Warning!- Picture overload….again!
Day 3 of our trip took us Animal Kingdom. Last time we went to WDW, I wasn’t able to go to AK because I had to stay back at the resort and make sure everyone was checked into the airline for our flight home the following day, so I was excited to go back to this park since it had been 9 years.
Since we had FastPasses for the Kilimanjaro Safari almost first thing, there would be no sleeping in this morning! All 15 of us got on the bus to AK, ready to start the day! When we arrived, the crowd really wasn’t too bad so we were able to get right through the gates. Of course, first we had to stop for a picture….
Then a few of us had to stop to check out the tarantulas….ick!!
We had to stop to gaze at the Tree of Life, which has over 300 species carved on the massive trunk! It’s truly magnificent!
We still had a little time before our FP’s at the safari, so we stopped at a little shop outside the ride entry…
I want to take some time here to talk about my dad. He is the reason we all got to take this wonderful trip. He is one of the hardest working men I’ve ever known. I don’t ever remember a time that he was out of work, or stayed home from work. Even if the man is sick, he goes to work! He doesn’t usually take a lot of time to just sit down and enjoy his surroundings, so when I saw him, sitting on this bench, I had to capture those moments!
Now, I need to stop a moment to talk a little bit about this park…. Disney did an amazing job on this park. If you were taken blindfolded into this park, and weren’t told where you were being taken, you’d swear you were actually in Africa or Asia! The details are amazing! The buildings look old and run-down, the vegetation is perfect and the entertainment is so much fun!
As I said, our first ride was the Kilimanjaro Safari ride. This ride has been refurbished a bit since I last rode it in 2005. I think it’s a much better ride now. I’ve never actually been on a safari, but this is how I imagine it would be. I’ve heard a lot of stories of how there are hardly any animals out when you ride this, but that was not the case for our ride. There were animals around every corner! I just missed seeing the lioness as she was hiding behind some rocks so all I was able to get was the top of her head! The giraffes were aplenty and we even got to see a wart hog! This is a can’t miss ride at Animal Kingdom!
After we finished our safari, we had a couple of hours before our next FP, so we decided to head over to Dino-Land to ride Dinosaur! I had never been on this ride, but I had decided that this year, I was going to try some new things! Let me tell you…this ended up being one of my favorite rides in the park!! The ride is cheesy, bumpy and dark, but it’s a whole lotta fun!! We laughed and screamed like crazy. We rode it quite a few times because the lines were so low. They do take a picture while you’re on the ride, so once again, all of us posers planned what we’d be doing each time the camera snapped a picture. With the Memory Maker, you get to have copies of all the ride photographs so we were really excited to see what we could come up with! What fun!
Time for lunch! When you travel with 15 people, it’s hard sometimes to make a command decision for everyone. I had made all the dining reservations, and had given everyone some choices for lunch. Of course half didn’t want to eat lunch yet, and half did. I think we spent a half hour trying to decide what to do! (I really hate indecision!) Well, I was starving so decided that I didn’t know what anyone else was doing, but I was getting lunch. We ate lunch at Pizzafari mostly because my kids are picky and they offered not only pizza(which they mostly like) and some nice salads, which I was in the mood for. We weren’t sure how things would go by eating before riding Expedition Everest, but we did it anyway! By the way…the pizza was delicious according to my kids, and I can safely say the caesar salad was also very delicious!
Expedition Everest!! The one ride I swore I’d never ride. You see, I’m not big on thrill rides…I don’t like to be tossed upside down, or dropped 7 stories, or spun around like I’m in a washing machine…that’s just not my thing! However, my kids talked me into riding Expedition Everest. All I knew about it was that the coaster went up to the top of that mountain, and it came down backwards in a spiral! Once again…not my thing! I decided that once again, I was going to put on my big girl panties and give it a whirl–literally! I think I started to hyperventilate a bit as I got in the seat. I was holding the lap bar in a death grip and I believe at this point my knuckles were void of any blood flow due to my grip! As soon as it started, I believe my only words were “Oh, crap, oh, crap, oh, crap…” Then the moment came….the coaster started it’s ascent up the mountain. I knew what was coming next….the coaster stops. Then, it starts going backwards and it whips you into a spiral! I loved it!! What a fun ride!! I was ready to ride it again!
No time to ride it again because it was time for our next FastPass! Kali River Rapids! The Kali River Rapids were my favorite ride in the park when we went in 2005. I couldn’t wait to ride it again because it was hot out and I was ready to cool off! I just didn’t realize how “cooled off” I’d get! We boarded the boats and my sister-in-law was seated next to me. Let me tell you a little about my sister-in-law. She is this gorgeous woman, that never has a hair out of place and her make up is always perfect! While we were all sweating our make up off, and our hair was out of control, she was perfectly coiffed! Imagine my delight when we came to the big drop on the rapids, and our boat shifted just ever so slightly….so slightly that she and I got the brunt of the huge wave the proceeded to come up over our heads and basically drench us!!! When I opened my eyes and looked at her…she was soaked!!! We all just started laughing uncontrollably! Of course, her make up stayed put and her hair just got a little wavy, but it was fun to see her wet! Lol….Unfortunately, there are only 2 known images of her wet….this is one of them with the 2 of us right after we got out of the boat.
By the way…it did take most of the day for us to dry off, even in the hot, humid climate of Florida! The funny thing is that almost no one else in the boat got wet! Yes, they got a little bit of splash, but we were the only ones that got soaked!
Finding Nemo the Musical was next on our list. This little show was like being at a Broadway production except the seats are SO uncomfortable! You are literally sitting on a wooden bench for 30 minutes! The colors are spectacular and the talent of the performers is first rate. Once again, I highly recommend seeing this little gem!
By the time this show was over, those of us that wanted to ride Expedition Everest again decided we had time to get it in before our dinner reservations at Rainforest Cafe, so we went to get in line. The line was pretty long, and by the time we got about half way through, it had started raining and thundering. Thunder at Disney World is not a good thing. Any time it thunders or they spot lightning within a mile or so radius, they have to close down the outdoor rides! They made the announcement that the ride would be closing due to the weather and that we could stay in line in case it opened up, or we could leave. We opted to stay. After about 20 minutes, we realized it probably wasn’t going to open again in time for our dinner reservation, so we got out of line and headed to the front of the park to eat dinner.
Our dining reservations were at Rainforest Cafe right at Animal Kingdom. There are 2 locations at WDW–the other is at Downtown Disney. This is the only dining reservation we made that we had eaten at the last time we went. This was everyone’s favorite meal, and when I was choosing restaurants, all the kids begged to go back there. The restaurant is super loud–there are mock storms, gorillas, monkey’s etc…and they all make noise! If you’re looking for a nice, quiet meal, this is not the place! The best thing about Rainforest?!? Volcano!!!! They offer a dessert called the Volcano, which is a luscious chocolate brownie with ice cream, chocolate syrup and whipped cream! It is the best! The last time we ate there, it was served with sprinklers in it and everyone yells “Volcano” as it’s brought to your table. This year there were no sprinklers–boo! But everyone still yelled “volcano”! You can get the Volcano as your dessert choice on the Dining Plan, but it does require 3 adult dessert credits…and it does feed 3 adults….or more. Try it next time you go there.
By the time we were done with dinner, Animal Kingdom was closing for the night. We ran back to Expedition Everest in hopes that maybe we could get one more ride in, but no such luck! While most of our party headed back to the resort, my kids, sister-in-law(different one) and her kids got on a bus to Magic Kingdom! We weren’t quite ready to call it a night.
This was our first time to go into the park since we got there, and this is always the most exciting time for me. I can’t describe the thrill I get walking onto Main Street USA. One tip I give all my clients, is that if they don’t care about seeing the Main Street Electrical Parade, or watching Wishes, it’s a great time to ride the rides that are normally super popular! Most people will go watch the parade and Wishes, which leaves the lines pretty low. Sometimes there are 2 Main Street Electrical Parades, so I say go ride the rides during the first one, and pop over to watch the second one after Wishes.
Since my main goal was to get pictures of the MSEP and Wishes, I knew I’d have to find a primo spot, so I found a great spot right by the statue of Roy Disney and Minnie Mouse, in the hub at the front of Main Street USA. I set up my tripod and camera so I wouldn’t be in the way of anyone wanting pictures with Roy and Minnie, but ready to scoot over there when the time came!
Let me just vent a bit here….when you’re at WDW, it’s easy to think that you paid lots of money to be there and you should be able to cut in front of other people or do what you want. Well,the fact of the matter is that everyone else paid just as much and sometimes more to be there as well. It’s not nice to cut in front of people, or crowd people over because they’re in a great spot. It’s not right to shove your children in front of other people that have already staked out a place to sit or stand. We all want to see the fireworks and parades. When it came time for the fireworks, a family walked up next to me, and their little girl began to climb all over Roy and Minnie, right in front of the lens of my camera! There was no way they weren’t sure that I was going to be shooting from that position. I thought maybe they were just letting her climb before the parade and fireworks, but they’d pull her over when it all started since it was quite obvious that I would be taking pictures! Well, parade starts, and the little girl decides she wants to sit on Roy’s head! Not cool! I held my breath for a moment, waiting for the parents to get her out of the way and it became pretty obvious that wasn’t going to happen. The grandma even looked over at me and then looked away! At this point, I decided I needed to say something since I had set up long before their arrival. In my most courteous tone and being very polite, I asked if they wouldn’t mind keeping their daughter off of Roy’s head which was in my line of sight. You would have thought I was asking them to kill their daughter!! The grandma was very rude and said they were there too and she could stand where she wanted to! Are you kidding me!?! (And they say Americans are rude! They were from Australia, I think) I got a little more firm and very nicely told them that I had been there before them to set up to take pictures and the little girl was fine to sit on Minnie’s head if she so desired. The dad finally pulled the little girl over, but then grandma handed her a lighted wand that she continued to swing around over Roy’s head (and in front of my lens) through the whole parade and fireworks! Not only that, but then a guy a few feet in front of me decided to put his son on his shoulders to see the fireworks! So, needless to say, my fireworks pictures have a little boy on his dad’s shoulders and a little lit wand swinging through the image! My advise?? Take note of where you are. Take notice of who’s in front, beside and behind you. We have all paid money to be there, and we all want to see everything. A lot of people decide to choose a spot early and forgo rides so they get great seats. If you don’t do this, you shouldn’t expect them to move or make room for you. End of rant…
Anyway….I knew I’d have a few more nights to shoot the pictures, so just did the best I could. Thankfully, I’ve got some Photoshop skills and was able to remove the little boy from the pictures! Of course, I’d never be able to sell these images because while I’m very good at Photoshop…I’m not perfect! Here are the images with little boy removed…
After fireworks, we went to walk around the park some more since it was open until 1am! We even got in a few more rides! (Note to self: Big Thunder Mountain is much more fun when it’s dark!)
Have a magical day!
All photos ©Monica Bryant Photography, 2014. You may not copy, screen shot, download or print any of these images without express written permission from Monica Bryant Photography.
Interested in booking a vacation to any Disney location? Please contact me at monica@ mousetriptravel.com . Also visit our website at www.buildabettermousetrip.com .