Animal Kingdom Disney Disney World

Lions, Gorillas, and Banshees OH MY: Pandemic Disney Trip Day 3

Day three (Saturday 8-29) of our Pandemic Disney Trip was an early day. Today we were heading to Animal Kingdom and that park opens at 8 am. It is the first Disney theme park to open for the day and the first to close for the day. 

Animal Kingdom might possibly be my favorite park. It does have one of my favorite quick service restaurants (Flame Tree BBQ), character meals (Tusker House), and rides (TriceraTop Spin…. Just kidding it’s Flight of Passage). I was really torn on this trip on which two parks I wanted to spend 2 days in. I knew Magic Kingdom would be one but it was a toss up between Animal Kingdom and EPCOT. It wouldn’t be till tomorrow that I finally made the reservation for the theme park I would be visiting on Monday. 

So like I was saying today was going to be an early day. I wanted to be up and at the bus around 07:15 am. That meant we had to wake up around 06:30 am. Not so much a problem for me but for my daughter it would be a little tough. Surprisingly, she woke up without much trouble. I think she was really looking forward to Animal Kingdom as well. She loves animals of all shapes and sizes. 

Right now her dream is to be a “dolphin trainer” but she loves animals both in the sea and on land. There’s no better place in Orlando to see Animals than at Animal Kingdom. Better yet if you walk around and just read and listen you can find ways that you can help animals around the world everyday. Sometimes it is just as simple as using a refillable water bottle or a different soap. 

Now the first time I took my daughter to Animal Kingdom was back in 2015 when she was just 4. We found this cute leopard print dress. We figured it would be perfect for a day at Animal Kingdom. Well, we were right and better yet we found a pair of Minnie Ears that matched it perfectly. Well, luck would have it that the past few years we have been able to find the same dress in her size. So every year she wears it when we go to Animal Kingdom. This year was no different even with a pandemic raging around us. 

Line for Animal Kingdom bus at POP Century Resort

So we arrived in the line for the Animal Kingdom bus around 07:20 and were on the bus and headed towards Animal Kingdom around 07:30 am.

Animal Kingdom

Where the bus drops you off till you get to the temp check tent, security, and ticket area is the furthest of any of the 4 Disney World theme parks. At least it feels that way. Just like the past two days it all went smoothly. 

I must say I am really liking how Disney is handling the Security part of things. No need to get your bags checked unless you set off the machine or you get randomly selected. Just hold out things like a camera, umbrella, metal water bottle, and things like that and walk through. It really helps control the crowds that usually always back up at the security check. 

By 07:45 we made it past everything and started making our way back towards Pandora. Now the past week or so the wait times at Animal Kingdom were averaging under 15 minutes for every ride. But today was a weekend and yesterday over at Hollywood Studios I noticed the wait times picking up a little bit. Still nowhere as bad as they used to be but still increasing. 

Pandora at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Since I didn’t know what to expect later in the day we wanted to get in line first thing in the morning for Flight of Passage. One of my daughters and mine favorite rides. Now it is a bit of a hike from the front of the park to Pandora but it’s really not too bad. We did stop for a quick photo of the Tree of Life but then it was straight to the ride. 

Now my daughter and I walk fast. Like really fast. We were passing quite a few groups of people on our way into Pandora. However, we still had a few people pass us that were making their way to the same place. 

We were making our way through the queue before 8 am. Now I have NEVER been through the regular queue for Flight of Passage. I would always get a FastPass for this ride. I just don’t think I could stand in line for 2 hours or more for any ride and this is one of my favorites. Between walking through the queue and getting into the staging area took about 15 to 20 minutes. However, the whole time we were moving so it wasn’t bad at all. Plus it was an area I never got to see before so that was cool too. The level of detail that is put all throughout the queue is amazing. 

Things were done a little differently when it comes to the preshow to help with social distancing and some aspects of it were missing. Overall, you got a feel for the story and what your role was. Now once on the ride they left at least two “banshees” between us and the other group. 

Everything else about the ride remained the same. The thrills you get from this ride are amazing. The one thing I remember it lacking was mist. Maybe it’s just my mind playing a trick on me but I am pretty sure in certain areas you would get misted with water when you were going near the water. 

After we finished our flight around Pandora we decided to get some breakfast. There are not a ton of options for breakfast at the parks currently but you can find some. We ended up ordering from Pongu Pongu. I wanted to go to Yak and Yeti quick service location but it was too far from Pandora and we still wanted to ride Na’vi River Journey and try to do Flight of Passage again. 

Pongu Pongu Breakfast Sandwich at Animal Kingdom

I ordered the sausage biscuit and french toast sticks. The biscuit did hit the spot but I was hungry. I also found it to taste a little bland. Now the French Toast Sticks. Crispy but tender and loaded with cinnamon and sugar. I would definitely get the french toast sticks again. The biscuit I would probably skip unless I was starving. 

After breakfast we went on Na’vi River Journey. It had a 5 minute wait listed and we never really stopped in line. The line kept moving till we were loaded on our boat. I know not many people love this ride but I do for what it is. It’s just a peaceful, colorful ride through the forest of Pandora. Plus it makes for a great ride in the afternoon when the heat and humidity gets to be too much in the middle of summer. We did ride this before 9 am so it wasn’t getting us out of the heat but it was a very enjoyable ride. 

After we got off we checked the wait time for Flight of Passage. It was listed at 45 minutes but the line looked much longer than that. So we headed towards the Africa section of the park so we could walk through Gorilla Falls and maybe ride Kilimanjaro Safaris. 

I can say that it was a little eerie walking to Africa. Normally you would see all kinds of people making their way to Pandora. But it was still early (9am) and the parks are only having a limited capacity. We only walked past one group heading into Pandora. The next time we saw people were by Tusker House. For a minute it almost felt like we had the park to ourselves which would be so cool. 

We decided to skip the safari for the time being and take a walk through Gorilla Falls. We both enjoy Gorilla Falls. It is a nice shaded area with plenty of animals to see. One of our favorite places is the bird area. 

My daughter likes to remind me everytime we walk through here about the time her Grandmother got pooped on by one of the birds. To this day she still finds that super funny. 

After Gorilla Falls we headed over to Kali River Rapids for the hope of getting soaked and cooling down a little. We were able to ride it 3 times in a row. We just got off the raft and turned around a little way up the exit queue. All day this ride was only showing a 5 or 10 minute wait. 

Now we rode this three times. And all three times we did NOT get soaked. Two out of the three times my upper body didn’t even get touched with water. My shoes were soaked but the rest of me remanded pretty dry. While I do enjoy Kali River Rapids. It ranks low on my list of favorite rides for the simple fact that this water ride barely ever gets me wet. I got wetter from sweat than from the ride which shouldn’t be the way. 

Now the best thing to do after you ride Kali Rapids is to dry off (if you got wet) by riding Everest. Now since we didn’t get wet we didn’t need to dry off and the wait for Everest was longer than 30 minutes at this point. It was around 10:30 so we figured we would come back a little later. We headed towards Dinoland and again we didn’t pass many people. 

Most of the things between Everest and Dinoland were closed. No snack carts open and the Finding Nemo Musical wasn’t available when we were there. The state these parks are in with many of the shows, carts, and stores being closed is sad. 

Once in Dinoland we headed over to Dinosaur. Now I can’t remember if I ever went on this ride. I kind of remember doing it back in 07 but again I can’t be too sure. I know I never took my daughter on this ride since I knew it would have been too scary for her. I figured now it might not be so bad. Well, I guess I was a little wrong. 

She was pretty scared on this ride. It is a really dark ride and you never know which way your vehicle will go next. I am just glad all we had to do was walk on this ride. We didn’t have a long wait at all. I am glad I know that the ride is still a little too scary for her still and that I didn’t have to wait in a long line to find that out. 

After Dinosaur we walked around Dinoland USA and checked out the shop that was opened. We did a little browsing and started making our way to Discovery Island. On our way there we passed what I can only assume is many kids favorite area at Animal Kingdom. The boneyard playground. I am willing to bet it is many parents’ favorite area too. 

Boneyard Playground at Animal Kingdom

While the shading could use a little work here there is always plenty of areas to sit down while your kids run around having a blast. Well sadly this area is currently closed thanks to Covid-19. My daughter was sad but she understood why. She did ask if they could just let her in but I told her that it wouldn’t be fair to the other kids. 

Afterwards, we made our way to the Tree of Life to take a walk around it. If you never got up close to it you really should. All the different animals carved into the tree are pretty cool. We ended up spending about a half hour walking around the tree checking it out. 

Now it was way past lunch time so we needed to quickly decide if we were going to eat at Flame Tree or get something from Satu’li Canteen. Satu’li won. It was a coin toss but Satu’li has indoor seating and it was hot today. 

Cheeseburger Pods at Satu'li Canteen at Animal Kingdom

At Satu’li Canteen we ordered the Cheeseburger Pods, a chocolate cake, and a Pandoran Sunrise drink. The cake and drink were amazing. Almost wish I ordered two drinks. Now for the cheeseburger pods. 

They were just ok today. Today I find it to be very dry and the meat didn’t have much flavor. The slaw and chips were good but the main star was lacking. The best thing about our lunch was we got a table inside and were able to cool down for a bit. 

Satu'li Canteen Chocolate Cake

Once we finished lunch it was time to check out the Sarafi. Now it was just before 1 pm when we started heading to the sarafi. I know it’s not the best time to go on this but it was the only time we had. First thing in the morning is best but we wanted to hit up Flight of Passage first. 

The wait time for Kilimanjaro Safaris was listed at 15 minutes when we entered. But only about a minute into walking the queue I checked my phone and it was listed at 30 minutes. It must have changed right as we walked in. Now I wouldn’t usually mind a 30 minute wait but this one was horrible. The family behind me didn’t understand what social distancing was. 

Their kids were on top of us and I couldn’t even say anything to them because as far as I could tell they didn’t speak any English. I tried the best I could to have them realize they were too close but they either didn’t care or didn’t understand. I had to deal with this for the entire queue and this was the longest line we waited in all week so far. 

Giraffes from Kilimanjaro Safaris

From them being too close and the queue of Kilimanjaro Safaris just being one of the worst at Walt Disney World from the lack of interesting things to see to the heat while in line. It made it a bad time. However, the safari itself did make up for it. 

Now our driver wasn’t a funny guy like I have had in the past. He still was good and pointed out many animals. Some I don’t remember ever really seeing before. 

We had a close encounter with some giraffes. A mom and her two youngins came real close to the road. It almost felt like they wanted to see what was going on.

The safari is always an enjoyable experience. It doesn’t matter what time of day. Of course, early morning or around dusk is better. However, getting a chance to visit Animal Kingdom around dusk is not going to happen for a while. 

Animal Kingdom Everest

After we got off the safari we checked the wait times for Flight of Passage and Everest. Both had wait times over 30 minutes and my daughter wanted to go back to POP Century and go swimming. So that is what we did. As we were leaving we checked out a few of the animal viewing areas around the park and went in the few stores that were open. Afterwards we were waiting for a bus back to the resort. 

Back at the resort we changed into our swimsuits and hit up the Hippy Dippy Pool. It was more for a chance to cool down. At least for me it was. 

For her…. Well she is a fish. That girl would spend all day in the pool if you let her. However, we had to get out soon as dark clouds were moving in and it was getting close to dinner time. 

We weren’t too sure what we would do for dinner. We could eat at the resort or grab something from Disney Springs. 

She wanted to flip a coin. I wanted to go to Disney Springs. Well, Disney Springs won. We could get something good to eat and do some shopping. 

Disney Springs

So off we went to get changed and catch the bus. We were standing in line and a bus came. We were the 9th group so I knew we wouldn’t catch that bus. I just hoped another bus would come soon. The sky was getting darker and you could hear thunder off in the distance. 

Within a minute or two the skies opened up and it started pouring. At this point there had to be about 20 different groups of people waiting in line. I didn’t want to lose my spot so we stood fast getting soaked. Luckily, we did have to wait for too long. 

The bus picked us up and off we went to Disney Springs. Once we got there the rain started to lighten up. Before we knew it, it had stopped. However, we wouldn’t see the sun for the rest of the day. 

Since our stomachs were growling we were ready for some food. It was a bit of a toss up between Chicken Guy and Polite Pig. Of course, my daughter wanted chicken fingers so we went to Chicken Guy. This wasn’t a problem for me either. I love the sauce selection here. 

Chicken Guy Loaded Fries

We ordered chicken fingers and loaded fries. The chicken fingers were amazing with and without sauce. The loaded fries this time were a little disappointing. They were loaded with cheese and pieces of chicken. However, the taste of the cheese was just off today. I can’t put my finger on it. It wasn’t horrible. It just wasn’t right to me. 

After our dinner, we walked about Disney Springs checking out all the different shops and restaurants. We were still here for 3 more nights after tonight so we were looking for another place to eat later in the week.  

Disney Springs World of Disney Store

Our Disney Pandemic Trip Day 3 was in the records books. It was an early start to the day for my daughter so I wanted to make sure we were back by 8 so she could get ready for bed. Tomorrow wouldn’t be an early day since we were visiting EPCOT and they wouldn’t open till 11. Both of us were looking forward to our EPCOT day.

She was looking forward to going to the France Pavilion and getting a beignet. I was looking forward to the Food and Wine Festival. Since I have been going every year since 2015. I have always missed the festival by a week or two. This year I will finally be able to check it out. The only thing that sucks. No dining plan at the moment. 

Make sure you come back tomorrow to see how our EPCOT day went. Be sure to check out all of our other Disney related content. We have all kinds of guides to help make your trip easier and more enjoyable. Clueless on where to start? Check out our handy booking guide and don’t forget to follow us (DisneyByKoz) to stay up to date on our latest post.

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