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Family Morning at Animal Kingdom

Monday, May 21, 2018

We decided as a family to hit up two parks over the weekend. Yes, we had a good bit of house stuff to do but when you can visit just for a couple hours, why not do it?

On Sunday April 29th we went to Animal Kingdom. Over Spring Break we had lucked out and been granted access to the park during the extra morning magic hour. We assumed it was just luck, but figured it wouldn't hurt to test it out.

Well. We won't be testing it out again! Ha! We got there and got into the park and a very small section was open for people waiting who weren't allowed in during the extra magic hour. We tried scanning our bands and no luck, we weren't granted access this time!


The girls and I were FINE with the wait but the boys were pretty annoyed. Mentally I reminded them that we usually get to the parks an hour prior to opening and we wait in the line to get in the park...we were essentially doing the same thing here but were able to wait for opening inside the park. I wasn't sure why it bugged them so much, maybe it was seeing all the people allowed in while we weren't?

It's crazy to believe that Animal Kingdom has been open for 20 YEARS! Does anyone else remember when they first opened? I remember the ads and not being overly excited for it. While we visited Disney decently often when I was a kid, we weren't what I'd consider a "Disney Family" the way our family is now. I have vague memories of visiting the park. Mostly of The Tree of Life. It really hasn't become a favorite park for us until very recently!


Animal Kingdom is SO detailed. You really need to take time and LOOK around! 


"Mom can we shop while we wait?"

Of. Course. We. Can. ;)


Tessie was beyond content seeing the birds and ducks and such while we waited!


Britt and I exited the park so we could go back to the entrance and get some pics with the 20th Birthday signage! 







Always take the time to dance!


It's hard to see the details of their outfits but I got Britt's top and Tess's leggings from Gap and they have images of Bambi on them!



We got to watch the cast members feed the birds and it was so interesting! First the birds in the area were pink so we assumed they ate shrimp like flamingos, but nope. They are just naturally pink and they actually eat fish and some weird meatball looking things! 

We also learned that TONS of wild birds inhabit Animal Kingdom and that the cast members have to physically keep them away when it's feeding time for the animals. We watched this cast member gently guide the birds away as he sought out the exhibit birds to make sure they got their fill. 





Tess has been on this kick of wanting to carry her little Bible with her EVERYWHERE and she even sleeps with it. Sweetest thing EVER!



On our Bucket List for Animal Kingdom is to someday complete the entire Wilderness Explorer Handbook. I think it'd be fun for me to bring the kids solo and try to do it all! It'd be something even Kye would be pumped about as we love a good mission. 

It's a completely free activity at Animal Kingdom and there are spots all over the park to guide you in completing it! It's more involved than the passports at Epcot for sure but I also believe there is more pride in finishing it ;) You don't have to complete it all in one visit (although that'd be our goal for fun!) and can take it home and bring it back on future visits to continue working through. 


Safari time!!!


Taking it alllll in!



I let Kye use my phone to get all the animal pics on the ride :) As always, we had a fantastic experience. 









Had to hold him up Simba-style when we passed the lions!



After the safari we split up! Britt has decided she no longer loves Everest and wanted to go with Tess, Spear and I to Lion King Show while Kye and Zach did Everest. We did not have any fast passes for Animal Kingdom and even with the extra morning magic hour we didn't have any trouble with wait times! We walked right on Safari with under 20 minute wait and everything else flowed very smoothly the entire morning. 

A great benefit of Pandora being SO POPULAR is that EVERYONE is THERE. It makes the rest of the park pretty empty which is awesome :) 

Apparently Kye bonded with these people enough for them to be in his pic haha!



The great thing with just TWO people (both over age 7) riding thrill rides is that most of them offer a single rider line where you can go through the line faster if you're okay with not sitting together. The boys LOVE taking advantage of this feature and were able to ride twice!

I ADORE how PUMPED Kye is!




The girls and I (and Spear!) walked into Lion King show with less than 5 minutes until the show started. I think it helped that crowds were low but coming in that late was also perfect timing because the cast members opened up the lower level reserved seating area that is for fast passes and handicap guests. We were able to sit RIGHT up front. It was AWESOME. 

Best seats we've ever had and it was a chance to enjoy the show in a totally new way. I have pretty awful vision (even after two rounds of Lasik) and haven't ever really gotten to see ALL the details in the costumes and truly enjoy the show in this way before. It was PHENOMENAL! 



Spear was WIDE awake taking it all in!









This guy was our favorite because hello alligator ;) 


On top of just the magic of getting to sit so close...BOTH girls got chosen to take part in the show! For the grand finale they were part of a parade going around the stage and playing instruments. They were both SO excited and Tess even got to hold hands with a "Zebra" to walk around! 

I was basically freaking out haha



Then at the end of their walking around Timon complimented everyone in the show on the great job they did and he looked down at Tess and pointed at her and said "Especially YOU!"



He got right down on her level and blew her a kiss and she was ALL about it :) 


Blurry pic but THAT SMILE!!!


It was incredible. I had chills and just that magic moment type feeling. I felt SO bad that Zach wasn't there for such a special moment with the girls!!!



Britt ADORES the Lion King Show (I mean really who doesn't?) and getting to be part of it made her feel SO special. She said she can't decide if that's her favorite Disney moment over pulling the sword out of the stone ;) It was SO awesome. Truly!!! 


Our Star ;) Tess let the celebrity go to her head and was too cool for a photo ;) 


We met back up and had a little snack time so we could tell Daddy all about the special moment then split up again. This time Zach took Kye and Britt to ride Dinosaur (Britt still likes this one!) and I took Spear and Tessie to watch the Nemo Show. 


Again, I planned for the timing of everything we did that morning. I chose to see the Nemo Show at 11:00 because that's when Spear eats ;) We got in the theater again right when it was about to start and, again, there was TONS of available seating. I let Tess choose and she went right up front which was awesome. I feel like I got to appreciate both shows in a totally new way this visit!

We sat next to other families so I asked them if they minded if I changed Spear's diaper real quick before the show started. It was pretty dark and no little eyes were near us and the people around us okayed it so I went for it ;) 


She was PUMPED!


Lunch and a Show!



If you're looking at the stage look to the far bottom left and you can find a great hidden Mickey in the bubbles!


There is a common debate among Disney fans on which stage show is superior: Lion King or Nemo. I will say BOTH are MUST SEES. Neither are much like their movies. Like it's not a show that's an exact copy of the movie (like Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast at DHS are). 

In Lion King there is a lot of activity. It features the songs from the movie but no story line. There is fire, gymnastics, dancing. It's active, fun and vibrant. 

With Nemo it's a totally different experience. It does follow the storyline of the movie but tells almost a deeper, more meaningful story. I don't cry watching Finding Nemo but I cry EVERY TIME watching the stage show. 

It's incredible to watch (especially up close!) as the talent and details are just amazing. But the story is just SO GOOD. It focuses more on Marlin and the role as parents in raising our children. Whew. It's just awesome. Kids will love it but parents will too! 




BUBBLES!!!




She didn't want to ever leave :) 


We all met back up and hit the potty then hit the road! 

I read an article recently about how Disney trips aren't best for quality bonding time and I have to disagree. I bond a TON with my kids at the parks. I love the moments of walking from attraction to attraction together hand in hand. I love listening to their excitement. Sharing in the joy together. It's my favorite place to have quality time! 



I told Zach I really wanted to make sure to get one family photo in the park since it was Spear's first visit. I didn't care where, just one pic! We opted for a photo pass photographer who was standing near the park exit and she was awesome! SUPER patient and sweet and set us up for a magic photo with Pua which we were pumped to see!

But when it uploaded it was actually Minnie. Still adorable...but not a stinky pig like Kye was assuming would be in the photo haha!




 Spear is too cool for the roaring lion poses ;) 


This is the first time I've worn this shirt and I was shocked (in a good way!) at the quality since it was SO CHEAP. 



We had such a fun morning and Spear loved his first visit to Animal Kingdom! 

Under 5 months old and he's officially visited every Disney World Park :) #babygoals 



My go-to move for saving time in the parks is to pack lunch for the kids and keep it in the car then they eat on our drive home. This works GREAT butttt the downside of our Disney Vacation Rental Home being soclose to the parks is  that they no longer actually have time to eat it all on the drive ha! 

We have to plan for that because we can't walk in the door and tuck them all in for naps right away like we're used to! We left Animal Kingdom early enough for it to all work out and for them to be in the bed pretty quick. I had big evening plans with the big three so they needed some SLEEP!

I bought a cute little dry erase board and put it by the fridge and it's already so helpful! Britt wrote the sweetest note :) 


Our big plan for the house was to get up some decor. I got these really cute signs at Hobby Lobby. This room is the upstairs Master Bedroom and we're doing a Beauty and the Beast theme in there and I LOVE how it's coming together!!!


I also found this cool clock that reminded me of Cogsworth (anyone else surprised that his name is Cogsworth? This whole time I've thought it was CLOCKSWORTH hahaha) 


Pumped for the great mood she'd be in that afternoon with her lack of nap wahhhh!


I spent all of nap getting everything completely packed that I could for us to head home. In my planning I didn't really think about the fact that the kids and I would be at the parks until after 10 pm that night and that we had to hit the road by 7 am the next morning for us to be able to check Kye and Britt into school. Oops planning fail! Thankfully it all worked out and our night was SO worth it!!!


Want to know all my Disney tips and tricks? Be sure to follow me on Pinterest and be sure to check out my Happiest Place on Earth Board where I share all my Disney related pins! 

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