We woke up bright and early (about 6:30am would be our norm for the week), and headed over to Everything Pop for a quick breakfast. Then it was on to the Animal Kingdom. Of course we were there absurdly early. One of the advantages of being a frequent visitor is that you know you can line up at a turnstile with no guests, even if it looks “closed” because all the other guests are lined up at a single turnstile. 🙂
I had Amanda wait in line while I went over to Guest Services. I upgraded my WDW AP to a Premier Passport, and bought the Tables in Wonderland card. The PP is *nice*. Thick heavy plastic, golden in color, my name printed on the back. Very nice.
While we were waiting for the turnstiles to open, we were informed by a Cast Member that there was to be a “Streets of Africa” party after the parade. While it sounded kinda interesting, we already had reservations at Boma that night, so we weren’t altogether enticed by more food. However, after listening to Lou Mongello’s latest podcast in which he reviewed it, I wish we had at least stopped by. Oh well.
The turnstiles opened, and we were let in… but only up to the rope about 20 feet away. This is new. The opening show had been moved from in front of the Tree of Life to the front of the Oasis. Goofy is no longer in the show, and Mickey has moved from the Tree to Goofy’s position in the truck. The dialogue is virtually identical, up to the point where they had previously sought out their “Official Adventure Guide”. After the show ends, the Cast Members keep the rope up until the Jeep is completely gone from the on-stage area.
At rope drop, we sped-walked to Everest, got our FastPasses, and then got in the Everest standby queue. Even with the brief delay in getting FPs, we were still on the first train of the day. Nice. 🙂 Amanda really loved the attraction, especially being able to see Spaceship Earth and Tower of Terror from the top. 🙂 My only complaint was that the Yeti is still in B mode. Sigh.
We next walked over to Dinosaur, but right before we got there, a Brazilian Tour Group had flooded the queue, so that it was allll the way back to Dino Sue. Ugh. We decided to go use the rest room and get some bottles of water first. When we returned, the outside queue had disappeared, but of course that just meant that Disney had opened up more of the inside queue. Oh well.
Amanda is a big fan of Bill Nye the Science Guy, so she was happy to hear his voice in the pre-pre-show area. Then the ride itself – I know a lot of people give this attraction a thumbs down, but I really like it.
Next up we walked out of Dinoland and into Africa. Along the way, we got our Photopass photo in front of the back of the Tree of Life. Then we got our Fastpasses for the Safari. We decided to head back into Asia and do the Kali River Rapids before doing Everest again. I wasn’t *quite* in the hotseat, but I was pretty dang close. We’ll call it about half-soaked.
After getting all our cellphones and cameras and wallets and such out of their plastic bags and back where they belong, we continued into Asia back to Everest. We were going to use our FastPasses, but again a Brazilian Tour Group flooded the FastPass queue so that it extended all the way out of the entrance. I didn’t want to “waste” a FP on that long a wait, so we decided we’d come back.
Instead, we went to the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail. It’s not an attraction I do every time, but it was nice to have something we could walk through at a slower pace, take rests as appropriate, etc. Have I mentioned it was HOT? Like to the point where you couldn’t tell if people walking around had just been on the Rapid or if they were just sweating. Anyway. Along the Trail, we stopped into the Bat House. It always somewhat amazes me that there is no division in the house that keeps the Bats away from the Humans. While we were there, one of the bats basically yawned and we got to see his full wingspan. Holllly crap. A good 5 or six feet from tip to tip!
Okay, so now we go back to Everest for our FastPasses. The FP queue looks pretty normal, so we get in. And *just* when we’re about to merge with the standby queue, we here the “technical difficulties” announcement. The attraction is closed until further notice. Grumble. So now we all have to start making our way back out the queue the way we came. Oh. My. God. I have never seen such rude and careless behavior at the parks. People were jumping over railings, pushing and shoving. I saw one pack of early 20-somethings slide between the railings and literally push a woman in a wheel chair out of their way. What in the hell is wrong with these people? UGH!
So anyway. After all these false-starts with Everest, our FP time for the Safari has arrived. So we head back there and get in the FP queue, with no issues thankfully. It was one of the more unique Safaris I’ve taken, as just around the first bend, one of the Greater Kudu’s was just kinda standing there in the road. Our driver radioed to the base or Headquarters or whatever, requesting assistance, because the Kudu showed no signs of wanting to move. But no one responded to him, despite our driver almost shouting at them “IS ANYONE ON THE RADIO!?” After about 5 minutes, the Kudu randomly wandered off the road of her own accord. Her friends were *right* on the side of the road, and we had to go past them verrrrrrry slooooowwwwwlly. The rest of the attraction was pretty standard, though we did see both the Lion and Lioness up on the rock. Don’t usually get that good a view of them. Oh, and I saw the warthogs for the first time! Every other time I ever did it, they were never there, and I was beginning to wonder if they actually had any or if the tunnels were just facades.
So now comes one of my bigger screwups. Several months prior, I’d gotten reward “points” at work (their version of a pat on the back and a gold star). I was able to redeem them for a gift card for the chain that owns Rainforest Cafe (it was the only thing in the catalog that even remotely appealed to me). So I decided to get the card and surprise Amanda with another sit-down meal on our trip. So now we head over to Rainforest. It was a decent meal, no real complaints. Though the personal pizza was insanely too large for one person. And now it comes time to pay the bill. …. And I realize that I left the gift card in my wallet, which I don’t take with me in the parks – I put my room key card and id in the little pouch on my pin lanyard. D’oh!
ANYway. After lunch we went up to Rafiki’s Planet Watch. Nothing special going on today. We got our picture with Rafiki, and did the Sounds of the Rainforest thing. Really, we just wanted somewhere to sit in the air conditioning for a while.
Now we finally go back to Expedition Everest with our FastPasses and do the attraction for the second time (4th time at the queue….). It remains a great attraction. This time we requested the front seat (I love that they have a little queue set up just for those requesets). When we got to the front of the queue about to get on, I over heard the family next to us say “Awwww, almost. Hey, second seat is okay too, right?” The boy in the family (about 10 years old, maybe?) was wearing a birthday button, so I decided to spread some magic. Amanda and I asked him if he wanted to switch so he could have the front. At first he was confused and said “well I was gonna ride with my Dad…”. Hehe. We clarified that both he and his Dad could switch with us, and they could still ride together. He was very appreciative, as was his family. Small things like that feel good.
After Everest, we started doing the shows. We started with It’s Tough to be a Bug. Amanda was suitably freaked out by all the effects, especially the ones in the seats. Then on to my favorite day-time show – Festival of the Lion King. Oh my god was it packed. Every section, every row was squeezed in until we were on each other’s laps. The people behind was would not stop b*tching about it, which did not help matters. The show itself was great, of course. I will never get tired of it. And then over to Finding Nemo. Don’t get me wrong, I do love this show too – but I was dead tired by this point and basically slept through the middle third of it. Dang it.
We still have some time before we need to leave the AK, so we went back to Everest for a third ride of the day. The standby queue was only 20 minutes or so by this time of day (thank you, everyone who considers AK a half-day park!), so we got in line. Lots of fun.
We were going to head back to Dinosaur, but apparently everyone who wasn’t in the Everest queue was in the Dinosaur queue, as its posted standby time was 50 minutes. Yeah no. It’s a good ride, but not *that* good. We headed back to Africa to get a Photopass picture with Everest in the background (something we’d kept meaning to do all day, but kept forgetting). Then finally out of the park.
We went to the Animal Kingdom Lodge bus stop, and took the bus to the Jambo House. Dinner at Boma was wonderful. The seafood soup wasn’t *quite* as good as I remembered from the last time I was here, but other than that, I loved it. I told Amanda she had to try at least one food she had never heard of before. I think she tried the Bobotie. 🙂 After dinner, we went out the back of the Lodge and looked at some of the animals out on the safari. I have to imagine it would be very cool to wake up and see this outside your balcony every morning. Someday….
Our plan was to go to the Magic Kingdom and watch the new parade and fireworks. So we headed out to the bus stops. The first bus that arrived was for Epcot. We decided to take this one instead, because Amanda wanted to ride on the monorail anyway. So we took the bus to Epcot, took the monorail to the TTC, and the other monorail to the MK. I’m not convinced that was shorter than just waiting for the MK bus. 😛
So now we’re in the MK, and Amanda has now at least seen all four WDW parks in less than 48 hours. Whoo. 🙂 We went immediately over to Tomorrowland and rode Carousel of Progress. Amanda had gotten addicted to “Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” while listening to the WDW album in my car over the past couple years. So it was very appropriate that this was her first Magic Kingdom attraction. She loved it, of course.
After the CoP we went back to the Tomorrowland bridge to watch the new Summer Nighttastic fireworks. I’d never gone to the Pirate and Princess parties, and I understand that these fireworks are based on those, so they were completely new to me. I have to give them an “eh”. They weren’t bad, to be sure. They just weren’t as good as Wishes. I liked some of the effects on the Castle, and the fireworks that were almost surrounding us. But I will be very happy if this show is not extended to an “open-ended run” like MSEP was just announced to be. When SummerNighttastic ends, I want Wishes back.
The sheer volume of people now trying to leave the park was completely insane. Seriously if I had little children, I would be totally in fear of losing them in this mess. We went with the flow of the crowd from the bridge down to Main St. We stopped around the ice cream parlor, and camped out behind a street lamp pole, where we weren’t quite as likely to be pushed and shoved. After the crowd had mostly filed out, we sat down and got ready for Main St Electrical Parade. I had actually seen this parade once before – in Disney’s California Adventure. I like it. But I don’t have the same nostalgic fervor for it that those who “grew up” with it in Disneyland or the MK seem to have. All things considered, based on the fact that Spectromagic also involves movies made in the last 2 decades, I would actually have to give the edge to Spectro. I wonder if it’s completely gone now, or if it will move to another park, since MSEP is apparently now the default nighttime parade at MK.
After the parade, we left the park and got on the bus back to Pop Century. Incredibly long day was had, and it was very VERY much time to sleep.
The good: Everest three times, four parks in two days
The bad: Tourgroups flooding queues, Everest breaking down
The magical: giving the kid the front seat at Everest, Amanda’s reaction to Cop
Thanks for reading. Days 3-9 coming …. soon.