As you called me out, I suppose that I have to answer.
Nice Blog post! You make a lot of good points as to why AK should be considered a “half-day” park. However, I think that the problem that many people have with this is that they see it as diminishing what AK has to offer - like any WDW park, a visitor with unlimited time could spend days in it and still not fully experience everything. However, a typical visitor with limited time wants to get in as much as possible, and, for the reasons you state, AK really does not fill up the touring day, especially if you have a good Touring Plan. Perhaps we should call it a “partial Disney day” park, where you go to it for the majority of the day and then hop to another park/resort to finish up the day.
Case in point: on our last trip, we went to AK at RD, toured until the Jingle Jungle Parade was about to start, and then hopped to MK for MVMCP. Using my state-of-the-art Optimized TP, we did:
- Festival of the Lion King
- Kilimanjaro Safaris
- Pangani Forest Exploration Trail
- Expedition Everest (2 times)
- Flights of Wonder
- Kali River Rapids
- Maharajah Jungle Trek
- Finding Nemo: The Musical
I.e. pretty much everything people initially think of when they think of AK, except for It’s Tough to be a Bug (could have done it, but it’s kind of meh IMO). But this being said, we had been to AK before, so we did not have to pay as much attention to the detail in the lands, see the street performers, browse in the shops, or take the train to Rafiki’s Planet Fail, oops, I mean Watch.
I consider HS (in its current gutted incarnation) to be more of a “half-day” park than AK. I currently have an “arrival day” TP that starts at 1:00 and does:
- Lights! Motors! Action! Extreme Stunt Show
- Toy Story Midway Mania!
- The Great Movie Ride
- Animation Academy
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
- Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
- Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
- Voyage of the Little Mermaid
- Star Tours: The Adventures Continue
- Osborne Family Spectical of Dancing Lights
plus dinner at the HBD and possibly Fantasmic (if I decide to sit through that butt-numbing ordeal again).
We have also done EP “Future” World as a half-day arrival-day park, with a jaunt up to Japan for Pick a Pearl and then over to Mexico to tour the pavilion and do dinner/Illuminations at La Hacienda.