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Unread 12 Nov 18, 11:22 PM  
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spencem
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Stranger Trip, The Report. Day 4, AK and riding FoP.

Day 4 October 9th 2018

Today The Plan said we should have a lazy morning followed by an afternoon and evening in Animal Kingdom finishing by seeing Rivers of Light. Well that went wrong twice, firstly as the lazy morning was spoilt with a trip to the shops. I know many people get a lot of pleasure from shopping in Florida, but we are not them and see it is a chore. I will admit that it was a little more exciting on our early trips when we were getting over $2 to the Pound, but even then it was something to get out of the way to save money on work clothes etc. Nowadays our shopping habits are even less fashion and much more drug and laundry related than back in 2006.

Edward decided he would follow The Plan and have a lazy morning in the hotel, while looking for somewhere for lunch. Julia and I set out about 10:45 to the Target just down the 192 from us, where we somehow spent $100 on pain killers, cold relief pills and tumble drier sheets. Seriously, if you want pain killers here you can only buy 12, over there a tub of 500 will only be a couple of pounds more. As for cold relief, Ive no idea what the Americans put in them but they are about 1,000% more effective than what we get here.

Less than an hour later we were heading back up the 192 with Edward now with us on our way to Smokey Bones. Edward had wanted to go to Mannys but discovered that they dont open until 4pm. We last ate in Smokey Bones back in 2009 but Im happy to say it is just as good today. As you could guess their speciality is smoked meat, with a smoker on site. For some reason I didnt get pictures or note what everyone had, but it was all good. I did cause an eye roll from my son by trying to order the brisket, despite there being a note on the menu saying it is not available until 3pm. With us all just having mains (that we couldnt finish) and none of us drinking alcohol the bill was only about $80 including tip I think.

We waddled out of the restaurant a while later and retreated back to the hotel to sleep off our meat coma. About 4pm we were back out into the pouring rain, which thankfully stopped just as I pulled into a parking spot at Animal Kingdom.


We are not much larger than yesterday.

Our first FP was for Everest, so we headed over there, taking the DinoLand side of the pond. We did stop for some more Photopass pictures, but somehow the photographer added about 8 chins to the 3 I already have, so youre not seeing them. Instead you can have a look at one I took of Everest from the bridge by Finding Nemo.


No extra chins, just some nasty clouds.

Those clouds over Everest were heading our way, so we dug the ponchos out of the bag as Julia parked up and made sure the ECV was properly covered as well before heading into the ride. As we did the heavens opened.


Really rather wet.


That is not a plastic bag on the hanging chain, it is water running down it.

There was no thunder with all the rain, so they kept the ride operating, despite the bucket sized raindrops falling. Julia wasnt sure she wanted to ride before the rain after her big lunch, the rain sealed the deal for her and she took the chicken exit when we got to the front. She did make sure to tap the Mickey Heads to use her FP as we were hoping to get one for Rivers of Light once we had used all 3 pre-booked ones up.

As it turned out the rain once again stopped with impeccable timing as Edward and I boarded the train.


Ok, so I forgot where the camera is and didnt do the agreed drowning pose.

Everest conquered we had another long trek ahead of us, right across the busy park to Pandora for our FP on the Smurf Boat Ride.


This is all new to us, we came in and out the other way on Sunday.


This is why I love Animal Kingdom, so much detail on what is just a restroom block.


You could almost be in Africa.


The bridge was there last time we looked this way back in 2016, but there was a wall under it.

When we got to the decking there was a brief discussion between my wife and son about who was using the ECV. You see this park with its rough paths is bad enough on her back, but this decking was absolute murder. It has just the wrong spacing to cause the ECV - and plenty of strollers we saw to vibrate up and down as she rolled along. Julia elected to walk a bit while Edward got the vibro-massage.

The rest of the park was busy, but Pandora was absolutely rammed again. Flight of passage was showing a 2 hour standby line, so after a brief struggle for a parking spot for the ECV we simply joined the FP line for the river ride.


So much detail, this is just a fence post in the queue.

I enjoyed our ride a lot more today than Monday with my bad head. I did spend some time trying to work out how they have done the multi-layered screens for the sense of depth, but mostly I just sat back and took it all in. Like Pirates I think this is a ride that will reward repeat visits as you see more and more detail around you.

We had looked at the Lion King show on the way into Pandora and seen there was a 6pm show, happily we were back from the river in plenty of time to make that and even get a coffee on the way. We had a FP left for the Safari but wanted to time that for dusk anyway.


Just incredible.


I was taken by the display of masks, but not at all tempted to have my face painted.

We walked the long way out of Pandora, so avoiding the massage bridge and taking us past Starbucks for our coffee and todays mug for Julias friend. We intended to finish our drinks before going into the show, but when we got to Lion King we were told to hurry in as it was almost full, 15 minutes before the show should be starting. I dont know if it was because we were going into the disabled seating or if they are just not bothered anymore, but no one said anything about us all carrying hot drinks into the theatre. Sure enough it was indeed full in there and I would imagine some people were turned away just before the start.

The show itself was as amazing as ever, how on earth they manage to put 6 or 7 of these on a day I do not know. This was the last show of the day and the cast were still full of energy.


Catch the falling fire!


How do they all look so fresh?


Home time at last.

When we left the theatre we found the park was just as busy as ever.


Lots of people still, despite the hour.

Even with our FP we still waited around 20 minutes for the Safari, but that did give the sun time to go down. Ill apologise in advance for the quality of the pictures, but it was really quite dark by now.


One of the ghosts of the forest, looking quite ghostly in all that grain.


This giraffe was going mad, running around in circles. Apparently he didnt want to go to bed.


Elephant in the gloom.


Lion Rock.


Sleeping Lions, how unusual.


The ranger station where the drivers hang out.

At some point during the evening, either while having coffee, waiting for Lion King or waiting for the safari we had spoken about what to do at the end of the night. The Plan said we should see Rivers of Light, which we had never seen with it being postponed during our 2016 trip. However, I had read an interesting tip earlier about getting onto FoP in about an hour if you go at the end of the day. How it works is that there are no Fast Passes issued for once the park closes obviously and so the standby queue will move much faster than usual. We spoke about it again as we exited the Safari and all decided we would much rather ride FoP with how everyone says it is amazing, while not everyone raves about Rivers of Light.

With this decided we didnt need to rush off to get a seat for the show and took a leisurely stroll toward Pandora, even stopping to look around the safari gift shop.


All but fully dark now, got to love tropical sunsets.

Edward and I both saw t-shirts we liked, but for some reason neither of us brought them. We had some strange idea wed get them on the way out of the park I think, but for whatever reason we left the shop empty handed.

Pandora by night what can you say? If it is amazing in daylight it is absolutely incredible at night. A large part of the atmosphere comes from the sound track of the whole area. Again, you are completely in the film and there are some big animals crashing around just out of sight in those bushes, you expect something to appear at any second chasing its prey.


Bio-luminescence, or UV paint anyway.

We entered the line for Flight of Passage around 7:40, with it showing a 110 minute wait time. The first time we stopped in the queue, where you get sorted between the 4 rooms was at 8:35 and we were walking back off at 8:55, so we did indeed only wait about an hour.


View from the mountain.

The line alone for this ride is worth the effort, there is so much to see in it.


The cave paintings.

They do employ the classic tricks of making you think youre nearly at the ride, only to see the queue go on and on when you move from the mountain, to the cave, to the derelict base, to the lab, to the holding rooms.


I took this for a friend who builds theatrical sets, just imagine how long this took to paint.

The lab section has some very interesting bits in, what on earth is making the animals move in the jars and some of the monitors are not only transparent but also double sided. This was not a cheap room to dress.


There is some seriously cutting-edge stuff in there.


The highlight has to be this amazing full size animatronic.

Eventually we got to the actual ride itself, via all that clever interactive stuff about being contaminated and being paired with an avatar. Sadly we were put right on the end of the row, so as I looked forward my dragon was off to the right slightly which spoilt the illusion somewhat. Despite that it lives up to the hype, it is an incredible ride. Its kind of a Soarin on steroids, but with as much care taken over the film as if it were an actual theatrical release, no half-baked CGI in this one. The motion is completely in tune with the film, even when youre off to one side. I suffer from motion sickness when my eye thinks Im moving and my body doesnt agree, I got none of that on this ride at all. It is totally immersive and you forget you are on a ride at all, that is a Banshee under you not a theme park ride seat.

By the time we came off the ride the park was all closed for the night, it was almost an hour past the end of the day. We paused briefly to use the restrooms before making our way back to the exit, past the closed-up shops.


Thankfully the restroom guardian let us in.


That sound track is even more effective when the paths are deserted, something is going to eat you.


One last look at night time Pandora.


The tree of Life was all lit up, but the Awakenings had all finished for the night.

The observant among you will have spotted that there has been no mention of food for some hours. While Julia pronounced herself still full from lunch, some 9 hours ago, Edward and I defiantly needed feeding. There is really only one solution for late night feeds, IHOP, especially as there is one just at the end of Sherberth Road on our way home.

Service was a little slow on arrival, with no staff to be seen, but just as I was thinking Dennys might be a better option we were shown to our table. Edward ordered some breakfast crepes, I had the seasonal pumpkin pancakes and Julia just had some toast and jam. I had a jug of their de-caf coffee, Julia a tea and Edward some sort of liquid heart-attack/diabetes hot chocolate concoction. Amazingly despite not being hungry Julia was the only one of us to finish, deciding that she was hungry after all.


Just a small portion of pancakes, I could have had more apparently.

Tummies full it was just a short drive up the 192 to our beds.



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Edited at 07:03 PM.
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Unread 13 Nov 18, 09:02 AM  
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StorybookCircus
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I dont think Ive ever seen that view of Pandora from the mountain, is it part of the FoP queue? It looks absolutely gorgeous.
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Unread 13 Nov 18, 09:19 AM  
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wdw-wanderer
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I totally agree with you about the bone-rattling bridge! I think the problem is that each plank of wood is concave, rather than flat, so you get shaken to smithereens. Animal Kingdom is the most uncomfortable park to visit when using an ECV or a wheelchair - I sometimes wonder if the imagineers ever spent a day in a chariot testing it beforehand?
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Unread 13 Nov 18, 06:55 PM  
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Originally Posted by StorybookCircus View Post
I dont think Ive ever seen that view of Pandora from the mountain, is it part of the FoP queue? It looks absolutely gorgeous.
The view is indeed from Flight of Passage's queue, near the top of the mountain just before you go in the cave.

Originally Posted by wdw-wanderer View Post
I totally agree with you about the bone-rattling bridge! I think the problem is that each plank of wood is concave, rather than flat, so you get shaken to smithereens. Animal Kingdom is the most uncomfortable park to visit when using an ECV or a wheelchair - I sometimes wonder if the imagineers ever spent a day in a chariot testing it beforehand?
We have a friend who uses a manual wheelchair, she is also not impressed with that walkway. Hopefully they will do something about it as soon as the crowds die back a bit and they can close it to fit a new flat top.

Julia agrees that the paths in AK are the worst in all of the parks, except maybe the cobbled areas of Universal Studios.
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Unread 16 Nov 18, 05:48 PM  
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I have really enjoyed your report so far, your dry sense of humour makes me chuckle. When I was there in September, we made the same decision as you, to give rivers of light a miss so that we could soak up some more of the night time atmosphere at Pandora and we did not regret it. Did you see any of the drumming show? The call and response they do to the banshees in the mountains was brilliant.
Looking forward to see what you made of HHN. I absolutely loved it. So much so, I dont ever want to go at any other time of year now.
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Unread 16 Nov 18, 10:17 PM  
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Originally Posted by Supersuzie View Post
I have really enjoyed your report so far, your dry sense of humour makes me chuckle. When I was there in September, we made the same decision as you, to give rivers of light a miss so that we could soak up some more of the night time atmosphere at Pandora and we did not regret it. Did you see any of the drumming show? The call and response they do to the banshees in the mountains was brilliant.
Looking forward to see what you made of HHN. I absolutely loved it. So much so, I dont ever want to go at any other time of year now.
Thanks for your kind words. There was some drumming going on in Pandora on our first morning, but with my bad head all I wanted to do was get away from it.

This was my second time at HHN and as you can see from my countdown we're going to experience the Hollywood version next year.
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Unread 13 Dec 18, 09:10 AM  
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Unread 13 Dec 18, 11:38 AM  
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Originally Posted by Jockey View Post
Fab pics
Thank you, phone cameras are amazing these days.
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