Friday, March 8, 2013

Disney World 2013: Animal Kingdom

Our main focus for Animal Kingdom was going on the safari at the beginning of the day and I wanted to see the Tree of Life. The safari was first because typically the animals are active and easy to see during the mornings, so when the park opened we were standing at the ropes and waiting for them to let us head all the way to the back of the park so we could jump in line for the safari. A lot of people had that idea - in fact everyone was sort of split into two main groups: those of us wanting to safari in Africa and the people who were headed the opposite way to Asia and the new roller coaster.

It worked pretty well because we only waited for two trucks to load up in front of us before we began our safari. When I say safari, I literally mean safari.  There was pretty much nothing but my ability to run keeping some random animal from running up and biting my arm off. In fact at one point we pulled up right next to some sort of cattle-like animal with extremely big horns and he was awfully close to my side of the truck - he could have definitely done some damage if provoked. But it was really cool to see all the animals and they do a very good job of making them feel like they are all free to roam when in fact they do have fences  and chains keeping them from eating each other.

The guys ran off to ride the big roller coaster after the safari so Heather and I took the girls on the train to go meet Rafiki. We visited the petting zoo area and the girls each got to touch a live baby alligator/crocodile (not sure which it was).
We met back up with the guys after that for lunch. Nick and I had African BBQ ribs and chicken at Flame Tree BBQ and it was amazing! We had intended to walk over to Dinoland to eat but as we walked by the BBQ it smelled way too good to pass by. The girls played in Dinoland after lunch and on the way over there we were able to meet Tigger and Pooh again, but this time they had Eeyore with them! There was a dinosaur ride very similar to the Dumbo ride in Dinoland so they were very excited to ride that one, and then they played in the boneyard playground for a long time. Nick said it was a really cool playground - Heather and I parked ourselves on a bench to rest and chit chat rather than go play.
We went to the Finding Nemo musical show which was really cool! Kate of course didn't trust any form of theater or ride at that point so she and Daddy ran off to do something else while we watched (she ended up falling asleep in the stroller). The Nemo show used puppets controlled by actors who voiced the puppet. When it began I thought it was going to be kind of lame, but it turned out to be really neat! Basically it was a shortened version of the movie.
We headed across the park to the Festival of the Lion King show next, and since I got to watch Nemo I let Nick watch the Lion King show while I took Kate. It worked out great because Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Baloo and King Louie were outside the theater so Kate got to meet them all and get photos because the lines were really short since everyone was in the theater.
We did some shopping after that and then the Jammin' Jungle Parade began. Nick, Kate and I had found a little trail that led right up underneath the Tree of Life during the parade so we were pretty much the only people back there since everyone else was parade watching. It was so cool to feel like you were all alone in the middle of a huge theme park. We snuck out to one side and actually got to see the whole parade as it was sneaking around to the end. Kate kept her ears covered the whole time, and several actors and characters mimicked her as they past. Pluto even walked over and put his hands on her ears too! She waved at everyone and it was a lot of fun. Baloo came over and said hi, as did that little gorilla from Tarzan...whose name I forget. Several people shouted "Happy anniversary" to us as they passed too.
After the parade it was time for Will, Heather, and Olivia to leave and start heading home. Kate cried because she hates goodbyes and once they left she said she was ready to go home. She changed her mind when we decided to splurge and eat dinner at the Tusker House African buffet. It was delicious!! Since it was kind of early we had the buffet almost to ourselves. There were all kinds of salads and breads and meats...I tried some african dishes I can't pronounce. The best item on the buffet was the caramel banana bread pudding. Oh my word...I got a helping just as a new, hot plate of it was being set out. I poured a little vanilla cream on top.....SO good.

We walked back over to Dinoland for one more ride on the spinning dinosaurs, and this time we all rode. Then it was time for us to call it a day and head out as well.

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