RideMax Roulette Tuesday at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

RideMax Roulette at Disney's Animal Kingdom

I’m heading out tomorrow (Tuesday, January 12th) for another round of RideMax Roulette, this time at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Feel free to follow along as I send out live tweets and Facebook updates throughout the day. Who knows, I may even try out that Periscope thing for a ride on Expedition Everest or something. You can find me at the Periscope username @RideMax4Disney.

For those who’ve followed the blog for a while, you know that RideMax Roulette is a sort of game where I choose a set of attractions at random, and plug them into the RideMax optimizing software. I then take the resulting plan to the park to see how well it works out. Playing this game gives me a good chance to test the plans RideMax comes up with, as well as — quite frankly — forces me to visit attractions I might not otherwise be all that inclined to see.

One additional goal with tomorrow’s plan is to check out the new Pizzafari restaurant, something I haven’t done since it came out of refurbishment a little over a month or so ago. Josh over at easyWDW did a write-up on this recently, which has me intrigued.

My random number generator came up with the following list of attractions for tomorrow’s visit. I’ve listed these in alphabetical order:

  • Dinosaur
  • Dinosaur again (yes, we’re doing this one twice)
  • Discovery Island Trails
  • Expedition Everest
  • Finding Nemo, the Musical
  • Flights of Wonder
  • It’s Tough to Be a Bug
  • Maharajah Jungle Trek
  • Primeval Whirl
  • Primeval Whirl (yes, also twice — hopefully no barf-bag required)
  • TriceraTop Spin

This may seem like sort of a “softball” list of attractions, as I’m expecting tomorrow at Animal Kingdom to be fairly uncrowded. Tomorrow is a RideMax “recommended day” for Animal Kingdom, coming off an Extra Magic Hours morning day today. To make things even easier, Kilimanjaro Safaris didn’t even come up in the list of attractions I’ll be visiting. I decided to push ahead anyway.  :-)

For FastPass+ selections, I decided to tell RideMax I wanted to use FP+ at Dinosaur, Expedition Everest, and Primeval Whirl. I also plugged in a lunch break at Pizzafari, and RideMax came up with the following game plan for the day.


We’ll see how this actually works out in practice, but on paper, it looks pretty decent, with just an estimated 64-minute wait to visit 11 attractions, or just six minutes per attraction. Even if you take out the two zero-wait “walking” attractions — Discovery Island Trails and Maharajah Jungle Trek — the average wait is still just a hair above seven minutes each, and that assumes we arrive 20 minutes early to wait for Finding Nemo. Overall, this looks like a great day with very little wait.

Continuing on with the planning, as a further confirmation of my expectation of low crowds tomorrow, I didn’t have any trouble securing FP+ reservations at the times recommended by RideMax on this plan, even though I made the reservations this afternoon, just one day before my visit. Here’s a really big picture taken from my phone, just to emphasize the point (and because I’m too lazy to size it down lol):


Note that if I hadn’t been able to secure the FP+ reservation times shown in this RideMax plan, I would have used the new feature added recently to RideMax which allows me to specify the times at which I want to use my FP+ reservations, and had RideMax recalculate accordingly.

So, wish me luck on my quest tomorrow. Again, feel free to follow along on Twitter, Facebook, or (possibly) Periscope @RideMax4Disney. I also welcome any guests for lunch at Pizzafari if you’re free at the lunchtime shown on the RideMax plan.

Here’s looking forward to tomorrow!


RideMax Roulette at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Tomorrow!

Tiger at Disney's Animal Kingdom

I’m headed to Animal Kingdom tomorrow, April 10th, to test a half-day RideMax plan. You can follow along for live updates from the park:

I’m calling this “RideMax Roulette,” because rather than using a predetermined list of attractions, I decided to plug in a (mostly) random list of shows and attractions into RideMax, then created my half-day plan from there.

I say it was “mostly” random simply because I knew in advance that I wanted to visit both of the trails — Pangani and Maharajah Jungle Trek — and I also wanted to see the Lion King show. (Sorry, but I also knew I didn’t want to sit through the 40-minute-ish Finding Nemo show, and I didn’t want to get soaked on Kali with my DSLR in hand, so I omitted these from the list of possible attractions.)

After adding my three “must-do” attractions to the list, I used a random number generator to come up with five others, and I was left with the following list of eight attractions altogether:

  • Dinosaur (twice)
  • Expedition Everest
  • Festival of the Lion King
  • It’s Tough to be a Bug!
  • Maharajah Jungle Trek
  • Pangani Forest Exploration Trail
  • TriceraTop Spin

I know this may seem like a pretty wimpy attempt, given that the plan doesn’t include the Safari, but hey, it is what it is. I think it’s also good for me to test RideMax plans that include non-obvious ride selections, as it has sometimes helped me to see and/or fix problems that might come up with various ride choices.

Given this list of attractions, I decided to use FP+ for at least Dinosaur and Expedition Everest. I would normally use the other FP+ for either the Safari or Kali River Rapids, but since neither of these are in my list, I’m using the third FP+ slot for It’s Tough to be a Bug! (Yeah!)

After crunching on this list of attractions, here is what RideMax came up with. Remember, RideMax’s goal is to minimize BOTH waiting AND walking time:

Disney's Animal Kingdom RideMax Plan

Notice the large-ish block of “free time starting just before 9:00am. I think I’m going to use this to go see DiVine near the park entrance.

After creating this plan, I went into Disney’s “My Disney Experience” application and reserved my FP+ time slots to correspond with the times shown in green on the plan. (And yes, I realize that I most likely won’t need those Dinosaur and ITTBAB FP+ tickets that early in the day. If this were a full-day plan, you’d likely see those FP+ slots set up for later in the day.)

I’ll keep you updated on Facebook and Twitter as I progress through the morning. Feel free to comment there or below as I go!


Beating the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Crowds at Park Opening. Festival of the Lion King Opens in New Harambe Theater.

Magic Kingdom - Seven Dwarfs Mine Train CrowdsAs you can see in the image above, Disney is now using a new “follow the rope” procedure when they open the Magic Kingdom in the morning. This is used to help prevent guests from running to the very popular new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride, as well as to the Anna and Elsa meet and greet.

I visited the Magic Kingdom yesterday, and followed pretty closely behind the Cast Members leading the way, as the picture above — and the one right below — shows.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Park Opening

What may not be obvious from these pictures, is the HUGE crowds following behind. I somehow managed to hold my camera over my head, pointing backwards, and caught the following amazing sight (click on any image for a larger view):

Magic Kingdom Crowds

With most of these folks attempting to get to these new attractions, you can see how important it is to both arrive early and to know what you’re doing once you get there. The first one is up to you, and if you’re a RideMax subscriber, we’ve added an in-plan tip (our longest one yet) to help with the second one.

New Lion King Theater in Africa

I also hopped over to the Animal Kingdom yesterday to check out the new Festival of the Lion King theater, which has been built in Africa, replacing the old location in Camp Minnie-Mickey. As you can see in the picture above, the standby entrance is on the left, with FP+ access on the right.

Festival of the Lion King - New Theater Location in Africa

Just to put the new location in context, this is the wide-angle view from the bridge leading into Africa. Kilimanjaro Safaris is straight ahead on the right-hand side of the picture, with the new Lion King theater on the very far left-hand side of the image.

New Lion King Theater

Once you’ve crossed the bridge, just hang a left here to get to the new theater.

New Festival of the Lion King Theater in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Here’s the view of the theater building taken from the far end, looking back toward where the previous picture was taken.

Festival of the Lion King

Festival of the Lion King

It’s the same great show as before, one I consider a “must see” attraction!

A final note is that in my observations yesterday, there is no need to use FP+ to visit the FOTLK. For the noon show, you could still get in standby by showing up just 15 minutes before showtime. Arriving a half-hour early should be a safe bet on all but the busiest days of the year.



Walt Disney World — FastPass Tips Update

Walt Disney World - FastPass Tips Update

For Disney World RideMax customers who may not have noticed, we’ve just updated our “FastPass Tips & Tricks” page. You can view our updated advice in the “Tips & Hints” section of RideMax itself.

One item contained in this update is that the FastPass machines for the Dinosaur attraction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, shown above, are “disconnected” from the rest of the FastPass network. This allows you to obtain a FastPass for this ride even if you may have just obtained another one for a different attraction. The advice also lists other FastPass machines which are “off-network,” as well as a FastPass loophole for one of the parks that not too many seem to be aware of.

And of course, if you’re using RideMax to create your custom touring plans for Walt Disney World, the software is aware of these loopholes and can use them to your advantage when it creates your plans.

If you’re a Disney World RideMax subscriber, head on over to RideMax and check out the newly updated advice!


Kilimanjaro Safaris at Noon: A Photo Report!

Disney's Animal Kingdom

There seems to be a near-consensus in various Disney-related circles that if you’re visiting Kilimanjaro Safaris in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you simply *must* do it early in the day. The logic goes that the animals are more active then, so you’re more likely to get a better experience if you do the Safaris early.

If this is *you* and you’re using RideMax, you can set aside time to visit the Safaris first thing by setting your “start time” to about 35 minutes after the park opens, and using this gap to visit the ride. (You could also use a “break” in RideMax for a similar purpose.)

On the other hand, what if you simply allow RideMax to do the plan optimization for you, even if the plan has you visiting Kilimanjaro Safaris later in the day? My opinion is that this isn’t as bad as people think, and this may especially be the case during cooler seasons of the year, such as January, when I’m writing this post.

To illustrate, I’ve posted below some pictures that I took on the Safaris yesterday, when I didn’t get on the attraction until close to noon. It had just finished raining about an hour or two earlier:

Disney's Animal Kingdom - Crocodiles

The crocodiles were out in large numbers!

Giraffes at Disney's Animal Kingdom

There were a lot of giraffes out and about. Probably more than I’ve seen on any other visit…

Disney's Animal Kingdom Giraffe close-up

In for a close-up. Smile!  :-)



Disney's Animal Kingdom - Rhinos

The rhinos were out in force!

Disney's Animal Kingdom - More Rhinos

Another shot of the rhinos…


The cheetah was out in the open…

Animal Kingdom Lioness

…as were both of the lions. Above is the female.

Disney's Animal Kingdom Lion

And here’s the male.

Disney's Animal Kingdom Lion

Best “posing” I’ve seen from the lions in a while!

Disney's Animal Kingdom

Taking a nap…

Disney's Animal Kingdom Zebras

And finally, if you wanted to see zebras, this was your day!

I hope these pictures help illustrate my point. You certainly can do the Safaris early, if that’s what you really want to do. But doing them later in the day — especially during the cooler parts of the year — is simply fine with me!

What has been YOUR experience with Kilimanjaro Safaris? Have you noticed a big difference visiting it early in the morning versus later in the day?

Tell me about your experience in the comments below!