Tuesday, August 20, 2013
The Pleasures of Touring Disney's Animal Kingdom in the Rain
The antagonist of this story is a cast member we call "Buzzkill Bob." Who is he? Well, we were staying at the Boardwalk the day the torrential downpours from the outskirts of Hurricane Isaac hit. That day we had ADRs for Yak & Yeti. So we were waiting for our bus in rain when good ol' Buzzkill came down clipboard in hand. He proceeded to tell us that the Animal Kingdom was a bad idea in that weather. Go to Epcot or Magic Kingdom, he said, everything was inside and would be open, no problems. The Animal Kingdom is all outside. Well, we really wanted to go to the Yak & Yeti. So we decided to head to Animal Kingdom anyway. Even if Everest and the safari were closed, we could still hit Dinoland and the animals trails and then enjoy an early lunch.
Buzzkill was right about one thing: most of the Animal Kingdom is outdoors and that does effect how you should handle the rains. But after that, he had it all wrong. I am here to help you truly enjoy a day in the rain. Because, as long as you don't mind getting wet, you will be alone (Buzzkill and his brethren must have persuaded quite a few patrons). That means you can do what you want, when you want. I am also here to tell you everything stays open. Unless there is bad lightning, Everest, Kali and Kilimanjaro Safari will be open.
I have said this on the podcast: Kilimanjaro Safari is great in the rain. The animals are almost certainly going to be more active. This is especially true of the usually sleepy lions and cheetah. Remember, you are generally covered but in the heavy rain, you will get wet, but by this point I am sure you already are anyway. This same thing holds true for the walking paths. In the rain, animals like the tigers will likely be out and about. Another great thing about these walking trails are the cast members that man the paths to engage guests about the animals in front of them. You will be the only ones they have to talk to so use that to your advantage and talk to them. You will learn things not only about the animals themselves but the exhibits too.
But what about thrill rides? Kali is great in the rain. I mean you are already wet, so what's a little, or a lot, more water. Expedition Everest and to a lesser extent Primeval Whirl do offer a different problem though. Your face going at high speeds and hitting rain drops can sting. It may be hard to time your coaster ride to a lull in the rain, but if you can ride it then do it.
Dining presents a different problem. If you are wet, the restaurants can be downright cold. The worst is the Rainforest Cafe. The best for this is the Tusker House. So if you want to sit down for a spell, I recommend getting in there. For counter service places, a few are mostly outdoors. Flame Tree BBQ, the Yak & Yeti CS and Tamu Tamu have no indoor seating. Although the seating areas are covered, you will need to walk through uncovered areas to get to it. Pizzafari and Restaurantosaurus are all indoors plus they are fun places to sit for awhile and enjoy. And Restaurantosaurus has free refills. For kiosks, it might be hard to find a dry covered area to sit and eat.
There are other good places to get out of the rain for awhile. Of course, there are the two big shows Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo the Musical are indoors, and the movie It's Tough to be a Bug. But there are also the shops. For good, time consuming browsing, I like Chester and Hester's Dinosaur Treasures and Island Mercantile. Another good place to hang out is Rafiki's Planet Watch but unfortunately its not that easy to get to. The train ride is followed by a long walk outdoors. And well, unless you want to smell like wet goat, you might want to skip the Affection Section.
Character meet and greets can present its own unique challenges, as well. The gazebos that have Baloo, Louie, Pocohontas and others at the soon-to-extinct Camp Minnie Mickey are covered, but the queues are not. You can meet Rafiki at the Conservation Station and now Mickey and Minnie are at the Adventurers' Outpost, all indoors. Another good one is meeting Dug & Russell from Up near the entrance to It's Tough to be a Bug. Its covered and, well, I love those characters.
by Brooke (twitter: @Brookie1248) and Safari Mike (twitter: @JamboEveryone)