Disney’s Animal Kingdom Is Reopening. What Does This Mean to You?
In a couple of weeks, Walt Disney World will restart park operations after four excruciating months.
I know that you can’t wait to rush back to the parks and experience everything.
However, we should all understand that the pandemic will alter some Disney experiences in the short term.
Yes, Disney’s Animal Kingdom is reopening on July 11th…but what does this mean to you?
Attractions You Should Do Immediately
The structure of Animal Kingdom should reassure guests about its return.
Epidemiologists suggest that indoor spaces provide the most danger for the spread of Coronavirus.
As a primarily outdoor theme park, Animal Kingdom includes fewer of these areas. In fact, in the Central Florida area, it’s probably the safest theme park.
So, if you have your choice of bookings when you attempt to schedule park reservations, Animal Kingdom should be a priority.
Once you reach the park, you should embrace the attractions that are safe and representative of the nature-friendly theme here.
In other words, you should run, not walk, to Kilimanjaro Safaris. The oversized jeeps will employ social distancing, protecting your health.
Meanwhile, curious animals will happily greet guests again. In fact, the park’s residents have probably wondered what happened to all the human visitors.
The Discovery Island Trails are also perfect. You can watch all the animals while maintaining your distance from other park guests.
Attractions like these exemplify the conservation policies at Animal Kingdom and also provide excellent entertainment.
Each visit to these attractions will play out differently, which is reason enough to prioritize them.
Attractions You Can’t Do Yet
Animal Kingdom’s in a better position than other Orlando theme parks. Most of its attractions remain safe during the pandemic.
Of course, Rivers of Light: We Are One won’t operate. Disney has stopped all nighttime performances for the moment.
Similarly, some live shows won’t return. Before the parks closed, Disney laid off some longtime performers.
I don’t mean that the company furloughed these employees. Some people legitimately don’t work for Disney anymore.
Even if that hadn’t happened, park officials would still show reluctance to host live performances.
These events tend to clog walking lanes, which is problematic in an era of social distancing.
I don’t have a list yet of which shows won’t reopen with the parks.
However, the general premise applies to performances like the Tam Tam Drummers of Harambe and Bollywood Beats.
If these shows are available, that’s great! Still, I’d suggest that you lower your expectations just in case.
Something else that will change is The Boneyard. Park officials have already stated that playgrounds and interactive elements are off-limits right now.
These high-touch areas provide higher odds of the spread of Coronavirus.
So, as a safety measure, Disney won’t allow kids to play with dinosaur bones, at least not in the way that they could before March of 2020.
This section may return in a modified fashion, or it may remain off-limits until the healthcare situation improves.
Some portions of Conservation Station fall under the same umbrella. Anything that kids can touch repeatedly is unsafe right now.
Disney will either eliminate these opportunities or adjust them to provide more safety for guests.
Oh, and character meetings with Dug, Donald Duck, and others are also off the table for now.
Attractions to Approach Warily
Okay, this is where the conversation takes a turn.
Remember what I just said about safe places? Well, some of the most popular attractions at Animal Kingdom occur indoors.
For example, Festival of The Lion King thrills guests with its gymnastic tumbling routines.
Unfortunately, the entire show resides inside a building. Now, I fully expect Disney to implement measures to keep guests safe.
So, I’m less worried about this show than most others at Walt Disney World.
No matter how you feel about Festival of the Lion King, you may not have a choice anyway.
While Disney originally listed this attraction as reopening with the park, it was quietly removed later.
At this point, I’m operating under the assumption that it won’t be available, but I listed it here since Disney has listed it both ways.
Another consideration is DINOSAUR, one of the best attractions at Animal Kingdom. However, its pre-ride show crowds guests into a room.
Disney must do a better job of spacing this one. The ride portion is less problematic since Disney will keep guests several feet apart.
Other shows could cause discomfort, too. For example, It’s Tough To Be a Bug! has entertainment guests since opening day at Animal Kingdom.
During the pandemic, it’s an indoor movie whose final sequence involves…pinching butts.
Disney might want to re-think this special effect until Florida’s Coronavirus numbers are in check.
Other Two Attractions to Debate
Then, there are two attractions in the park that people will rush to do.
I’m speaking of Avatar Flight of Passage and Na’Vi River Journey.
These attractions share the same building, and they’re both indoors.
Na’Vi River Journey is a boat ride through Pandora. Since Shanghai Disneyland has already proven the safety of such attractions, it should be fine.
The jury is still out on Avatar Flight of Passage for two reasons. One involves social distancing. The pre-ride DNA routine could cause a few problems.
Then, there’s the ride itself. Guests must wear 3D glasses to view Pandora in all its augmented reality splendor.
Those glasses qualify as high-touch items, a healthcare official’s way of saying that they’re somewhat dicey during the pandemic.
Universal Orlando Resort, Disney’s Orlando competitor, has already reopened.
This park features a slew of motion simulation attractions that require 3D glasses. When it reopened, it used the glasses.
I’m uncomfortable with this decision, but it’s seemed to work okay thus far.
Still, I’m unsure whether Disney will utilize 3D glasses right now.
Instead, Disney could theoretically employ a 2D version of the ride. It wouldn’t feel quite as immersive, but it’ll still look gorgeous and feel liberating.
These awkward debates are ones that all theme park operators face right now.
I’m thankful that Disney has demonstrated such caution and forethought with its pandemic-based decision-making thus far.
Attractions You Should Do If Possible
Look, if Avatar Flight of Passage is open, you’re going to run to it.
I know this because Shanghai Disneyland’s reopening has made guests aware of something important.
When Disney limits park admission, the lines for the most popular attractions are much smaller.
Avatar Flight of Passage frequently has waits over two hours.
So, capacity limits provide guests with a rare opportunity to ride both Pandoran attractions during the same park visit.
On a different note, Florida’s still going to be hot from now until like December 1st.
You’ll want to embrace Kali River Rapids as the watery respite you need during an Animal Kingdom visit.
I’d also suggest that you take this opportunity to study more of Animal Kingdom’s zoological offerings.
Since the parks won’t be as crowded, you’ll sort of have Disney’s animals to yourself!
Plus, the animals have probably missed us! That’s a marvelous chance for entertainment!
Feature Image Rights: David Roark