Alright! Animal Kingdom day! We were all excited about making our first ever visit to Animal Kingdom, so we woke up fairly easily at about 6:15. We decided to heed the warnings of everyone I'd heard talk about the Kilimanjaro Safari that said we should try to get there early. The park opened at 7:00, so we figured that the crowd wouldn't be too bad if we got there by 8:00. That way, it would be cool enough that the animals would still be out where we would be able to see them instead of waiting until the afternoon.
Mom opted for a breakfast at McDonalds instead of having the continental breakfast, so we headed to the nearest one. I had an egg and cheese buscuit (no bacon this time! good!), Mom had an egg McMuffin and Dad had a sausage buscuit. We all had hash browns and Hi-C Pink Lemonade too. After breakfast we stopped at Einstein Brothers bagels to pick up my breakfast for the rest of the trip. I got two tomato bagels and two sesame bagels. What?!?! No spinach bagels? Bummer. The bagels would have to sit in the car all day, but I figured it wouldn't be that bad.
We got to Animal Kingdom very easily since the signs were so efficient, and pulled into our Unicorn 27 slot right at 7:50. Hey, whaddaya know. We got there early! We had to stop at the ticket gates on account of Mom. She had an annual pass that she bought last year and it didn't include Animal Kingdom. The plan was to upgrade her pass, but the woman at the ticket window said that she couldn't do it. So Mom bought a one day ticket and we went inside. We went directly over to Rainforest Cafe and made Priority Seating for 4:30 for our dinner. We picked up a map, studied it for a good long while and headed off in the direction of the Tree of Life.
At the end of the narrow walkway that supposedly held numerous animals (all we saw we some parrots), we came upon the Tree of Life. It certainly was a site to behold. The entire bark was composed of different types of animals, including tigers, elephants, a squirrel, a camel, ladybugs, and even a gross looking rat at the end of one of the branches. We walked around the left side of the Tree of Life in the direction of the loading area for the Kilimanjaro Safari.
The wait was not terribly long, about ten minutes I guess, and we were soon on our way. I found the safari quite enjoyable, eventhough it was way too bumpy. Our guide was great. I definetly think that's the hardest attraction job in the World. Sure, being a Jungle Cruise skipper or a backlot tour guide might be tough, but these guys have to drive the vehicle (which is not on tracks), spiel their banter, and identify and talk about the animals you see on the safari. Whew! I wouldn't want to have that job! We saw a fair amount of animals, including a lion and lioness, a couple of elephants, a giraffe, lots of flamingos, some antelope and gazelles, and even two rhinos fighting. That was the best part of the safari. I sort of liked the poacher storyline, eventhough it could be easily done away with. And then, knowing Disney's audio-animatronics expertice, I even had to ask if the guy at the end that is with the baby elephant was real or not. I think he was.
After the safari, we decided to see It's Tough to be a Bug inside the tree. We walked all the way around to the right side before we found the entrance. It looks just like all the other little trails leading closer to it except that there is a CM standing there saying "It's Tough to be a Bug...right this way..." The waiting area was so big. I mean, it ran all the way around the Tree, or at least it felt like it. It seemed like we walked forever. Once inside, the big waiting room was fairly nice. It had movie posters all over the walls for movies starring bugs, none of which I can think of the names to now. There was also a big ball of something. We went to investigate and discovered that it was a big ball of dung, fake of course. Later as we walked by the Tree, I turned to Mom and said "There's a big pile of dung over there under that tree," reminiscent of Pinky. *NARF*
The show itsself was cute enough, but way too short for me. I thought the 3D effects were kind of blurry. They didn't even seem all that 3D to me. We ended up sitting on the end of a row, and for some reason, some of our effects didn't work. None of us got stung by the bees, and I only felt one "bug" leave the room. The rest of the effects worked fine though. I must say that it was definetly the loudest theater we had ever been in. Everyone was laughing, screaming or reassuring their children that it was gonna be ok. The woman and little boy next to me wanted to leave, but had a bit of trouble stepping over our bags. Next time, I will make sure to tuck my bags under the seat. I didn't hear all that many crying children, but maybe the laughing and screaming adults drowned them out. Seemingly as soon as it began, it was over and we left the show feeling satisfied with the quality, but definetly disappointed by the length.
Next was Countdown to Extinction. We went over to Dinoland USA, finding nothing spectacular along the way, and went straight into Countdown to Extinction. I was almost worried about whether I would like this ride or not, but I figured that since I liked Space Mountain, I would at least like this, so I wasn't TOO worried. Mom even had no qualms about riding it. We got straight on the ride, which was much less wait than we'd expected. I wasn't expecting the ride to be as violent as it was. At moments, I was litterally scared that I might fall out of our "CTX Time Rover." I was holding on so tight that my hands felt like they were going to give out any second! About halfway through the ride, I concluded that it was my new favorite ride in Disney World. I loved the part where you are sort of hurtling through the darkness. Wow! How awesome.
When we left, we saw that there was still no line. Since we liked it so much the first time, we decided to go ahead and ride it again. This time, forgetting how violent the ride was, I decided that I was going to try and take pictures inside. It started out ok, passing the Triceratops and the first encounter with the Carnatosaurus, but then it started getting rough. I snapped a few more pictures and then decided to hold on for dear life. I still had the camera in my right hand, so I only had my left hand to hold on with. Honestly, there were times when I thought about dropping the camera just so I could hold on. I made it out still holding on, but barely. I just can't stress how wild this ride is. I would never ever ever take a small child on this ride. I think it is one of the most awesome rides I have ever ridden, but it is also one of the roughest.
When we finally decided that we'd had enough, we noticed that it was time for a showing of Journey into Jungle Book. We had to wait, in FULL SUN no less, for about fifteen minutes before the show began. Then when we were finally let inside the steamy hot OUTDOOR theater, we were herded into some less-than-wonderful seats. They seemed to want to fill the theater from left to right instead of front to back. Well, since I didn't know the story of the Jungle Book, I had no idea of what to expect from the show. Overall, I didn't like it that much. The person playing Baloo was kind of annoying. I guess if I had known and liked the story I would have liked it a little more. The best part was the Sheer Khan puppet, which looked like five or six flat boards on sticks that moved. Very ingenious, if you ask me. Mom and Dad both liked the show a lot more than I did.
About mid-show, we all began looking at each other as if to say, "I'm hungry...lets go get lunch." We looked at a map trying to find a place that would suit us all. We discovered that, aside from Rainforest Cafe, there were only four resaurants in the entire park. We were in DinoLand USA, and were fairly tired, so the Tusker House was out. Pizzafari was also out since we didn't really want pizza, plus it being very far away as well. Flame Tree barbecue was closer, but I don't eat pork or beef barbecue, and I didn't see any chicken on the menu when we passed by it, so it was out too. The only one left was Restaurantasaurus, the McDonalds type restaurant. I am completely opposed to having McDonalds inside the parks. Disney World is supposed to be detatched from the rest of the world. The last thing I want to do is eat at McDonalds while I'm there. So that one was out as well.
So now what were we supposed to do. What a fine situation this is. Mom suggested turkey legs, but of course since I'm a picky eater, I didn't want one. I can't stand eating chicken or turkey legs. All those tendons make me sick thinking about them. So Dad went and got one of those and Mom and I bought hot dogs. Definetly not my favorite food, but I was willing to eat it. As far as hot dogs go, it was quite good. I can't say that I'll get another one, but if you like hot dogs, it was pretty good. This was the first time in all my trips that I was glad I wasn't a vegetarian. I would have had to walk, literally to the other side of the park to find something without meat in it.
After we got our hot dogs, turkey leg and ice cold (ahh...) drinks, we tried to find a nice shady spot to eat. But could we find one? No. Of course not. There's no shade ANYWHERE in Animal Kingdom. And then, what few shady spots we did find were already occupied by parents with sleeping children or older folks appearing to be near heat stroke. We sat down on a bench in FULL SUN once again and ate quickly. I was afraid of getting sick since we had been in the sun all day and were obviously not going to find shade any time soon. I was also very glad I was wearing a white shirt.
After lunch, being tired and fairly cranky, we decided to check out the Cretaceous Trail. We walked around the first corner and found a dinosaur. We walked around another corner and found another dinosaur. And that was it. Bleh, what a waste of time. At the end of the Cretaceous Trial was a small building with the intriguing name of "Dinosaur Jubilee." I'm envisioning some sort of show about dinosaurs, maybe encorporating music. Obviously, I hadn't read the map description of it. All it was was a big room with FAKE dinosaur bones around the walls with little plaques about the dinosaur. I really felt shorted by this. I mean, come on! No real bones? I would have thought that Disney could afford to put some real bones in this exhibit. I can go ANYWHERE and look at fake dinosaur bones, but not everyone has REAL ones. I was really expecting more.
In an attempt to save the day, we rode Countdown to Extinction again. Yes! I am redeemed! After our first two rides, we had figured out where the camera was that took our picture. This time we decided that we would pose for the camera, and if it came out well, we'd by a copy of it. Throughout the ride, the vehicle stopped two or three times where it hadn't stopped before, but luckily we remembered which dino we had to pose for. We nudged for Dad to pose, but he didn't. Afterwards, he said that the extra stops had disoriented him and he didn't know where he was supposed to pose. We went to look at our picture...yes! Brilliant! Wonderful! I looked like I was absolutely scared out of my mind and Mom looked mildly startled. We decided that we had done a good enough job to merit buying a copy of the picture, so we both got one. Every time I looked at it, I would crack up laughing!
The only thing left that we wanted to do that didn't have a line of an hour like the Riverboat, was the Festival of the Lion King. We started over to Camp Minnie Mickey, and realized that we would have to walk ALL THE WAY back out to the Tree of Life and then go into Camp Minnie Mickey. How out of the way is that?!?! Like they couldn't make a little trail connecting DinoLand USA with the Oasis and another connecting the Oasis and Camp Minnie Mickey. So we made the trek over to it. One thing that struck me as odd was that all along this long pathway, there was nothing. Absolutely nothing. At Disney/MGM STudios, when you are on the path from the Great Movie Ride to Start Tours, at least there is a big restaurant and a couple of shops to help fill the space. But here..NOTHING! What a waste of space.
When we finally got there, we were herded into another FULL SUN waiting area, where we stood for about ten or fifteen minutes. Then something else happened that annoyed us all. The way it's set up, there are three waiting lines. When they started letting people in, they opened the right and middle lanes, but not the left, which was the one we were in. They let the other two lanes COMPLETELY empty before they let us go in. People were just walking right up and getting into the show before us eventhough we had already been waiting for a while. This went on for about five minutes. Then the people in my line started complaining very loudly about it to the CM letting them in, so he finally let us go in. Of course we had crappy seats, but that was to be expected. I mean, heaven forbid that I, a person who had waited in line, get a better seat that someone who just walked up.
The show itsself was not bad, but was not one of the best I've ever seen. I liked the part with the guys dressed up like monkeys who did the gymnastics routine. It was one of the only things we could see. We had to sit in the last row of unelevated seats, so the only things we could see were the stilt walkers and the things happening in the air. I also liked the ballet dancers who were supposed to be birds or whatever. Couldn't really tell what they were. I could barely see it. As we left, Dad made it very clear that he hated the show. He especially hated the seating and the incident with not letting our group in. I liked it, but I was not compelled to see it again.
We left, and made our way back towards the Tree of Life. Mom wanted to take pictures of it, so we stopped and she took a few pctures. We were all so wiped out by now because the heat and the suspicious lack of water fountains (you don't think they'd want to make us buy BOTTLED WATER, do you?), we decided to leave. I didn't care that I hadn't seen the Riverboat, Gorilla Falls or Conservation Station. I wanted to leave! I wanted to go back to my nice, comfy, COOL hotel room and take a shower. Just so we could leave on a good note, we walked all the way back over to DinoLand USA and rode Countdown to Extinction one last time. What does that say about that ride? That means that we REALLY liked it if we were willing to walk all the way back over there, even as tired as we were.
After our final ride on Countdown to Extinction, it was about 3:00 and we left. We didn't care that we had priority seating at the Rainforest Cafe in an hour and a half. We were too disgusting to eat there anyway. I would have been so hot, so tired and so sweaty, I wouldn't have enjoyed a bite of it. When we got to the car, I swear I heard the car say that it was sure we didn't love it any more since we left it in the hot parking lot all day. We had to let the car air out before we were even able to get inside. I don't know how hot it was this day, but the heat index was easily 115. I got in and checked on my bagels. They were like rocks. Oh well...did I actually expect that anything would go well this day? I'll just use extra cream cheese...
We went back to the hotel and collapsed. I had never been so tired because of a Disney park before. We wanted Fazolis for dinner, but none of us wanted to get up and get it. We tried to get Dad to go buy it for us and bring it back, but he said that if he had to go, we had to go. So we dragged ourselves off the bed and went across the street. I got the "Three Way Pasta" which is spaghetti, ziti and ravioli in the same no-meat dish. Mom had Chicken Parmesan and Dad had a Roast Beef Submarino. We took advantage of the unlimited breadsticks.
The evening was spent in the hotel room watching TV and making plans for our next day. At about 8:00, we decided that we wanted milkshakes. We went out looking for a Sonic or Dairy Queen but didn't find one. Finally we saw a Steak and Shake. We had eaten there on the return from our last trip and the shakes were really good, so we stopped and got one. Mmmmm...
So ended the evening. We were very glad that we had scheduled a non-park day for the next day.Go to Day 5