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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Disney World - Trip Log - Day 4

September 27th, 2006

It’s our third day here at the Disney World Resorts and today we’ll be off to Disney’s Animal Kingdom to check out the animal and have a little adventure. We continue, what is becoming our morning tradition – start off with a quick bite to eat at the Old Port Royale and then headed to our destination.

We became a little smarter this time. Meaning, we left a little more padding in our schedule for the transportation to the Animal Kingdom. On the bus ride over, Ashley made friends with a lady from Pennsylvania who had been going to Disney World for the past 19 years. Apparently, her newly married son who was on the trip with her – even had a girlfriend that did not make the cut because she did not like Disney. I often give Ashley a hard time about her Disney addictions, but I do need cut her some slack now.

The Animal Kingdom is a fun place to go, especially early in the morning. For those West Coast folks who do not get out to Florida much – it’s somewhat a cross between the San Diego Wild Animal Park and Disneyland – meaning both animals and a few attractions.

Our first stop was our favorite – the Kilimanjaro Safari that takes you through Disney’s 500 acres of open spaces 1700 different animals representing 250 different species. Going early in the morning gives you the additional opportunities to see the most exciting animals including the lion – which we were able to see a few of. There have been a few complaints in the past that the Safari jeeps do not slow down enough to allow for good pictures – however, our guide was excellent and we took many pictures!

Next we went on the Maharaja Jungle Trek which has a bat cage which is a little creepy. Also, there are opportunities to catch some glimpses of Tigers and Gorillas which are always entertaining!

Then, we hit up the newest Animal Kingdom attraction, Mt. (Mount) Everest – Expedition Everest. This is a fun roller coaster ride with a great theme as you progress through the line – seeing many of the things that a mountain climber on their way through Tibet might run into. The most surprising part of the ride is that after some quick turns and a ride up a hill, the coaster goes backwards for a short period. Definitely fun!

Our last major ride of the day was Dinosaur ride – which has a lot of similarities to the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland in Anaheim. From there we grabbed a quick counter service meal from Pizzafari and enjoyed and excellent Chicken Parmesan sandwich.

After lunch, we checked out the Festival of the Lion King which is a great show for kids and adults alike. The costumes and music is impressive and it is a festive time.

The one downfall about the Animal Kingdom is that the park feels very crowded and cramped. While attempting to create a outdoor and jungle feel, many of the walkways are tight and as the park becomes full during the day, bottlenecks and throngs of people form all over the park. Many times, there is only one direct way to get to specific attractions, so everyone is forced to go that way. One thing, it seems the Disney planners missed was that this park is extremely attractive to kids and lots of kids equals a ton of strollers – this means even less available walk space. In fact, as we left the Festival of the Lion King all of the strollers had 90% of the walkway was blocked. It is not a complaint about strollers, rather about the planning of the walkways and stopping areas.

My advice? Get to the park early, at open and leave by 2:00pm. You will get to see everything and miss a majority of the crowds.

That night, we enjoyed a fun dinner at Downtown Disney at Planet Hollywood. Planet Hollywood is not particularly interesting or worth mentioning as it is the same in almost every location – ok food, poor service, and great surroundings. No complaints, you just need to know what to expect when you arrive.

After dinner, my parents decided to get some rest while Ashley and I headed to Disneyland – err, I mean the Magic Kingdom to check out the fireworks. We got there just in time to see them and their “Wishes Spectacular” fireworks show is a good one. The only downer, it took an hour and a half to get back to the Caribbean Beach resort after the show, some of the reasons that I will mention in my summary post.

Read the rest of our trip log for all the details: