Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Disney: Animal Kingdom

Disney Recap: ArrivalEpcotAnimal KingdomMagic KingdomHollywood StudiosEpcot Holidays

Tuesday the 26th was our day at Animal Kingdom. Of the two "newer" parks (Animal Kingdom & Hollywood Studios), this was *BY FAR* my favorite!!! So impressed! My Dad would've loved it. :-) I thought the details of the "towns" in Asia & Africa were fascinating!

The kids had a blast scouring the park as official Wilderness Explorers - collecting badges & learning about nature along the way. "With each one you complete, you can collect a new sticker badge to place in your official Wilderness Explorer field guide, including:
•Veterinary Badge – Help diagnose a sea turtle’s health issue
•Dinosaur Badge – Join in the exploration for dinosaur fossils
•Animal Find Badge – Check off each of the animals you see
•Music Badge – Learn how to play an African drum pattern
•Yeti Badge – Find Yeti artifacts and hear about the folklore"
We ran our tails off to get all 31 badges!!! (The guides at the end were impressed ;-))

Accepting the Wilderness Explorers challenge

Our #1 priority upon entering the park (after joining the Wilderness Explorers) was to send JB & Grandaddo to get FastPasses for Kilimanjaro Safaris while the kids & I rode Expedition Everest - Legend of the Forbidden Mountain. This was my & Annelise's FAVORITE ride in ALL of Disney World!!!!!

Jumping for joy on the way!

LaLa took this shot of us going up, up, up... (you can see all of Disney from the top!)

Victory!

Am I slightly surprised Annelise liked it so much? Yeah, a little (it is an INTENSE rollercoaster!) but she's also more of a thrill-seeker than Will. ;-) Will rode it this first time with us, but he was a tad nervous to go back. He would have with JB, but JB didn't want to, either, so it was the GIRLS' ride later that night! :-D I have to say, I've never been "obsessed" with a ride before - they're fun, but whatever - until THIS. It's the first ride I can think of anytime anywhere that I would choose to ride over & over & over & over &... Not to mention, the mountain itself is stunningly beautiful. I was more impressed with it as a focal point than I was with Cinderella's castle in the Magic Kingdom.

After our life-changing :-P Everest ride, we reunited with LaLa, JB & Grandaddo to head over to Kilimanjaro Safaris. The kids collected badges along the way:

Earning their Yeti badge

Earning their Indonesian music badge

Earning their international exchange badge

As someone who has actually been to Africa (Kenya) on real safari, I managed my expectations for Kilimanjaro Safaris and the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail...but they were FANTASTIC!!! (Disney really *does* make sure this stuff is done right!) Next, we took "the Wildlife Express Train for a peaceful 7-minute, 1.2-mile journey from the heart of Africa to Rafiki’s Planet Watch, a park area dedicated to the preservation and conservation of animals." [If there's a train going ANYWHERE, the Blake family will be taking a ride. Will's passion! :-)]

Earning an animal investigation badge with this baby gator

Pigs in the Affection Section petting zoo

Meeting Rafiki from The Lion King! LaLa & JB secured their spots in line while the kids earned 4 badges all around the Conservation Station. Rafiki was awesome - he signed the kids' shirts, as well! (Yes, even with those giant hands! It's completely legible, too! :-D)

We took the train back to "town", hit up Pizzafari for lunch, and caught the Festival of the Lion King show = delightful!

In front of the Tree of Life with LaLa

The kids dashed to the Maharajah Jungle Trek to earn their last couple badges with some bats & tigers, and then...

Success! Back at the main Wilderness Explorers station to receive their final badge of the day and take the Wilderness Explorers oath!

As the day wound down, we also hit up It's Tough to be a Bug! (ugh - 3D makes me nauseous & I *HATE* getting surprise sprayed with water! this was not my nor Annelise's thing ;-)), The Boneyard (little kids' playground - super cute, but probably the only time our kids will be young enough to enjoy for a few min), TriceraTop Spin, and Primeval Whirl...which was one of only TWO rides in ALL of Disney that you needed to be 48" to ride; Annelise is 47.5", but I told her to walk in on her tip toes...and no one said a word! ;-) :-D The height requirement for this ride in particular is ridiculous - it's so tame! (Everest is 44"!)

Speaking of, back in line with Annelise for *one more* Expedition Everest ride...at night!!! As you wait in line, you pass through the Yeti museum. Annelise wanted her pic with some of the artifacts. :-P

Annelise & me narrowly escaping the claws of the Yeti on our last ride ;-)

Animal Kingdom was the best surprise of the whole trip. (It opened 10 years after I visited Disney as a child, so this was my first time there, too!) I never expected it to be as enthralling as it was; I can't say enough wonderful things about it!

One last note: late in the week back at Epcot, I saw two girls with red "Expedition Everest Summit Team" jackets...
...and I couldn't stop thinking about what a great Christmas gift that would make for Annelise. (If you ask what her favorite part of Disney was, she'll say Everest!) I called Disney customer service last week after we were home, (b/c we didn't have time to go back to Animal Kingdom & they don't sell it online,) and they are sending her size to our house! Way to go, Disney!!!

Coming next: finally, the Magic Kingdom!

4 comments:

  1. We love Animal Kingdom!! Festival of the Lion King is one of my favorite shows ever and we love the safari ride, too. You will not, however, catch me on Expedition Everest! Bravo to you! ;)

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  2. Tracey, I *did* wonder if I'd be able to handle the rides, esp. after I felt so sick after my last amusement park experience; but I was fine! :-D

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  3. What a cool place! I didn't realize there was another park…I would totally love this one too. 3D makes me nauseous too. :(

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  4. This park was my favorite! :-)

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