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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Disney Day 3: Animal Kingdom

My original plan was to spend the morning sleeping in and relaxing after our day at Magic Kingdom, nap then hit up Animal Kingdom that afternoon. However, when I started to go through the itinerary, I realized that Animal Kingdom closed at 5pm! It's common during low-crowd times for the parks to close down early and Animal Kingdom would be closing that early every day we were in town. So plans changed! I read a lot about each park (especially Animal Kingdom and Disney Hollywood Studios since I don't know them at all like I know Magic Kingdom) and everything I read said that Animal Kingdom can easily be done in a day, or even just half a day.

I decided to go with the morning at Animal Kingdom then nap and rest that afternoon. Our final park day we could spend the morning finishing up whatever we had left to do at Animal Kingdom. The weather said it was supposed to start raining at noon that day so we packed a bit of rain gear, but not as much as the day before. We knew we'd be leaving around noon for nap so we weren't overly worried about it!

We started each morning with a solid breakfast to get us fueled up and ready to go! For this morning Zach made his famous pancakes for everyone (gah, they sound SO good right now!!!)

notice Minnie and Mickey are watching ;)
It was the morning that I turned 29 Weeks Pregnant and had to do my belly picture before we headed out. Kye said he wanted a picture too!
It's RARE when our child asks for a picture so of course we took advantage of it!
I was not overly excited for Animal Kingdom. I've been once, when it first opened, and don't remember loving anything. I only had THREE things on my itinerary for that morning at the entire park. There really just isn't much there. Tip One thing I noticed every day the parks all opened earlier than the times I thought they'd open. We never got to a park that wasn't already opened when we arrived. And we got there plenty before 9! I wonder if the low crowd levels they just let people in?!?!

Kye was excited to see Simba outside the park gates

the adults - ready to face another day at the parks!
The first thing to do at Animal Kingdom is ride Kilimanjaro Safari. It's the biggest attraction there and the wait times can get crazy. We headed there first and on the way I looked over the Times Guide. The other two things we wanted to do there were both shows and their times did not work out very well for us. Festival of the Lion King is a 25 min show but you're supposed to get there 20 min early for it and Finding Nemo - The Musical is 45 minutes long and they tell you to be there 30 min early. There went our entire morning just trying to see those two shows! Mrs. Charlotte and I figured out the timing of everything on our trek to Africa to Kilimanjaro Safari.

The safari was the first ride we encountered where the wheelchair actually hurt our wait time. They made us wait in a special section and we saw people in the regular line who were behind us get on the ride before we did. It also was the first ride that I planned on riding that said pregnant women shouldn't ride. I did NOT see that info in any of my reading material when planning the trip. At Wild Adventures every ride says pregnant women shouldn't ride which is so dumb. It's just them covering their butts in case of a law suit or something. But Disney doesn't joke around. The only things I could ride in Magic Kingdom were the mountains (Space, Splash and Thunder). I had heard that the safari was bumpy but not that it wasn't safe for pregnant women. Everyone else in our group felt okay about me riding it, but I was nervous about it. However, I didn't want to sit it out and miss seeing the animals with Kye so I got on!

already busting out the snacks with the long wait we had!
The neat thing about the safari was that it was ALL real animals and real sightings. Sure, the animals are enclosed but you aren't guaranteed to see anything. They have a REALLY large space to roam (one entire Magic Kingdom park can fit inside the safari area!). It did have the feel of a real safari. It got a little boring at times because we didn't always see something (that's why you gotta love The Jungle Cruise right?!?!) but overall it was a cool experience!

sea gulls
giraffes
not too sure about the ride...
I think this age wasn't quite old enough for it because it was very brief animal sightings and they were often far away and it was hard for Kye to even see them before we passed them!
Probably the coolest thing we saw were the elephants. They were very close and they had little baby ones! Kye will still talk about the baby elephants and we found out later from a cast member that the babies aren't a sight often seen so we got lucky!
Our safari also had to stop and WAIT while several ostriches passed us!
ostrich eggs
sleeping lion
rhinos
While riding the safari I totally regretted doing it. It was BEYOND bumpy and while I tend to get motion sickness, that wasn't my problem. I felt a lot of cramping. Enough where I was scared. One of the "tricks" you hear about going into labor is to ride in a bumpy car and I was nervous that the safari would end with me at the hospital delivering an early baby! Zach was scared too (to the point where I wish I had a better game face so he wouldn't have known...I didn't want to spoil the ride for anyone!). After the ride I still felt the cramping but (thank the LORD) didn't have any spotting which helped me feel better about it. I just knew I needed to take it EASY and I was so thankful that Zach had insisted on the wheel chair! ESPECIALLY because we had to book it to make it in time for the Nemo show.

This is the problem with Animal Kingdom. It's the largest park but with very little to do so you're trekking across the whole thing in order to see stuff. We were told you can fit over 3 entire Magic Kingdom parks into Animal Kingdom. Trust me, we could tell! The pathways are paved but they are very hilly and bumpy and just not very well done for walking. They are very authentic looking (the entire park is done up super awesome!) but just not pracitcal for the amount of walking you have to do. Of course, I'm sitting here complaining about the walking but didn't actually walk it myself...Zach pushed me in the wheelchair the entire way. Mom pushed Kye in the stroller and Mrs. Char just worked her walking legs. We had 20 min to get from Africa to Dinoland and we made it...but everyone was EXHAUSTED. I felt so guilty riding like I did but we would have never made it if I had walked with my cramping going on!!!

We were SO thankful to get to the Nemo theater and have the cool air conditioner and the awesome seats. The Cast Member who helped us was beyond awesome. I propped up my feet for a good 15 min which really helped me to feel better and he let Kye get away with eating snacks when you weren't supposed to have food or drink in the theater.

It was a lot of work to get there but everyone agreed - the show was worth it. I hadn't heard that much about the Nemo Musical but we LOVED it. It was so unique and kept Kye's attention pretty much the entire time. It followed the movie pretty much exactly but I liked it better than the movie as the storyline was more direct about the lesson for parents. Our babies will grow up and we have to let them go and experience the world! LOVED it!!!
Everything is done with puppets but was SO real looking you forgot there were even people there!



Kye gets on a Nemo kick pretty often. He'll talk and talk and talk about Nemo touching the boat and the shark. After the musical he did not stop telling us about it. He loved it for sure!

We enjoyed the break but had to hurry again but this time across to Camp Minnie Mickey to make it to The Festival of The Lion King. We weren't as stressed this time because we had made it in plenty of time to Nemo! I think the whole "you have to be there 20-30 min early" thing is kinda a joke. We ended up waiting a good bit for both shows! Lesson learned!!!

Kye wanted to take over pushing the wheelchair (you can also see how the walking paths were there...not very user friendly!)
I had heard SO many AMAZING things about The Festival of The Lion King so we were pretty stoked about it. I know it's Macy's favorite thing at all the Disney parks and a cast member told us that it's the #1 rated Disney show out of any show in the world. Pretty awesome! We have had Kye watch Lion King in preparation for this show and he LOVES Simba!
We saw the 10:30 Nemo show and had to wait to see the noon Lion King one. We were hoping to leave by noon to get Kye back for his nap but didn't want to leave without seeing that show. We had all pretty much decided we had no desire to come back to Animal Kingdom and just wanted to get in the three main things we wanted to see then say SEE YA to that park!

Kye was pretty sleepy and it was a HOT morning which didn't help!
ready for The Lion King!!!
The wheelchair really hooked us up for The Lion King show...we were right up front!!! It was AWESOME!!! We fed Kye his lunch while waiting for the show to start. It was lunch time and it helped him stay busy while he waited.
He sat with Gramma for the show!
I remember as a kid we'd go to Sesame Street Live in Atlanta and one time my dad got selected from the audience to dance with Count Dracula. I for real thought he was such a celeb ;) Zach got selected to be part of The Lion King show and it was so exciting! He helped our leader guy teach everyone how to sound like an elephant since we were supposed to be the elephant section ;)

Showing off his elephant skills (of course I also took a video!)

our elephant!
We were not fully aware what the show would actually be like and all kinda assumed it would be similar to Nemo where it basically told the story of the Lion King. It was still SUPER awesome and very high-action but it wasn't what we were expecting. It was all the songs from The Lion King with some performers (flame throwers, acrobats, dancers, etc) and some big animals on floats. Simba moved and blinked and everything which was really neat and he even looked directly at us several times!
We kept telling Kye "there's Simba!" and he didn't believe us b/c he was expecting to see the baby Simba!
it was a good enough show to keep everyones attention!
When the show ended Kye got very upset. He did NOT want to leave Simba. He cried and cried and Simba was really sweet about it (haha, I mean he was attached to a float and all but he nodded at Kye a lot and blinked his eyes.). It was tough getting Kye to leave and was really a precious thing. We all said we enjoyed Nemo more than Lion King but Kye really loved that Simba!!!
We skipped majority of Animal Kingdom. We didn't go to any of the animal viewing spots. Don't get me wrong I love animals. But, in my opinion, we paid for a Disney experience and walking around looking at animals in cages isn't really Disney to me, at all. We went to the zoo to see animals ya know? I know MOST parents say that Animal Kingdom is their child's favorite and that they spend tons of time there to see all the animals. That's great! Maybe your child is that way, but ours isn't (well...who knows he may have liked seeing them?!? I guess I should say we aren't into that haha). They do have a petting zoo section that we were told was pretty much sheep and goats which we have at Wild Adventures so we didn't do that either.

We did not do the It's Tough to be a Bug ride inside the Tree of Life because it's too scary for young children and I heard from lots of other parents at the parks that it's true that it's too scary. I don't remember it being scary at all but since I haven't been on it as an adult I didn't want to risk trying it out. There are a good bit of characters you can meet at Animal Kingdom. We passed by Flick from A Bug's Life and Kye waved hi to him. We also passed Chip and Dale (who I love but Kye has no clue who they are) and Thumper with some girl rabbit who I didn't know who she was?!?! We didn't stop to meet any of them though.

There are several rides for adults only at Animal Kingdom. It's a GREAT one to go back to if you don't always have your kids with you (and you like rides like that haha). Those rides include: Kali River Rapids, Expedition Everest, Primeval Whirl and Dinosaur. We, obviously, didn't do any of those rides either. The only other thing we didn't do that I wouldn't have minded checking out was the Flights of Wonder show. It's a live bird show and probably would have been neat. We all agreed though that seeing that one show was not worth going all the way back to that park!

On our way out we stopped to take some pictures at The Tree of Life. It's super awesome!


As we were exiting the park the rain came upon us again! How's that for perfect timing?!?! Tip I'm sooooo thankful we did the park hopper passes. Yes, it's an added $13 per day per ticket. But EVERYONE in our group agreed that it was great that we did it. We were able to change our park plans up until the minute we entered the park if we wanted to (which I DID change our plans several times before we left for the trip) and we had the option to revisit any park at any time. None of us were very impressed with Animal Kingdom and were thankful we did not spend the money on a one day ticket there and that I didn't PLAN for a whole day at that park. 3 hours was plenty for us. Will we go back? Yes! Both Nemo and Lion King were well worth it. But I'll be sure to plan ahead better for the showtimes and only plan for a 1/2 day visit again like we did!

We got back to the condo and put Kye down for nap right away. We all ate lunch (left over pizza) then Mom and Zach headed back out the parks. Another GREAT advantage of the park hoppers! They were able to jump from park to park and ride all the adult rides they wanted to get in since our group trips were devoted to things Kye would enjoy. They went back to Animal Kingdom and loved Expedition Everest. They said it was the BEST ride and they rode it multiple times (Zach pushed Mom in the wheelchair. Which was legit! The woman had been walking like CRAZY and has a really bad foot!). They said Dinosaur was pretty lame but Expedition Everest was totally worth all the Animal Kingdom walking! They also re-visited Magic Kingdom to ride the mountains and ended up leaving when several of them closed due to the bad weather. They ended up going out to dinner just the two of them before coming back to the condo. Isn't it AWESOME that they have such a great relationship!?!?

I kept telling everyone how blessed we were the entire trip. We ALL get along so well and have SO MUCH fun together! How many people honestly like their mother in law and enjoy spending time with them?!?! Not many! Zach and Mom even work together and get along great! He calls her "duece" which means "second mom" and he honestly does view her that way and I know she loves him like a son too.
While they were gone Mrs. Charlotte and I napped and relaxed. We were probably in need of a good solid nap just as bad as Kye was! The kid was CASHED OUT! You can see his little mouth wide opened in his deep sleep state on the video monitor ;)
When he got up Mrs Charlotte had some calls to make so I just relaxed on the couch with my feet up and enjoyed Kye "reading" to me. He thinks any big book with small print is a Bible and he was preaching a lesson ;) In this video he's talking/preaching about who came with him to Disney, all about Nemo and the boat, and seeing Simba. Here's another video of him reading...I just love how seriously he takes it (and when he said "oh my gosh")!
Mrs. Charlotte and I fed Kye dinner and she helped me bathe him and put him to bed. Zach and Mom picked us up some Subway on their way back and we had another relaxing evening! Tip I think that 4 days is the best amount of time to devote to park days. At least, if you don't plan to do Epcot. We had three parks to cover and four days to do it in which allowed us time for relaxation. Toddlers need to rest and so do the adults!!! I enjoyed having the free afternoon and it really gave us a chance to recharge. Plus it allowed Zach and Mom to ride the more adventurous stuff so they didn't miss out on those rides either!

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