Sunny sunny and close to 90F here in lovely Central FL and the Brits are loving every second of it.
Now to the quick report from DAK...
Just got home from a quick impromptu visit to DAK this afternoon.. Since I was at the dentist and running a few errads around town... just after having a delicious platter of Ropa Vieja at Pollo Tropical.... on a whim.. I decided to stop by DAK and check out the park... unannounced. I just love to spring up on the Cast like this and even more so when I see their faces of terror upon my unexpected arrival...
"Hurry everyone!! Mr. FAN is here!! HURRY!!!" Hahahaha!! Gotta love them.
On the minus side, since I was not planning to go to DAK or anywhere near WDW, I did not have my camera with me so no pics for this quick report. Sorry about that... but I am sure you can have your cake without icing every now and then.. and many of us don't need the extra sugar.
So anyways... I pulled into the parking lot and HORRORS MYSELF!!! The entire Butterfly section of the lot was filled to the very last row, and mind you.. this is the section of the lot that hardly ever sees vehicles parked in it. However, only the entire Girrafe and half of the Dinosaur sections were empty.. so DAK was not in total booty 2 booty conditions but it was quite crowded and busy.. which is a good thing concidering how rocky this park has had it and I can not think of a park more deserving of crowds that DAK.(well maybe aside from TDS ) So I was happy about that. You see? crowded conditions are nothing for TDLFAN since TDL is one of those parks where crowds are the norm for the most part. Just check the new 'Day at TDR' pictorial going up in the next 24 hrs. When I arrived at the gate around 1:25pm.. there were 6 turnstyles open, and each one had a line of about 35 guests deep. It took a bit while to get in...the usual scanning delays and such.
On the way into the park in the front plaza by the ticket windows, a Discovery Channel display sits touting an Everest show on that channel debuting this week. Not just your average flat board display.. this was a more elaborate "expedition equipment and baggage" kind of a display that takes a bit of space and plays a video announcing the Everest show on Discovery Channel. Disney synergy at it's best. But not an eyesore like some other property billboards can sometimes be.
Once inside the park. I noticed the guidemaps now feature Everest on their cover, with a nice graphic of the mountain in the map itself. However, the map looks odd, simply because they opted to place a "Jamming Jungle" reminder over the area where Beastly Kingdom was supposed to be built, so when you look at the map...it appears as if a big piece of the "puzzle" is missing... Hmmm... Imagineering!! Time to get busy!
I make my way slowly towards EE just to see if it was "doable" and also to see if reports of neglect are accurate. Passing by the ex-Tarzan Rock digs... the theater in the Wild is in the middle of a very serious transformation...and as of now, it ain't pretty to look at, but I am sure things will be better once the work is done. I hope.
Arriving at EE... Hmmm...there is only one way to describe the situation... Crowded. A massive group of FP holders are pushing their way into that little door leading into the queue...just like they do at TDL when the gates open. I look further and see that FPs are GONE for the day... and the Stand by Line wait was posted at 100 mins. Hmm... decisions...decisions... Then I remember... isn't there supposed to be a "singles rides Line" somewhere here?? So I cut thru the crowd of FP holders and onto the stand by line entrance where a CM happily informed me that I need to obtain a "single rider pass" from the other CM standing somewhere in the midts of the FP crowd. I said... "a-OK" and ventured thru the FP masses again and find the CM in question who quickly handed me the Single line pass and orders me to queue up into the FP line to get there... I am like OMG!! I have to stand in that mass of people!??! YOU ARE ON!!!
So I happily pushed forward along with the rest of the FP holders into the FP queue, and after a few feet into the queue, a CM checked tickets and ordered me to stand into the separate Singles line. This gave me food for thought since there were already about 40 people ahead of me as "singles" waiting to ride. Worst of all... there is hardly any shelter from the heat and sun for the most part of the singles queue (there is ONE fan in the shaded area of the singles line, go figure)..so I had to make a decision in a split second... get a tan in my head or leave. I decided to stay, just because out of curiosity... I wanted to know how long this would take. I looked at my watch. 1:47pm
So we wait...
patiently moving up a few feet every five mins or so...
...in the heat of mid afternoon FL..
....we wait a bit more..
Finally, some drama: a husband and wife with child wanted to do a switch with the kid (who I guessed at about 10 yrs of age)... She asked if she could child switch, a request that seemed odd to me to begin with... The CM said "NOT in this line. You are in the single's line!" (NOTE aside: I am very glad to see the CM lay down the law but he could have been a bit more diplomatic...like "Apologies but we are unable to do child swaping since you are I the singles line and it would not be fair to those waiting behind you if your child gets to ride twice with each parent") But nevertheless, after a small argument between CM and woman, we found out they were in the wrong line...They should have been in the FP line, NOT the singles lines!!! Anyways... the family ended up riding one at a time as singles rather than go back to the FP line.
Also, while waiting, something unexpected happened.... Out of nowhere, here come the 2006 WDW Ambassador Team, Michael and Marjorie, both looking peppy, preppy and festive and then they asked the CMs to allow them to ride..and so they were allowed to go to the front of the line and were placed in the very first row of the train... They went thru the whole ride and I was still in line and got to see them come back into the station. Ms Marjorie having a heck of a time, squeeling with delight as their train pulled into the station. As for the male Ambassador... Michael... well.. he looked rather handsome and suave in his tan colored 2-piece suit with light green/grayish turtle neck sweater and wearing some cool shades.. Hmmm... he looked good enough to eat!! Cute as a button. Well.. enough of that.
My time to ride finally came up. I am directed to the very first row. My first time riding in the front of the train ever!! I look at my watch. 2:28pm
Without realizing... I waited in the singles line for 41 mins!!!! Somehow, I expected it to be shorter than that, but concidering how crowded the place was... I guess it was comparable to a regular line if FP was not an option here.
One a positive note... I am very pleased to report that some show aspects of the ride were on and operational. The steam effect in the back of the train as it arrives and leaves the station was in working order. I have never seen this effect "on" during my previous visits. It does add a sense of realism and adventure to the whole dispatching sequence. Kudos. We start our ride and being in the front row is the way to do EE!! It's like having a panoramic view of most everything!! Totally unobstructed view. DO ride in the front row! You will love it! Once at the top of the hill...no mist. Hmm... hopefully this effect will be coming online soon, and could have been a refreshing point in the ride concidering the heat today. Then we came to a stop at the broken tracks spot where the front seat affords a spectacular view of MGM, Epcot, DTD, Blizzard Beach, and Coronado Springs Resort. Then we go backwards... this is the only sore point for me... being in the front seat does make the open gaps around the track more apparent and affords too much a view of the indoor mesh of the mountain. Little slips like that could be fixed I supposed, but this is a real downer for me. It takes away from the "black out" conditions of the backward portion of the ride. This needs to be corrected but I am not holding my breath on it. Anyways... the rest of the ride goes flawlessly, and being in the front seat does afford a great view of *and* near miss encounter with the Yeti. The Yeti, operating in all of it's roaring glory, appeared to be as close to my head as I ever felt it. It was awesome!!! KUDOS!!!
AGAIN>>> RIDE THE FRONT SEAT!!!!
Back at the station... everyone seemed content, and we go into the dreaded gift shop which continues to be quite crammed with all the traffic going thru it and the lack of good spacing in between merchandise stands. I took notice of my ride photo... The photo is taken just prior to dropping out of the mountain after seeing the filmed Yeti destroying the rails.. so don't forget to as you lurch forward towards the big drop!!
As I left the EE area.. temporary stages and some filming and sound equipment has been set up for the grand opening ceremonies later this week. Also I noticed the counter service Jeepney Truck that used to be in the front area of Asia, has now been relocated next door to the EE FP dispensing machine area. There is also a temporary tent where the Limited Edition countdown pins for the ride are being sold.
With the park being so crowded and the heat beginning to get to my head (literary...I had no hat and that's a bad idea if you have a receiding hairline.. ) I decided to leave and tell you all about it.
One more thing... I usually lower my expectations in regards to cleaning, especially on very crowded days, but today... DAK looked in rather great condition. I spotted no trash at all in the major walkways or in the EE queue. I used one restroom while there and it was also in good clean order with no foul smells. Also... this being springtime... the flowers were a treat. The white orchids on the rocky overpasses in the Oasis area as you enter/leave DAK are in full bloom and breathtaking to look at.
All in all.. a great 2 hrs at DAK.