The Shattucks at Animal Kingdom! (and Stasa, too)


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November 19th 2016
Published: December 23rd 2016
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It's our last full day at Disney, and I didn't expect to feel sad about that. I'd assumed we'd have fun on this trip, but, by the end, we'd be exhausted and ready to go home. Instead, I find myself wishing we had more time. There's still so much to see and do!

Today is our day at Animal Kingdom. One of my oldest, closest friends, Stasa, lives in Miami, and so she drove up to spend the day with us at Animal Kingdom. Back in college, she'd had a Disney internship, and so she knows the parks well. Phuong and I once came down to visit her when she was working. I think that was back in 2003! I remember we went to Magic Kingdom, Downtown Disney (now Disney Springs), and we briefly stopped at Animal Kingdom. I think all we did at Animal Kingdom was take pictures with some characters and walk through the Jungle Trek. This time around, we were going to do a lot more!

I wasn't sure what to expect at Animal Kingdom. If you read reviews of the parks, it seems like some people love it, and some people think there's not enough
DivineDivineDivine

We saw "Divine" at Discovery Island
to do. Well, we were people that loved it. We spent six hours at the park and could have gone back for a second day, honestly. We had reserved three FastPasses: one for Everest, one for Kali River Rapids, and one for the safari. We had time before our first FastPass, and so we decided to check out DinoLand. The kids wanted to ride Triceratop Spin. I don't think spinning rides are Paul & Colleen's thing, so they sat in some shade while we went on. We all fit in one dinosaur, and the kids loved making it go up and down. Afterwards, Andrew took the kids to play some of the games. They spent $30, but the kids each one a stuffed dinosaur. They seriously went crazy for those stuffed dinosaurs. Oliver calls his a "baby Yoshi," and they refuse to let go of the things. Kids are weird.

It was hot, and so after we were done in Dinoland, we walked over to Asia to find some ice cream before going on Everest. On our walk, we passed some animal exhibits were gibbons swung around. Oliver was so excited to see "monkeys," and it was no use trying to tell him they were apes. There were plenty of attractions we passed up, which highlights the fact that there's plenty to do. We skipped the dinosaur ride, and we skipped the Finding Nemo show and the bird show. We got our ice cream and started to head over to Everest. That's when people started to chicken out. In the end, only Stasa, Colleen, and I were going on Everest. We used our FastPasses (OK, Stasa had to use Jo's, but it's all the same), and then we got in line. That's when I got the stupidest idea ever. Wouldn't it be hilarious to have a roller coaster picture holding an ice cream cone? I didn't finish mine, and no one told me to throw it away when we got to the front. We stood in line for our seats, and we kind of fumbled around trying to decide who would sit where, since there were three of us. As we were shuffling around, two people cut in front of Colleen, and she was bumped to the next ride. So, it was me and Stasa in the front of the car, and two people behind us who had cut in front of Colleen. It's important that I emphasize this, because then it doesn't seem so bad when happened next.

Never take ice cream on a roller coaster. You see, you can't lick the melting part as the ride moves. So, a puddle quickly formed on the top of my cone, and then the force from the drop basically shot the melted ice cream backward. It got on me, and it also got on the people behind me. You know, the line cutters. Karma punished me for my stupid idea, but it also punished them. When we got off the ride, I my arm and my shirt were a sticky mess. So, again, never take ice cream on a roller coaster.

I went to the gift shop to find a new shirt.

We walked through parts of Asia, and it was just so beautiful. It's not designed like Southeast Asia, which you can find at EPCOT in the World Showcase. Instead, this was more like parts of Nepal. There are "old" buildings, "crumbling" structures, and prayer flags. Plus, there are green trees and shrubs everywhere. We went on the Kali River Rapids, which is named after a Hindu goddess, so I assume this part of Asia was set in India. I kept my old, sticky shirt on for the ride, deciding that I would change after I got wet. We put the kids in their jackets so that they would be relatively dry after the ride. That's about when Oliver figured out he was going to get wet, and he was a little ticked. Honestly, the ride was a lot of fun, and it was the perfect adventure level for our group! The kids LOVED it, until Jo got wet. Then she was livid. Oliver never got wet, and so he enjoyed laughing at his sister.

When we got off, I got changed, and we grabbed some lunch at the quick-service counter of Yak & Yeti. I got some sort of curry vegetable wrap that was decent. As part of the meal plan, I got a frozen lemonade cup for dessert, which really hit the spot. When we finished, we strolled through the Jungle Trek. Oliver surprised me by being scared to see some of the animals up close. He worried the tigers would break through the glass! We then walked over to Africa. In Africa, there were people playing drums and dancing. Again, Disney did such a magnificent job making us feel like we stepped into an entirely different place. It really is magical. Even the smells change.

We took the Wildlife Express Train to Rafiki's Planet Watch. This destination might not be for everyone, but our group loved it. The first thing we did was stand in line to meet Chip & Dale. Jo called them squirrels and was so, so excited to meet them. On the Disney Magical Express, we had seen a short cartoon about Chip and Dale stealing acorns from Donald Duck, and so when it was our kids' turn to meet them, Jo ran up and asked them where they put their nuts. She told them they made Donald Duck so mad! It was the most interactive Jo was with any of the Disney characters, and I loved watching her laugh. Afterwards, we went inside and learned about some animals and met Rafiki. He played chase with them. Then we went to the "Affection Section," which is basically a petting zoo. The kids got brushes and pet some goats. They also laughed at a grumpy pig. When were were done at the Affection Section, we hopped back on the wildlife train to Africa. It was time for our Kilimanjaro Safari!

The safari is so cool. Seriously. They set it up so that some of the animals wander free by the cars. Others can't approach the cars, but they are separated with natural-looking features, like rivers or rocks or moats. Some of the animals were hard to spot, like the giraffes in a small forest who were eating from the trees. It's incredible how close we got to some of the animals, and our safari car had to stop at one point for an animal to cross.

After the safari, I felt like I needed to get back to a bed to rest. This virus is really wearing me out! I would have loved to see the Festival of the Lion King, and it would have been nice to do dinner and see the Tree of Life come to life at dusk. And, so, I feel like I need to come back another day to see everything we missed. Still, it was an excellent day, and a fun way to wrap up a great Disney vacation.


Additional photos below
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Exiting Kali River RapidsExiting Kali River Rapids
Exiting Kali River Rapids

We didn't get soaked. Well, except for Jo.
Close EncountersClose Encounters
Close Encounters

The safari seriously is incredible!
Natural Looking ExhibitsNatural Looking Exhibits
Natural Looking Exhibits

This is how they separate the elephants from the safari cars. It's absolutely amazing.
Our view from the safariOur view from the safari
Our view from the safari

Disney's Animal Kingdom


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