We spent New Year’s Eve at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park. Hours were extended until 10:00 p.m., we left a little earlier than that. It was a peaceful day away from the hustle and bustle of other busy areas of Walt Disney World property. I also have some photos of construction on Rivers of Light and the upcoming Tiffins restaurant behind Pizzafari.
We talk about our afternoon/evening – including construction footage – on our Mousesteps Weekly YouTube Show #170.
This “floating rock” in Avatar Land is one of the first things seen when arriving to Disney’s Animal Kingdom park.
Riverside Depot had not yet opened a few weeks ago when I visited the park. It still has that “new store smell”. Riverside Depot is an add-on to Disney Outfitters, making it a larger shop.
The shop inside wasn’t too exciting, but I do like this artwork.
Tiffins is supposed to be a Signature restaurant.
The Disney Parks Blog says that Tiffins will open in the same timeframe as Rivers of Light this spring. It seems like something new is being added to Disney’s Animal Kingdom park every couple of weeks or so!
Here is a look at the wall between Pizzafari and the Tiffins construction.
Construction on the top of the building.
The Avatar artwork has been here for weeks at least, but I didn’t post it last time I visited. Tiffins is to the right, Avatar construction in view in the back.
Here is a closer look.
Rivers of Light seating began construction just over a year ago. I am looking forward to having a nighttime show here, as well as a new restaurant. It has taken nearly 20 years to get to this point!
This is part of the seating area.
Here is a closer look in the next few photos of some of the construction and seating.
Projectors can be seen here.
Here is a shot from farther away.
Expedition Everest never seemed to top a 40 minute wait while we were there, eventually becoming a walk-on by 8pm.
Mark Daniel hosted a New Year’s Eve party, which was from 3:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. It included characters and a lot of great music (we will show more later in the article).
Kilimanjaro Safaris posted a 30 minute wait when we arrived around 4:00 p.m. for our Fastpass reservation, and then it was a walk-on and we went again.
A rhinoceros sleeps.
I didn’t take a lot of animal photos, but I always like getting the lions when they are out. The first trip around, there were two female lions. The second time included the male as well.
The lions didn’t move much either time we went through.
A baby giraffe tucked under his mom for a drink.
Flamingos stood in the water while another truck travels through the savannah.
Here are the three lions together.
Each safari can be different, even going through a second time quickly (within 20 minutes of our first lion photos, we were seeing the male lion).
We met Baloo and King Louie, still in their winter scarfs.
Lighting points the way to Expedition Everest.
The Thirsty River Bar recently opened, and includes both drinks and food.
Thirsty River Bar and Trek Snacks.
The drink menu is posted here, and includes a modest amount of offerings.
Here is the food and snacks menu.
We used a Fastpass for Expedition Everest, these photos were shot on the ride.
Spaceship Earth and the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin can be seen in the distance.
Our last Fastpass was for Mickey and Minnie, though it was only a 5 minute or so wait either way. They were dressed in their holiday clothing.
The wait for Santa Goofy was 10-15 minutes.
We had met him at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, I’d never had a photo of him here.
Triceratop Spin was almost a walk-on.
Santa rides his sleigh on Restaurantasaurus.
Large puppets from Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade were on hand in the evening.
A large giraffe puppet was one of the three.
I don’t think I’ve ever posed with one before this.
I miss the parade, it was really unique.
Here is a monkey puppet and handler.
Compared with Epcot and the Magic Kingdom, it was a very quiet evening for an early New Year’s Eve party. I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Chip, Dale and Rafiki were the characters guests could dance with.
Dale stopped and gave me like 20 poses to photograph.
Jeff posed with Dale.
And here is one of the ones from the back.
This was around 8:00 p.m.
Because the park was originally open until 9:00 p.m., I’m not sure if the street party continued any longer.
It isn’t often that we get to enjoy Disney’s Animal Kingdom park at night, but soon it will be open in the evening for Rivers of Light.
Everest at night.
Dinosaur decorations in Dinoland.
It’s been quite some time since I’ve seen the Christmas tree here lit up at night.
I’m not sure how New Year’s Eve will be next year when Rivers of Light is open, but I think Epcot and the Magic Kingdom will still take the brunt of the action and Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be our park of choice.