Monday, June 11, 2012

Animal Kingdom: March Trip Report pt.4

Monday Morning we were up early and headed to the Animal Kingdom.  Everyone was still a little sleepy as we waited for the bus and on the ride over, but once we were inside the park, excitement took over.  That was even more true once we reached Tusker House!  Because we had a very early breakfast reservation, we were able to walk through the park to the Africa section before the park officially opened.  Which basically means, it was an incredibly quiet, peaceful and beautiful walk to the restaurant.  Once checked in, we had a short wait before meeting Donald outside for a photo.  Then we were taken to our table and the consuming of the Jungle Juice began!  We love, love, love this juice!!  If you've never eaten at Tusker House, I would highly recommend it.  Not only is the juice fantastic, but they have a phenomenal buffet which includes breakfast standards like scrambled eggs, bacon, biscuits & gravy, but also some items with an African flair (love the potatoes), and of course, the ever popular Mickey waffle. 
And to top it off, you get to visit with none other than Mickey, Goofy & Daisy, who come around to your table in their safari gear.  Payton has done this breakfast a few times, so he knew what to expect, but Ari was another story!  He got so excited as each character came around.  It was all we could do to keep him at our table waiting patiently until they came to us.  He also enjoyed the fun musical parade they did around the restaurant.  It was a great way to kick-off the vacation.

After Tusker House, we were off to ride Kilimanjaro Safari.  It was a gorgeous morning, with slightly cool temperatures, and the animals were out in force.  Unfortunately, so were the safari trucks, and at one point we were literally in a traffic jam.  Kind of lost a bit of the magic there for a few moments.  We saw a lot of neat sights and at one point, a giraffe crossed the road right in front of our truck and walked so close to the side we could have reached out and touched it!  We were also able to see the additions made to the safari for the Wild Africa Trek that they are now offering to guests.  If you want to know more about this special tour, click here.

Our safari was followed by a walk through the Pangani Forest.  Unfortunately, everyone had the same idea and it was really crowded.  We did get to see one of the biggest silverback gorillas in the park as we walked across the bridge to head out of Africa and on to Camp Minnie Mickey!

Festival of the Lion King has to be one of my all time favorite live shows in all of Walt Disney World.  In fact, if I were to be completely honest, it's one of the primary reasons I go to Animal Kingdom at all!!  So naturally, I had to make sure my nephew got the chance to see it.  He loved it of course!  The music, costumes and dancing just transform the theater in the round and make you feel as if you are part of the show.

While in Camp Minnie Mickey, we had the opportunity to visit with Meeko & Donald Duck.  Right before our turn to see Donald, we had the opportunity to allow a Make A Wish Foundation family go ahead of us.  It was such a privilege to be a part of their magical moment.  Give Kids the World and the Make A Wish Foundation are wonderful organizations that give kids the chance to come to Walt Disney World and just be kids...and doesn't every kid deserve that opportunity?! 

After our visit to Camp Minnie Mickey, it was finally time to break down and let the boys play in Dinoland.  But before we moved on to "exciting" and "adventurous" rides (that's what the boys were begging for by this time), we had to take a journey under the Tree of Life and learn how It's Tough to Be a Bug.  Now honestly, this isn't one of my favorite shows, but it's always fun to go and listen to the giggles and squeals of both kids and adults as they jump and dodge the various bugs.  I personally could spend all day just exploring the Tree and all of its carvings.  We even got a chance to meet the star of the show, Flik!

So we finally made it to Dinoland after a quick stop for some ice cream.  We walked around Chester & Hester's Dino-Rama, enjoyed our snacks, then it was on to the main attraction...Dinosaur!  I'll admit it, this one makes me nervous.  I know the dinosaurs aren't real, but that doesn't keep me from closing my eyes and screaming a lot!  When the ride was over, Ari kept saying how awesome the dinosaurs were and that he wasn't scared at all.  Then we got to the gift shop and saw the ride photos.  Mom was looking right at the dinosaur, I was leaned over toward Payton, who was also leaning away with his eyes closed....but where was Ari?  That's right, he had his head between his knees!  He didn't even see the final dino!  We laughed and teased him the rest of the trip over that one.

Up next, a quick spin on the Primeval Whirl!  Talk about an adventure!  Getting into the car was adventurous because the boys wanted to sit together, so mom and I had to squeeze into one side while they sat on the other.  We screamed as we spun around and dipped and twirled.  Then, after being completely dizzy, we attempted to get out.  It wasn't pretty I can promise you!  First, it was rough just getting the safety bar up over both of us, then attempting to get out after being squeezed in so tight!  Yikes!  I'm sure several people in line were rethinking their seating strategy after seeing us trying to get out.

Leaving Dinoland, we made our way to Asia to pick up fast passes for Kahli River Rapids and to tour the Maharaja Jungle Trek.  We had a very nice time viewing the bats and tigers, but the boys were only interested in one thing...getting drenched in the Rapids.  So we made our way out and took a short rest in the outdoor seating for Yak & Yeti while we waiting for our return time.  Once we were able to enter, the line moved very quickly, and mom and I quickly dressed in our ponchos and prepared ways to keep our gear dry.  Not the boys!  Their primary goal was to get as wet as possible.  The ride was so much fun and they definitely got wet.  And mom & I were able to pass our ponchos on to other poor souls in line!  By this point, everyone was ready to head back to the resort to rest and get ready for dinner.  The boys stopped to pose for a quick photo on the way out, then it was onto the bus (which luckily for us, was waiting right at our stop!).

Next evening at the Poly!