Auntie Katie Disney Trip – Animal Kingdom Oct 2019
Katie has been friends with Zach and I since before there was even a Zach and I.
This year is actually our FIFTEENTH year of friendship. 15 years guys!
She was in our wedding. She was there for each of our baby’s births (and drove down to meet Spear as soon as possible after he was born too).
She’s THE definition of a ride or die friend and it’s always been so great that she and Zach were part of a friendship group prior to Zach and I meeting because they are also friends. When she comes to hang out it’s not awkward b/c we’ve all three been part of each other’s lives for so long!
Zach had a super sweet idea of inviting Katie with us to Disney.
I’ve been solo with Katie before (on one of my very fav park days EVER) and we obviously go every year to the Halloween Party (post to come on this year’s event!) but she’s never been to the parks with our kids before.
And really going to Disney with kids is just an entirely different experience than without and it was super thoughtful of Zach to want to include Katie on that kind of trip!
We decided to plan the trip for Fall Break in hopes that it’d be a little cooler weather and would allow for more FUN since the kids were out of school both on Friday and Monday.
It ended up becoming an EPIC trip. I was literally away from home for 11 days. WHOA.
We took two cars down so Katie and I rode in the van with the kids and Zach met us with the truck.
We stopped on the way for an oldie from Valdosta that isn’t here anymore…McAlisters!
Kye was pretty pumped to be able to have some girl-free time since the girls were just ALL about Auntie Katie!
Our original plan was to do a day at MK and a character meal but since we had several days it made sense to do an extra park day!
Katie had never been to Animal Kingdom so I recommended that as our second park day!
We all got settled and went to bed nice and early Thur night and then got up early to head to AK Friday morning (with the Halloween party on Fri and Sun we had to do MK Sat).
I LOVE that the girls ALL matched! I happened to already have animal print dresses for the girls and when Katie mentioned she’d ordered an animal print dress, I jumped on and ordered one too!
You can scoop up my dress here!
We recently learned about Disney’s Disability Service Access Pass, which you can learn more about here.
As y’all know Zach has multiple sclerosis which puts him under that umbrella of this sort of pass being beneficial from him. (you can also read more about Zach’s health here)
The way the pass works is that he has to go to a ride to scan his pass and has to return back to ride the ride with the group when it’s time to ride.
The pass basically works like a virtual line. For example, we headed straight to Pandora and he scanned the band at Flight of Passage.
He was told a return time of 10:30 which was 2.5 hours after scanning the band.
We met him at Na’vi River and rode that as Katie’s first Animal Kingdom ride!
Our plan for the day was for all of us to hang out at AK that morning and then around lunch time Zach and Spear would leave.
So the goal for the morning was for Zach, Katie and the thrill seekers to ride all the thrill rides they could!
Britt opted not to ride Everest so she, Spear, Tess and I went ahead and headed over to Safari to hang out and wait.
Animal Kingdom has a new Lion King themed scavenger hunt going on and I thought it’d be super fun to use our time hunting for the themed items!
We went into the gift shop to pick up the maps for the scavenger hunt and got to see some of the fun merchandise and posters while we waited.
Then it was our turn to get a map and yall they charge $6.99 for it. Um. NOPE.
We checked the line for Safari and it was an HOUR. I told Zach that we’d just meet them somewhere else when they got done and he mentioned that the single rider line was super short so they rode it again!
After they finished up we had some time before the next FastPass so we met the daring crew at It’s Tough to be a Bug (which rarely has much of a wait).
I was a tad nervous about how Spear would do with the experience since it’s so dark and does have some “scary” scenes.
He got a little bit of a lower lip sticking out and I thought the tears might come but he held strong!
We headed over to the Dinosaur area and got to see Kevin from Up roaming around!
Tess is tall enough to ride Dinosaur so she went with Zach, Katie, Kye and Britt and I had some chill time with Spear.
We rode the little Dino ride and then happened to walk by Goofy at his meet and greet.
Spear seemed so excited to see him and the line wasn’t too bad so I hopped in it!
Goofy was so cute and Spear was ADORABLE with him!
I also love that Zach saw a photo pass photographer and stopped for a pic on their way to meet us!
By then it was time to head back to Pandora for the Flight of Passage ride.
A good tip to know about FOP is that it’s a SUPER long ride. Even with a short wait or short line, it’s still a long ride itself.
If you have kids that aren’t tall enough to ride, be prepared for a good bit of a wait.
I really think they should have (or need to) incorporate a playground into Pandora somewhere.
But for now I just took Spear and Tess to the gift shop and did some exploring and then let Tess run and play with the drums!
She also played peek-a-boo with me and it was really fun. She does SO WELL with the waiting around for things she’s not tall enough to ride.
Spear fell asleep early on in our FOP wait and got a good little cat nap in!
I love the stronger Lion King presence at Animal Kingdom! I hope they keep it going even after the Live Action release dies down.
I especially LOVE the new wall! So fun!!!
I know childless millennials have gotten some heat regarding visiting the parks but can I just say I love that they are there because they take THE best pics? 😉 I can always count on a 20something girl to be hanging around the cute picture spots and they are always willing to snap some pics for me!
I’m totally team childless millennials 😉
We all went to meet Minnie and Mickey! I LOVE Minnie and Mickey’s safari outfits and know that Katie enjoys character meetings…plus I’m always hoping for a great family picture 😉
After the meet and greet Zach headed out with Spear and at the last minute Kye decided to go too.
Which is SUCH a nice benefit of having annual passes.
It was hard because I would NEVER want to leave Disney so I couldn’t help Kye in making the decision but he felt like heading back, so he went back and he and Zach had a great guy time afternoon with swimming and video game time!
The rest of the day was all about GIRL TIME!
The park was WAY more crowded than I had anticipated but we still had a blast!
Our first move was to head to grab some lunch before going to see the Festival of the Lion King.
I wanted to hear from Katie which show she liked better: Lion King or Nemo 🙂
Britt favors Lion King and plans to have a part in the show someday!
We also got to see Kevin again and this time he ran into his pals Russel and Doug! SO CUTE.
When the show finished up we rode up to Rafiki’s Planet Watch. I’ve only been there once (with Tess for her 4th birthday) and they’ve done some changes recently so I was excited to check it out.
Out of all the things we did that day Katie said she really enjoyed our time at Rafiki’s Planet Watch and I agree – it was fun to ride the train and to take part in the Animation Experience!
We have had a couple experiences with some animation. We went to Art of Animation for a lesson once when Tess was a toddler. And then again in Disneyland (Tess slept through the whole thing).
My expectations were super low because I figured Tess would sleep again (she kept saying she was GOING to sleep ha!) and I assumed Britt’s drawing would turn out looking creepy again like hers did last year.
But man the girls did AWESOME. Our character was Ed (hyena from Lion King) and it was not easy to follow along with the animator.
Britt did keep saying “mine it terrible, mine is terrible.” But it was actually great! I just kept reminding her that it wasn’t going to be perfect!
Tess was down by Katie and I guess she was doing awesome for a long time then randomly she just started CRYING.
She’s such a little Kye. She wants to do it JUST RIGHT and with one little mistake she just melted down and didn’t want to keep going.
She didn’t even want to take a picture of it after we finished and didn’t want to even talk about it. Bless. Def something to work on with her as I know I’ve struggled with perfectionism and it’s tough!
We not only had fun with our drawings but we also found some EPIC Hidden Mickeys!
After the drawing we wanted to make sure Tessie was happy so we headed to the petting zoo portion for a little bit before heading back down the train!
I wanted to make sure Katie got a cute Tree of Life pic so we took the “back way” behind the tree where I tend to find a hidden photo pass photographer.
We were able to stop a few places and get some cute pics! We also were able to grab a FastPass for Nemo and the waiting area was SO nice and shaded!
Katie agreed with me – Nemo the Musical is THE best show at Disney!
Britt loved getting to watch it too because usually Tess and I watch it when Zach and the bigger two are riding something Tessie isn’t tall enough to ride.
We decided to get some quick service dinner in the Dinosaur area.
We walked into the quick service place and saw a line that had no one in it. When we went over they told us it was for people to order for Restaurantosaurus.
It was totally a magical Disney moment because we were able to walk right in to a brand new restaurant theme they are testing out.
We paid $22 per adult and $12.50 per kid and were able to choose a gourmet burger (or kids meal), side, and any drink (milkshakes included!) and then also received a voucher for an ice cream sundae bar!
It was like quick service but a step up without being as hardcore as a table service.
We ordered like we would for quick service, and paid, and then were seated and able to serve ourselves the drinks (the girls and I got hot chocolate!) and enjoyed drawing on the table before the cast members brought out our food.
We were all super impressed and really, really enjoyed the experience and want to go back and surprise Kye for his birthday trip!
We were all in the giddy girlie mood after dinner. The fun and the SUGAR def got us all super pumped!
I’d originally assumed we’d be back to the house around 6ish and we ended up deciding to stay to ride Safari.
I mean Katie couldn’t come to Animal Kingdom and NOT ride it, right?!?!
It was basically dusk when we rode and it was a different experience and it seemed like a lot of animals were already in for the night but it was still fun and enough excitement for Katie as a first timer!
We had SUCH a fun first day! We got home exhausted and all went straight to sleep for our next EPIC Disney Day the next day!
It was so fun having Katie with us. The kids all always wanted to be the ones sitting with her on the rides and beside her during the shows.
It’s just so sweet to see them with her and to know the love they all have for a friend who’s so special to me in my life and seeing the love she has for them in return just means THE world to me!
A video of our trip should auto play on this post 🙂