Animal Kingdom is, in fact, a Half -Day Park

Since @brklinck is worried that we’re not using the Forums enough, I’ll throw out a potentially controversial topic and see if we can have some interesting discussion. We’ll save whether or not scooters get preferential treatment and when folks should give up their seat on a bus for later. I recently wrote about why, despite my enjoyment of Animal Kingdom, I believe the “half-day” label for Disney World’s fourth park is a fair one.

If you agree or think I’m just another crazy Animal Kingdom hater is disguise, then let’s discuss. Here’s what I wrote: http://blog.practicalwdw.com/2015/02/animal-kingdom-is-half-day-park.html

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You had me at “potentially controversial” . Saving my spot so I can read your link later. Personally, I’ve never spent more than a half day at. AK.

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I agree and disagree lol. First trip we saw it was PK (pre kid) and we actually took two days and really explored it. Found if fascinating. Reason it took two days though was shorter hours. If we could have been there until 10 at night it would have been a one day park.

Now that we have the kid though, someplace has to be our short day park and it is going to be AK. There isn’t enough to entertain him all day and to be perfectly honest, we avoided Dinoland at all costs. I am not wasting time and money on games of chance that I can do down the shore.

It will be interesting to see if this changes as he gets older.

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As you called me out, I suppose that I have to answer. :wink:

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
  • DINOSAUR
  • 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.

Without fail, I always seem to be there pretty close to park closing…now granted it is closing 4-6 hours before every other park, so it isn’t as full of a day as MK, but there is so much to do there between the rides and shows, that with a week long vacation, I’ll devote a day to being there.

Now to your point about where to sacrifice time in a vacation, I agree that AK is going to be the first slot I will look at. I used to like staying for the afternoon parade, but since that is gone, I can ride EE, KS, watch the lion King and finding Nemo shows and call it good. Maybe I’ll run through Pangani forest trails for a few animals and hidden Mickey’s, but since this is my fourth favorite park, I’ll sacrifice time here for someplace else. If I am spending a whole day here, I like to finish it with dinner at one of the nearby resorts

I love AK! I will admit that I usually only spend 4-5 hours there at a time, but since I park hop, I will usually hop over to AK for a few hours. I went on three 3-day weekend trips last year, and I visited AK every trip. One of my favorite park memories last year was AK in the dark. I cannot wait until they extend the hours regularly! EE is one of my favorite attractions. It is that rare attraction where at least 50% of the time guests applaud as it ends. I can and have spent hours just on that ride. The FoLK is my favorite show! I had stopped going on the Safari for a number of year but last year I tried it again and it is now a “must do”. I think the only attraction I do not love is Kali River and that has more to do with really, really bad experiences in that line- never again. Yes, half-day park- multiple days.

I see that no one has added Wilderness Explorers into the mix. If you just do that, that alone is a half day experience, without doing any of the “real” attractions in the park.

Certainly there are ways to spend several days at AK…but if you only have a three day park hopper ticket, which parks are you spending half a day at?

I thought of a different way to look at this. Let’s compare HS and AK in terms of number of attractions in each TouringPlans “Scope and Scale” category:

HS may have more Headliners, but AK makes up for it with 1 more Super Headliner and 2 more Major attractions. Add in the far greater number of Diversions, and AK has so much more to do than HS! Plus, AK has 7 “Not To Be Missed” attractions to HS’s 6.

HS, the new “half day” park!

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We enjoyed AK, and devoted one of our days to it, but we did spend fewer hours there than at MK or EP. I think this had more to do with our stamina than with the attractions and zoo-like areas. We just can’t do 12-hour days in the park day after day. We needed to slow down and smell the roses (or the coffee) some days. So I guess for us we have long-day parks and short-day parks, but no half-day parks. Animal Kingdom was a short-day park for us.

If I only have a three day park hopper, I’m skipping HS completely. I’d do AK for a full day and then head to MK if needed to catch the MSEP, and then a full day in MK and a full day in EP. At this point, the only thing that we’ve done in the past few months at HS is the HISTK playground and the Starbucks (and the Boneyard is a much better playground).

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[quote=“Disneyconsigliere, post:3, topic:10235”]
we actually took two days and really explored it. Found if fascinating[/quote]
I could easily see spending a day in Animal Kingdom without seeing any attractions or maybe just a few shows and having a great time. For me, it just doesn’t fit with my normal Disney vacation plans. It may be that I can’t justify “slowing down” with the prices to stay at a Disney resort and to visit the parks. If I lived in Central Florida, then I could see spending a leisurely weekend walking the trails and sitting on a quiet bench somewhere, but with the clock ticking on my rental car, hotel, and time until my flight home that’s harder to do. I’d choose a different destination if I wanted to get away from it all and relax.

[quote=“Disneyconsigliere, post:3, topic:10235”]
we avoided Dinoland at all costs[/quote]
That is wise. Dinoland is just plain awful. I understand the back story and I don’t like it.

[quote=“brklinck, post:4, topic:10235”]
I think that the problem that many people have with this is that they see it as diminishing what AK has to offer[/quote]
That’s fair. I touched on the idea that the “half-day” label is sort of an artificial construct, dependent on the number of days someone is in town. However, when I looked at the actual decisions I made while on vacation I always found myself sacrificing time in Animal Kingdom to enjoy something else in Disney World.

[quote=“brklinck, post:4, topic:10235”]
Let’s compare HS and AK in terms of number of attractions in each TouringPlans “Scope and Scale” category[/quote]
Both the Studios and Animal Kingdom today are in flux, so I could understand spending a half day in either park. I often spend a rope drop morning in the Studios and “hop” somewhere else around lunchtime (I may have to write something else about how I spend less time in the Studios because I usually look to eat elsewhere). What differentiates things for me is that it is more likely that I will return in the evening to see Fantasmic (at least until I saw the much better Disneyland version, which ruined the show in Florida for me), Osborne Lights, or fireworks (when they’re running). I’m not sure what that makes the park (a 3/4 day park?).

Just out of curiosity, what did you choose a “Super Headliner” attractions in the Studios? I have four must do attractions - Tower of Terror, Rock n Roller Coaster, Toy Story, and Star Tours - and then I add MuppetVision and One Man’s Dream to my normal day in the Studios. I’ll see Great Movie Ride maybe every other trip and maybe a show if someone I’m traveling with wants to see one, but I can’t argue with someone who says there isn’t much to do in that park as it currently stands. Of course, there are some hidden details there (until they get ripped out for construction of Star Wars Land) and the street performers are usually entertaining, but there’s usually something else that I’d rather see.

[quote=“keithloveswaffles, post:5, topic:10235”]
granted it is closing 4-6 hours before every other park[/quote]
Animal Kingdom is in need of nighttime activities. It would be great to stroll the animal trails in the evening, but they’re so dark that you wouldn’t see anything. When the light show, Avatar attractions, and new restaurants open then things will change and we should get longer park hours, but for now I understand why they close early every night.

[quote=“keithloveswaffles, post:5, topic:10235”]
Now to your point about where to sacrifice time in a vacation, I agree that AK is going to be the first slot I will look at[/quote]
That’s really what I wanted to say. Not that Animal Kingdom isn’t full of wonderful activities and scenery, but that we have to make decisions on how to spend our vacation time. It seems like a lot of the bloggers, podcasters, and other Disney enthusiasts want everyone to spend all of their time savoring details in the park. That may work great for me, since I have an Annual Pass and visit the parks regularly, but most people I travel with only see the parks every few years, at best, and if they don’t ride Space Mountain or meet their favorite princesses, then they’ll be disappointed.

[quote=“PrincipalTinker, post:6, topic:10235”]
I love AK! I will admit that I usually only spend 4-5 hours there at a time, but since I park hop, I will usually hop over to AK for a few hours[/quote]
That sounds like how I approach the park. I am also a fan of park hopping.

[quote=“PrincipalTinker, post:6, topic:10235”]
One of my favorite park memories last year was AK in the dark. I cannot wait until they extend the hours regularly[/quote]
Agreed, though (for me) only after they’ve built enough to keep people busy in the park after dark.

[quote=“PrincipalTinker, post:6, topic:10235”]
EE is one of my favorite attractions. It is that rare attraction where at least 50% of the time guests applaud as it ends. I can and have spent hours just on that ride. The FoLK is my favorite show![/quote]
Everest and Lion King are both among my favorite experiences anywhere in Disney World. I also skip Kali rapids, though it’s because I can do without being soaked. I shower regularly in my hotel room, so I don’t need to take care of that while in a theme park.

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[quote=“mascardofamily, post:7, topic:10235”]
I see that no one has added Wilderness Explorers into the mix[/quote]
I haven’t tried this year, but have heard good things about it. However, I usually find myself skipping interactive games in the parks unless I’m in town for an extended visit. I like the Agent P game in World Showcase, but usually don’t have time for that either and still haven’t tried the pirate game in Adventureland, though I suspect that’s also enjoyable.

[quote=“SallyEppcot, post:10, topic:10235”]
I think this had more to do with our stamina than with the attractions and zoo-like areas[/quote]
One thing I left out of my blog post was that Animal Kingdom seems to be more physically demanding than the other parks. I think it’s the rough terrain and traveling up and down more than it the other parks, but I’m not sure. What I do know is that people I’ve traveled with seem to get tired faster there than walking somewhere else in Disney World.

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People always complain about walking in HS but honestly walking through AK during peak crowds is what nightmares are made of!

They are the TouringPlans designations, per the Unofficial Guide and the website. The are defined as “The best attractions the theme park has to offer. Mind-boggling in size, scope, and imagination. Represent the cutting edge of attraction technology and design.” The 2 Super Headliner attractions at HS are Fantasmic! and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, and the 6 Not to be Missed attractions are Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, Toy Story Midway Mania!, Muppet*Vision 3-D, Fantasmic!, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.

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[quote=“brklinck, post:19, topic:10235”]
The 2 Super Headliner attractions at HS are Fantasmic! and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, and the 6 Not to be Missed attractions are Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, Toy Story Midway Mania!, Muppet*Vision 3-D, Fantasmic!, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror[/quote]

Thanks, though I see Fantasmic and Tower of Terror mentioned twice?! It’s also hard for me to put the outdated Little Mermaid show in the same category as Star Tours, Rock n Roller Coaster, and Toy Story Mania. It’s also hard for me to rate Fantasmic ahead of those attractions, though that’s in part because of the aggravation of getting out of the theater after the show and how far away you’re likely to be from the action (at least, unless you arrive very early and don’t mind getting wet). In any case, I’m fine with using the UG ratings for comparison sake, even if I don’t agree with them. [Hmm, maybe that’ll have to be another discussion topic]