USA Part Seven - Animal Kingdom and Epcot at Walt Disney World

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September 30th 2013
Published: October 2nd 2013
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Knowing that Animal Kingdom would be opening at 9am, we wanted to get there just as it opened to make the most of our day, so we were up at around 7am and went to get some breakfast from the food court at the hotel once we were showered and ready – two pieces of toast with jam is only 99 cents so that’ll do us! We then went to wait at the bus stop at around 8:30am, and hopped on to the first one that came along for Animal Kingdom.

Once there, the park had just started letting people through the gates, so our tickets were scanned and we made a beeline towards the ‘Africa’ section of the park, where the Serengeti Safari tours departed from. We only had to wait around 5 minutes before boarding our jeep, and we spent the next twenty minutes being driven around the large plains and dense jungles of the animal habitats in this area. We stopped by any animals that were nearby to get some pictures and the tour guide would give us facts and information about each one, seeing animals such as various antelope, rhinos, hippos, flamingos, a couple of sleeping lions, giraffes, elephants and zebras.

Eventually we had looped back around to the station, where we departed the jeep and walked through to the ‘Asia’ section, passing the large iconic ‘Tree of Life’ in the centre of the park, with hundreds of animals carved into its huge trunk. The only roller coaster in the park, ‘Expedition Everest’ is located here, and we grabbed a couple of fast passes as the queue was around twenty minutes but it was only an extra five minutes for the fast pass return time, so we figured we would rather just spend the time having a walk around some of the animal exhibits rather than queuing!

We passed a few monkeys that were climbing above us along some ropes onto a large climbing frame on an island, and then we continued along a trail to see the tigers, which were of course having a snooze in the shade! By the time we had made our way along the trail back to the main path, it was time to ride Expedition Everest, so we made our way back over to it, showed our fast passes and got straight onto the next train. What an awesome ride! You are taken up into the large mountain and speed along the track until you come to a dead end – the track seems to have been ripped apart by something. The train then falls backwards, inside the mountain going at quite some speed until you stop once again and see a silhouette of the Yeti tearing up more of the track ahead. The train then shoots forwards, down a steep drop and twisting down the mountain and through a few more tunnels before you go right under an animatronic of the Yeti at the end of the ride. We really enjoyed this and grabbed another fast pass on our way out so that we could ride again after we did a few other rides.

We next headed over to ‘Dino-land’ and had a bit of a wait for the ‘Primeval Whirl’ ride (a spinning roller coaster) as it had temporarily broken down just before we got into the queue. This was a pretty fun ride, and we were both tossed around as the car whizzed around the track and sped around the corners before spinning down the rest of the track. Our next stop was ‘Dinosaur’ which we got on straight away with no wait. After a short pre-show explaining that we were going back in time to bring back a dinosaur for research, we were loaded onto a car and then taken on a very fast and bumpy ride in the prehistoric jungle, encountering various different dinosaurs and getting more intense as it went on, before just about making it back to present time before the meteor hits that killed most of the dinosaurs.

Our Everest fast passes were now valid again so we made our way back there for another great ride on it! It was now approaching lunch time so we went to the nearby ‘Yak and Yeti’ counter service place and shared some beef lo-mein noodles, which were delicious! We decided to let our food go down a bit before going on any other rides, so we spent a little while walking around the park, taking in the amazing theming (they really do put attention to detail into every little thing!) and having a look in the shops and trying on some silly hats! We had a check on our map and had found that we had actually done most of the rides now (as this is more of a zoo there are not as many rides here as the other parks), and that there was a showing of ‘The Festival of the Lion King’ starting in around half an hour, so we headed up to the ‘Camp Mickey & Minnie’ area of the park.

We joined the short queue and were then let into the waiting area outside of the building in which the show would take place. Around ten minutes before show time, the doors opened and we were directed to our seats, which were all in a circle surrounding a large open area in the centre. Although the show was not a direct re-telling of ‘The Lion King’, it was more of a celebration of the movie and all of the songs in it, and featured some amazing costumes and giant puppets, acrobatics, dancing, fire dancing and some incredible singing, and we both LOVED it! By the end, everyone was singing along and the whole room erupted with applause at the finale, it was just brilliant!

Once we were out of the show it was around 3pm, and we were starting to feel the effects of the full day that we had yesterday and probably also a bit of jet lag from the three hours that we had lost on the plane over here. We had a dining reservation at ‘Boma’ at 6.25pm, so we decided to call it a day and go back to the hotel to relax for a while before changing our clothes ready for our meal. We dragged our weary feet out of the park exit, over to the bus stop and onto the All-Stars Resort bus. Once back in our room, we figured that we would make the most of having a bit of time to spare and washed some of our clothes at the hotels laundry facilities, returning to the room to watch TV and get changed as we waited for the machines.

The ‘Boma’ restaurant is located at Animal Kingdom Lodge, so we would have to go to one of the parks to then get on a bus to take us to that resort, so we left our hotel at around 5pm to ensure that we would leave plenty of time to get there. As Animal Kingdom is the closest park to both our hotel and the hotel we needed to go to, it made sense to get the connecting bus there, so we hopped on the first one that arrived. Once at Animal Kingdom, we had to wait a little while for the Animal Kingdom Lodge bus, but we eventually arrived there at around 6pm,which gave us plenty of time to find the restaurant, and also to ogle the beautiful hotel!

We made our way to the reservations desk at 6:15pm and were seated straight away. This was a buffet restaurant serving African cuisine, so we were both keen to tuck in and try some of the different foods that were on offer. As the table service restaurants are quite expensive at Disney World, we only had this and one other reservation at the end of our stay, so we were ready to get our money’s worth out of the buffet!

We actually completely forgot to take any pictures of the food here, although being a buffet it probably wouldn’t have looked as good as it tasted – presentation isn’t usually a priority as you’re putting the food on the plate! It was absolutely DELICIOUS though! We both made sure to not make the usual mistake of piling lots of different types of food onto one plate and then having just a big mix of everything – instead opting to just put three or four different things on each plate before returning to the table to taste them properly. We each tried a bit of everything, and although there were a couple of things that we were not too keen on, there were plenty of others that we both loved. I can’t remember exactly everything that we ate but some of the highlights were spice-crusted beef striploin (SO tender!), orange and almond salmon, slow-roasted pork ribs with an African BBQ sauce, Durban style roast chicken and a tomato based cheese curry, along with rice, different types of salad, creamy mashed potato, and lots of different sauces and soups. There were also a selection of desserts, such as a few different cakes, cookies and brownies and the infamous ‘Zebra Dome’ puddings, which are like little dome-shaped mousse cakes with a hint of Amarula Liquor covered in white and milk chocolate. Unlimited refills of soda were also included in the price of the buffet, which is always nice!

Soon enough, we were both absolutely stuffed and starting to feel very sleepy! We asked our waitress to bring over the bill, which we paid up and left the recommended tip (though we don’t really agree that we should have to tip a waitress that didn’t actually have to bring us our food!) before slowly making our way back to the bus stop. As Animal Kingdom closed at 6pm (the only park to close early due to the animals), we would have to find an alternative route back to our hotel, so had to take a detour via the Magic Kingdom bus stop, and eventually collapsing back to our room around an hour later!

The next day we were once again up bright and early for our next park – Epcot! Feeling refreshed after an early night, we were once again out waiting for the bus at 8:30am, and arrived at the park just after opening. After a quick check on the map, we went first to ‘Sourin’ – a simulator ride that would take us over California. It was still early so there was no queue for the ride, and we were guided to the front row of seats in front of a large screen above us. Once the ride started, all of the seats ascended up until each row was above the other and right up close to the screen, where we were then flying in a simulated hang glider above the various sights and landscapes of California, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Hollywood, the coastal views of Big Sur, Yosemite and Disneyland in Anaheim – most of which we had already visited ourselves in the past month! We were impressed with the real sense of soaring around the sky that the ride gives you, and you can even smell the scent of the orange trees that you fly over in the valleys!

Once off the ride, we saw that there was a ‘Finding Nemo’ ride nearby which had no wait. We boarded similar clam-shaped vehicles as the ‘Little Mermaid’ ride at Magic Kingdom and went on a relaxed ride under the sea, encountering all of the characters from the film as we went, although there wasn’t really much of a storyline other than all of the characters searching for Nemo, who would pop up every now and again. As there were some real fish in the tanks on the ride, flash photography was not allowed so we just got a few pictures of some of the holograms, but snapped a few pictures in the shop outside, inside the shark’s mouth and with a cuddly Nemo toy!

We then walked over to the other side of the ‘Futureworld’ half of the park and grabbed a couple of fast passes for ‘Test Track’ before going on ‘Mission: Space’. This ride has two different options, the orange one which is much more intense and the more relaxed green one. We of course went for the orange side, and had a wait of around 10 minutes before being taken to our rocket. We were joined by two European girls and were each assigned a role for which we would have to complete two tasks during the mission to Mars (it was literally just pressing two buttons when told to, so nothing too taxing!). Inside the rocket, we were each strapped in front of screens and lots of buttons and switches, as if inside a real space craft.

We then blasted off into space (we’re not sure how they do it but you REALLY feel the force as you shoot forwards, we assume some spinning is involved) and each completed our tasks as we encountered various problems and performed a slingshot manoeuvre around the moon to reach Mars. It was pretty cool and thankfully neither of us really suffer from motion sickness too bad – apparently a lot of people really suffer on this ride, and there are actually a couple of sick bags placed in front of each seat, just in case!

Next we had a walk over to ‘The Sum of all Thrills’, where you were able to create and build a ride before riding it on one of the large robo-arms. However, there was quite a long queue here which didn’t seem to be moving too fast, so we decided to come back another time. Our fast passes for Test Track were now valid, so we were straight through past the large queue which had now built up. Inside, we were able to design a custom ‘Chevrolet’ car (the sponsor of the ride) that we could “test” on the track, so we created one with as much power as we could! We then rode around the track in a car whilst various tests were conducted, showing the performance of our designed cars’ handling, brakes, suspension and finally speed, where the car flew around the track outside at a speed of 65mph. Our car didn’t rank too badly, coming first (out of the four groups of people in our car) in two out of four of the tests!

Once off the ride, there was a little interactive area where you could design a commercial for your virtual car, and also race it around a simulated race track with other people’s vehicles. We had a play for a while then made our way back outside and had a look at the map. We were starting to flag again, so we decided to have a relaxed walk around the ‘World Showcase’ part of the park, around the huge lake in the centre. Here, you are able to explore sections of the park that are themed as various different countries of the world, including China, Japan, the United Kingdom, Morocca, Norway, Germany, France and Italy.

We spent a good couple of hours walking around and taking pictures of the different countries, again amazed by the attention to detail that goes into theming each area. The ‘Food and Wine’ festival is actually taking place at the minute, where you are able to savour foods from each of these countries, and also a few others that do not feature in the world showcase, and we decided that we will make a point to come back in a few days and set aside some money so that we can try a few different things rather than eating somewhere for dinner.

Eventually, we had made our way back around to the other side of the park, and we took a few pictures of ourselves in front of ‘Spaceship Earth’ (the golf ball as we call it!) before returning to the hotel. We had originally planned to go to Hollywood Studios in the evening, however we were both just exhausted and decided that we would get an early night again and make a full day of it tomorrow instead, hopefully feeling a bit more refreshed after having a more relaxed evening not spent on our feet!

Additional photos below
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3rd October 2013

Amazing animal
Amezing post fully enjoyable and i like those clicks you know this a place i always want go and visit.hotel near florida mall

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