by Brittany DiCologero
If you haven’t read the other parts of our trip report, you can catch up using the links below:
Our January trip continued on Sunday with an early morning visit to Animal Kingdom. Our main goal for this visit to Animal Kingdom was to try the new quick service restaurants in Africa. Since we arrived early, we started the morning off with some of our favorite rides in Asia and Dinoland– Dinosaur first thing, and Expedition Everest twice.
After our second ride on Expedition Everest, we stayed in Asia to catch Flights of Wonder. We love Flights of Wonder, and think it is one of the most underrated attractions at Walt Disney World. It blows my mind how many guests visit Animal Kingdom without really taking any effort to actually see some of the (non-safari) animals, and Flights of Wonder is a perfect example of how those guests are really missing out. We think the show is very entertaining, and it has an educational takeaway with the conservation message that Animal Kingdom as a whole works to promote.
Next up, we headed over to Africa, as we had Fastpass reservations to ride Kilimanjaro Safaris, and we did not want to miss this attraction as one of my trainers from Lights, Motors, Action! during my college program, Tony, was working there and we planned on riding in his truck. A safari is always more fun when you have the best driver:
By the time we got off the ride, we decided to head over to Harambe Market to try out some of the new menu items. Between the two of us, we ordered a flatbread, curry battered sausage, and ribs, so we could try a little bit of everything. Overall we really enjoyed the food, and we think this area is a nice addition to the park, however we realized we prefer Flame Tree’s ribs, and we’re not quite sure that larger families will find it easy to order from separate restaurants. We’ll have our full review posted in the next couple of weeks.
We finished lunch just in time to head over to Rafiki’s Planet Watch, another part of Animal Kingdom we think is too overlooked by most guests. I know the train ride to get over there might sound like a hassle, but it really isn’t and it offers some views of backstage areas of the park. While at Rafiki’s Planet Watch, we met Rafiki of course, and also spent time petting the goats and learning about the backstage veterinary work that Disney cast members do with the animals.
We did some more animal sightseeing after Rafiki’s Planet Watch by walking through the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail when we arrived back in Africa. The highlight of this trail is the gorilla exhibit, which we usually do after we exit Kilimanjaro Safaris each time we ride anyway. After spending some time in the shops in Africa, we made our way over to the Festival of the Lion King show.
The two of us are always debating on which show in Animal Kingdom is better– Festival of the Lion King, or Finding Nemo the Musical. Chaz always votes Lion King, and I always vote Nemo, so we’re pretty split but we’re always excited to see either one. We actually ended up seeing the Finding Nemo almost immediately after the Lion King ended, completing the roundabout sort of walk we’d made around the entire park at that point. By the time that show was over, we had an odd amount of time until our dinner reservation at Boma, so we slowly walked out of the park and stopped at a bunch of shops along the way.
No pictures from Boma unfortunately, as my phone had died by this point– don’t worry future trip reports will have pictures from an actual camera/upgraded cell phone so we won’t have this issue. From my experience, a lot of the guests I talk to either really love Boma, or really dislike Boma. I’m not quite sure why anyone could strongly dislike it, as it’s one of our favorite restaurants, however given that a few of my own family members weren’t crazy about it when they went I can’t say I’m too surprised.
I love that Boma is a buffet that offers a lot of unique food that you won’t really be able to find at other places. In my opinion, the African theme of the food at Boma strikes a nice balance between the usual American fare and more adventurous foods unique to a continent that most Disney guests will probably never travel to themselves. The carving station at Boma is adorned with numerous sauces and mustards, and I think the salad bar is one of the best of any Disney buffet– and for dessert I’d find it hard to believe that anyone honestly doesn’t enjoy Zebra Domes.
Like the rest of Animal Kingdom Lodge, I also love the design of the restaurant. I think it’s a great idea to have cultural representatives around the restaurant to teach guests about the countries they come from, and the overall design of the restaurant has so much to offer in terms of learning about Africa that the resort even offers tours of the seating area. I can only assume that the guests who have some sort of negative feelings towards Boma must just be picky eaters, because I don’t think the food is all that adventurous and I can’t think of anything else horribly wrong with it.
After dinner, we spent some time walking around Animal Kingdom Lodge, and we ultimately ended the night back at the same park. The park was open until 8:00 PM, which at the time was late for Animal Kingdom, so we took the opportunity to ride Expedition Everest and Primeval Whirl at night. Also in case you were wondering, the front row of Expedition Everest is absolutely freezing during the drop in January.
We also played some of the games in Dinoland, which I would have never done before working there during the college program, and now I’ve been doing them almost once per trip. It’s weird how some things change– aka I want to show off my skills to whoever I’m with who has never worked in Dinoland. 🙂
Once we closed out Animal Kingdom, we headed back to the resort to decided what we were going to do for the rest of the night. Tony was off work by this point, so we ended up meeting him at the Magic Kingdom and spending the rest of the night there.
Tony isn’t really into rides, which was totally fine as there are plenty of other things to do in the park. We did some of the tamer rides like Buzz Lightyear and the Peoplemover, and got some ice cream. But perhaps the most hilarious moment of the night came when Tony got in line for Space Mountain with us but still refused to ride. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity for a fun, and unfortunately Tony-less photo op: