Jim and his mom decided to take a quick trip to Walt Disney World in April that included a stay at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Here’s how it went…
These are notes from this episode. There’s much more info included in the audio so be sure to listen to the episode for a better explanation.
Jim and his mom traveled April 10-14, 2021, and stayed in an Animal Kingdom Lodge Value Studio. Their dates and accommodations were determined by what was available through DVC point rental.
They brought several mask options so they’d be able to choose what was most comfortable for them, and they opted for Park Hopper tickets to try to fit in as much as they could in their short trip.
Arrival Day (April 10)
They took an early morning flight from Newark to Orlando. Though they planned to take Magical Express to their resort, they ended up taking Lyft to make a stop between airport and resort instead.
They had a couple of deliveries at the hotel – 1 from Garden Grocer for basic grocery items and 1 from Journey Across the Board for a beautiful charcuterie board.
Though not much was open for dining at their resort (here’s what’s open right now), they were able to eat at a pool bar for lunch and dinner at Sanaa, including the popular bread service available there.
They had wanted to also include a trip to Disney Springs on this day, but after waiting 45 minutes for a bus, they gave up and headed back to their room.
Animal Kingdom and Epcot Day (April 11)
They were on the bus at 6:57 a.m. to start their day bright and early. Though Animal Kingdom was officially scheduled to open at 8, they were able to enter Animal Kingdom at 7:15 and board Flight of Passage and Navi River Journey immediately.
Then it was off to Kilimanjaro Safaris (Jim recommends the back row for selfies free of plastic separators), Tree of Life, Dinosaur, and Expedition Everest with very few waits.
They enjoyed watching the character cruises from the Rivers of Light outdoor seating area and then headed to the Feathered Friends in Flight bird show which they found educational and fun. A “cute way to get some animal time in” as Jim put it given that terrible weather was on its way.
They decided to do a mobile order for Satuli Canteen, with a stop to see It’s Tough to Be a Bug on the way.
While having lunch in Satuli Canteen, the intense downpour began. They decided to leave Animal Kingdom and got soaked along the way. The rain continued for hours.
As the rain began to clear, they decided to hop on a bus to an empty Epcot that evening that was likely cleared due to the afternoon rains.
Their time at Epcot included time in The Seas, as well as riding Soarin’, Living with the Land, Spaceship Earth, and Figment (all with no waits).
They then headed to the World Showcase for a garden margarita in Mexico, wontons and beer at Lotus House, a ride on Frozen Ever After (20 minute wait), Gran Fiesta Tour (5-10 minute wait), and then it was time to check in to San Angel Inn.
They enjoyed La Cava Avocado and The Wild One margaritas at San Angel Inn, and they decided to quickly walk to finish out the World Showcase before leaving the park. Along the way, they picked up a beer in the American pavilion, watched the Far and Wide show in Canada, and took some PhotoPass pics in front of Spaceship Earth before heading to catch a well-timed bus back to their resort.
Hollywood Studios Day (April 12)
Starting the day with the stress of getting a Rise of the Resistance boarding group (spoiler alert: they got it!), they headed to Hollywood Studios early with lots of plans in store.
Jim got in line for Tower of Terror at 8:40 a.m. (official park opening time was 9:00) and waited 23 minutes to ride.
Then they both hopped on Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (32 minute wait), made a Tower of Terror PhotoPass stop, and walked on to Muppets around 10:00.
At 10:40 a.m. they boarded Toy Story Mania (25-30 minute wait), and then it was time for lunch. They mobile ordered at Backlot Express and enjoyed their food and outdoor seating there.
They got in line around noon for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway (35 minute wait) and their Rise of the Resistance boarding group 63 was called right around the time they wrapped up riding.
At 12:50 p.m. they got in line for Rise and waited around 30 minutes (boarding groups are definitely not a FastPass), a ride that ended up being a highlight of the trip for Jim’s mom.
Continuing the Star Wars trend, they checked in for their 2:30 Oga’s Cantina reservation. Many visitors here end up at standing tables, but they were able to request a seated spot.
They ordered 2 drinks each (the maximum allowed in the 45 minutes you are there). The Fuzzy Tauntaun was not a hit, but the Jedi Mind Trick, Bespin Fizz, and Jet Juice were.
They killed some time in Galaxy’s Edge until their 3:40 Droid Depot reservation where they ended up waiting 30 minutes after checking in (they weren’t allowed to check in early).
They built an R-series droid and mailed it from the shop attached to Droid Depot. Shipping was $13 and was estimated to take 2-3 weeks, but arrived to Jim’s brother in less than a week.
Dinner was also in Galaxy’s Edge as they mobile ordered their meal at Docking Bay 7 where they enjoyed their Ronto Wraps (a great place to get them after Ronto Roasters closes) and Endorian Fried Chicken Tip Yip, but didn’t like their Takodana Quencher cocktail as much (too sweet for them).
At 5:10 p.m., they got in line for Smuggler’s Run (20 minute wait) where they were both pilots.
After a Star Wars-packed afternoon, it was back to Toy Story Land for Slinky Dog Dash (at 5:45, it was a 30 minute wait) and then off for a re-ride Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway (15 minute wait at 6:38 p.m.) before leaving the park for the day and ending with some pool time.
Magic Kingdom Day (April 13)
It was another early day as they got to Magic Kingdom at 7:53 a.m. and began with rides on Pirates of the Caribbean (walk on), Jungle Cruise (walk on), Splash Mountain (10 minute wait), and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (walk on at 9:05 a.m.).
Around 9:30 a.m., they hopped on Haunted Mansion and then had a 20-minute wait for Peter Pan’s Flight.
Their streak of short waits came to an end when they headed to Main Street Bakery (Starbucks) and waited 30 minutes just to place their order. They took their order to the shaded seats near Casey’s Corner, a spot that is convenient to the First Aid Station which has a water cooler that made it easy to refill their water bottles.
Before heading to lunch, they made a stop to the Enchanted Tiki Room. On the way out of the show, Jim was able to check in for their lunch at Tony’s Town Square.
With weather and temps being ideal, they requested an outdoor table and were able to get one. From their table they were able to see Magic Kingdom cavalcades come by while they ate.
They enjoyed their chicken parmigiana and spaghetti with meatballs (“slightly elevated Olive Garden”) and were overall very happy with their experience, especially with their view.
After lunch they headed to ride Prince Charming Regal Carrousel which had a surprising 20-minute wait (likely due to the limited number of people being allowed to board at once).
Then it was off for more Fantasyland fun – a ride on Under The Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid (20 minute wait at 1:20 p.m.) and a stop at the Pete’s Sideshow Relaxation Station.
While there, Jim mobile ordered a Dole Whip at Aloha Isle for a 2:40 pickup time. He suggests looking for places to sit as you head to pick up your order because the area is busy and the soft-serve ice cream melts quickly.
They chose a shady spot to eat their pineapple Dole Whips and then it was back to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad for another ride around 3:00 (less than 10 minute wait).
They decided to hop on the Liberty Square Riverboat next which they were able to board right away. Jim noted that the boat was often in the sun and has very few seats, so that’s something to know before boarding.
After another Casey’s Corner/First Aid Station water break (Jim mentioned that frequent water breaks were a surprise), Space Mountain was next up on the list at 4:25 p.m. where they waited 25 minutes.
Before heading out, they fit in a final ride on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (25 minute wait at 5:10 p.m.) – a ride that Jim’s mom thought was cute but short.
They left the park and hopped on a boat to The Grand Floridian for a drink at The Enchanted Rose. Jim’s mom ordered a chocolate martini (off the menu) and Jim got a Garden Daisy, both of which they found delicious. However, they found the crowds on this day a bit stuffy.
They took a boat from The Grand Floridian to The Polynesian (the resort boat goes from Magic Kingdom to The Grand Floridian to The Polynesian) where they went to Tambu Lounge. They were surprised to see there were only 4 tables, but a couple was nice enough to give up their table for Jim and his mom to enjoy the Lapu Lapu drinks and the 2 flatbreads on the menu (all delicious).
They ran into some issues calling a Lyft due to the construction at The Polynesian, so they opted to take a boat back to Magic Kingdom (and caught the Electrical Water Pageant on the way) and a bus back to their resort.
Departure Day (April 14)
Before leaving, they had breakfast at Sanaa (which is a Quick Service for breakfast) and a friend drove them to the airport which had extremely long security lines when they arrived.
Some key takeaways
- Budget water breaks into your schedule
- Check resort bus times from My Disney Experience
- Off-peak dining at Tony’s Town Square will increase your chances of getting an outdoor table
- Wait times might not be what you expect (some longer, some shorter)
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Sunday 25th of April 2021
How did Jim find exact wait times for buses he didn’t ride? He was spot on even though the app doesn’t provide bus times...We’re staying at Carribean + Riviera next week and would love to know!
Sunday 25th of April 2021
Hi, Mike - The app does have bus times for resort buses. When you're at WDW, go to the resort screen in the app and you'll see bus times there.