Monday, March 10, 2014

Disney Trip 2014 - Day 4: Animal Kingdom, Part 1

Animal Kingdom day.  A planned half day.  A rest day?  It should have been.  Quick tip for people planning a Disney trip: plan a rest day by day 3 in the parks.  Or at least a half day in the park with the second half saved for the pool or naps and dinner at your resort.  By this time, we were pretty exhausted  from 2 full days of parks, traveling to different restaurants each dinner, constant bussing all over Disney and 3 full days of "Drew complaints."  But of course with a Disney package deal, they wont let you have a rest day.  If you are paying to stay on Disney property then you are going to a park everyday you stay at the resort.  That's how they "get you."  Because no one wants to take a "rest day" when you are already paying for a "park day."  So we figured Animal Kingdom had the least we wanted to do and see so we planned a half day here with an afternoon at Downtown Disney.  Ever since the first night when the cousins got their lightsabers, my kids could not wait to get their own.  They really felt like they were missing out with all the innocent strangers they could be wacking with their lightsabers when I am not looking.  Its part of the Disney experience; for them and innocent bystanders.  And why should I deny those people the bruises and apologies my kids so graciously want to dole out. 

So we left for the Animal Kingdom with all 18 people in tow.  I do wonder what everyone on those buses must have thought when 8 adults and 10 boys got on their bus.  It could not have been good.  Probably what Zachary said at the airport, "Oh No.  Not more people."  Of course our boys are quiet, timid boys that never cause a ruckus or upset the gentle balance of peaceful morning.

The guy's expression on the left says it all.
We started our day at the ride "Dinosaur" with our family and the Haman's (my sister's family.)  We were the first ones in line and rushed through the queue.  I knew that it could be kind of scary but I was thinking "Disney scary" like the Haunted Mansion.  It was more "Marilyn Manson scary."  Or "Jurassic Park scary."  You rode in a small car, over extreme bumps and turns shaking you back and forth, in complete darkness.  And the only light that would come on was when they shoved a dinosaur's mouth in your face including spraying spit and wind with ear-piercing roars and dinosaur screams.  Needless to say, Zachary did not like it.  Its hard to stay positive after a ride you get shaken up by too.  "Wasn't that great kids?  Those silly dinosaurs almost ate us.  That was so funny.  Now, lets never do that again and just hold each other for the next hour.  Who wants to open us in prayer?"  Well that ride ruined Zachary for most of the rest of the trip for the "extreme" rides.  Pretty awesome.  Dinosaur the ride was in the "Dinosaur" part of Animal Kingdom which was set up like a carnival.  But instead of a cool midway with excitement and bells and whistles, it was more like a derelict old amusement park that was shut down 25 years ago for budget cut reasons and was now being investigated by old Scooby and the gang.  There were midway games but they charged $4 for each try at a game to win a $2 stuffed animal.  And of course my kids wanted to do every one.  We did not let them play any games and left Dinosaur land with highly frightened, angry children.  It was a great start to the day!

From here we went to "Its Tough to be a Bug" which is inside the huge tree at Animal Kingdom.  On the way in our huge carvings of different animals that my kids loved to pose in front of.

Nate loves all the pictures...or not.
Nate: "OK I'll give you one smile because you did an impression of a monkey to get me to smile."

"Your impression wasn't that great."

Before this ride I compared it to "Mickey's Philharmagic" at the Magic Kingdom where it is an interactive theater where they may spray water at you or wind and its in 3-D.  It was different.  The beginning is cute and they pull those little tricks like blowing wind in your face and such.  Then it turns dark.  Like a Disney Imagineer was sick of cutesy princesses and wanted to see how far he could push it before he got caught.  Let me tell you, he went pretty dark.  Half way through the "bad" bug takes over and proceeds to attack the audience with acid, stink bug smell, wasp stings in your low back and a huge animatronic cockroach that threatens every person in there....all in complete darkness.  It ends well and my kids hung in there but again it was not "Disney scary."  And at the end, they tell you to stay seated so the maggots, cockroaches, and beetles can exit while they raise little parts of your seat to simulate the bugs walking under your bottom.  This was my favorite part because my brother-in-law, who has been pretty quiet, actually yelled out in the middle of the theater. 

At this point we hooked up with the rest of our group and went to the Kilamanjaro Safaris.  This was the highlight of the day.  It was awesome.  The wild beasts were so close and ready to pose for pictures.  And we got great pictures of the animals too. 

(Grandpa looking in the wrong direction)


The animals were all on display and easy to see.  With each part of the safari, we saw exactly what they were advertising was in this area.  It was all very convenient.  A little too convenient.  When you go to a zoo, you pay top dollar to see the exotic animals but rarely see the full animal who is hiding or tucked under a bush.  You consider yourself lucky if you get to see a back left hoof or right butt cheek.  "I see it Mommy."  "No, that's another rock."  But at Disney, all the animals are on full display like they are cemented in place like George Washington at the Hall of Presidents.  I wouldn't put it past Disney to have 20% real animals and 80% "animal-tronic" animals. 

I think one of the birds was real.  The rest faked cause none of them moved.

This was easy to fake cause all it did was move the tongue in and out.  Can you see it?

This was real or a very complex robot.  2 baby elephants were wrestling with each other.  Very cute.  A little too cute if you ask me.  Only at Disney would you see baby elephants wrestling.  More like baby elephant robots!

Now you can't tell me all those alligators were real.  One of them had a "Made in China" tag on the tail.  And you get the exact one in the safari gift shop.

And come on Disney.  You might as well put Mickey ears on him.  Those horns don't even look real.

On the safari, Nate was sitting with Uncle Mike.  He was happy cause it wasn't me.  Well he ended up falling asleep half way through the safari. 

And when he woke up, you must have thought Uncle Mike was holding a rabid, giant male adult grizzly bear who was just coming our of hibernation.  Lindsey and I were talking so gentle to him and walking on egg shells around him because if you don't, he has the temper of a giant, angry grizzly bear.  Waking up, Nate is very much like the Incredible Hulk.  You don't want to get him angry.

"You won't like me when I'm angry!"

He was able to wake up gently and the crisis was averted.  We finished the safari which made the Animal Kingdom totally worth it.  We had a fast pass for Expedition Everest which was our next stop.  Now Zachary still afraid from the morning's Dinosaur encounter, refused to go on this ride but Drew wanted to ride it to prove himself to his cousins who had already ridden in 3 times.  So I took him on it and it was great. I was so proud of him for being a "big guy" to ride it, and I was able to enjoy an extreme ride too.  Afterward, everyone was congratulated him so much, he wanted to do it again.  So this time Lindsey went on it with him.  The only problem was that she forgot she was wearing her $300 prescription sunglasses on her head.  And as far as I know, they are now a permanent fixture on Disney's Expedition Everest.  I asked about Lost and Found, and they told me to try back tomorrow at the front desk.  So we just had to wait till then. 

After Everest we split up and headed for lunch back in Dino Land.  While we were waiting in line for our food, I experienced one of my favorite Disney moments.  The woman behind me must have been from New Jersey.  She had a thick Jersey accent and larger than life personality.  The Disney cast member who was taking orders always asks, before giving your total, if you would like to donate a dollar to the Wild Life Conservation Fund.  Its Animal Kingdom, so I get it.  Well apparently this lady did not.  When she was asked, this was her response in a thick Jersey accent, "Are you kidding me?  I have spent thousands of dollars on this Disney vacation.  Where do you get off asking me for another dollar?  Disney's got millions of dollars from these other poor saps.  Why don't you ask Disney for some money for your Wild Life Fund?"  A very valid point, but one that you think in your head and not out loud for everyone to hear in the Restaurantosaurus dining establishment at Disney World.  I couldn't at the time but later, I was dying.  The cast member very politely educated her on what Disney does do for conservation and the lady understood and apologized.  But still hilarious and I was glad I was there for that magical experience. 

Its tough to get hand-outs at Disney.  Probably why you don't see Salvation Army bell ringers at the park exits,
The Joyful and Tired Dad

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