Is saving almost eight hours of waiting in lines plus a great meal at Disney’s Animal Kingdom worth $249? That is what we are going to find out.
The Ultimate Nights of Adventure VIP Tour debuted on October 1st, 2017 and was described by the Disney Parks Blog, saying, “Prepare for an adventure like no other as this tour gives you the opportunity — as the park transitions from day to night — to experience the magic of nature in a totally unique way. Your tour guides treat you like a VIP as they impart their detailed knowledge while you explore the Disney’s Animal Kingdom lands to observe the critters, creatures and other denizens of the park.” Unfortunately, the actual tour doesn’t live up to the hype… exactly.
The tour starts just outside of the Dinosaur attraction where up to 25 guests check-in, select their dessert and drink option and meet the two Tour Guides for the evening. Once all introductions and housekeeping are complete, our tour guides start us with one of our first trivia questions about our attraction of the night: Dinosaur. Do you know what is special about these pipes found in the loading area of the attraction? (No spoilers, but the answer has to do with the original sponsor of the attraction.)
After a quick trip to the past, we head toward Pandora or, as the tour guides put it, “the reason we all booked this tour.” On the walk over, our guides stopped us in front of the Tree of Life to tell us the story of how Safari Village was renamed to Discovery Island.
Once in Pandora – The World of Avatar, we were taken through the Fastpass+ queue for both Na’vi River Journey and Avatar Flight of Passage, saving over three hours of queue time. After our flight on a banshee, it was time for dinner at Satu’li Canteen, which came as the biggest surprise of the night.
When we checked in for the tour, we were asked for our choice of dessert and drink for the “snack break,” but little did we know that once we arrived at Satu’li Canteen, a full plate of dining options would be available to us.
The full meal along with our selected dessert and drink option made for a perfect break and time for the sun to start to set in the west to ready us for our next adventure of the evening, the Kilimanjaro Safari.
As this tour was done before the end of Daylight Saving Time, darkness had not fully taken over as all 25 of us climbed aboard our own private safari truck and headed out for a “two-week” photo safari.
Rounding out our attractions of the night was Expedition Everest. Again taken through the Fastpass+ queue, we were on and off the ride before most guests in the standby queue had even gotten close to the load station. Once everyone was gathered at the exit of Everest, it was time for the final adventure of the night, which was a VIP viewing of Rivers of Light.
But, before that, we were actually given our last surprise of the night: a choice! Our marvelous tour guides presented us with a “choose your own adventure” ending for our tour; we could either enjoy Rivers of Light or head back to Pandora – The World of Avatar for one more ride on Avatar Flight of Passage. As would be expected about 20 of the 25 guest went with the 4.4 lightyear trip back for one more ride on a banshee before being set off on our own for the rest of the evening.
At the start of this article, I said this tour did not live up to the hype, which unfortunately for me, a lover of all things Disney, was more on the side of the “detailed knowledge” from our guides and less of the “paying to not have to wait for attractions.” Our guides did an excellent job of moving us from attraction to attraction and taking care of our every need, but this is not so much a tour as it is a paid FastPass+ experience. I also mentioned about saving almost eight hours of waiting which is 100% true. I took the tour on a busy Saturday night and below are the wait times for each of the attraction we went on over our four-hour tour.
Dinosaur – 45 minutes
Na’vi River Journey – 90 minutes
Avatar Flight of Passage – 120 minutes
Kilimanjaro Safari – 45 minutes
Expedition Everest – 35 minutes
Avatar Flight of Passage – 150 minutes
So overall, if you feel doing all those attraction is worth $249, a very good meal, and a small surprise gift (can’t spoil it all), this tour is for you. For me I enjoyed the moments with the guides the most because I have been on all the attractions and know that, if I want to go on them again, I can follow the age-old tips “don’t go during the busy time” and “plan your day accordingly.”
As of my tour, this tour was only scheduled to run through the end of the year, but I was told that most nights had already sold out. If you want to see if there is availability for your next visit, head to the Walt Disney World site HERE.
Our main correspondent for Walt Disney World and the Orlando area and a heck of a paleontologist if he does say so himself.