After a break from all the Disney magic on Tuesday, Wednesday was the day we were visiting Animal Kingdom, my favorite park during our last family trip and still my favorite one this time around. It’s kind of weird for me to admit that Magic Kingdom is not my favorite park anymore, as it definitely was (and it was by far!!!) when I was a kid. The castle still makes me cry, from the moment I see it walking in in the morning to the moment I see it walking out at night, but Animal Kingdom has something different to offer, not sure if it’s the surroundings, the nature, the animals, or the overall vibe, but it’s simply the best.
Since we didn’t have any Fast Passes booked that morning, we decided not to rush out the door and had planned to get to the park a little later, at about 9:30 rather than our usual 8:30 from the first two parks. Big mistake!!! First, we had to wait 20 minutes in the parking lot before we could get on one of the trams that gets you to the park. Then, after we made it to the park, the line went on forever to get inside. To make matters worse, the waiting time for Avatar’s Flight of Passage, the ride everyone most wanted to do, was already at 195 minutes when we got there. Well, as much as I wanted to do it, there’s no way I was gonna wait over 3 hours when I just got to the park with so many things I want to do and see. Oh, and with two kids in tow, I wasn’t willing to risk my sanity that early in the morning for a ride! But my father-in-law did! More on that later!
The first ride we did after splitting up was It’s Tough to Be a Bug, which is a fun an entertaining 3D show based on the Bug’s Life movie. We all loved the show, as well as the waiting line to get there, which brings you around, beside, through and under the Tree of Life. I have to say that I am in awe for the Tree of Life, as it’s as beautiful as it gets. Looking at it simply makes me happy, and makes me want to be a better person, and live better, and do greater things, does that make any sense? So as much as I love it, someone loves it even more than I do. If I’m in awe for it, Brian is like next level in awe for it. Most of the pictures or selfies you’ll see from the two of us come from me saying something like ‘hey, let’s take a selfie’. But this time around, he’s the one who asked me ‘hey, can we take a selfie here’. And I’m glad he did, as I think this ended up being one of our best pictures of the entire trip.
After that, while my father-in-law was still not even close to being halfway through the Avatar waiting line, we split up even more, with half of us going on one side for Primeval Whirl and Expedition Everest, and the other half going towards Triceratop Spin (a Dumbo-like ride) and the Boneyard (yeah, I was part of that half!). We ended up spending a long time in the Boneyard, letting the kids run wild. They could have easily stayed there all day long. We actually came back later on since this was all they would talk about. It’s the perfect spot to sit and rest, while letting them have fun running, climbing or going down slides.
So far the day was simply perfect, with some of the best weather to visit a park; a beautiful day, something like 25 degrees Celsius, sunny, with no clouds in sight, but not too hot either. By about 1:30pm, we were starting to get hungry, so we had a quick lunch at Flame Tree BBQ and then met up with Brian’s crew to get ready for our Kilimanjaro Safari, as we all had fast passes for that ride. Like I said earlier in the post, my father-in-law had decided to do the Avatar ride at about 10:30am, and at 2:45pm we finally heard back from him when he texted us that he was next in line. So what was supposed to be a 195 minutes wait actually ended being a 260 minutes wait. Yep, they waited over 4 hours for the ride. They explained that once it was almost their turn, after like 3 hours, something happened, like the ride broke, and then they had to wait almost another hour before they would start it up again. BUT, at least, they got in and then both said it was the best ride ever! They were really impressed by it and told us we should definitely come back later that day to try it, as it was totally worth the wait. Well, I’ll tell you right away that we ended up not doing it later on as the wait time was still over 3 hours when we came back, which is way too long of a wait for kids like mine; especially when they were asking every 15 minutes about the Boneyard where there was actually no waiting line. I would have had a tough time trying to explain that one for 3 hours. Next time for sure, though!
By mid-afternoon, it was time for my favorite ride of the park, the Kilimanjaro Safari. You know you are an over enthusiastic Disney fan when you’d prefer to do the ride in loop rather than going for the real thing in Africa! This ride is simply the best. Actually, thinking about it, it almost makes me want to plan a trip to Africa just to enjoy the sceneries and watch the animals a little bit longer. I truly wish it would have lasted a longer, as it just went by so quickly. I just googled the length of the safari, and it’s actually 22 minutes, which is longer than I thought. We saw so many animals, spotting a few special or rare ones I think. Liam was ecstatic when he finally saw some crocodiles, as he had been looking for one everywhere we’d go ever since we made it to Orlando. Well, of course he was looking, as Brian had told him that we very may see one in Florida, maybe even in our backyard pool. Way to go Brian! So there was like at least ten of them, and you could see that this was too much joy for Liam, telling me ‘‘the crocodiles, there… mommy, look, the crocodiles, take a picture, please, take one… have you taken a picture?’’ with his little over-excited voice. I was so happy for him to finally see a live one. And then, out of nowhere, my 14 years old nephew told us that the ride was fun but that it would be even better if the animals were real. We all looked at each other, wondering if he was kidding, and then all burst out laughing! We were halfway through the ride and all along he thought the animals were fake… we told him they were real, but he still had doubts, that is until we got stuck there for a few minutes as 2 rhinos were blocking the path. They were so close to us we could have probably touched them (apparently it would have been a very bad idea) if we would have wanted! Writing this… I’m bawling. Not because the rhinos scared me or anything, but because I just wish I could go back there, at Animal Kingdom, with my boys, and re-live that day all over again.
We then had two more things to do, first was to go to the Asia section of the park to recreate one of my favorite picture ever, and then to make our way into Pandora’s, the new Avatar land, where we had fast passes for the Na’vi River ride. So we got to Asia, got Liam’s picture in front of the same blue door as in 2014, then stopped for some margaritas, and then made our way to Pandora. The first thing you see is that gigantic rock hanging thing from the movie, which is breathtaking. The boys (and Brian) still haven’t seen the movie, so they didn’t really understood what Pandora was all about, but I have to say that it’s simply beautiful, and clearly a must see, whether you’ve seen the movie or not; there’s nothing quite like it. I actually wish we would have had more than one day to explore everything, so that way I would have had plenty of time to spend wander around the park and do Flight of Passage. So we were in Pandora to ride the Na’vi River, which is an It’s a Small World type of ride, with colours that are simply out of this world. The blend of the flowers, the music, the neon colours everywhere and the kind of jellyfish floating around us was wonderful.
After we were done with the Na’vi River, we had used all of our Fast Passes for the day, done all the rides we wanted to do (except the other Avatar ride), seen the Nemo musical, ate too much Mickey shaped ice-cream bars and popcorn, they had drank enough margaritas to keep themselves hydrated, so we decided to call it a day. A decision I now fully regret! For one, I forgot to buy my Starbucks park mug. I can’t believe I forgot about it. I got one from each park except Animal Kingdom, my favorite one. Seriously, I was so pissed about it when I realized I had actually forgotten to buy it, I cried. Second, I’m a rope drop to fireworks kinda gal and we didn’t even get to watch the night show. And finally, I definitely didn’t take enough pictures (for my taste) on that day.
But you know what, I had a great time at Animal Kingdom, and at the end of the day, being with our family on this trip was the very best. It’s not about where you go or what you do (or the mugs you buy!), but it’s about who you share these moments with. And spending some time with my mom was the best. Animal Kingdom was her favorite too and for the boys to spend so much time with her, throughout the day and the entire week, it was just awesome.
So, as soon as I’m done telling you about our days at the different parks we visited (next will be Epcot), I will be posting a list of all the things you absolutely have to do at Disney, with our favorite rides, what to skip, the best meals we got, the best shows, etc., and guess what will be at the top of the list? Animal Kingdom. If you go to Orlando or Disney, you absolutely have to go to Animal Kingdom. It’s a MUST. And while you’re there, could you PLEASE get me a Starbucks mug?!!!