Help with AK plans

BG: My husband and i went to WDW in May 2016. It was just the two of us then, this time- May 2020- we’re adding our 2 year old, 4 mo old, and my MIL. When we went, FOP was closed and Pandora wasn’t a thing yet.

How essential is it to see Pandora after dark? We’d like to have the 2 yo back to the hotel by 7, 7:30 at the latest. If necessary, we can send MIL back with the 2 year old to put him to bed, and husband and i can hang back to see whatever after dark things are amazing.

Thoughts on Rafiki’s Planet Watch with a very active 2 year old? It looks like it’s a lot of reading and older-young kid activities. I think he might be too young to appreciate it fully and i’m not sure it’s worth it for the chunk of time it’ll take to go there.

2 yo loves birds. Flights of Wonder was a thing when we went, and we really enjoyed it. I think he would have really enjoyed that show too. Does UP! A great bird encounter really compare? If we had to choose one bird thing to check out, which is better, UP! or Winged Encounters?

As mentioned, he doesn’t love to sit still unless he’s watching Frozen or Cars. Is it even worth checking out FotLK or Nemo? We personally enjoyed Nemo more than FotLK, but it sounds like general consensus from others is that a 2 yo would enjoy FotLK more. And i don’t think we’ll have time for both.

We’d really like to prioritize FOP and Pandora things. My MIL is flexible and willing to stay with the 2 yo while my husband and i do rides. She’s 66 and doesn’t enjoy roller coasters, but would probably enjoy more mild rides. So “no” to EE, but maybe a “yes” to Navi’s River thing and FOP? I haven’t been on either of those, so i’m asking. We’ll do Rider Switch with those if they’re worth it.

What are your favorite pandora things? What would be cool for a 2 yo to do at AK? I was initially planning on doing all the trails (Gorilla Falls, Kilimanjaro, and Majarajah) but could sacrifice Gorilla and/or Majarajah.

Sorry for the 1000 questions and wordiness. It’s a lot more challenging to trip plan for a 2 yo and a MIL than just DH and I, esp when MIL has no idea what she’d enjoy. All thoughts welcome and appreciated.

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I don’t think pandora at night is important at all. It’s still dark and usually it’s too crowded to really appreciate the lighting special effects especially if you’re tired.

Your 2 year old would love the boneyard play area along with the trails.

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Agree with Boneyard and Triceratop spin. The shows are nice but if your kid cant sit through them skip. I’d definitely try to do Rafiki. TH is great if you want a character meal or you can do the Mickey & Minnie M&G. Definitely don’t keep the kids out late just do see something.

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thank you!

Thank you so much. I’ll add those to the TP. My husband and I would send the 2 yo back to the resort with MIL for bedtime and then stay late to see Pandora and/or RIver of Lights if they’re worth seeing. The baby will sleep anywhere in a wrap, so not worried about him so much.

We went last year with a two year old, and the big hits were the Boneyard, Kilimanjaro Safaris, and the Discovery Island dance party.

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Agree with above. My two year old loved the Boneyard play area (especially the fine gravel pit—not so messy as sand), triceratops spin, the train ride to and from Rafiki’s planet watch and the petting zoo area there. He liked KS and FotLK but we did not even try Finding Nemo as that is a 40 minute show and I didn’t have much faith in his ability to sit through it. Regarding the Pandora rides, I think that everyone who is able, should ride FoP as it is the best ride at Disney (and I did get to ride RotR last week). I have sent my 70 year old MIL and my parents in their 60’s on FoP and they all enjoyed it. We had FastPasses for FoP and used rider swap while I hung out in the Boneyard with the kids. Everyone can go on Navi River as it is just a dark boat ride. It is pretty, but having done it in the past, I felt perfectly fine skipping it on my most recent trip. Likewise, Pandora after dark is pretty but not worth pushing the limits of younger kids who are already overstimulated and tired after a long day. I think my son would enjoy Up! a great bird adventure and had planned on doing this last time but we ran out of time.

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Thank you so much! very helpful.

We were there with a 3.5 year old, a 13 month old, 3 people in their 30’s, and 2 in their 60’s. FotLK and Finding Nemo had the 2 kids mesmerized. KS in the morning was a big hit. TH was a fantastic character meal, will do it again in December. Nav’I was great for everyone. Pandora before sunrise gives you the same effect as at night, but without the crowds. We did it on an EMH morning and enjoyed it. At the end of the night, too difficult to maneuver. Tree of Life Awakening is great for everyone. We were going to do the trails, but ran out of time.

I wouldn’t call FOP a “mild” ride. It’s not a roller coaster, but there are lots of swooping drops and fast movement. Think of it like a more intense Soarin to determine if grandma will enjoy it. That said, it is a fabulous ride and if drops/simulated heights don’t scare her, i’d absolutely recommend it.

We’ve been to AK when our kids were between 1.5-3 and they loved Nemo and FOLK was a big hit too. Nemo would be easier to walk out of if he gets too antsy, since it’s more of a traditional theater while FOLK is in a dark, round space. I think you technically can’t bring food into either, but both times we have gone to Nemo, a bag of goldfish helped keep the kids happy while we waited and everyone around us had small snacks/waters without any problem. Our kids (and the adults) prefer Nemo, but the wait for it to start can be a bit long. I think they were more antsy on KS than the shows, since stopping to wait for the road to clear can be a little slow. Just some things to consider as you pick!

I also think Rafiki is worthwhile if he likes trains, since the train to get there is fun. Our kids also loved Triceratops Spin, meeting Mickey and Minnie at adventurers outpost, and Scrooge McDuck outside of the Dinoland area. I haven’t been to the bird shows, but we saw Kevin walking around by the adventures outpost (the tall, colorful bird from Up) and that was really cool. Just walking around and stumbling upon shows will be fun since there is a lot to look at (musicians in Pandora, various animal exhibits, the drums in Africa, dance parties, etc).

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Love this post, as I am trying to figure out the same (4yo and 2yo). I saw one response reference to the Discovery Island Dance Party… does anyone know when/where this is- and if there are any other dance parties currently that young kids would enjoy (like the Move it Shake it dance party thing at Magic Kingdom)?

I’m pretty sure the discovery island dance party is referring to “Viva Gaia” which is on the discovery island stage, right across from Flame Tree BBQ, right now the schedule says it is once an hour from 11:45 to 5:45. It is a band and they encourage all the bystanders to join in and dance. We caught this by chance one week ago and my 4.5 yo enjoyed it.

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This was me, and yes, I think it’s the one the poster below is referring to, although when we were there last year it seemed like it lasted all day, just rotating characters in and out. It was right in front of the big gift shop on Discovery Island.

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I have the hakuna matata dance party on my plan - it’s listed as happening between 1130 and 530. It’s apparently on the discovery island stage and has timone and pumba :slight_smile: