Monday, April 09, 2007

Disney Day 3

So day three for us took us to Animal Kingdom, the newest Disney park. I'll have to admit, when I went there for the first time two years ago I was afraid this was going to be nothing more than a zoo done Disney style. Boy was I wrong, this park is quickly becoming one of my favorites. The mixing of the wildlife almost within touching distance as well as the decor and not to mention the attractions make this a great addition to Walt Disney World. This is a MUST SEE if you are there for multiple days.

Our first stop was Expedition Everest, which is the newest attraction (and in my opinion the best) at Animal Kingdom. It is located in the Asia section of the back of the park and you should definitely get there first as it will be the most crowded throughout the day. We rode it three times in a row right off. Travelers note: print off a fast pass first for later in the day, then hop into the standby line. If it is early the wait will only be 20 minutes or less and is well worth checking out the scenery in the queue line. After riding it plan to hit the single rider line for one last go-you'll only wait 5-10 minutes and even though you'll be separated from your riding partner it gives you one last adventure before you move on. Rating 10!

Next we took in the "flights of wonder" bird show which just happened to be starting. I was a little hesitant to go at first since it was just going to be about a bunch of birds, but the actors as well as the birds make the show a must see at AK. There is a great blend of humor as well as interesting facts from various types of birds all around the world. I'll also have to admit that it was the first time I ever heard a bird sing "Yankee Doodle." Lots of fun and a great family attraction that the kids will love. Rating 8.5

After flights of wonder we very quickly headed over to "Camp MinnieMickey" for the "Festival of the Lion King" show. In my opinion this is the best show at any of the Disney parks right now. It is a combination of animatronics, live action, and acrobatics among other things and is something that you CANNOT miss if you are at Animal Kingdom. Traveler's Note: This show is offered multiple times throughout the day, but you need to arrive at least 30 minutes before the show if you want a good seat or a seat at all for that matter. You cannot walk into this show late as the entire theater comes to life. Make sure you get there early enough. My suggestion would be to get there about an hour early and take in the character meet and greets that happen with most of the Disney characters right in front of the theater. Rating 10!

After the Lion King show, we stuck around and got our pictures taken with Minnie, Goofy, and Donald. The lines weren't bad, but take note, it is always busier right before and after the show. Next it was on to "Kilimanjaro Safari" for our "2 week safari" through the bush of Africa. This is a great attraction as it takes you right into an area that most of us will never see in our lifetimes. The animals are right in front of you and you are right there with them. The dialogue can be campy at times and the story a little weak, but it is still a great adventure and an awesome opportunity to see some animals up close. Rating 8.

After our safari, we had already missed the beginning of "Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade," so we grabbed the train over to Rafiki's Planet watch and back to kill some time. We didn't spend any time there, but it is well worth the time if you have kids as it takes to into the area where they care for the animals and you can see the vets working with them as well as spend some time at a petting zoo area. It's very educational, plus there is a great trail you can walk while there to see more animals up close.

After getting off the train it was time to catch the "Jammin' Jungle parade" on its return trip. Traveler's note: This parade begins and ends right in front of the safari. I would suggest waiting for it to go make its trip around the tree of life and then catch it as it returns to Africa where it ends-the crowd won't be as bad, and you'll get a better view. Also around lunch time, keep your eyes our for cast members as they will be granting "wishes" and making people honorary parade marshals (meaning you get to be in the parade). Rating 9 for the costuming.

It was now time to head back Everest for our fast pass ride, but since we had to head back to the middle of the park, we took a detour through the bottom of the tree of life and hit my favorite Disney 4d attraction "It's tough to be a bug." This is still my favorite of the Disney 4d attractions with "Muppet's 3d" taking a close 2nd. The interaction with animatronic figures and effects really do make you feel like you are living in a bug's world and seeing things their way. Traveler's Note: This is a great attraction, however, it does have a fairly high thrill factor with realistic effects-plus it is VERY loud so it may be a bit much for younger kids. I would suggest testing it once before taking them in. I have been in it several times where kids SCREAM as soon as Hopper appears. Just a suggestion. The wait isn't very long usually so it shouldn't be hard for one of you to check it out first. Rating 9.

After catching Everest one last time, we decided to head to catch "Dinosaur" and "Primeval Whirl." I would recommend spending a little bit of time near these attractions, as it is almost like a prehistoric carnival and has a bit of a kid theme to it, with a great fossil crawl through as well as some other neat things. As it relates to the rides. "Primeval Whirl" is your classic wild mouse coaster with a twist-it spins! It is a fun little coaster, but can be a little rough during the spinning. It is fun and will get a laugh out of the kids. Rating 7. "Dinosaur" is a thrill ride that I highly recommend, but suggest you ride it first to see if it is appropriate for your kids. It is a neat little attraction through the dark, but there are some parts of it that can again be a little much for younger kids. Rating 8.

After the park closed, Traveler's note:Animal Kingdom closes earlier than the rest of the parks, so make sure you plan something for your evening. we headed to Bob Evans off property for supper. Again, it is ALWAYS cheaper to eat off property unless you have a dining plan through Disney. After supper, we headed back to EPCOT for their evening show "Illuminations." We headed straight to the United Kingdom in World Showcase, which I have been told is the best place to watch the show and headed for the spot that someone had suggested to watch it from. Needless to say, it was blocked off for a "special engagement." A little bit frustrated, I asked the lady if there was a chance we could get in a little bit closer to the start of the show. She asked how many of us there were and when I explained it was just my wife and I, she produced to special passes for us "dream viewing passes." OUR DREAM WAS GRANTED!So we got to watch Illuminations from the area where we had been told to watch it, with a bunch of newlyweds. It was great and a lot of fun. As it relates to the show, this is still not my favorite production. It is just okay for me, the coolest part is that all of the pyro happens just above the water, so it is pretty cool, but there just doesn't seem to be as much substance and great music as I wanted. Rating 6.5

Traveler's Note: If it is not roped off, the best place to view Illuminations in my opinion is just to the right of the fish and chips stand in the UK. There is a sit down pub there as well, and just to the right of the stand is a walkway that heads down to some benches. Get there at least an hour ahead of time to mark your spot, but note that it may be roped off, so no guarantees.

After Illuminations, we headed back out to our car and were greeted by what is still one of my favorite sights at Disney-Spaceship Earth at night. Then just to keep from battling traffic, we took the monorail over to the Magic Kingdom and back (actually we were hoping to catch Wishes since the park closed at 11 that night, but no luck) before heading back to the hotel for the night. All in all, it was a great day. Next up...MGM and one last go around at the Magic Kingdom.

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