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I'll be the first one to admit that I rode the Pandora rides at Animal Kingdom LONG before I'd ever seen the movie. (read more)
I was never keen on the movie, it didn't really appeal to me. When I watched it, I felt like I was being preached at the whole time, so it wasn't something I wanted to watch again, BUT...
That ride though!
Not really Na'vi River Journey, though that one is a sight to see for sure.
I'm talking about Flight of Passage.
I mean, holy cow! What a ride! My favorite one among all four parks, hands down. And this is coming from someone who had to cut a trip to Universal Studios short because all of the VR rides were making me so sick I could barely stay upright.
Disney does VR rides the right way, for sure.
With the exception of Mission Space (and only if we do Orange), nothing at Disney makes me want to revisit my lunch.
At Universal, it was all of them. I was cursing VR rides after the third one, and I had to close my eyes through the entirety of Race Through New York.
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SHOULD YOU GET THE DISNEY DINING PLAN OR SKIP IT?
I'm getting off topic though, so let's get back to the task at hand. The Ultimate Nights of Adventure VIP Tour over at Animal Kingdom.
What do you ride?
How long does it take?
Is it worth the cost?
Is there food involved?
I'm going to answer all of those questions, and possibly more, if I think of them, so let's get going!
Before I convince you to spend all this money, I really would be remiss if I didn't mention Touring Plans. Everything you're going to do on this tour you can do with a Touring Plan, and it'll cost you less than a 10th of the price. Touring Plans really are that good.
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You start your day (and end your day) at Animal Kingdom.
I figure you know this, but the tour is at Disney World (in Florida), not at Disneyland (in California). There is no Animal Kingdom at Disneyland, and as far as I know, they don't do tours like this there at all, in any park.
The tour is ONLY for Animal Kingdom, unlike the Ultimate Day Of Thrills VIP Tour, which goes through Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios. I have a separate review of that tour, if you'd like to check it out.
Let's get started!
Since this isn't a tour that you begin at 8:30 a.m., it means you can either sleep in, or you can tour another park in the morning, take a little break for a nap, and still have plenty of time to make it to your group for The Ultimate Nights of Adventure.
When I booked this tour, I believe it was supposed to start at 4:30 p.m., but a couple of MONTHS out (I think it was before the 60 day mark to make Fast Pass reservations), I got a call from Disney letting me know the tour would be starting at 2:15 p.m.
I loved that they let me know that far in advance because I was able to rearrange my schedule to still get the fast passes I wanted in AK earlier or later in the day.
As to why the schedule changed, I think I have an answer. If you look on the Disney site now, it tells you that the tour will start four hours before the FIRST Rivers of Light show.
Since a reserved seat to Rivers of Light is included in this tour, I'm thinking they won't do a set time on the site anymore, instead just making sure you know it's four hours before the show. You'll get the exact time in the email they send you once you've booked.
Be aware, if the show changes times, this may affect other Fast Passes you made. It didn't happen to me, but I would think it's a possibility depending on how far in advance Disney absolutely confirms their park hours and show times.
(Update - According to Disney, they confirm plans 180 days in advance, so you should never have a problem with making Fast Passes and having to change them.)
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WHERE DO YOU MEET?
For this tour, we met our group on The Discovery Island Trail, behind The Tree Of Life.
If you don't know where that is, it's okay, neither did we.
Thankfully, they give you a map, which we especially needed since we had lunch at Tiffins and enjoyed a cocktail while we were at it.
I mean, they were cocktails for conservation...or something.
So, they send you a map in your confirmation email, and your tour guide is standing NOT behind The Tree Of Life, but actually on the main drag, The Discovery Island Trail, so he can snatch you up when you walk by looking like you're lost, and maybe a little buzzed.
WE REVAMPED ALLOWANCE WITH THE GREENLIGHT DEBIT CARD FOR KIDS
The guide on the trail will direct you behind The Tree Of Life (or wherever your meeting place is) to another guide manning a little table.
Give that guide your name and they will give you a lanyard to wear that says, you guessed it, VIP!
Just like the lanyard we got on the Ultimate Day Of Thrills tour!
Put it around your neck, and you're good to go.
They'll also give you a menu for a dessert and drink (this does include a selection of alcoholic beverages for adults) that you will be able to enjoy before you hit up the Pandora section of the evening.
Just tell them what you'd like to eat and drink, they mark it down, and when the time comes, you get to have a tasty snack.
Or more? We'll talk about that later.
UNIVERSAL YUMS IS OUR FAVORITE SUBSCRIPTION SNACK BOX
STARTING THE TOUR
Once the group is all together, the guides might have you go around and introduce yourselves. We got to do this both on the Ultimate Day Of Thrills and the Ultimate Nights Of Adventure.
They might ask what your favorite ride is, where you're from, or even, what your spirit animal is.
Yep, that was one of the questions on this tour.
I cannot remember what mom and I said, coulda been a bunny, coulda been a hippo, we will never know.
Anyhow, participate! Don't be shy! Everyone in that group is there to have fun, so go with it. We even met a lady who'd come to Disney on her own, so we made sure she did not lack for conversation, at all!
Your tour guides will gather you up like little baby ducks, and off you go. They'll likely station one guide at the front, and one at the back, just to make sure you don't wander off.
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I love the photo package, I think it's well worth the money, but on this tour, you will not be able to use it.
You will, of course, get all the pictures that are taken on the rides, like Expedition Everest and Dinosaur, but you won't be able to stop and get that picture with Timon.
That is Timon, right?
You're on a tight schedule, so no lolly gagging. That means no extra bathroom breaks, (the tour will build some in for you) and no picture opportunities.
Make a mental note of the pictures you want, then either hit them up early, before the tour, or later, after the show.
CHECK OUT OUR DISNEY ULTIMATE DAY OF THRILLS REVIEW
These aren't going to be in order, so don't hold me to it.
First, we went over to Kilimanjaro Safaris to see the animals. I love that ride, and the line can get quite long, so it was nice to be able to use a Fast Pass (our tour guides).
Then we went to Dino Land and rode Dinosaur, always fun, and if you've been on Indiana Jones at Disneyland, it's fun realizing they're the exact same track.
I can practically hear Indy going, "Snakes. You guys are on your own." when you make the loop in Dinosaur.
Once you get off that ride, "You made it! I knew you would!", you head over to Pandora! Yay!
It's time for your snack!
They bring you into Satu'li Canteen and seat you at reserved tables. Depending on how large your party is, you'll be assigned to a certain color table marker to make sure you're in the right spot.
Here you will have your dessert and drink of choice. My mom got green beer, I got wine. I was going to try hers, but she dropped food in it (you really can't take her anywhere), so I just took her word for it that it was good.
What kind of food did she drop in it?
CHECK OUT OUR REVIEW OF SMUGGLER'S RUN!
THE FOOD YOU MAY OR MAY NOT GET
For sure you get the dessert and drink, that's a part of the tour.
However, on our tour, and I've heard a lot of other people say the same thing, you might get a little extra.
For us, this meant a full on meal. The entire table was covered with enormous platters of food. There were salads, quinoa, tofu, beef, chicken, rice, vegetables, and even fish.
Which my mom dropped in her beer and then said, "It's beer battered fish!"
I love you, Mom. :)
There was so much food, our table of eight could not eat it all, there was a lot left over. And, as far as I could tell, it was the same for each table.
It was some of the best food I've had at Disney, so I really hope it's included in your tour, but know that it's not a guarantee.
Update - I asked our guides about dinner the last time we went. Specifically I asked why they didn't advertise it if it was always a part of the tour. They said they like to keep it as a surprise, which makes little sense to me. After all, the tour becomes a better value if you factor in dinner, a drink, and dessert.
So, I think you always get dinner, but since it's not officially listed, don't quote me on that.
* They will ask you about allergies at the start of the tour, and now I know why!
AFTER YOUR SNACK
The fun continues! Now's the time you get to ride Flight of Passage and Na'Vi River Journey.
We started with Na'Vi and then hit FoP.
My mom and I had also managed a Fast Pass for FoP around 7:30 that night, so we were able to ride it again. If you have Fast Passes, this is a great way to get on an epic ride more than once.
After we finished at Pandora, we headed over to Asia to ride Expedition Everest.
Once we got off that ride, our tour guides walked us across the "street" and had us gather in front of the entrance to Rivers of Light.
If you want to watch the show, you have reserved seating. If you don't want to watch the show, you can head back to your hotel, or go use those Fast Passes!
We didn't watch the show, but only because we did have a FoP Fast Pass that we didn't want to miss.
This is the time where you say goodbye to your fellow tour mates, promise to be best friends forever, and give a hearty "thank you" to your tour guides. After all, they were amazing!
MY FAVORITE PRIDE AND PREJUDICE FAN FICTION NOVELS OF ALL TIME
A LITTLE SOMETHING SPECIAL
As with the Ultimate Day Of Thrills, your tour guides may have a special gift for you at the end, so be sure and stick around.
They've asked me not to tell you what it is, so I won't, but suffice to say, you're going to want it.
It's kind of awesome.
Unlike Ultimate Day Of Thrills, you will not have an option to get taken to the Ticket and Transportation Center or Magic Kingdom.
You got to the park on your own, you've got to get back to the hotel on your own, so warm up those feet and head to the bus terminal.
If you're lucky enough to be walking by The Tree Of Life at the right time, you might get to see the birds being called and released for Winged Encounters. If you don't get to see it, here's an impromptu video I shot. It was very cool!
At the time of this post, the cost is $249 per person.
You cannot book online, but you can call (407) 939-PLAY or you can ask your travel agent to book it for you.
You can cancel up to 48 hours in advance without penalty, and bookings open up 180 days in advance. Unlike Ultimate Day Of Thrills, this tour does run daily, except for certain black out dates, so you've got a good chance of getting in. Still, I recommend booking as soon as possible.
We met a nice couple on our Ultimate Day Of Thrills tour this same week, and when they heard we were doing Ultimate Nights Of Adventure, they wanted to join us. Sadly, they couldn't get in, it was all booked up.
The booking fee does have to be paid when you book, and park admission is not included. However, also unlike Ultimate Day Of Thrills, you do not need a park hopper unless you plan on visiting another park on the same day.
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