How Social Distancing Might Work on Animal Kingdom Attraction Vehicles

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We recently looked at ways Disney might use to enforce social distancing at the Magic Kingdom when they begin phased openings at the parks. Today we’re looking at how social distancing might work at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

As with the Magic Kingdom, for safety purposes, we’ll assume that guests and cast members are all wearing appropriate face coverings, sanitizer and hand wash stations are readily available, and vehicles are cleaned on a regular, frequent schedule. Another huge area of consideration is the management of queues for rides, which are currently universally configured with guests close together. We’ll assume for now that there will be a virtual queue management system in place, perhaps something like the way Rise of the Resistance boarding was managed prior to closing.

[Please note: I have NO inside information about Disney’s reopening plans, timing, or procedures. These are my thoughts only.]

Avatar Flight of Passage

The Animal Kingdom’s newest ride is in some ways perfect for social distancing. The ride vehicles are discrete entities meant for one individual each, and while the vehicles are not quite six feet apart, there is significant space between guests.

The pre-show to the attraction is more problematic. Prior to the ride, there are narrative points where guests stand in a small room together. Distancing could be achieved here with approximately 50% occupancy.

The Boneyard

The Boneyard is an interactive playground meant for young children, with lots of digging and climbing equipment. Cleaning this structure thoroughly will be a time consuming event. My guess is that, due to the high-touch nature of the attraction, it will not be part of the initial park reopening.

Dinosaur

Social distancing could be achieved by placing individual parties in the first and third rows, leaving the middle row free.

Expedition Everest

Social distancing could be achieved by loading guests in alternate rows, or by keeping larger parties together in their own car.

Festival of the Lion King

A 50% or more reduction in guest admission per show would allow for parties to distance from each other. Perhaps alternate rows could be entirely taped off. Cast members could ask guests to leave a space between parties.

The portion of the show where guests are asked to imitate an elephant (which results in a fair amount of inadvertent spitting) would likely need to be modified.

Finding Nemo the Musical

A 50% or more reduction in guest admission per show would allow for parties to distance from each other. Perhaps alternate rows could be entirely taped off. Cast members could ask guests to leave a space between parties.

Fossil Fun Games

The high-touch nature of these interactive games means they would need serious cleaning between every round. My guess is that Fossil Fun will not be part of a phase one opening.

Gorilla Falls Exploration Trails

This is a walk-through attraction, limiting the number of guests allowed to enter at one time could be achieved by timed entry. However, there would also need to be cast members available to monitor loitering around favorite exhibits such as the gorillas.

Harambe Wildlife Express (train to Conservation Station)

The Wildlife Express train itself could achieve social distancing by limiting the number of guests allowed onboard during each run.

However, the experience at Conservation Station has trouble spots with guests crowding around windows to observe animal medical procedures or packed in tightly for the interactive art experience. The outdoor petting zoo is less troublesome, but perhaps not a big enough draw for many guests. My guess is that Conservation Station will not be part of a phase one opening.

It’s Tough to Be a Bug

A 50% or more reduction in guest admission per show would allow for parties to distance from each other. Perhaps alternate rows could be entirely taped off. Cast members could ask guests to leave a space between parties.

Kali River Rapids

Social distancing could be achieved by loading boats at 50% capacity, either alternating seats or alternating parties with empty seats between.

Kilimanjaro Safari

Social distancing could be achieved by loading one party per row of each jeep, and keep vacant rows between parties.

Maharajah Jungle Trek

This is a walk-through attraction; limiting the number of guests allowed to enter at one time could be achieved by timed entry. However, there would also need to be cast members available to monitor loitering around favorite exhibits such as the bats and tigers.

Na’vi River Journey

Social distancing could be achieved by loading one party per boat.

Primeval Whirl

Social distancing could be achieved by loading one party per vehicle.

Rivers of Light

A 50% or more reduction in guest admission per show would allow for parties to distance from each other. Perhaps alternate rows could be entirely taped off. Cast members could ask guests to leave a space between parties.

TriceratopSpin

Social distancing could be achieved by loading one party per dino.

Up! A Great Bird Adventure

A 50% or more reduction in guest admission per show would allow for parties to distance from each other. Perhaps alternate rows could be entirely taped off. Cast members could ask guests to leave a space between parties.

Would the characteristics of the Animal Kingdom attractions make it any more or less attractive to you as a first post-pandemic park to visit? And of course, even if methods like these do take place, we have countless other questions about character greetings, shopping, dining, and more. We’re looking forward to seeing what happens. Do you have any theories or predictions? Feel free to share them in the comments.

Erin Foster

Erin Foster is an original member of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel at DisneyWorldMoms.com, a regular contributor to TouringPlans.com, and co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line. She's been to WDW, DL, DL Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, Aulani, DVC Vero Beach, and DVC Hilton Head. She's a Platinum DCL cruiser and veteran of 10 Adventures by Disney trips. Erin lives near New York City, where she can often be found indulging in her other obsession - Broadway theater. Erin can be reached on Twitter @MsErinFoster.

6 thoughts on “How Social Distancing Might Work on Animal Kingdom Attraction Vehicles

  • May 24, 2020 at 10:04 pm
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    The advantage that AK has is that so much of the park is outside where people are less likely to get the virus if masks and social distancing are used. I believe that is also going to be an advantage for Disneyland since most of the queues are outside.

    Reply
  • May 25, 2020 at 4:12 pm
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    The pre-show of FoP is in pretty tight quarters, but it adds so little to the overall experience that it really could be eliminated entirely. I think the biggest problem will be the long queue if some sort of virtual queue isn’t implemented. The line could stretch all the was back to Asia with 6 feet between parties!

    Reply
  • May 25, 2020 at 4:55 pm
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    We implemented Phase II “reopening” on Friday. Area grocery stores now crowded with people not wearing masks. On Saturday, local paper took a photo at an area racetrack of stands packed with fans shoulder to shoulder, no masks. Today, as I waited for curbside pickup of groceries at a Walmart grocery store in an affluent part of town, three city firefighters in uniform came out of the store and headed to their duty truck with their purchases; two of the three were not wearing masks.

    It is impossible to enforce any sort of “safe reopening.” People will not obey mask and distancing rules. COVID-19 will spread freely at American theme parks.

    Reply
  • May 25, 2020 at 5:03 pm
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    The strange thing is that no cases of Covid 19 were traced back to Disneyland or Walt Disney World. I would have expected a lot.

    Reply
  • May 25, 2020 at 11:36 pm
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    I would think they also need to turn off the special effects in It’s Tough to be A Bug. I doubt anyone wants to be sprayed with liquid or aerosolized “stink” particles at this point in time!

    Reply
  • July 9, 2020 at 2:06 pm
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    Reality – NONE of this will work. All it does is delay the reality of cases – all the while massive reductions in deaths.
    America is beginning ot reach some herd immunity and that we will be safer once that is done.
    Note – 60,000 Americans Died from the flu last year with 500,000 Americans hospitalized. We have shots and massive amounts of decades old experience and immunity to the flu and its carious strains.
    35 years ago we had an epidemic of AIDS/HIV. Today we have NO vaccine. And we live with treatment.
    America will be fine. Kids should go to school. We need to get on with life. Period.

    And if this doesn’t work for you – stay home. Shelter in place. And let the rest of us get on with it.

    Reply

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