Yesterday (July 13) was the first day that my daughter and I entered a Walt Disney World theme park since the reopening. We attended the Passholder Preview at the Magic Kingdom last week, but the park wasn’t officially open at that time. We went to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and it was an incredible experience!
We didn’t spend the full day there, and that was fine. We arrived at about 1:00, and five hours was plenty of time to do everything that we wanted to do, sometimes more than once. There are still no trams, but we ended up parking one row over from Preferred Parking. That right there was a great way to start our adventure! They are staggering parking every other car, and since we arrived late they were starting to fill in the empty spots.
They are using the Evolv system for bag check, and it is fast and easy. The security team loves it so far! If you have an umbrella, take it out of your bag because it could register as a weapon. Besides that, you just walk right through.
The finger scanners are not being used at the entrance. Just scan your MagicBand or ticket, and you will be allowed in. I have a feeling that Disney might eventually make the move to pictures linked to your ticket, the way that they do at Disneyland. That’s just a hunch, it’s not even a rumor.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom was empty. We walked right onto Avatar Flight of Passage, then we walked on again. We were able to experience all that we wanted to without waits. At the end of the day we waited for maybe ten minutes for a third time on Flight of Passage, but that was the only wait of the day.
The two preshows for Flight of Passage have been combined and shortened. Disney is using both of the rooms so that people can see the new video. There are circles on the ground that you stand on instead of your number. You are still given a number, but that is only for the actual ride.
There were social distancing markers on the ground, plus barriers in places where people might end up next to each other. It felt safe. Like at the Magic Kingdom, there is hand sanitizer at the entrance to each ride, right before you get on, and soon after you get off. On Kilimanjaro Safaris there were plastic barriers between each row on the jeep. We didn’t need them on our ride, there were only five of us. I had never walked on before.
My waterproof shoe covers once again worked their magic. We went over to DINOSAUR, and it started raining moments after we entered the building. It was still lightly raining when we came out, so we looped around and rode again. After our second ride it had all but stopped. We got hit with a few sprinkles, but missed the part of the storm where we would have gotten drenched.
We used Mobile Ordering for an early dinner at Satu’li Canteen. This is probably my favorite quick service restaurant at Walt Disney World. My daughter and I had been craving the Tofu Bowl ever since the parks shut down, and it was better than ever. We had to wait outside while they were preparing our order, but this time it was ready in just about two minutes. Inside a Cast Member got the drinks for us instead of self-serve. Many of the tables were blocked off, and as soon as someone left a Cast Member would clean and disinfect the area.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom has one of the Relaxation Stations inside Pizzafari. I like that they have some indoor spaces. I wasn’t hot because of the mask, I was hot because it was 97 degrees, with a heat index ten degrees above that. I’m beginning to remember why we didn’t often go to the parks in the summer.
Characters are on boats that cruise along the Discovery River. There are great viewing areas, and the characters are really paying attention to those who are watching and interacting with them. My favorite spot to watch was on the bridge between Pandora and Africa. We had a great view, plenty of shade, and it was never crowded there.
Five hours was plenty of time for us. With no shows and no nighttime activities, Disney’s Animal Kingdom doesn’t need to be open too late right now. I do miss seeing Pandora after dark, but we still had a fantastic, safe day.