Animal Kingdom and Hollywood studios - Planning tips




Some exciting news - we are planning a trip to WDW in 2018!

I am currently writing a (personal) Notebook for WDW that summarises my tips and notes for our upcoming WDW trip. I thought it might be nice to share it with you all online - the tips that I have found at the planning stage. When planning a holiday, I read from numerous sources- from travel guide books, amazon e-books, TripAdvisor and other internet sources. I have found different tips in different books and below I have summarised what I have found. These difference sources of tips were also the reason for the beginning of this website!  Its a work in progress, feel free to share in comments if you think something is wrong or want to add something. The tips are untested at this stage - but I will let you know how they go in practice during 2018.

Animal Kingdom (AK)

With the opening of Pandora, this park now has longer opening hours. Technically the largest of all the Disney Parks (mostly animal enclosures)
  • The walkable part of the park is compact. 1700 live animals. 250 species. 3000 species of plants. Between 10-3pm the park is very busy. It is less busy after 3pm.
  • Animal habitats best to do in the afternoon/evening
  • Head first to Africa and ride Kilimanjaro Safaris. Then cross to Asia and ride Expedition Everest.
  • The Dragon in the middle of the AK logo? That was the symbol for the Beastly kingdom themed area this park was to originally have (such as unicorns and dragons). It was planned but never built.
The Maharajah Jungle Trek - Major Attraction  - walk through zoo exhibit. Bengal tigers, Giant fruit bats with a 6 foot wingspan, Komodo dragons, gibbons. Its a Trail walk. Pick up a map in the beginning of the trail. Bat display. The Animal keepers have taught the bats to fly inside for dinner when a dog whistle is blown All Asian animals.

Up! A Great Bird Adventure (replaces Flights of Wonder)  - This new show commences in April  2018 and includes free -flying bird encounters. The show revolves around the pixar characters Russell and Dug from the movie 'Up'.

Pangoni Forest Exploration Trail - walk through zoo. Self guided. Gorillas, zebra, hippo, warthogs, Meerkats. Pickup a bird guide (hanging on a post in bird aviary). Gorilla's near the end (30 mins approximately)



Expedition Everest - High speed outdoor rollercoaster. 3.5 mins. One of the most exciting attractions in all of WDW. Train goes Backwards/Forwards, wild plunges through caverns and canyons. You meet up with a 22 foot Yeti. Draws major crowds. Much rougher then Big Thunder mountain. Don't ride if afraid of heights.

Rivers of Light (new in 2017) - Nighttime spectacular. Can get a Fast Pass (FP) for magic animal lanterns that float int he air. Ancient belief that when animals passed from one world to another, they danced in the sky and became beautiful rivers of night. Plan to arrive 1 hour before if no FP.

Tree of Life - Go anytime, 8 minutes. 3D show inside the tree. Might be scary for little kids. Theater goes dark, you hear swarming wasps, and the back of your seat might give you a small electrical zap. To avoid the zap - lean forward in your seat.

Kilimanjaro Safari - 20 minute ride. Not to be missed- premier attraction.
  • Line dwindles by midday. Simulated ride through African wildlife reservations. Safari drive through - see hippos, lions, giraffes, cheetahs, rhinos, zebra and elephants. 
  • Animals often active in the morning, but better chance of seeing cheetahs, rhinos and warthogs later in the day. 
  • If go mid afternoon - animals get a bit antsy about going back to their enclosures. 
  • Bridge looks like it might collapse.
  • For photos best to get the back seat or side view.
  • Upon exiting, begin Pangoni Forest Explorations.

Winged Encounters - 6 types of Macaw, swoop and soar over Discovery island.

Pandora - Avatar Flight of Passage - a 3 D journey simulator ride. Birds eye view of all the sights and sounds of Pandora. Not recommended if have a fear of heights.

Na'vi River Journey - Voyage to Pandora's bio-luminescent forest. Calm and family friendly. Board Canoes that journey through the forest.

Wilderness Explorers - Park wide scavenger hunt and puzzle solving adventure game. Sign up first thing in the morning. There are 32 badges (stickers)

Rafiki's Planet Watch (Animal Hospital) - Learn how Disney cares for animals in the park. Pat goats, llamas, sheep etc. Harambe Train Station - 5.5 minute trip and 5 minute walk.

Dinosaur Ride - this ride is very loud with Dinosaurs jumping out at you whilst cart takes steep drops. 
  • High Speed motion vehicle.  
  • Outside is a dinosaur mini museum with a 50 foot replica skeleton of Brachiosaurus.
  • The Mission on Dinosaur is to save the last Iguanadon. Even the nostrils move as they 'breathe'.  Duration of ride is 3.5 minute ride.
Finding Nemo - 40 minute puppet show. Best to sit 2/3 way back. A popular show but not a good use of FP

Boneyard - Archaeological Dig, Dinosaur footprints that roar when you jump on them and a xylophone that's made of dinosaur bones. Easy to lose sight of kids, but only one exit.

Triceratops Spin - Similar to Dumbo. Duration 1.5 mins. Slow loading. Come back later if more then a 20 minute wait.

Primeval Whirl. Small Coaster. Faster then it looks. Short drops, curves, cars also spin. 90 second ride. Not recommended - half spins are painful.

Festival of the Lion King - Very out of the way location. Needs a FP. Acrobatics aplenty.

Wildlife Express Train - Can ride anytime. 5-7 mins one way.

Kali River Rapids - Guaranteed to get wet. 5 min whitewater river raft ride. On the bridge - can shoot water at riders.

Best place to eat - Flame Tree BBQ, near entrance to Dinoland. Good lunch choices. chicken, sandwiches. All nice eateries - with a view.


Hollywood Studios (HS)


This is a much smaller park. Quite a few of the rides have closed down, I guess to make way for the new Star Wars land. This will be our first park to go to on our holiday as its a smaller ride and we will probably still be suffering a bit of jet lag.
  • There is a water taxi link between HS and Epcot. The boat docks to the left as you exit the studios.
  • Getting around - there are no trains, boats, buses. In other words  - you walk!
Visit Toy Story Mania as early as possible. Extremely popular. Then do Star Tours. In general, save theatre style shows for the afternoon. 

Beauty and the Beast - Live on Stage in Open Air theatre. Duration: 30 minute show. Easily get a seat. Very entertaining, but see it late afternoon.

Fantasmic - Includes a 50 foot fire breathing dragon. If you skip Fantasmic, leave park before the end of the show. Huge bottleneck of people. Draws virtually everyone in the park. Try to sit at the back of the Mickey Section so have a good view plus best exit.

Jedi Training Academy - Duration: 15 minutes. On a stage outside of Star Tours (to the left of). If you want to be IN the show, visit ABC Sound Studio near the Star Tours attraction. Arrive early in the day and you may reserve a spot in the Jedi Training Academy. If it rains for Jedi training - good time to go to Star Tours as the characters go to Star Tours! Great photo opportunities!

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular - To beat the crowds, sit on the far right and near the top.

Voyage of the Little Mermaid - Best view from the back of the theatre. The puppets look like they are really swimming. A screen of water makes it look like under the sea (20 minute show)

Walt Disney Presents (formerly Walt Disney - One Mans Dream)  Lots of Memorabilia. History, sketches and photos. This area will also detail what is new to Hollywood Studios.

Rock n Roll Coaster - Rock music themed coaster. Single Rider line.

Toy Story Mania -The ride gauges your skill level during the practice round and then adjusts the difficulty for each rider in order to create a level playing field.




Muppet 3D - Don't miss this attraction. Hilarious pre-show. Slapstick and High Wit. Show for everyone. Look around you during the show. Look out for the Swedish Chef. Air Conditioned.

Lights, Motors Action, Extreme Stunt Show (25-30 mins)
Sit at the back, less intense

Character meets - 3pm at the Entrance

Where to eat - Sunset Ranch Market - on Sunset Boulevard. Pizza, Hot Dogs, Turkey Legs, ice cream, fruit (lots of choice).

I hope you enjoyed reading my planning tips on these parks. If you would like to comment on any of these tips, please do so in Comments.

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Until next week,
KJ 






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