On Day Four of The Grizwold's Family Trip to Orlando, we braved the beasts at Animal Kingdom. Given that we didn't get home from The Magic Kingdom until close to midnight the night before (see previous post on mosh-pit exit while I take time to ice my still-swollen calves that were beaten to a pulp by the mystery man pushing his wife's wheelchair into me), I opted to axe the alarm clock. The natives slept until they were done sleeping. We had breakfast in the suite and packed it out to Animal Kingdom. We got there mid-morning & had a really relaxed, chill day. Our day at Animal Kingdom was still blazing hot, but we were much more pleasantly distracted by the animals, shady spots & mister fans.
Once again, that PassPorter I mentioned was worth it's weight in gold. Seeing the map and getting a feel for the lay of the land before we stepped foot inside the gates was priceless for a visual learner like me. If you visit Animal Kingdom, take note on these things:
a. The park closes earlier than others, because of the animals
b. You start to encounter animals on the tram ride in . . . .
Specifically, we rode the tram in with this lady and her grandchildren from California. They were Animal Kingdom experts, or so they claimed to be. They do Animal Kingdom more than most people go to the bathroom and they know ALL the in's and out's. Insert eye-roll and whatev here. That crazy, big-hat wearing bimbo actually gave me all kinds of pointers on how to cut the lines at Disney. She instructed me to go to guest services and tell them that one of my kids has some ailment that prevents them from standing in line for long periods. She told me she does it all the time and she showed me her "special needs" pass that indicated that one of the little darlings in her company had been diagnosed with "severe asthma" and was unable to stand in line. I listened to her ramble and rant until we had almost arrived and I just couldn't be quiet anymore. So I said, "What about the kids that REALLY have autism? What about the make-a-wish kids that really are in need of a short-cut? Don't you think lying about your kids' health takes terrible advantage of the good intentions of the park?" My son actually does have asthma, but guess what . . . asthma doesn't prevent kids from standing in a line. I'm thinking, if a generally healthy child is so sick that they can't stand in line, they shouldn't be in a theme park. They should be in the comfort of their own air-conditioned home watching Jetson's re-runs and going to the pediatrician for a 2 o'clock checkup.
Anyway, I got off the tram a tid-bit hot and bothered. I really try hard not to let my children see me go berserk on another mother, but I'm pretty sure they understood my position. I'm actually pretty proud of myself for waiting until the tram ride was almost over, so I didn't start a riot with a long ride ahead. People are crazy. And if you think they're crazy where ever you live, multiply that my 100, add heat-induced insanity with a healthy dose of humidity-bitchy. It's kind of like the lines to check out on Christmas Eve, but worse, and on a larger scale. Suffice it to say, you meet your first animals well before you enter the park.
We were really impressed with Animal Kingdom. We did the Kilimanjaro Safari, Everest (twice), lots of trail walking in the Pangani Forest and Jungle Trek, some train riding and Kali River Rapids. We briefly did the Tree of Life, and we spent some time in Dino-Land, since it was very Mimi-friendly. We saw the Lion King show, at the recommendation of, well, pretty much everyone.
The weather was perfectly overcast. There were some ride closures for lightening in the afternoon, but it worked out okay for us. We ended up riding Everest twice because the line was so puny when we got off. Everest scared the tuna salad out of Little and Mimi, so, because I'm up for the mother-of-the-year award and I believe in immersion therapy, I made them get back in line with me and do it again. Nobody actually cried and in retrospect, they both say they are glad I made them. Neither one was expecting backwards movement or pitch dark. I sort of withheld that information from them.
The best things today were . . . . The Safari. A rhino walked right in front of the truck and I found that to be breathtaking and amazing. I loved seeing the animals in that environment. I loved Everest. I'm a coaster adrenaline junkie. I loved the shady trails of walking and it was just what the doctor ordered for us. On Kali River Rapids, this tidal wave of water came over and totally douched MOTH, which we all thought was hilarious. The little kids came off the ride virtually dry while daddy had to cruise around for the rest of the day in wet drawers. Tee hee hee. Also, the Lion King show . . that was a great recommendation!
The worst thing today . . . was lightening closure. It was just a wrench in the plan, but it ended up okay.
The funniest things were . . . . Little's face when we went backward on Everest, Mimi when she was watching the monkeys, finding Baby Handle. That requires some explanation, doesn't it? Mimi has this stuffed animal. It's an elephant. She has had it for years and she named it Handle. Why? Because she drags it around by it's trunk . . . ie: the handle. She was on a one-girl mission to find Baby Handle. She looked high and low for a Baby Handle beginning at the restaurant in Denver. In the spirit of the Toothfairy, Santa Claus and other mommy miracles, I was completely prepared to pick up a stuffy from the cheap-o row at Walgreens if the need arose, so I, too, was relieved to find a Baby Handle at Animal Kingdom. She was pleased as punch for the remainder of the day.
lunch (which I was overjoyed with . . . healthy choices including fruit & cheese snacks, apples & vitamin water) + lemonade slushies + Baby Handle + dinner (which we did back at the hotel) + parking + stroller rental + caricature artwork (this was on MY want-list and I was really happy to find someone to do me with all the girls as princesses and one of MOTH and Little as a knight & archer). Again, I was shocked at no souvenirs, for the most part. Middle spent her own vacation money on a necklace that looks like Fruity Pebbles, but is really seashells. Big bought a mini-handle for Mimi for a future gift and MOTH picked up a t-shirt. All-in-all, a very affordable day considering all of the circumstances . . . .
And . . . . in closing,
Yes, I woud do Animal Kingdom again. I'd trade in a day at Magic Kingdom for two in Animal Kingdom. We all had a magical day . . . .