Disney Park: Animal Kingdom (open till 9:30PM)
🎂 This day was my eldest sister’s birthday, the one who lives overseas in Sicily. Our daughters wanted to make her a birthday video from the pool first thing to make her day bright. Something we seem to make offsite for her annually as her birthday always falls during our school vacation weeks.
Like I just mentioned, we got to the pool before hitting the park today; we had a FP starting at 11:55AM for the safari. It was a perfect 80F start with the sun shining and the pool glimmering… and oh look, friends from home! Yup, we saw more friends from my husband’s hometown at the pool.
Apparently, Bay Lake is the place to be during April vacation.
Because the weather was spectacular, we were willing to sacrifice the first FP for pool time since we had another FP for the safari another day at night. This day we also reserved FP for Primeval Whirl, for the girls to ride it for the first time, and then Avatar Flight of Passage, for all of us to ride it together.
Going to the Animal Kingdom this day was our first shot at the bus system since our last visit. The buses for Bay Lake arrive at a station on the Contemporary side of the house. We arrived to the Animal Kingdom only to be greeted by a handsome stranger approaching me. He was fast talking with his family while holding a paper ticket, basically, asking if we wanted it. It was a free pass to ride Avatar Flight of Passage any time that day (kid swap). So yea, I took it and thanked him, it was a great start to our day already!
On top of this we were hungry. We went to grab a quick bite to eat at the Flame Tree BBQ (one of the first spots where I had ever eaten at Disney World in 2002); so for nostalgia and love of BBQ’d meat, we have to eat there first each time. The girls split the mac n cheese topped with pulled pork, my husband the pulled pork sandwich with a beer and me the BBQ chicken salad with a vodka drink! So, just a heads up that portions of food at this location are crazy out of whack. Like, way too big. My kids split a KIDS MEAL and my husband had eaten some of it too. I ended up splitting my dish with my husband, and leaving some behind. As you may be understanding by now, my husband is an eating machine. haha He is a pretty big guy, and always ends up eating my food. Sometimes I feel bad but he doesn’t seem to mind. 🙂 And I love sharing my food and everything with him anyways.
We flew to our first FP, the Kilimanjaro safari! They changed this experience a little. It no longer used the radios or anything that had to do with the chase of finding poachers along the route, which was actually pretty ok. I mean, the last time we rode it there was a little confusion on the ride because the driver didn’t set up the chase quite well and we had to explain it to a family the whole time.
Our next FP was the Primeval Whirl. A ride the girls were too little to get on during the past two trips to AK. We all got on it together, which was fun. I had never ridden it either! Another ride we didn’t make it on ever in my Disney life, shock and awe.
Is it horrible to say that I didn’t care much for this ride? I liked the theme and it was silly fun and all, but the jerkiness of the turns at the end of each corner was bothersome. I felt like an arcade pinball getting whacked around and spun. The girls loved it! Which is all I can ask for because they have been talking about this ride for months! We walked around Dinoland a bit after the ride, but I was pretty excited to get to our next FP… Avatar Flight of Passage!! So I basically forced everyone to get going!!
“C’mon, c’mon, c’mon!!”
Arriving at Pandora is pretty surreal as you are walking over the bridge. Especially if you are a fan of the movie, which we all are. The transformation from Discoveryland to Pandora is done in the most subtle way, then bam right after the river you are engulfed in this new world; so different from the others in AK. The floating mountains in the valley of Mo’ara looked just like the movie, I wanted to fly up and touch them. We all couldn’t believe it. The sounds of the animals, and the lush surroundings, all seemed so real. Disney created such an amazing land, so beautiful. We walked all around the space before our FP; from the leafy reaches of the Na’vi River Journey to the stone drums to the hidden stores.
Then we got on the Avatar Flight of Passage ride. AFOP is probably the best ride I have ever been on in my life. And I am a super scaredy cat of the unknown fast, high swooping rides and stuff, but this ride was so well done that I couldn’t get enough. The seats were super cool. The views were intense, and the 3D was the best I had ever experienced. That smell of the ocean was refreshing and I can still smell it, but my favorite part of the ride, though, was how I could feel the banshee breathing between my legs. It was a whole lot of amazing details after another.
Never had I been so disappointed for a ride to end than that one.
After we rode the AFOP, we grabbed some fun drinks from Pongu Pongu. We got a Rum Blossom, which had Passion fruit boba mixed in with two sized straws, for good reason! The drink was yummy and refreshing. Those boba balls were so good!
With drinks in hand, we went over to Discoveryland to grab the girls some Mickey bars (and a frozen margarita for me!) but within minutes we ended up going back to Pandora to ride AFOP again, using that pass from the kind stranger. After riding that twice, and the hour, we decided it was a great time to start making our way over to Asia because we had to be at our dinner reservations within the half hour. We had made reservations for Yak & Yeti!
OK, I AM NOT COMPLAINING IN THE NEXT PARAGRAPH BY ANY MEANS…
But our experience at Yak & Yeti was …. meh. The place itself was pretty. I loved the Asian aesthetic. And I am only saying our experience was ok because our oldest daughter has an all nuts allergy (which the place was fine for her) but my husband has a sesame seed/oil allergy. Both cases are pretty clear. They go into anaphylaxis if they eat the actual food, but cross contamination isn’t usually a problem. Our youngest got the chicken fingers with corn and jasmine rice, our oldest got tuna nachos, my husband got the blackened tuna and I got the tuna salad. Simple tuna dishes for the most part, right? Well, for some reason it was terribly complicated for the chef to understand not just for my husband but also our dishes, as we stated, treat the entire table as if we have a sesame allergy.. So what happened? He treated the appetizer, lettuce cups, as a gluten allergy, though it didn’t have sesame..weird, but ok, safe. THEN. My dish and our oldest daughter’s dish came out riddled with sesame seeds. SMH. It was fine, we don’t have any issues, but sucked cause I know he wanted to try those nachos. My husband said his dish was fine in the end, blackened tuna with double jasmine rice, but also that it was not terribly exciting, and that the blackening seasoning was kind of burnt or smokey tasting…which I know he isn’t fond of. We grabbed a few drinks there.. beer, yak attack, a margarita and a sangria, they were nice.
While at dinner, we made a few more FP for the night. We forfeited our River of Light FP to split up our time because my husband and oldest daughter wanted to ride Everest, but our youngest did not. So I took her to Dinoland to ride whatever she wanted… TriceraTops and Primeval Whirl. So glad we did this, because as soon as we got off TriceraTops the other arrived and the kids rode Primeval Whirl two times on their own.
I had this great idea to paint everyone’s faces with UV glow body paint before heading back to Pandora for night-time. It was fun to draw the designs on. Though the paint from the bottle was messy, I also used a plastic fork, and the paint wasn’t as brightly lit up as I wanted it to be, everyone looked cute when it dimly glowed or when we got into regular light. Eh. Just goes to showya. Some ideas aren’t worth the cost or time… this was one!!
With faces painted, we went back to Pandora to close out the night. At this point, the River of Light was just starting so we got a good tip to hit up the Na’vi River Journey, which would have shorter wait times. We couldn’t get FP to this ride at any point before our trip, and wanted to get on it at least once during our two days at the AK this trip. So. We kept an eye on the app right from dinner, the lines were so long, but we saw the numbers drop little by little. When we made it to Pandora, we raced right there. It stated 45 minutes, so we took the leap of faith.
THERE WAS NO WAIT AT ALL! We were all so glad to get on the ride because it ended up being the last moment to ride it for the night!
We left the Animal Kingdom super tired, but happy. We did get on the bus to take us home, but someone got an ill tummy, me, and we got off at the Wilderness Lodge.
The best part of our night was actually this stop. Funny enough.
We remembered that the resort had a ferry service to the Contemporary Resort. We walked to the dock out back to find the ferry-boat just arriving to pick up riders. The night was perfect, the boat was basically empty. First stop the boat went to was Fort Wilderness, which was actually pretty cool from this view-point. It looked like a quaint camp site set on the water, set up in the middle of nowhere. Then we ferried right to the Contemporary, which was about 10 minutes. It was beautiful. The warmth. The breeze. The view of the resorts from the darkness. The girls sat arm and arm, and, we did, too. Well, with my shoulder on his, as well. I was sleepy. 🙂
Also, this could also be funny for others, but, the driver of the boat was, to say the least, amusing. He was sort of dressed like a boat captain but messy. He was lanky with a 5 o’clock shadow, and spoke slowly, almost like a bit of a Scooby Doo creepy character. We docked at the Contemporary at the same time as another ferry. The ferry captain of that other boat came over to ours and looked like The Skipper from Gilligan’s Island. With all these old school show references I had a ball. (I love the TV shows I grew up on!)
Our full day at the Animal Kingdom was a lot of fun. We loved Pandora, the kids loved all the fun foods and getting on Primeval Whirl, and despite some minor set backs, we ended the night on such a magical note.