Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Florida- Disney World- Animal Kingdom

After having a day to rest at the resort and lay by the pool we were rested up and ready to tackle another day at the parks. This time it was Animal Kingdom! We had really high hopes for this park and had a feeling it would be a favorite. We were up bright and early. The park opens at 8am but we knew you had to be through the turnstiles and in line by that point so we left our resort at 7am to get there and be ready.
It was quite obvious that everyone gets there early for the same ride we were. The newly opened Pandora Land with Avatar rides is so popular that wait times can be insane. We had been able to get a fast pass for one of the rides but the really popular ride was already out of fast passes 30 days ahead!! 
As soon as the park opened we followed the crowds and raced over to Pandora to get in line for Flight of Passage. The sights along the way are amazing. You just can't imagine it from the pictures.  We had watched the movie before coming so the kids new the premise of the story and characters. They loved it. 
The line wasn't bad because of all the scenery to take in while you wait. This ride had been having 4 hour wait times in the past few days as we were keeping an eye on it on the Disney app. Yikes! Four hours! No thanks. 

Luckily for us we managed to get in line early enough right when the park opened and we were on and off the ride by 1 hour after the park opened.
It really did seem like the entire park had the same ideas and came to this part of the park first.
Once the line makes it's way inside the building you see the lab just like in the movie.
This is one of the Avatars you can transfer into for the ride! The ride did not disappoint. It was easily the best ride we went on in all the parks. It was like a 3D interactive version of soaring. Each person sits on a scooter type seat and you are "paired" with an Avatar and then you ride the Banshee through the world of Avatar. It was so fun and realistic.
We headed over to the Dinosaur land and ride. We rode a couple little rides first with no lines. A small roller coaster one called Primevil Whirl that spins you around and gives you the hurls and one that is like Dumbo called Triceratop Spin.
Then we walked over to the bigger Dinosaur ride. By this time the line was 60 minutes. We weren't sure we wanted to wait that long in line and I just so happened to have found a rider switch pass on the ground over by the Triceratop ride. It would allow up to 3 people to go straight into the fast pass line. The girls voted no line and Dad would wait for us in the shade while we rode the ride. 
The interior looked like a Natural History museum. Boy were we glad not to wait an hour in line. The ride was much like Indiana Jones ride on a giant jeep. We got to sit in the front row and we had one open seat which was sad because Dad could have been in that seat. We didn't want to press our luck with our good fortune of finding the rider swap pass. The ride was fun but the girls pretty much crouched and closed their eyes the whole time so not sure how much they saw!
After the ride Gemma ran around in the Dinosaur bone yard for a while which is a giant play structure with an archeological theme. Then we headed for the Nemo Show. 
The stage shows at Disney are always amazing. This one was with puppets on the actors arms and they sing dance and float through a sea telling the whole story of Finding Nemo. It was so great and nice to sit down in a cool theater for 30 minutes.
Everyone was ready for lunch by this point so we headed up towards Africa to find a place to sit and enjoy our lunch before exploring this area of the park. We entered the village of Harambe and it was lively with musicians.

 We had a bit of time before our fast pass for the Safari ride so we popped into the line for the Lion King show. The girls had seen Lion King in London last summer so they had high expectations.
The show was amazing! They had acrobats and animatronic animals. The music was awesome and the story was funny and entertaining.
Definitely a great show and you could watch it again and again.
Now it was time for a Safari! We had really looked forward to this ride in Animal Kingdom. We used our fast pass and hopped on to see the live animals roaming the park.

The trucks were really authentic and it was a good example of what a real African safari feels like. Consider us ready for Tanzania!!!
Lions, Tigers and Bears oh my!
We saw lots of Hippos straight away, they recently had a baby hippo and he was so cute!
Of course it wouldn't be Florida without some gators.
These giraffe are living the good life.
Of course there are elephants. You get pretty close to the animals although obviously they have hidden barriers so they cannot get too close to the vehicle.
Some real Rhinos.
The resident female Lion was snoozing on pride rock. I read that they keep the rock heated in winter and cooled in summer to "encourage" the lions to hang out there in plain view. Clever move!
We're thinking this vehicle would be good for our Africa Safari next summer, and it's already packed.
Next  up was the wildlife express train ride to the conservation station.

Once we arrived we saw these two cute monkeys playing with baby elephants.
Rafiki greeted us and showed us the way.
Lily found the mural of her happy place and blended in with her cat family. Giving her all kinds of ideas for a bedroom make over.
We were really impressed with the conservation station and all that they do for research and protecting animals and the environment. Lily and Gemma got to help do some work with the lab supplies and earned the title of conservationists.
We could have spent a lot more time in Africa but we still had Asia to explore and Mt Everest to tackle. We paused in front of the tree of life which is the center piece of the park. It is designed after a baobab tree. We were pretty far away but you'll soon see when we get closer the detail they put into the tree. It's fantastic.
So we left Africa and headed towards Asia. Again the attention to detail is fantastic. 
There is a lake in the middle and the Mt Everest ride in the background, our next fast pass ride.
Since the girls were little they would watch roller coaster rides on You Tube. Somehow this ride was one of their favorites to watch. You start off going forward, then part way through the ride the coaster goes backwards before seeing the abominable snowman and the tracks coming to an end. Then you complete the ride with a huge drop. I am still a little surprised we got them to go on with NO hesitation. 
After the ride we got a pressed penny to commemorate our completion and bravery.
We then had to watch several rounds of people go on the ride and take the huge drop.
Boy does it look scary, but yes we would do it again in a heartbeat.
All that bravery works up a big appetite. We devoured that Mickey pretzel.
Now to explore Asia. We walked along the Maharajah jungle trek. 
Like stepping right into Cambodia.
Mr Tiger was just chilling in the grass.

We didn't get lost in the jungle, luckily these animals managed to escape.
What better way to escape than in a Tuk tuk!
We had to get the heck out of Asia and head back to Pandora for our last fast pass, the Na'vi river journey.
We still wanted to explore more of the Pandora land and scenery. It's so magical and like being in another world.
Ha ha to the people waiting in line. We love getting to walk right on the ride.
The Na'vi river journey was  a boat ride in a dark cave exploring the land of Pandora.
It was really cool. No scary drops or amazing effects.
Next up on the bucket list was trying one of Pandora's unique food treats. The night blossom drink is a frozen fruity smoothie with passion fruit boba on top.
We shared one between us and it was actually pretty good! We sucked it down.
Now we wanted to finally explore more of the tree of life.
Once we got up close we could see that they had carved hundreds animals into the trunk of the tree. 
The craftsmanship is amazing.
You could sit under the tree and play i-spy to locate all the animals.
There is a waterfall under the tree and also the bugs life show.
Once we had our fill of the tree we were getting close to dinner time. We headed back to Asia and found some pretty decent Asian food, orange chicken with rice and some vegetable curry.
By the time we finished dinner and managed to hunt down the parks only churro stand for Lily it was time to get a spot to see the night time show. We managed to locate the seating area for the River of Light show, squeezing in to the last few seats available. 
It was really worth staying to see. All the floats came out onto the water and lit up.  Water flowed out of the floats as well.
The tree of life in the background lit up as well and glowed in the night sky.
We were pretty wiped out by this point but wanted one more turn around Pandora for the night time bioluminescence.
The pictures don't do it justice. It was so cool how everything glows in the black light.
Alas it was 10pm by now and we had been in the park for 14 hours! We were wrecked and needed to catch an Uber home and crash!

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