Sunday, March 10, 2013

The House of Mouse, continued

Early morning at the Tree of Life
Day 4 was Animal Kingdom day. We had 8 a.m. reservations for a character breakfast inside the park - Donald's Safari Breakfast - featuring Donald, Daisy, Mickey, Minnie and Goofy. While this made for a very EARLY morning for us, it was worth it. By 9 a.m. when the park opened, we were already deep inside the park, and we were the very first people to ride on the Kilimanjaro Safari.

We arrived at the park entrance at about 7:50 a.m. They checked our names on the breakfast reservation list, and we were allowed to scan our park tickets and enter. The park is gorgeous early in the morning. The sun is still low in the sky, and the light is amazing. We got great pictures of the Tree of Life, and there were no crowds to mar our shots.

We headed to the back of the park, where the Tusker House Restaurant is located. We checked in, and then we had our picture made with Donald. Then, we were seated, they took our drink orders, and it was off to the buffet. There was so much variety! All the usual breakfast foods - biscuits, eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, fruit, pastries, etc. - plus some ethnic choices to explore. We loved the jungle juice and the prompt, friendly service.

Clay wanted to see how he measured up
to the gorilla!
Before long, all of the characters made their way around the dining room. We took pictures, got autographs, and enjoyed our breakfast for about an hour before leaving. We wanted to be out in the park right when it officially opened at 9 a.m.

Tusker House restaurant is adjacent to the entrance for the Kilimanjaro Safari. The safari is one of the most popular attractions at Animal Kingdom, so we wanted an early seat. Also, we'd heard that the animals were most active early in the day. As soon as breakfast ended, we hopped aboard. We saw so many animals! Baby elephants with their families, a huge group of hippos, baby rhinos, giraffes, everything. It was wonderful! After the safari ended, we were so close to the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail that we couldn't resist giving it a try. It was beautiful, and since it was still early in the day, not very crowded. We saw two gorillas, and Clay loved the exploration outpost where you could see and touch specific artifacts.

After we finished walking the trail, we took the Wildlife Express Train out to Rafiki's Planet Watch. Clay ended up not being interested in this part of the park at all, not even the petting zoo! We didn't stay here long, catching the train back out to the rest of the park shortly after we arrived.

DinoLand U.S.A.
Then, we headed to the Tree of Life, where we caught a fun showing of It's Tough to Be a Bug! This was a fun 3D show, but not as fun (I thought) as Mickey's Philharmagic in the Magic Kingdom. Clay got a little startled a couple of times, although not really scared.

By this time, Clay was asking us if there were any rides in Animal Kingdom, so we walked over to DinoLand U.S.A. to ride the TriceraTop Spin. After a 5 minute wait, we were up in the air. Once the ride was over, we decided to spend some time in The Boneyard to let Clay blow off a little steam. He absolutely loved it, and he could have spent the rest of the day in there. Hubs and I got a couple of bottled waters, sat on a bench in the shade, and just let him roam free. After 30 or 40 minutes, we collected him so we could catch the next showing of Finding Nemo - The Musical. It's an indoor live show, a truncated musical version of the Nemo movie was all know and love. We really enjoyed it. Performers came out into the audience, and there were some cool effects.

Dead men tell no tales!
Afterwards, it was quite late, and we were STARVED for lunch! We'd heard good things about FlameTree Barbecue, so we gave it a try. It was serviceable, but I'll admit that being from the Deep South gives one certain expectations when it comes to barbecue! At any rate, it filled our bellies and got us off our feet for a bit. Once we finished our meal, we decided to head back to the hotel room for a rest.

After our nap, we considered going back to the Animal Kingdom. The only problem with that was the park closed very early that day - 7 p.m. So instead, we headed for the Magic Kingdom. We hadn't spent any time in Adventureland or Frontierland, so we headed over for a quick look before the night show. There was no wait at The Magic Carpets of Aladdin, so up we went. (This ride is similar to both Dumbo the Flying Elephant and the TriceraTop Spin. You go up and around, and controls inside the vehicle allow you to adjust the elevation of your vehicle. So fun!) There was also no wait for the Pirates of the Caribbean, which ended up being one of Clay's favorite rides at Disney World. We walked right in and enjoyed it! Like It's a Small World, this is an old ride, but it's still fantastic. They've updated it a bit by working Capt. Jack Sparrow into several of the scenes.

When they say fireworks, they mean FIREWORKS.
By this time, we needed to stake out spots to watch the night lights show and the fireworks. We headed back to Cinderella's Castle, found ourselves a little corner of ground, and took it all in. It's completely amazing. First, the castle itself becomes a screen for a gorgeous light show, and then the fireworks start. It's visual spectacle at its finest.

We marched along with the Electrical Parade as we left the park that night.


Anonymous said...

thanks for share...

Nicole Bradshaw said...

Any time! Visiting Disney for our first time was a little overwhelming due to the planning involved. I know this trip report is really long and detailed, but I'm hoping it will help another newbie plan their first trip! I'll probably also post it over at for anyone who's considering a vacation at Disney!