Wow, where to begin, we spent over 12 hours at Animal Kingdom today, we were there for the opening celebration and still there to witness the closing celebration - wasn't necessarily our intention but everyone was doing well and there was continually 'just one more thing' someone wanted to do!
We were at the gates of the park by 7:40am (earlier and earlier....), waited for the gate countdown and surged on through, passed through the Oasis and then waited by the ropes at Discovery Island. Just before 8am, Minnie, Goofy and Pluto came by in an open-top jeep to welcome us all, Mickey appeared in front of the Tree of Life when they called to him. The ropes went back as the characters left and the hoards heading towards Expedition Everest (us included) had to march behind another rope being moved by two very fast-walking 'cast members'. Unbeknown to us, this is standard Disney opening time procedure. This was actually good for us, we weren't in a position to be sprinting that far with (or without!) the kids in tow.
Dave, J, C & B went immediately onto Expedition Everest - Legend of the Forbidden Mountain, while Nate and I waited in the store, in order for Dave and I to do parent swap. The cast members in the store were wonderful, played with Nate while we waited and gave him a special pin (pins are a big deal we have discovered in WDW). Dave and I switched and Jake decided to ride the coaster again, so I had a partner. It was a great roller coaster, a couple of different effects, once was enough for me though!
JAKE & I
Despite already having done two rides, we still had time to fit in one more before breakfast. As we were in Asia, we decided to do the Kali River Rapids, another one we could've FastPassed but it only had a 10 minute wait time - well, there was NO wait time, should've given us a heads-up... no-one really likes to get soaking wet before breakfast! Dave and Caitlin took the worst hits on the ride, they were soaked! You could see the tidal wave coming but there was no avoiding it. I ended up squeezing out Caitlin’s shorts and underwear once we got off, thank goodness she was wearing her raincoat!
Thankfully breakfast time was looming. While we were waiting, Dave FastPassed the safari ride. We had Donald's Safari Breakfast at Tusker House Restaurant in Africa. This was an excellent buffet, really good food, we were very impressed. It was great to see: Donald, Daisy, Goofy and Mickey, they all stopped by our table and posed for pictures. As usual, Jake ate more than anyone, he can certainly put some serious amounts of food away: hollow legs!
We were excited to do the Kilimanjaro Safari. Jake was especially keen to spot the animals, it was a good attraction, we actually ended up going on again at the end of the day and saw some different animals although the 'tour guide' wasn't nearly as good in the evening as in the morning.
Dave had FastPassed DINOSAUR after breakfast so we went over to DinoLand U.S.A. Dave, Jake and Becca went on Primeval Whirl (no FP available for that today), Caitlin, Nate and I did the TriceraTop Spin - we all enjoyed those rides, although Dave commented that he could've done without the excessive spinning on the Whirl! It was a cool looking ride though, kind of like Mousetrap.
Our next stop was Finding Nemo - The Musical (we were trying to make sure we'd done all the 'big' attractions before the lines got too long). This production was amazing, nothing negative to say at all, would happily watch it again, it really was good. While waiting in line for the show, I phoned to reserve a restaurant in Epcot for Saturday, we got the very last table available for 6, at either of the character restaurants for any meal - we tried dinner, then breakfast and finally lunch! On our way out, we stopped to watch the Tropicals play. There are a number of other groups who play throughout the parks, it was pretty much hit or miss for us, whether or not we timed it right to watch them.
Before we left DinoLand, we used our FastPass to get into the Dinosaur ride. Caitlin almost bailed when she heard some parts were dark and scary but the cast member convinced her that it wasn't so bad. Clearly her earlier experience on Everest was having an effect! There were scary parts, particularly at the end but they all did OK, even Nathan - he's been amazing this week.
We waited in line for the Festival of the Lion King show and ate lunch (you can do a later lunch when you've gorged yourselves on a buffet breakfast!). The Lion King was also a great show, the acrobatic monkeys were spectacular. The little ones were getting a bit tired so were a tad antsy but the bench seats didn't help, particularly as they were perched on top of Dave's backpack to give them additional height.
Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade started at 3:45, so we went back to Discovery Island to find a good spot. The heat of the day had really hit at this point and was the only time all day that it bothered us. AK is a very shaded park, loads of trees, so the sun wasn't really an issue. The parade was wonderful, great costumes and floats/animals, we would definitely recommend watching it.
As we were close to the Tree of Life, we checked the wait times for the 4D: It's Tough to be a Bug! show - no wait: walk right in. There were a couple of scary parts but we were prepared for them and had somewhat prepped the kids, we weren't prepared for some of the 4D parts (getting stung was a shock!) though, but nothing was horribly bad. Becca was enthralled at sitting in the middle of a tree, I'm still not sure if she realizes it wasn't actually a real tree, either way, it is an amazing tree. We all had fun spotting the different animals carved into its trunk.
As we started walking over to the Wildlife Express Train, we just caught the Flights of Wonder show in Asia. We've seen a number of bird shows before, this one was very similar but enjoyable regardless.
We caught the train to the Conservation Station, passing the animal sheds along the way – apparently all the Safari animals come in at night - admired the beautiful murals and had pictures with Pocahontas, Rafiki and Jiminy Cricket. We wandered along the pathways before getting the train back.
Jake had noticed a very short wait-time on the Safari ride, so spent the train ride begging to go back on, hence our second trip.
As we exited the Safari, we were pretty much lead into the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail. This was fun for the kids, especially being able to see the hippos in their water pool - having said that, the water was so murky, it was actually impossible to see them under the water, thankfully they were kind of hovering half on the surface so we were able to see them up reasonably close. We were disappointed not to see the gorillas, apparently they get up at dawn, eat all day and then head home to sleep by around 4pm, had we known that, we would’ve walked the trail earlier in the day.
We ate dinner at Pizzafari and then made our way back to DinoLand for some playtime in The Boneyard before Animal Kingdom closed for the day. The Boneyard was a huge hit, lots of space to run around, only one exit, very well fenced in. I just sat by the exit to make sure all the kids stayed in, no chance of them leaving though, they were having far too much fun on the slides and pretending to be paleontologists by digging for dinosaur bones.
We have let the children know that they are allowed to choose one thing to buy this week, this has eliminated the everyday 'I wants'. Today Becca chose the big round Yeti, it is cute I have to admit! We bought it at the end of the day in case there wasn't one on sale in Magic Kingdom. Hopefully tomorrow morning the others will find something they'd like.
As we were leaving the park, Minnie, Pluto and Goofy danced past in their jeep again, leaving for the day to music and much hand waving. We really did open and close this park - another long day but definitely worth it, this park was great for everyone, plenty to do to keep us all occupied.
States visited: 49!
visited 49 states (98%)
Create your own visited map of The United States
Miles driven so far -
LOOP 1 (Aug 2009 - Aug 2010): 29,000
LOOP 2 (May - August 2012): 10,800
Highest altitude with camper: 11,158ft (I-70, CO)