General Trip Info (for those who have not read post 1)
6 adults (My Dad = DD, My Mom = DM, My Sister = DS, My Brother-in-Law = BIL, My Husband = DH)
1 two and a half year old kid (My Niece = DN)
2 parks, MK and AK, over two days (Jan 19 & 20)
After a very successful day 1 in Magic Kingdom, I was almost more nervous about Animal Kingdom. Had the day gone so well because of luck, or was I really just that prepared? Was it possible to have another day run so smoothly? After a rope drop to 10pm day 1, day 2 was not to be as busy, but there were still places to be and things to do that, especially with what turned out to be another CL10, had to be orchestrated carefully.
I had explained to everyone in the group that, to ride FOP, we would have to participate in the rope drop chaos. I knew about the same day drops, but didn’t want anyone relying on that if they really really wanted to ride. DM and I decided to do it. The others decided to forgo, preferring slower start to the day over the ride.
So, at 7:20, DM and I rolled out of the AirBNB and traveled via uber to Animal Kingdom. The driver got us right up to the front and dropped us off. We arrived just at 7:45 for a 9:00 official opening and were probably about 20-30 back from the taps.
We chatted with others while waiting. I talked DM through our strategy once we entered the park, and (as many have reported) cast members began letting people in to AK just after 8:00AM. We moved at a slight jog across the Oasis, past Discovery Island and made it to the bridge - keeping to the right as people have suggested (I also did this one time during the summer Pandora opened so knew where to go). We stood on the bridge for about 10 minutes and then cast members started walking people to line up. They took the line and began building it along the pathway from Pandora to Festival of the Lion King. We were not first, but we were pretty close to the front. At 8:25, they started loading us into the cues for the ride.
We were to the link chambers by 8:35 and off the ride by 8:55. When we walked back out the line wrapped all the way to FOTLK, made a u-turn to come back down the other side. Then it wrapped through Pandora, all the way to Discovery Island.
Friends, do NOT, I repeat do NOT ride this ride first thing unless you are there to beat the crowd. The posted wait was 3.5 to 4 hours. It never got low throughout the day, but it certainly got shorter than that.
After a very successful rope drop, we set out to meet the rest of our group. We had some time to kill, so we scouted out where Mickey and Minnie were (I had never visited them in AK before), and then camped out on Discovery Island near the tree. At this point is where I learned the value in arriving early, even if you aren’t trying to ride a popular ride.
DS was giving us regular updates, as the plan had to been for them to arrive at 9:00. They did, but when they arrived at 9:00 they waited 20 minutes to even get through the line to pay for parking. They finally arrived and got to us about 9:50, with just enough time to zip back and get a seat for the first FOTLK show.
Luckily, with FPP buffer, we were able to make it over to Mickey and Minnie before our FP expired after the show. We then took a slow walk back to the KS. DS is pregnant and was worried about riding. A friend of hers rode it pregnant a few months ago; so she decided to give it a go. The wait for KS was already an hour and a half, but FP to the rescue again! We all walked on with less than a 10 minute wait, and everyone enjoyed the ride.
I wish I had looked at my watch to know when we got on the safari, but alas I didn’t. Just be forewarned that both times I’ve ridden this ride, it seems to take longer than the plan dictates. Because the time can be unpredictable (how many animals you see, how much your drive talks, whether there is a backup of jeeps at the end), I would highly suggest putting a little buffer time after this ride.
We had a reservation at Tiffins after this, and we were a few minutes late because of KS, but there was no issue particularly because it was lunch and we had one of the first reservations.
We did the ROL package and certainly got our money’s worth as DH and DD both had the surf and turf. The food there really is delicious. So I’m glad that we got to take our family there. It also served as a nice long relaxing break after a busy morning.
With the second half of the day, we focused on shows. DN loves drums because DM plays the timpani at church. So, we caught the Pandora Drummers before heading to NRJ. I kept an eye on the time and got us to NRJ in time, to which we all said “pretty, but who the heck waits 2 hours for this?!” As we stepped out of NRJ, I told everyone to get their phones out and try to snag FOP FPP for people who had yet to ride it. It was almost 3:01, so the drop should be coming.
Low and behold it worked!
We had four phones going. Through refreshing, we picked up 5 with overlapping times. We had two on one time and then three singles on other times. After about 10 minutes, even with constant modifying and refreshing that was it.
The new FPPs affected our plan a bit. We were supposed to go see the Up! bird show, but decided to scratch that from the schedule (DN does love birds but does not know Up! at all - she had also show that she does have a little bit of a limited attention span when it comes to shows so we didn’t feel to bad). We went and watched the Nemo show and stopped to see Flights of Wonder with the macaws. Then, it was time to head back to ride FOP again.
We had a very tight window (about 10 minutes, using the buffer time) of when all passes would work, so we headed over a couple minutes early to make sure those whose passes were ending wouldn’t get blocked out. The CM just let us all through, which I was surprised by since technically two passes were not active for another five minutes (including the 5 minute buffer on the front). I was worried that with a posted 2.5 hour wait, we would still wait 30 minutes or so in the FPP line. We did not, though. We walked all the way through to the link chambers and waited only about 10 minutes to be sent into the pre-show.
We watched the pre-show and headed into the ride, ready to go. Now, DD is 6’6", so DM and I had both been a little concerned about whether he would fit on the ride. However, we did not want to say anything to him since we was looking for an excuse not to do it (he felt back making DS and DN wait on us). Sadly, he actually didn’t fit and didn’t get to ride, but the rest of us enjoyed it.
Surprisingly, for the inconvenience, they gave DD two FPPs and the rest of us one! I wasn’t even going to ask for this, because in my mind it was our fault for not having him use the test seat, but works for me!
We headed out of the ride and met up with DS to watch the first showing of ROL. Tiffins lunch was delicious (will always eat there when in AK), but it is worth mentioning that even on a CL10, the 6:45 show of ROL was not packed. I would liked to have seen what the 8:00PM show looked like in comparison.
We sat and let the crowd disperse after the show, and while waiting placed a mobile order at Sautu’li. We trekked back to Pandora to see the bioluminescence and get our dinner.
The mobile order app was behaving strangely so it never updated that our food was ready. I finally went up to check, and caught it just before they threw the order away.
DN fell asleep in the stroller while we all ate. Between tired DN and the very cold evening, DM and I reluctantly let go of that final FP. Everyone was much happier not squeezing in one just one more ride.
On Monday morning, we cleaned up our AirBNB and headed over to the Grand Floridian for the Supercalifragilistic Breakfast. DN is a huge Mary Poppins fan and nearly lost her mind when she saw her through the doors. She had the absolutely sweetest interaction with her, and loved giving Pooh Bear hugs when he stopped by. Even though she doesn’t know Alice, she really liked her dress. I also told her to ask Alice about her bunny rabbit - so that got a little conversation going. She was not at all a fan of the Hatter, but instructed DM to take a picture with him instead. Finally, on the way out, she got to bounce with Tigger. All in all another character dining success.
At this point, DM and DD got an uber from the GF to the airport. They did have a little trouble getting the uber all the way into the GF, but we think this was because the first uber arrived with an expired license!!! We think it would not have been a problem otherwise.
DN, DS, DN, BIL and I decided to take a ride on the monorail before heading to Disney Springs. We originally intended just to ride the loop, but DH (who loves Epcot) suggested that we change trains to ride the Epcot monorail as well and see the park. That was lots of fun and DN liked see the “big golf ball” up close.
We finished our trip with a walk through Disney Springs. We had some lunch at the quick service by Raglan Road, visited the lego store and got DN a Pluto stuffed animal.
Then, off to the airport we all went.
- Do your research and read, watch, listen to everything you can. Our trip went perfectly not because everything went according to plan but because when things went a little weird, I was full of everything I needed to know to decide what to do next.
- Know how to modify and refresh when searching for FPs. Also, particularly if you are expecting high CL and have a large group, know how to work an overlapping FP window.
- Have the app downloaded on multiple phones. It is a finicky little app, but there was never a time where we couldn’t get it going on a least one of the four phones we had it loaded on.
- Study the maps so you know where to go. I am quickly becoming one of those people who goes to Disney often, but as of now, that isn’t me. My confidence in maneuvering through the parks came purely from knowing what our plan was and looking through the maps many times before going to know how to get from one place to another.
I’m sure there are more, but those are the things that stand out to me most. Thank you to this amazing community of liners that shared all the wisdom I needed to make my DN’s first trip to Disney pure magic. As I keep telling my DH, I love this community because it is so full of people who are just kind and want to share what they know. You guys are amazing, and I hope that my report will help someone like me have a successful trip in the near future!