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Disney World October 2015 Trip Report Part 5: Animal Kingdom and more MK

on December 18, 2015


Jambo!  This morning, we did our usual thing, and got up in time to make Extra Magic Hours at Animal Kingdom.  Something that makes me feel good- the Cast Members (aided by the technology of the MagicBands) were consistently enforcing the rule that only Disney Resort Guests are allowed into the parks during EMH.  Several times, offsite folks were turned away and had to wait outside the tapstiles until the Park officially opened to all guests.  It is nice that the perk is not diluted by lax enforcement.

We headed straight to one of my favorite rides in all the World- Park headliner, Kilimanjaro Safaris.  It’s in the back of the Africa section of this huge Park, so it took almost a full 10 minutes of walking to get there.  Our reason for going there first thing is not really due to crowding/long lines, though the line does get longer as the day rolls on.  We head there early mostly because the temp is cooler, and my experience is that the animals are more active during the cooler part of the day.  You actually have a shot at seeing the African lion pacing on his “pride-looking rock.”  Plus, the sun is still shining that super-intense light on the savannah, which makes me feel like putting on a pith helmet and setting out for an expedition.  So we walked through the ride queue, and got going.  What a great safari!  So many zebras- my favorite.  After a very up-close look at this guy…

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This is NOT zoomed in!

we got to the lion area.  And…saw the end of his tail.  Bummer, but we did see several mandrills, which are hard to spot, so overall we had a good ride.  No better way to start our AK day than with a safari, after all.  We took in the Pangani Forest Trail and saw some gorillas, including a few babies!

We meandered around Harambe, taking in the atmosphere.  We also made note of the new-to-us location of the Festival of the Lion King show for reference later in the day.  Since our last trip, they built an air-conditioned theater with a covered waiting area.  I well remember waiting in the hot sun, and then sweating our way through the show.  Looking forward to a more comfortable experience later on.

Our next destination was near the entrance to the Park.  It was time to sign DS up for the Wilderness Explorers.  This is an offshoot of the movie Up, where the little boy Russell is in a Boy Scout-type group, and is working to earn badges.  In AK, kids can sign up, take the oath, and then complete activities around the Park to earn “badges” (stickers).  There are about 30 activities in all, ranging from talking to the Cast Member in the Maharajah Jungle Trek about the tigers, to learning about the Thai alphabet in the Asia section (you guys, the cultural representative told us there are over 20 vowels and 40 consonants in the Thai alphabet- wow).  I think this activity is well worth it for kids 5 and up.  Plus, it’s free.

We stopped at a fantastically-themed Starbucks to grab a pastry and have the little guy start filling out his book.


And decided to start earning badges by taking the Wildlife Express Train in Rafiki’s Planet Watch to Conservation Station.


We will literally take any train to any place- my boys just love them.  So we grabbed the first train of the day, once again, to avoid the crowds.  As you can see from the photo above, it worked.  DH and I met another mandrill (Rafiki) while there!  And DD and DS wandered around completing activities for stickers.  Since it was a Wednesday, there were no procedures going on in the veterinary area, which has a glass wall so the public can watch while they do routine care on the animals that live at AK.  We had a nice walk around, then made our way back to the station.

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Signs like these reinforce the Conservation message of the whole Park.

To our first FastPass+ we go!  DD and I had a date with a Yeti.  Expedition: Everest is such a great roller coaster.  I love the idea of the tea train, and the way the Yeti messes with the track.  Exhilarating, for sure.

Backtracking a bit, we headed to the Discovery Island area to meet Mickey & Minnie at the Adventurere’s Outpost.  Her outfit is to die for!  Unfortunately, character meets are usually the time when we encounter selfish and rude Park guests.  I feel like there should be a 3-pose limit.  We were almost late to our next stop because the group in front of us took at least 8 different combinations of group pics.  I have patience with babies, of course, because it sometimes takes a while to get them to smile or even look up.  This group had a baby, but she was smiley and great- it was the adults that wanted to preserve every permutation of males, females, couples, siblings, and who knows what else for posterity in the form of PhotoPass pics.  I was kinda fuming after 5 full  minutes, really fuming after 8, and steam started to come out of my ears after 10, when they finally left and it was our turn.  We took our 3 snaps and hightailed to the Theater in the Wild, the fastest route to which DH had helpfully determined while we were waiting.

I stuck a few tissues in my pocket,  because I just knew that Finding Nemo: The Musical was going to make me cry.  I was right.  The music, to use a “modern” phrase, gives me ALL the feels.  I wasn’t the only one- when we filed out of the theatre and stopped by the restrooms, there was a man just sitting on a curb and sobbing.  He had people with him, so we didn’t say anything, but it was sad nonetheless.  We stopped for lunch at the Yak & Yeti counter-service location (yummy!).

It was HOT once again.  Good thing our next FP+ was for Kali River Rapids.  Since we were going back to the room after this, we just opted to get wet, and dry off naturally in the daytime heat.  DS was so nervous about getting wet, but we all got drenched and in the end, he loved it, too.

We slowly walked toward the Tree of Life, shoes squishing out water, and saw a few feathery, furry, and sleepy friends along the way as we took the Maharajah Jungle Trek

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I had originally planned to watch Festival of the Lion King on another day, but DD really wanted to see it, and a show was starting within 10 minutes, so we headed in with the last stragglers.  Now, I love the Tumble Monkeys as much as anybody else, but the aerial dancer is really my favorite part:

Sun beating down on us, we left the Park, and got back to Art of Animation for a longer rest today, as we had a dinner reservation for the seafood buffet at Cape May Café in the Beach Club resort.  I allocated an hour for travel, and we all rested up.

1 hour was not enough.  There is an easy way to the Beach Club from Art of Animation, but it is not fast: bus to Epcot, then walk all the way through the Park past Future World to the farthest end of World Showcase, then take a boat or walk to the Beach Club from there.  Well, it was evening, and the Food & Wine Festival was creating huge nighttime crowds at Epcot, concentrated in World Showcase.  I forgot about this, and we took the bus to Epcot anyway.  There is no bus service to the Beach Club from Epcot because of the availability of the boat.  So to avoid the crushing crowds and not-insignificant walk through Epcot, we waited for a bus to Hollywood Studios from Epcot, then waited for a boat from the Studios to the Beach Club.  Luckily the boat dock at the Studios is right by the bus area.  Well, we were 20 minutes late for our reservation, but only wound up waiting a few minutes for our table.  Good thing, because we were all hungry and grumpy by then because of the logistical delays.  The great news is that Cape May Café became a must-do for us on future trips, because of the delicious seafood (crab legs, fried clams, garlic shrimp, salmon, and on and on), and cute, seaside atmosphere.  I’ll just plan the route better next time, or better yet, have DH do it.

Bellies full, we grabbed a bus from the Beach Club to the Magic Kingdom, which was having evening Extra Magic Hours until 1am.  The idea was to do some things that would have heavy lines during the day, but not so much this late at night.  We would be sleeping in the next day, so it was the perfect time.  First stop: Tomorrowland, which we had not yet explored on this trip, and which DS was excited to visit.  With a wait time of 10 minutes, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin seemed the best place to start.  It was a huge hit with my little guy.  And me as well- the aliens are so cute!

We got out and then went right back in line for another ride. This picture is amazing: DS is there, but he’s so small you can only see his hair, hands and one shoulder:



Next up was another of my faves: The Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover.  This gentle ride is great for a “foot break.”  Love the corny jokes, too.  Plus, the view of Tomorrowland all lit up at night is excellent.

We walked quickly over to catch the Carousel of Progress since it would be closing for the night.  Cheesy and fun, this show where the audience rotates as opposed the stage is like a hug from Walt Disney himself.  DH likes it because he saw it during the 1964-65 World’s Fair in NYC!

The boys had a hankering for more space-themed travel, and AstroOrbiter was their choice.  Another ride that is slow-loading (due to the elevator that takes riders up to the loading platform, and no FP+ available), but had a less than 20-minute wait tonight.  While the boys got in line, DD and I headed to Space Mountain.  Wait time listed: 15 minutes.  Actual wait, closer to 10.  This was DD’s first time, and she loved it!  She was a little anxious that was going to hit her head on something, so she ducked the whole time?!  Afterwards, she said that she’d sit up normally next time since there was no chance of getting hurt.  Kids and their weird ideas.

Right when we got out, the Wishes fireworks started up!  We watched them right from Tomorrowland, and I got to see the fireworks reflected in my kids’ eyes, and my husband’s glasses 🙂  <contented sigh>


This is a stock photo: I neither have the camera nor the skills to take such a shot.  I just think it’s pretty.

We strolled over the Tomorrowland Speedway.  This is a slow-loading ride, so the line gets reeeeeeeeally long during the day without FP+.  We breezed on in 10 minutes, and DD and I rode together since she wanted to “drive.”  Oh man, we laughed until it hurt, then laughed some more.  She was terrible!  In fairness, it’s hard to keep that car in line, but the screeching against the middle rail, combined with the hard braking, made for a very funny ride.  DH drove with DS behind us, and had a similarly jarring experience.

We shook it off with some ice cream from Auntie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies. We finished our ice cream as we crossed in front of the Castle to Adventureland. It was finally time for DH (and the rest of us!) to ride Pirates of the Caribbean.  Classic ride, updated to add magic!  The animatronic of Jack Sparrow, sorry, CAPTAIN Jack Sparrow is sooo realistic. I just love that ride- and I think we only had 3 other people on our boat.

We headed for more rides.  I was hoping to hop on the Jungle Cruise, but it was closed for the evening.  So we hopped onto The Magic Carpets of Aladdin.  Watch out, they (the camels) spit!  And spit they did- we got hit, which was great fun.  Since no one was waiting in line, we stayed on and went around again.  And then AGAIN!  DS was loving it.

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By this time, it was almost 1am.  We decided to head out, enjoying the smells and sights of Main Street USA at night.  We got right onto a bus and had a quiet ride ” home.”  I did NOT set an alarm for early the next morning, and drifted off to sleep.

2 responses to “Disney World October 2015 Trip Report Part 5: Animal Kingdom and more MK

  1. VivaLaDiva405 says:

    I love reading these… It’s like I’m there with you, so well-written!


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