Morning, it’s for the birds! There’s no better place to find a bird than at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom. In the second part of our half-day series, we’re sharing our half-day plan for the Animal Kingdom. We’ve enjoyed our quiet morning and noon is upon us. We’re grabbing our backpacks to head out for a wild time at the Animal Kingdom!
New Park Ticket
Walt Disney World announced a new ticket on August 15, 2019. The new Half-Day Magic Ticket where guests can enter any of the four parks starting at noon. It’s the perfect time if you’re looking for quiet mornings and spending late nights in the parks. We dive into the details of the new offering in our Epcot Half-Day Planarticle.
Passholder Insights: To make your FastPass selections you’ll want to purchase the ticket in advance, and link it to your My Disney Experience account.
To The Back!
Animals must be discovered! We’re starting our half-day plan for the Animal Kingdom adventuring to the back of the park for a ride on Kilimanjaro Safari. The earlier in the day you can experience the safari the better. Similar to us, when the hot Florida sun starts beating down late in the afternoon the animals seek shade. There’s no a/c on the savanna!
Similar to Spaceship Earth at Epcot, the Kilimanjaro Safari is the flagship attraction at the Animal Kingdom. In the DVC Duo house it’s must ride every time. If you’re looking for an alternative start to your day, stay to the right and head into Dinoland USA where you can enjoy Serena’s favorite ride, Dinosaur!
Passholder Insights: When exiting Kilimanjaro Safari you can head left back into the park or right on the Gorilla Exploration trail. The trail is a great way to get an up-close look at the gorillas. We usually ask a cast member if they out before making the trek.
Can’t Wait To Be King
It’s the year of the lion! Exiting the Kilimanjaro Safari our next stop would be Festival of the Lion King. At the top of every hour, you can catch the best show at Walt Disney World, at least according to us. What makes the Festival of the Lion King stand apart from rest has to be the storyline. Using the songs we all know and love, Disney Imagineering tells a new tale centered around beautiful acrobatics and jaw-dropping stunts.
Passholder Insights: For a more artist Lion King experience check out the new animationexperience at the Conservation Station.
Worked Up An Appetite
Late lunch. One of our go to strategies is a late lunch. On this half-day plan for the Animal Kingdom, we’re sitting down at Satu’li Canteen in Pandora the World of Avatar. By far our favorite quick-serve on Disney property it is the perfect place to enjoy a meal either before or after taking in one of the Avatar attractions. We love splitting a build your own bowl, as it’s the perfect amount of food and doesn’t leave you feeling lethargic for the remainder of the afternoon.
For a sitdown option, we would definitely recommend checking out Yak & Yeti. For tuna fans, the ahi tuna nachos are a must!
Passholder Insights: When exiting the Festival of the Lion King, there is a path to the right that will bring you to Pandora.
Who’s ready to set sail? Let’s head down that Navi River to find the infamous Shaman. Depending on which Animal Kingdom FastPass strategy deploy will depend on the order you experience the Avatar attractions. On this half plan for the Animal Kingdom we’re assuming we snagged a FastPass for the Navi River Journey.
To experience both Avatar attraction on a half-day, we would recommend experiencing the attraction you didn’t get a FastPass for at the end of the day. One of the best ways to experience Flight of Passage without a FastPass is to step in line at the waning moments of the day. More often than note your wait time will be about one third the usual wait time.
Passholder Insights: As an alternative to wrapping up your day with Flight of Passage, we recommend checking out the new Rivers of Light nighttime spectacular featuring the Lion King.
Wrapping Up The Day
Prior to stepping in line for Flight of Passage we still have time to enjoy two of our favorite things at the Animal Kingdom. As the sun is setting is the perfect time to step in line for Expedition Everest. All roller coasters are better at night, and this definitely holds true for this attraction. A great way to experience the ride multiple times is through the single rider line. With wait times usually ranging from 10 to 20 minutes, Expedition Everest single rider may be the best on property.
No day is complete without dinner. One of the hidden gems of Animal Kingdom is Nomad Lounge. Our half-day plan for the Animal Kingdom includes a stop in for dinner before heading off for the last Flight of Passage ride.
Passholder Insights: Nomad Lounge is located just outside Pandora World of Avatar. It’s about a 5-minute walk to the entrance of Flight of Passage.
A lot can Be accomplished in a half-day at the Animal Kingdom. It comes down to what type of experience you’re looking for. What we would recommend for a half-day plan for the Animal Kingdom is to build around your Avatar attraction FastPass selection. Once you have this FastPass selected everything else falls into place. One last ride on Flight of Passage? Definitely!
Allakhazam! Just like that, you’re now one of the sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom! Walt Disney World theme parks are filled with wonderful shows, amazing attractions, and tons of great treats. Did someone say Dole Whip?! One of the great things that make Disney parks stand apart is the not so obvious experiences, like Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure. Looks like Merlin needs our help, off to the Magic Kingdom!
What Is It?
Don’t blink or you may miss it! Hidden around the Magic Kingdom is an interactive scavenger hunt called Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom. Guests can join Merlin (from Sword and the Stone) on a quest to rid Mickey’s home of the evil Hades. Teaming Up with his buddies for other events you may recognize like Villains After Hours, Hades along with Cruella, Scar, Jafar, Maleficent, Ursula, Yzma, Ratcliffe, and Dr. Facilier have plans to make the Magic Kingdom their new summer getaway.
Your mission, if you choose to accept it. Which we always choose to do, right, Tom? Is to help Merlin disrupt the Villains plans to save the day. Who’s ready to become a Sorcerer of the Magic Kingdom? We thought you would say yes.
Passholder Insights: Similar to the Wilderness Explorers at the Animal Kingdom, Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom is a great way to spend a little downtime between your FastPass attractions.
How Does It Work?
We’re glad you asked! To kick-off your quest you’ll want to head to the firehouse on Main Street USA. When facing the castle it will be your left side. Arriving at the firehouse you’ll sign in to receive your Sorcerer key card, a quest map from Merlin and spell cards because remember you’re now officially on of the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, which means you need spells!
Each day you can receive one map and one pack of spell cards. Upon check-in, you’ll view an instructional video if it’s the first time playing the game. Now that we have our map, let’s track down the villainous villains!
Passholder Insights: The spell cards are great souvenirs, as well as reusable in future games. Each pack includes 5 spell cards.
Let’s Get to Work!
This kingdom needs saving! Alright, alright, we’re ready to go. Each time you play Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom anticipate anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes of time to complete the mission. At the firehouse, you’ll receive your first clue and off you go. Spread around the entire park are interactive screens with markers on the ground, upon arriving at the screen you’ll hold your Sorcerer Key Card to activate the screen. When the screen actives listen closely as the villain will give you hints on what cards to play in order to defeat them. Play the right spell card or cards to overtake the villain and receive your next clue. Every gameplay has about 4 or 5 stops, all of which are located within the same land.
Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom has three levels of the game, easy, medium and hard. Depending on the overall age of your group will help determine the level that’s best for you. Easy is perfect for younger members of the group, as you can play any of the spell cards to defeat the Villain. Whereas hard, usually means using a combination of the cards played in the correct order to accomplish the mission.
Passholder Insights: You may need to move your card around for the interactive screen to pick it up, as the area to the recognized the card is a limited but works very well.
The Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom is a great way to take a break from the attractions. What we love about the interactive scavenger hunt is the replayability. With the game always changing and definitely levels of difficulty it’s fun for kids of all ages. We’ve got to go, Merlin is calling for our help!
Bye-bye alarm clock! With Walt Disney World announcing the brand Mid-Day Magic Ticket for the fall, it got us thinking. It happens once and awhile. What would the DVC Duo do with a half-day in each of the parks? Let’s kick it off in style with our half-day plan for Epcot. We’ve gotten our beauty sleep, slathered on our sunscreen, had our coffee, we’re ready to deploy our half-day plan for Epcot!
What Is The Mid-Day Magic Ticket?
Beginning on August 15, 2019, and running through December 15, 2019, Walt Disney World is offering a new park ticket where guests can enter the parks starting at noon. Available in two, three, or four park options, guests with the ticket can go to any of the four parks for a lower rate than a full day ticket. If you’re looking to park hop, you can add on the park hopper as well. For full details of the pricing please check here.
Passholder Insights: With the ticket, you’re able to use all the FastPass booking options, as long as the Fastpass selected return time is after 12 pm.
A Classic Beginning
Is a trip to Epcot complete without riding Spaceship Earth? We think not! Kicking off our half-day plan for Epcot is a ride through the history of communication. By mid-day, the lines for the classic ride have lessened, as the majority of the guests have made their way deeper into the park. For us, it puts us in the Epcot mood, you know that mood, the one where you just cannot stop smiling. Plus, we have to thank the Phoenicians!
An alternative is to flip Spaceship Earth to the end of the day. By night’s end, the ride is usually a walk on. A great time to ride is around 8 pm, as it gives you time to head back to World Showcase or another big attraction prior to park closing.
Passholder Insights: Outside the entrance to Epcot is a Joffrey’s coffee stand, it’s a great place to grab a cup before heading into the park as the line is usually pretty short.
Left or Right
Or should we say, Test Track or Soarin’? On our half-day plan for Epcot, we’re veering left to for the single rider line for the fastest ride at Epcot, Test Track. We would prefer to use our Epcot tier-one Fastpass on either Frozen Ever After or Soarin’, over Test Track. With the single rider line, we’re usually in and out in 30 minutes or less, as long as it’s not a rainy day at Epcot.
If you’re looking for the less intense option, Soarin’ is where it’s at. The Land Pavilion is perfect for a warmer afternoon, as you can enjoy both Soarin’ and Living with the Land. While on this side of the park, The Seas with Nemo is a great attraction for all fans of the famous clownfish. Once inside definitely checked out the Australia sea turtle, in Turtle Talk with Crush.
Passholder Insights: If you’re looking for more dark rides on your half-day at Epcot, check out the Imagination pavilion.
Mealtime! When arriving later in the day, our half-day plan for Epcot means a late lunch. With the majority of guests looking to enjoy lunch at the usual hour, noon, we’re switching it up with a later lunch around 2 to 2:30 pm. When in Epcot, there’s no better place to eat than around the World Showcase. With all the different quick-service locations, you really can’t go wrong. For us, the big deciding factor is always what we’re in the mood for. A couple of our go-to favorites have to be La Cantina de San Angel or the Tangierine Cafe.
Another great option is a sit-down lunch. Similar to the quick-service options, it’s all about what sounds good. We would definitely recommend making an advanced dining reservation through the My Disney Experience App, as many locations fill up quickly.
Now that we’ve successfully avoided that hangry moment, back to our half-day plan for Epcot. After lunch, you’d find us wondering the World Showcase exploring the different shops and countries. For us, nothing is better than watching the different street performers and music acts within each of the countries. Through in an adult time out, and it’s the perfect little afternoon for the DVC Duo!
In our plan, we’re assuming we deploy our Epcot FastPass Strategy that includes a ride Frozen Ever After. We would follow that up with one of our favorites rides, The Three Caballeros in the Mexico Pavilion.
Passholder Insights: We recommend checking the My Disney Experience App for the performance times for the street performers, as they don’t all perform all day.
Enjoying The Night
Darkness is upon us! Wrapping up our half-day plan for Epcot includes two things, first is enjoying Illuminations or Epcot Forever (starting October 1, 2019). There’s no better way to wrap up a day at Disney than with a nighttime spectacular. Second is making our own dinner. No, we’re not busting out the cookware, we’re talking about sampling the different food booths is the World Showcase. Whether it’s the Food and Wine Festival or Festival of the Holidays, you can’t go wrong with food choices.
If nighttime spectaculars are not your thing, the end of the night is a great time to sneak one last ride. Whether it’s building a snowman with Olaf or Soarin’ over the World, the choice is yours.
Passholder Insights: As long as you’re in line for an attraction one minute before park closing you will be able to enjoy the ride.
Epcot is a fantastic half-day park. With any half-day park plan, it comes down to planning. We know when we’re heading in for a half that we’re not going to see it all. What we like to do is pick one or two rides that are our must do’s, along with a dining location then let the rest fall into place. It’s been a great day, let’s find our spot for Illuminations!
It’s a foodie’s paradise! In the DVC Duo house, the kick-off of Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival is our favorite time of year. Is there really anything better than fall in the Disney World parks? Well, maybe Christmas, but fall is definitely a close second for us. Whether it’s throwing on a costume to party with Mickey or enjoying great food and beverage around Epcot’s World Showcase, fall is a fantastic time of year. We better bring our appetites it’s time feast our way around the world at this years Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival.
When Is The Festival?
The fall, or at least fall at Walt Disney World. When the kids start packing up their books and pencils to head back to school is when Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival begins. August 29, 2019, marks the start of this year’s festival which runs through November 23, 2019. Festivities are spread throughout Epcot with the majority of the booths located around the World Showcase. Keep an eye out for the Disney PhotoPass photographers, as they’ve been known to have a special magic shot for the event.
The name says it all, Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival. Designed around small bites the festival is a fantastic way to try different food and beverage options. With over 30 food booths to sip, taste, and enjoy, the festival offers up flavors from all over with options for any palette. Over the years a couple of the tried and true DVC Duo favorites are Mexico, Hawai’i, Morocco, and Japan. Brand new this year is the Appleseed Orchard booth that celebrates autumn. For a full list of the booth options check out the following link.
For each of the booths, the Disney culinary wizards are crafting unique and fan favorites dishes. The festival is a great way to get a taste of a couple of Disney’s famous dishes like the cheddar cheese soup from Le Cellier in Canada or the bratwurst in Germany.
Passholder Insights: A great way to enjoy the festival while being cost-conscious is to purchase a Disney Gift Card and load money to it.
You have to wash all that great food down! This is Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival, so wine is a big part of the event. But it’s so much more. All the booths offer a local variation of either wine, beer, cider, or mixed drink, or any combination of them. One of our go-to moves is to go with the flights when offered. We’ve found it’s a great way to try all the different options, especially when we’re torn. Making decisions on vacation is never easy!
Passholder Insights: Friday nights and weekends tend to be the busiest times at the festival. We like to enjoy everything midweek when possible.
We’re Here To…
Learn! Well, to enjoy great food and drink while learning. Sounds like our type of classroom. Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival is a celebration food and beverage and it’s filled with seminars. From seminars where you sit back and enjoy, to ones where you slap on the gloves to get hands-on, and even the ability to meet a famous chef. The list of offerings falls into the following categories:
Food & Beverage Pairings
Mix It, Make It, Celebrate It – Mixology to Cake Decorating
Sunday Brunch with the Chef
Within each of the categories are tons of options to choose from. Each one comes at an additional cost to cover the food and/or beverage you’ll enjoy as part of the seminar. Please note the Sunday Brunch is a full meal with the Chef preparing it in front of you.
Passholder Insights: On Monday Nights during the festival, ESPN puts on a tailgate prior to the game. It’s a good value at $19 per person and includes 3 food samples and beverages.
Can you call it a good meal if music not involved? Awkward silence. We agree music is a must, and Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festivals does as well. Similar to the Garden Rocks series during the Flower and Garden festivals, Eat to the Beat is a nightly concert series during the event. Seating is first come first served if you’re not doing the dining package. The standby line for the American Gardens Theater is directly across from the future location of the Regal Eagle Smokehouse.
Every day of the festival you’ll find musical 30 minute performance at 5:30 pm, 6:45 pm, and 8 pm (Sunday through Thursday) and 6:30 pm, 7:45 pm, and 9:00 pm (Friday and Saturday), from an impressive list of famous musicians. The full list of performers can be found here. Days and times of performers can change from time to time, we recommend checking the My Disney Experience App when heading to the park.
Passholder Insights: The more popular artist do fill up quickly and if you want to reserve a seat we recommend going with the Eat to the Beat Dining Package.
Eat To The Beat – Dining Package
There can only be one way to reserve a seat for specific Eat to the Beat and that’s with a dining package. All of the performances on all the dates offer a dining package that includes a three-course meal or full buffet, a non- alcoholic beverage, along with your reserved seat for one of the performances.
The dining package is offered at 14 different sitdown locations around Epcot. You’ll have the option to choose from breakfast, lunch, or dinner. For reservations, you’ll want to contact Walt Disney World Dining.
Passholder Insights: Breakfast at Garden Grill is a great option as the price is very similar to a regular meal while adding in the Eat to Beat Concert Series. Mickey and music, you can’t go wrong!
Ultimate Foodie Experience
Party for the Senses at Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival is a foodies dream. On 5 select Saturday nights during the festival, 20 different Disney and famous chefs showcase their culinary prowess. From the moment you step inside your surround with aromas and sounds, as chefs create food that pairs oh so perfectly with the wine, all while opening up your palate to new flavors and textures.
The fun doesn’t end with the food and drink. During the 3-hour event, the electric artists’ knowns as Femmes of Rock perform unique arrangement that will have you marveling in their skill. Tickets for the event range from $229 to $359 per person plus tax and gratuity depending on which level of sitting works best for you, either the Wine View Lounge or Reserved Seating.
Passholder Insights: The Wine View Lounge tickets include an extra 30 minutes at the event, along with a welcome briefing from one of the chefs followed by a picture. And so much more.
Kids Like Food Too
It’s fun for the whole family! One of our favorite aspects of the Epcot festivals are scavenger hunts, and Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival has the best with its star Remy. Spread throughout Epcot’s World Showcase of sculptures of Remy, just waiting for you to find him. Find all of them and you’ll get a surprise from the chef. You can pick up your maps at Pin Central, Port of Entry and World Traveler at International Gateway.
After searching long and hard for Remy, it’s time for a sweet treat! Over in the Land Pavilion near Sunshine Seasons, Kids can partake in creating their very own candy sushi. Every day at 3:30 pm and 5:30 pm the little ones (and little ones at heart) can learn how to roll some tasty treats. It’s a great way to beat the afternoon shower during the festival. Cost is $10 per person.
Passholder Insights: Soon Remy will have his very own attraction in the France pavilion as part of the overall update for Epcot.
Wait, I thought the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival was only at Epcot? Technical it is. However, on the weekend of October 31 to November 3, runDisney takes over with the Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend. What makes the event so great is the post-race party. As part of the race runners and guest of runners (additional cost) can enjoy an after-hours celebration in Epcot and have an opportunity to enjoy all the food and beverage booths. Now that’s worth running for!
Epcot’s International Food and Wine Festival is a fantastic event for any that enjoys trying new food and beverages. The hardest part to figure out is which tasty treat to try first!
Rain, rain, go away…come again on another park day! On a rainy day at the Animal Kingdom, what would the DVC Duo do? We’re glad you ask! When the liquid sunshine starts dropping one of the more challenging parks to explore is Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom. You know us though we’re not going to let a little weather slow us down. Remember the Wilderness must be explored! Umbrellas up? Animal Kingdom here we come!
Let’s Find that…
Good time! A rainy day at the Animal Kingdom is a wonderful opportunity to bring the fun to the drier areas of the park. Strap in we’re taking our exploration to far off land know as Dinoland USA. Dinoland is a wonderful area to explore when that water starts falling from the skies. The majority of the attractions and experiences are not exposed to the conditions and close together.
Pairing up one of our favorite shows the Finding Nemo Musical and following it up with a ride on Dinosaur is a great way to wait out those pop-up showers. Keep an eye on the My Disney Experience for showtimes for Finding Nemo the musical, as the show runs about 35 minutes in length.
Passholder Insights: When exiting the Dinosaur following the path to the right to find one a great store for finding Ducktales t-shirts.
Break In The Clouds
It can’t rain forever, can it? Rarely in Florida will you find a day where it rains from sun up to sundown. Those days are called hurricane days. Most of the time there’s a break in the clouds giving you the perfect opportunity to check out Kilimanjaro Safari. Just after the rain stops is the optimal time to head out on the savanna to see the animals, even the animals are not excited for a rainy day at the Animal Kingdom.
For some reason unknown to us, we’re sure National Geographic knows for sure, the animals tend to be more active right after a rainstorm. We like to think they’re celebrating Simba’s 20th anniversary. Either way, if you know a storm is going break head over to attraction a few minutes early, as the queue is undercover and look to board your vehicle as the rain subsides.
Passholder Insights: You’ll want to sit on the left-hand side of the vehicle if you’re looking to be the closest to the lions.
It’s A Whole New World
No, we’re not talking about a character meet ‘n greet with Aladdin. We’re referring to the newest area of the Animal Kingdom, Pandora World of Avatar. If the weather looks like it’s going to be rainy ray at the Animal Kingdom we like to plan for a later lunch in Pandora. Besides being one of the best quick-serve locations in all of Walt Disney World, Satu’li Canteen is close to Navi River Journey. Assuming you either rope dropped Flight of Passage or snagged a FastPass for it, an afternoon shower is a great time to experience Navi River Journey. We like to head over either before or after lunch depending on the wait times.
By far on the most impressive animatronics at Disney World is located in the Navi River Journey. No matter how many times we’ve seen it, our jaws always drop. Think the Genie from Aladdin jaw-dropping.
Passholder Insights: A great way to experience Flight Passage
either for the first time and squeezing in another ride is at the end of the
night. Just before park-closing step in line and you’ll wait time be far less
We can plan for a lot at Disney World, but the weather is not part of it. We never let a rainy day at the Animal Kingdom slow us down it usually just means an adjustment to the plans. The last thing for us to decide is whether to see the Finding Nemo musical first or ride Dinosaur. It’s a no brainer, we’re riding Serena’s favorite!