Saturday, July 31, 2010

Disney Vacation - Day 4

Carter & Olivia were ready to start the day at Animal Kingdom.

The first thing we saw upon entering the park was The Tree of Life

It's visible from virtually any spot inside the park so you really can't miss it.  After all, It is 145 feet tall and 50 feet wide.  And in case you can't tell from the picture, there are animals carved into the bark of the tree.  It really is quite a sight to see.

Our plan of attack for the day at Animal Kingdom was to start at the Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction (along with most everyone else who arrived at the park when it opened like we did).  We had previously heard that the wait could get long, and we definitely wanted to go on it, so it was an easy choice on how to begin our day.  And it did not disappoint.  Fun fact: the safari takes place on a 100-acre savanna making it the largest attraction at any Disney Theme Park.  You're welcome.

[The following animal pictures were taken from a rugged, bumpy vehicle traveling through the savanna, so I apologize in advance for their lack of superb quality.]

We saw some rhinoceroses...

A baby giraffe...

Some hippopotamuses... hippoptami... hippos.

 An elephant herd...

And some of the whites flamingos I've ever seen.

Next up after the safari was a stroll (hike) through the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail.  I didn't take a whole lot of pictures because... well, there wasn't a lot to photograph, but as soon as I saw these two guys, I had to whip out the camera.  Gorillas always seem to amuse me with their plump disposition and apparent awkwardness.

Especially when they decide to plop down directly in front of the viewing window.

We needed a bit of a rest after the trail, so we hopped aboard the Wildlife Express Train to Rafiki's Planet Watch.  This part of the park was a little more educational than our two under four could really comprehend, but we did get to meet Rafiki.

But we did get to brush some domesticated goats in the "Affection Section", aka the petting zoo.

And of course we had to caputure this guy:
{Woooo Pig! Sooie!}
Oh and Nana & Jaja had a great time at the Conservation Station where they saw surgery being performed on an animal, I think.

After a quick lunch in Dinoland, Carter was recharged and ready for the TriceraTop Spin--which is exactly the same ride as Dumbo's Flying Elephants & Aladdin's Magic Carpet Ride at Magic Kingdom, but apparently, when Disney has a good thing, they replicate it... x3.  Nonetheless, Carter & Olivia enjoyed it just as much as they others and begged to ride it again as soon as it was over.

And because Nick's parents love us so much, they entertained the kids for a little bit while Nick & I snuck away to ride Primevil Whirl, where we snapped a picture of us waiting in line.

Once the gang was all together again, we made a group decision to go see It's Tough to be a Bug!  I thought based on our success with the Mickey 3D show at Magic Kingdom that the kids would enjoy it.  Boy.Was.I.Wrong.  First of all, the show was in the base of The Tree of Life, so we had a long walk down there trying to convince Carter that it was going to be funny and not scary.  Secondly, though he's never seen the movie, A Bug's Life, I assumed that being an animated Disney film, the characters would be all warm and fuzzy.  Well, I'm sure you can see where this is going, and that's absolutely what happened.  Carter started screaming, crying about two minutes in, so we left the theater.  It was only seconds later that Nana came out the doors with a crying Olivia, so obviously, the show was a little big for our kids.  Will we ever learn?

After the bug show catastrophe, we knew we needed something nice and light and airy to change the mood.  So we went and watched the Flights of Wonder live bird show.  I'll admit that I wasn't too excited about it, and we had to do our fair share of convincing just to get Carter to enter the theater, but once it started, that all changed.

There were maccaws, eagles, and hawks along with many other birds I didn't even recognize.  Not to mention that at one point, Nick honestly thought that the hawk flying overhead was actually going to pick up our son out of his seat.  The trainers did a great job of being equal parts educational and entertaining.

The exit to the theather put us out precisely along the path of the Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade set to take place about 30 minutes later, so (once again) my gracious mother-in-law wrangled the kids while Dave, Nick & myself rode Expedition Everest.

We weren't quite sure what to expect, but that left us plesantly surprised with this roller coaster.  In fact, at one point, you're travelling around corner and the track suddenly stops.  Of course it's all part of the experience, the track behind you moves and you're on your merry way again, but for someone not knowing to even expect that, there's an ever-so-brief moment of Oh $#^+!  But all's well that end's well, and I'm really happy that we got to ride a few big-people-only rides.

We made it back to our parade-watching post just in time...

The costumes were really elaborate.

There were these really neat ornately decorated "floats" that were pulled by a person in costume made to look like various exotic birds.

And of course, all our favorite characters...
Chip & Dale

Donald Duck

The one-and-only Minnie Mouse
The last order of business for the day was the Festival of the Lion King, which is a live action show complete with singers/dancers, themed floats, acrobats & crowd interaction.  I didn't know what to expect but it was amazing and very entertaining, and not even just for a show in a theme park. 

Of course, Olivia could have cared less about the show.  (I think our seats were too far away from the action to keep her interest.)  But hey, at least she caught an early evening nap!

The Lion King show was in Camp Minnie-Mickey, which worked out really well because the camp is an area where the characters have specific places where they stand while patrons line up to have their picture taken with them.  Of course we had to wait in every line; Carter was in heaven.  (And Olivia was still asleep.)

Olivia woke up just in time to meet Donald.  She hesitantly gave him a hug, and the tears really started coming when we snapped the picture.

This day had been especially hot and tiresome, so we knew our time there was over, but we didn't call it a night.  Since the parade & fireworks at Magic Kingdom had been rained out on Saturday when we were there, and since we had park hopper tickets, we just hopped in the car and took ourselves right on over to Magic Kingdom.  We got there early enough to get a good spot to watch the parade, but we really didn't have to wait too long for it to start. Call it the magic of Disney because despite the fact that it was way past our childrens' bedtime and despite the fact that we had been traipsing all over Disney that day, they were really good and had their happy faces on the entire time.

And of course they had to have some overpriced, under-quality light toy.  And being at the happiest place on Earth, I was more than happy to oblige. 

Finally, the parade started, and the kids loved it.

And last, but certainly not least, after the parade was over, we moved closer to the castle to see the fireworks.  I took this next picture just to remember the sheer amount of people that had the exact same plan as us.

 At one point, I honestly thought my crowd-hatin' hubby was going to loose it.   Thank goodness he didn't, and we found our way right up front for the best view.

We situated ourselves right in front of these two friendly faces.

And Carter situated himself right about here...

Yep, the trek to the castle was apparently too much for this wiped-out boy.  Not even the boom or sparkle of the fireworks woke him up.

Tinkerbell even "flew" out from the top of the castle!

And with that, the show was over and we finally called it a night.

Day 5 up next - Disney's Holleywood Studios


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