Monday, October 17, 2011

Make-A-Wish Trip, Day 3: Animal Kingdom

On Tuesday, Finn was back to his normal self: fever-less and stubborn.

Right away after breakfast we got in line to see the character who came to GKTW that morning - Squidward!

A quick note: There's a reason why there seems to be so many more pictures of the characters than the rides or attractions. The character meetings are made for picture taking and most everything else is made for doing. I didn't take as many pictures on rides and if I did, they didn't turn out as nice. And, I think it's safe to say that for the younger kids, the characters have become as big of a draw or bigger than the once awe-inspiring rides. Probably because there's a sense of meeting the real thing.

We headed to Disney's Animal Kingdom. We didn't know what we would be interested in at the park besides the African Safari, but I was excited to go for that alone.

Once there we found a map and charted a rough path around the park. Upon walking around a building to continue on our way we saw a sign off to the side that indicated a character meeting area down a path. It wasn't obvious and no one was going down that way so we decided to check it out. After winding around a couple of turns we came to a hut with Winnie the Pooh, a couple of his friends, and only a handful of people.

On the way out, another family was walking past and eying up the trail. We told them who was down there and about the lack of people. They thanked us and diverted from their original course to head down that way.

After our short side trip, we continued on our planned route and into Dinoland. Amanda and the kids went on the flying dinosaur ride. It's exactly like the Dumbo ride but with Triceratops to ride in instead of the flying elephant.

Nearby was a ride called Primeval Whirl. It looked like a cross between a roller coaster and a tilt-a-whirl. Julia wanted to go on it and so her and Amanda were going to but then found out it was temporarily closed.

We moved on next to watch the Finding Nemo musical. We flashed our credentials and they seated us in the front row. The costumes and scenes were very intricately made and choreographed and we all enjoyed it. And since the movie of Finding Nemo doesn't have any songs, these were all new. The musical was a shortened version of the movie.

Next was the part of the park that makes Animal Kingdom four times larger than Magic Kingdom: the African Safari. Julia was quite concerned at the start when she realized the animals could be close to us because they are not in cages. And while they appeared that way, the really potentially dangerous ones seemed to be cleverly separated from the safari truck. She warmed up to it all after we got going. We saw hippos, crocodiles, gazelle, giraffes, elephants, cheetahs, rhinos, ostrich, and more. There were lions around but we never saw any. It turned out to be about 75% animal spotting and 25% ride as there was a little storyline going on about poachers in the reserve.

After the safari we went through a number of other animal exhibits. Julia had fun trying find and identify birds.

We were all really wiped out at that point so we decided to head out.

Back at the villa, the kids and I went for a dip in the pool.

Our respite was short-lived; we went to Epcot that evening with plans to see the fireworks and light show. It was nice having the cooler temperatures of the evening (a native Floridian had called the weather "unseasonably warm" for the first part of the week) and not as many people around.

We had some time before the show so we wandered around and picked a few things to see. We knew we would be back to Epcot in a few days. The first thing we did was go on Spaceship Earth. This is the ride inside of the giant ball that is the picture everyone thinks of when they think of Epcot.

Next we ran into some of the same characters we had met at GKTW the morning before, but with one new addition.

Then we headed to The Seas with Nemo and Friends and rode the clam shells into the undersea aquarium. There they had another interactive animated show, but instead of a comedy like the Monsters, Inc. one, it was a question answer show for kids.

The time for the fireworks show was still a ways off, but creeping up on us. We walked around the lake and looked at the different foods the countries were offering. There was a wine and food show going on at the time so each country had a food cart set up outside. Most of the food sounded really good but not things our kids would eat. The fireworks and light show was good. It was late for Julia and Finn and we were all really tired. It took us forever to walk back around the lake and get to our car. I pushed Julia in the stroller and Finn rode on Amanda's back.

Our plan for the rest of the week was Sea World on Wednesday, Epcot Thursday morning and finish Magic Kingdom Thursday afternoon, and head to the ocean on Friday.