  Let us know your thoughts or any questions in the comments.  Thank you for reading Wandering in Disney.  If you enjoy our content please subscribe to the blog (via WordPress or email) and like our social media pages.  You can find all of those things on the right side of this page.  Have a great day!

– Andrew

Top Ten Lands at Night

Over the years, we have written many posts about how the Disney Parks have a little extra magic at night.  The lights come on, the crowds thin out and the atmosphere changes.  Sometimes that is due to extra entertainment or a nighttime spectacular.  Other times it’s simply due to a beautiful, secluded area.  Whatever the reason, I prefer most Disney Parks once the sun goes down.  Full disclosure: I am a night owl and always have been.

Harambe dusk

With all of these ravings about nighttime in the parks you’d think that I would have done a top ten lands to be in at night.  That’s what I thought too until I searched this site and didn’t find that post.  With my never-ending love for lists on the internet that don’t matter, I had to remedy this precarious situation.  Joking aside, hopefully this list is helpful to anyone planning what to do with their evenings in the parks.

This list will only include the Disney Parks in America (at least for now) and is mainly looking at overall atmosphere of the land instead of attractions.  I will take into account some rides that are especially fun at night but I’ll mostly be relying on sites, sounds and shows.  Also known as ‘The 3 S’s’.  I’ll also include a few lands that are in both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom and won’t specify as most of the atmosphere is the same.

Echo Lake night DHS

Before we get to the list, here’s a few honorable mention.  Paradise Pier, in California Adventure, may have made the list but it doesn’t exist anymore.  Pixar Pier may be deserving but we don’t know yet.  Africa, in Animal Kingdom, has some wonderful entertainment, lighting and an interesting attraction (Kilimanjaro Safaris) at night.  There just isn’t much open at night so it doesn’t make the list.  Similarly, Hollywood Studio’s Echo Lake is a beautiful and serene spot to sit at night.  There’s not much else going on but that’s part of the appeal.  It just narrowly misses the top ten.  On to the list!

10. Pandora – World of Avatar – To be perfectly honest, I was slightly underwhelmed with Pandora at night.  I don’t think (dating back to last fall, at least) that the lighting in the area has been completely sorted out.  It wasn’t dark enough to change the mood and not quite bright enough for the plants and mountains to really stand out more than during the day.  Also, the daytime colors here are incredible and you don’t get that at night.  Still, the bioluminescent areas are ambitious and beautiful.  While I slightly prefer the daytime here, the land needs to be seen at night and with just a few adjustments can be astonishing at night.

9. Fantasyland – I included both Disneyland and Magic Kingdom versions in this but for separate reasons.  Disneyland has great lighting that really augment the colors of the area at night.  Plus, riding the teacups at night is the best time to do it.  The parade route through this area is also a great place to watch with less crowds.  Magic Kingdom has more space than Disneyland and the lighting is somewhat odd because of it.  However it makes the list because of the section from Gaston’s Tavern through Storybook Circus.  Parts of that area are a little dark and if you go late enough then Storybook Circus looks like a ghost town.  I don’t think this is exactly what they were going for but it is interesting to me and an odd feeling.

8. Tomorrowland – I don’t particularly like Tomorrowland but I do think it was made to experience at night.  The neon glows and  bounces off the metallic throughout the land.  Magic Kingdom’s PeopleMover is the perfect “I’m tired but don’t want to leave” attraction and a great way to experience the nighttime lighting throughout Tomorrowland and Main Street.  Even Space Mountain, an indoor attraction, feels like something that is best experienced at night.

Tomorrowland streaks night MK

7. Frontierland (Magic Kingdom) – Magic Kingdom’s Frontierland is spectacular any time of day, featuring Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Rivers of America and Country Bear Jamboree.  Three of those four are even more fun and beautiful at night.  The Country Bears are the same throughout the day but don’t let that distract from their greatness.  I especially prefer the river area at night.  If you can get to this area right before closing then the area is beautifully photogenic, starting with Big Thunder and working your way towards Main Street.

Splash mt. night

6. Asia (Animal Kingdom) – A thrilling coaster that’s best experienced at night?  Check.  Beautiful nighttime lighting that feels organic to the theme and back story?  Check.  A nighttime show that celebrates the idea of the park?  Check.  Wonderful and quiet areas to roam around?  Check.  Asia has it all, and maybe should be even higher on this list.

AK Asia night

5. Main Street U.S.A. – People say that ‘there is just something about Main Street’ and I always think that’s kind of dumb.  The entrance to the park does have a special aura because of the way it’s designed.  The reveal of the castle, framed by the Main Street shops is spectacular.  Along with that, the area envelops you in a simpler time.  At night that aura is intoxicating with brilliant fireworks shows and a golden glow.  Maybe my favorite aspect of Main Street at night is in Magic Kingdom.  After closing, as subtle show called ‘A Kiss Goodnight’ plays intermittently until all guests have left the area.  It’s a perfect way to top off a day in Magic Kingdom.

HEA pink MK

4. Discovery Island (Animal Kingdom) – Animal Kingdom boasts some of the best nighttime entertainment of any park and it is most prevalent in Discovery Island.  The area has a party atmosphere that Disney often tries to capture but hardly ever succeeds at.  Instead of a DJ playing popular songs on a stage, live music is abound and dancers are all around.  I just pull up a seat, with a mandarin lemonade from Flame Tree Barbecue, and watch people enjoy themselves.  If that’s not your thing then head over to the Tree of Life and enjoy the Tree of Life Awakenings, which is one of the more beautiful additions Disney has made to their parks in many years.  The whole area at night fits Animal Kingdom exceptionally well.

ToL Awakenings Jungle Book AK

3. New Orleans Square (Disneyland) – Live jazz music, beautifully lit backstreets, a foreboding mansion and a glorious show along the river make New Orleans Square one of the best nighttime lands.  This land’s colors show exceptionally well at night.  Riding the land’s two attractions, getting a bite to eat while listening to live music, watching Fantasmic! and then sticking around the area for some side street wandering is a perfect way to spend an evening in Disneyland.  If nothing else, go enjoy Fantasmic!  It’s the quintessential Disneyland experience at night.

New Orleans Square night

2. Cars Land (California Adventure) – Cars Land is exceptional anytime but is best at night.  The neon is warm and inviting.  All of the attractions in the land are best experienced at night.  Maybe the highest compliment I can give Cars Land at night is that I never want to leave the area.  I just grab a seat and people watch, soaking in the atmosphere.

Cozy Cone Cars land night

1. World Showcase (Epcot) – As much as I love all the other lands on this list, World Showcase is the clear choice for number one.  The torches come on and that pre and post Illuminations background music comes on.  World Showcase’s idea is for guests to experience other cultures and realize how small of a world we live in is.  Unity is the goal and once Illuminations: Reflections of Earth starts it’s hard to not feel that.  While that in and of itself is worth the number one spot, the stroll around World Showcase after Illuminations is another remarkable experience.  Again, the background music makes the stroll even more incredible.  There is something so peaceful about the post-Illuminations walk.  World Showcase makes for a wonderful night, running a gauntlet of beautiful emotions.

SSE close across water Epcot

Those are my top-ten lands at night.  What would your list be?  Let us know in the comments!  If you enjoy what you’re reading here on Wandering in Disney please subscribe to the blog via email or WordPress and like our social media pages.  You can find all of those things on the right side of this page.  Thank you very much for reading, we appreciate it!

– Andrew

Question of the Week (3/26/18)

Every few weeks our writers get together and answer a Disney related question.  Here is our latest installment!

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What Park has your favorite top-3 attractions and what are they?

Andrew – I think the park with the best ‘top-3’ is Animal Kingdom. A trio of Flight of Passage, Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest is as good as it gets and very versatile. Flight of Passage is mostly a simulator but one that is incredibly life like, mixing beautiful sights with thrills.  Expedition Everest is a thrilling coaster that is nearly perfect thematically.  Kilimanjaro Safaris is more of a slow ride but there is nothing like it in the theme park world. This group of 3 narrowly beats out Disneyland’s 3 which in my mind is Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride (or Space Mountain or Big Thunder). There isn’t really a wrong answer here except for Epcot, in my mind.

Mackenzie – Animal Kingdom. I would say the top three attractions are Expedition Everest, Kilimanjaro Safari, and Festival of the Lion King (does this count). Expedition Everest is great for the thrill seekers. Kilimanjaro Safari is awesome for everyone, because who doesn’t want to see animals. Lastly. the Festival of the Lion King is my favorite attraction/show.  It’s entertaining even if you have seen Lion King a million times. This show is just magical.

Bird flying FotLK

Leslie – This is hard to narrow down, but here goes. I’ll preface with I’m not a thrill ride person, so I would probably stick with Magic Kingdom and in a perfect world I would have no lines and no time limit in the queue.
I would go with Peter Pan’s Flight, I actually really love the queue of this ride almost more than the ride, the fact I get to experience both is a bonus, the queue is pretty interactive and there are always new things to see. Jungle Cruise because first and foremost the best puns you’ll hear this side of Dixie, and two I really love the Cast Member engagement on this ride, from your skipper to those loading you on and off it is a lot of interaction that other rides do not provide, and the Haunted Mansion is such a classic and again the queue for this ride is lots of fun and even has some of it’s own lore of the park (look for the engagement ring).

Haunted Mansion across water

Melissa – I am going to answer this as which park has the best top three thrill rides since, in all reality, I completely agree with Andrew’s answer of Animal Kingdom and his top three! BUT I feel that California Adventure is the best “thrill ride” park. Top three rides would be California Screamin’, Mission Breakout and Radiator Springs Racers. Now, I know California Screamin is currently in the process of its new overlay as the Incredi-coaster. But the ride system is still the same! It’s a great classic roller coaster filled with twists, turns, and even a loop-da-loop. Great for any thrill seeker! The 2nd ride would be Gaurdians of the Galaxy Mission Breakout. I have yet to ride this as Mission Breakout, but again, the ride system is still the same as when it was the Tower of Terror. And Tower of Terror is great and one that really gets the adrenaline pumping! The last ride would be Radiator Springs Racers. This is a heart touching ride that Takes you into the land of cars and ends in a thrilling car race! If you’re a thrill seeker, you won’t leave this park unsatisfied!

Darin – I was going to choose Hollywood Studios just to break the mold and be different, but then I realized I only had four choices. I looked at others and realized I had many attractions I could pick for the other parks. So, I am going to have to be cliché and just pick Disneyland. I will go with my top two favorite rides in any Disney Park, which is Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and Splash Mountain. The sheer craziness of Mr. Toad makes it an obvious pick. That ending, am I right? Splash Mountain is just classic, it has a catchy song, a fun story and a big drop. For my third pick, I could pick at least five others, so I’ll go underrated with The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. It’s an odd one and I find tons of joy when I’m on it. Honestly this was really hard to decide. Why did you make us do this Andrew?

Splash Mountain trees

What park do you think has the best ‘top-3’? Let us know in the comments!  If you enjoy what you’re reading here on Wandering in Disney please subscribe to the blog and like our Facebook page.  You can find both of those on the right side of this page.  Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!

FastPass+ Guide to Disney’s Animal Kingdom

I find that FastPasses are the biggest source of frustration to first-time or infrequent park goers.  Many people don’t know what they are, how to use them, or what to use them on.  With this in mind, I’m going to write a guide to each U.S. park on when and where to use FastPasses.

Tree of life open AK

What is a FastPass and how do I get it?

Let’s not put the cart before the horse, though.  Back to the basics, and if you often frequent the parks, the next few paragraphs are just common knowledge.  A FastPass is basically a reservation to go on a ride.  Depending on if you are in Disneyland or Walt Disney World, you can either make these reservations for an attraction online or at the park.  Since we’ll be discussing Animal Kingdom in Walt Disney World today, we’ll get into the world of FastPass+.

With FastPass+, park guests can select 3 attractions before their vacation (60 days before if they are staying on-site in Disney World, 30 days if not) to FastPass.  I plan to do a specific post on how to do this in the future, but in short you do this on the Disney website.  Here you can select which order you want to do those 3 attractions and (for the most part) what time you want to do those attractions.  It is beneficial to get these FastPasses as soon as your 60 day window is up.  Currently, Animal Kingdom does FastPass+ a little differently.  The two newest attractions in Pandora, Flight of Passage and Navi River Journey, are in a tier and you only get to pick one of those.  All of the other Animal Kingdom attractions are available to pick from after you select one Pandora attraction.

water flamingos AK

After you have selected 3 FastPasses for the Park then all a guest has to do is show up and use them.  Using them isn’t hard.  Seeing how Animal Kingdom is in Walt Disney World, a guest will most likely have a MagicBand on their wrist (this is your ticket to the parks and your room key, among other things).  A Magic Band will also hold your FastPass reservations.  When using a FastPass you will have a 1 hour window to get on the attraction.  For example, say I made a FastPass reservation for Gorillas Gone Wild (this isn’t real) with the times being from 9 AM to 10 AM.  I can show up anytime from 9 AM to 10 AM to use this FastPass.  Then away I go as I try to escape Gorillas throwing bananas at me while they aren’t wearing shirts (again, not real).

As long as you are planning to be at the parks in the morning, my suggestion would be to make your FastPass times as early as possible.  This is because after you have used your 3 FastPass+ reservations, you can select a new FastPass at the FastPass+ kiosks located around the park.  While you may not get the attraction you really want, you can still avoid a few lines by doing this.  This trick is much better utilized at Magic Kingdom than Animal Kingdom.

elephants in the rain

FastPass+ Strategy and Rankings for Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom, specifically, might not need FastPasses as much as the other parks due to the enormous amount of land and all of the trails that help scatter people around the park.  That all may change once the World of Pandora opens in 2017 but, for now, the FastPass+ game isn’t as competitive here.  Truthfully, that’s why I started with this park because it’s not as hard to figure out and the strategy isn’t as important.

Here is what available for FastPass+ at Animal Kingdom:

  • DINOSAUR
  • Expedition Everest
  • Festival of the Lion King
  • Finding Nemo – The Musical
  • Flight of Passage (Tier 1)
  • It’s Tough to Be a Bug!
  • Kali River Rapids
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris
  • Meet Favorite Disney Pals at Adventurers Outpost
  • Navi River Journey (Tier 1)
  • Primeval Whirl
  • Rivers of Light

As you can see, there isn’t a ton on this list.  It is even easier to navigate when you realize how short some of the stand-by lines are for these attractions (and not the FastPass line).

Harambe theater

Let’s start with the shows on this list, which are Festival of the Lion King, Finding Nemo – The Musical, Rivers of Light, and It’s Tough to Be a Bug!  Festival of the Lion King is phenomenal, Finding Nemo is fine, the third one is the new nighttime show that doesn’t often fill up it’s seating and the last one will be the death of me but other people like it.  Just not me and the screaming children.  Anyway, as long as you show up to these shows 15 minutes before the doors open (check the park schedule for showtimes) you will most likely get into the show.  The exceptions would be Festival of the Lion King and Rivers of Light on busy days.  Go to later showings (or the second showing of Rivers of Light) for those and you shouldn’t run into many problems.  While the seat may not be quite as good as if you had a FastPass+, the viewing areas aren’t huge so you likely won’t get stuck with a terrible seat.  With a FastPass+ to these shows, you are supposed to show up about 10 minutes before the show begins so the possible few minutes that you save here is very minimal.

We’ve checked 4 off the list that you probably don’t need a FastPass+ for.  Another one that you probably don’t need a reservation for is the meet & greet here.  Not only have I never seen this line long, I have never seen this line period. I’m guessing it won’t take long to get to meet some Disney legends.  Disregard all of that if King Louie is available for a meet & greet.  King Louie is worth all of your FastPasses (I’m halfway serious but that was bad advice).

Primeval Whirl is loathed by many Disney fans, myself included, but it does have a line at times.  If generic, carnival roller coasters is your thing, then by all means spend a FastPass here.  But, I would definitely hold on to mine instead of spend one on this attraction.

upside down tree

DINOSAUR is a pretty fun ride back through time and is a decent use of a FastPass+.  I’ve seen it without a line and I’ve seen it with a 40 minute line, so it’s hard to predict what the wait time will be without knowing a specific day in which you go.  I wouldn’t reserve this attraction but it is one of the first I’d look for after I completed my initial 3 FastPasses.

Kali River Rapids is wildly popular on a hot day at Animal Kingdom.  This is a fun river rapids attraction and is about even with DINOSAUR in terms of popularity.  It’s very nice to have a late morning FastPass+ for this attraction in the summer months.  If you do use a reservation for this attraction, I would use it as my latest one in the day because that is when it gets the hottest.  I wouldn’t use a FastPass+ on this attraction from November-February because lines are much shorter when it’s cooler outside.  Like DINOSAUR, I would probably wait until my initial 3 FastPasses are done and then see if there’s one for Kali River Rapids.

That leaves Expedition Everest and Kilimanjaro Safaris as the best places to use FastPasses, outside of the Pandora tier.  They are unequivocally Animal Kingdom’s biggest and best attractions besides Flight of Passage.  I would make these my first two FastPasses of the day.  Many people race to Expedition Everest as soon as the gates open, and I would still do that and then ride Everest twice.  If you are looking for something different to do with these attractions, make your FastPass+ reservations for them late in the day to get a different experience on them.  Of course, this limits the FastPasses you can get throughout the day in the park but you don’t necessarily need those here.  But, both are significantly different at night and if there are some FastPasses available for these after you complete your initial 3, I would snag them.

Everest Discovery River AK

That leaves the ‘Pandora Tier’.  This one is simple, get a FastPass for Flight of Passage over Navi River Journey.  Easier said than done as Flight of Passage is an incredibly hard FastPass to secure even 60 days out.  Try to make an Animal Kingdom day a little later in the trip and then when your 60 day window opens (and you can book for your whole trip) you may be able to secure a Flight of Passage FastPass.  Navi River Journey is nowhere near the attraction Flight of Passage is but I’d still book it if you can’t get the first option.  The attraction is not worth waiting in an hour long line for so a FastPass is nice to have.  Eventually the Pandora hype will subside and these wait times will even out a little.  For now, make sure to book one of them.

Big rocks Pandora AK

Here is the rankings in order of where I would use my FastPass+.  The top-3 are the ones that I would reserve online.

  1. Flight of Passage – It’s the best attraction in Animal Kingdom, and maybe all of Disney World.  Very tough to get a FastPass for though.
  2. Navi River Journey – Definitely not the second best attraction at Animal Kingdom but get this if you can’t get Flight of Passage.
  3. Expedition Everest – Rush to it at park opening, ride it and then ride it again during your FastPass+ window.  It’s worthy of two rides.
  4. Kilimanjaro Safaris – If roller coasters aren’t your thing, then do what I said for Expedition Everest on this attraction.  Usually lines die down for this ride before closing, so make your reservation for the morning and then, if you want to go again, try right before you leave the park.
  5. Kali River Rapids – Again, if it’s one of the warmer months of the year this is a great use of a FastPass.  If it’s around Christmas time, you won’t have to wait long.  By the way, the queue for this attraction is great if you don’t mind standing in line.
  6. DINOSAUR – The alternate to Kali River Rapids in the cold months.  After completing the first three on this list, I’d try to get a FastPass to this one at one of the kiosks.
  7. Primeval Whirl – If you are going to go on this, a FastPass might not be the worst idea.  The queue area is very bland and there’s not much to look at while in line, plus the line is unnecessarily long sometimes.
  8. Rivers of Light – The new nighttime show can be beneficial to FastPass on busy days.  The initial rush for the show has subsided to a degree though.
  9. Meet Favorite Disney Pals at Adventurers Outpost – If you are taking small children then this wouldn’t be a waste, as the line could be hot and boring.  It doesn’t usually have much of a line though.
  10. Festival of the Lion King – This is pretty easy to get into but it has less seating than Finding Nemo so it comes in 7th.
  11. Finding Nemo – The Musical – There are lots of seats here but if getting a great seat is a priority then FastPassing this isn’t a bad idea.
  12. It’s Tough to be a Bug – You can generally walk right in to this.  Walk right to your doom.

Safari

Do you have any tips for FastPass+ at Animal Kingdom?  Would you change the order of my rankings?  Let us know in the comments, along with any questions you might have.  Thank you for reading!

-Andrew