Friday, June 30, 2017

Animal Kingdom, April 2017

Our next day in the park, was spent at Animal Kingdom.  The park was open from 9-9:30 on this day and we had planned the following three fastpasses: Kilimanjaro Safari 9:10-10:10, Kali River Rapids 11:50-12:50, and Adventurers Outpost 1:10-2:20.  We also had a River of Lights dining package with a reservation at Tusker House for 10:35.  I know this seems like an odd time, but it actually worked out perfectly.  This was still considered breakfast which is a cheaper meal than lunch, but it was late enough to work as a lunch so that we still only ate two meals in the park.  Since this was still before the new Avatar area was opened, we started our day at rope drop heading off towards Everest.

As soon as the ride opened, Mom and I entered while getting a rider swap pass so that Patrick could ride later.  So, in no time at all, Expedition Everest became attraction #1.

Instead of swapping right away, we held on to our pass, deciding to come back later.  Instead, we made our way towards the Tree of Life for a family photo.

As you can see, we decided to wear Lion Guard shirts this day.  They were probably the most basic shirt of the week, but I think we got the most compliments this day.  After our picture, we made our way to the safari to use our first fastpass.  I usually don't like using fastpasses so early in the day, but when I first got the pass, we didn't have the dining reservation and I figured we'd just enter at the end of our hour block.  However, as soon as the River of Lights dining packages opened up, we decided to add the dining and so this is just where everything ended up.  So, attraction #2 became Kilimanjaro Safari.

By the time we got off our safari, it was just about time for our dining reservation, so we headed straight for The Tusker House.  This is a nice, buffet style restaurant with character dining.  While here, we met Goofy, Daisy, Donald, and Mickey, characters #1, 2, 3, and 4.

Since we were dining here as part of the River of Lights dining package we were also given a light-up lotus flower popcorn bucket, that Littlecjc thought was just for her.

By the time we finished eating, it was almost time for our next fastpass at Kali River Rapids, but not quite.  Since we had a little time before we could enter, we decided to walk through the Maharajah Jungle Trek, attraction #3.  Unfortunately, the tiger wasn't out due to work being done in his enclosure, so it wasn't as exciting as normal.  

As soon as  we finished walking through the jungle, we used our fastpass and rode Kali River Rapids, attraction #4.

Of course, Littlecjc wanted to ride with Grandma.

One of Littlecjc's favorite parts of this attraction is where you can press a button, causing water to shoot out of an elephant trunk, causing other guests on the ride to get wet.

When we finally convinced Littlecjc to give up her button, we decided to head out to Rafiki's Planet Watch.  If you're unfamiliar, the only way to get to this area of the park is via train ride.  Therefore, the Wildlife Express Train became attraction #5.

One of the main reasons we decided to head out to Rafiki's planet was for the two characters offering meet and greets there.  First, Littlecjc visited with Doc McStuffins, character #5.

Next up, was Rafiki himself.  It only seemed appropriate that the entire Lion Guard got their picture with Rafiki, character #6.

Rafiki's Planet is also home to a petting zoo, known as Affection Section, attraction #6.  

Littlecjc was interested and Patrick thought it was fun taking her around.  Although Mom and I quickly walked through the petting zoo area, it wasn't really our thing and we spotted a table in the shade nearby, so we decided to sit this one out.

When Littlecjc decided she had watched the animals long enough, she thought we had found a perfect place to stop for a snack.

Once Littlecjc finished her snack, we made our way back to the train so that we could make our way towards the Adventurer's Outpost to use our final fastpass. So, technically attraction #7 was the Wildlife Express Train.  Even though you're riding the same train, it does make a loop, so you get to see different views each direction.  On the way to Rafiki's Planet Watch, you get to see some of the animal houses and extra, back areas of the safari.  On the way back, you can spot a few huts as well as more animals.  Once we made it to the outpost, we used our final fastpass to enter.  As soon as we scanned our magicbands, we looked to see if any fastpasses were still available.  The park actually seemed very empty today and we pretty much had our pick.  We chose to pick up our next fastpass for the 3:00 Festival of the Lion King show.  After a few more minutes, it was our turn to meet Mickey and Minnie, characters #7 & 8.

Character tip: this is one not to miss since it is the only place on property (at least on a normal day) to meet both Mickey and Minnie in the same room with a photographer.

After our visit at the outpost, we decided it was time for a pick me up/snack and headed for Creature Comforts or what you may just know as the place where Starbucks is sold.  With drinks and cake pops in hand, we decided to take a walk down the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail, attraction #8.

When we completed the walk, it was time for us to watch my favorite show on the entire property, Even with a fastpass, you need to arrive a little early, so we walked back to the theater.  Littlecjc decided that this little stroller ride was the perfect time for a nap.  Again, once we scanned our bands to get in, we looked for our next fastpass.  We decided to make a quick walk for it after our Lion King show and picked up fastpasses for the 4:00 Finding Nemo show.

So we started the 3:00 hour watching Festival of the Lion King, attraction #9.

After exiting the Lion King theater, we quickly grabbed our stroller and walked to the next theater.  Standby had already started entering the theater by the time we got there, but like I said earlier, the park was pretty empty this day, so there were still plenty of seats, even up front.

Littlecjc woke up before the show started, but she sat quietly and enjoyed Finding Nemo: the Musical, attractoin #10.

Before the show started, we got back on the app to look for another fastpass.  We were able to secure passes for Kali River Rapids.  When the show ended, there was some confusion in our group and we were in Dinoland before we were able to regroup.  Since we were there, and Littlecjc wasn't going to let us leave until she had, we rode Triceratops Spin, attraction #11.

Dinosaur was closed during this trip for refurbishment, which none of us were really upset by, but this also didn't leave much reason to stay in Dinoland.  Yes, Littlecjc probably would have loved to stop in at the Bone Yard, but we decided to quickly change directions after getting off the Triceratops Spin and made our way to Asia and our next fastpass.

En route, you can't help but pass Everest.  Since Patrick still hadn't ridden this, we used our rider swap pass now and jumped in the fastpass line, making Expedition Everest, attraction #12.

In no time at all, we were over at Kali River Rapids, attraction #13 and with the use of our fastpasses, we were on the "circle boats" as Littlecjc says.

Here's a clip of the drop.

I know she doesn't look thrilled, but she really does love this ride, and as soon as we got off, she was asking if we could ride again.  There was no line at all, so we walked right back on making attraction #14, Kali River Rapids.

Since we rode this ride 3 times throughout the day, everyone got to ride with Littlecjc, and everyone else for that matter.

Littlecjc would have been happy if we continued riding this ride all evening, but we convinced her that if we hurried we might be able to meet a princess.  We weren't really trying to trick her, as we did think that Pocahontas stopped greeting guest at 6:00, but we also didn't want to ride the "circle boat" ride any more times that evening.

Luckily for us, Pocahontas, character #9 was actually meeting guest until 6:30.

By this time, we were getting hungry, so we crossed the walkway and ate at Flame Tree Barbecue.  We decided to head down to the back and were able to sit right next to the water, where we watched the first lotus flowers make their way out onto the water for the River of Lights show that evening.

You can't beat this view for dinner, right?

We still had some time before our River of Lights show, but honestly, we felt like we had pretty much accomplished this park.  There are of course characters that we missed, but none of them were still meeting by this time.  It's Tough to be a Bug was also under refurbishment during this time, so we went back to Dinoland.  Patrick and I decided to take a spin on Primeval Whirl, attraction #15,  while Mom and Littlecjc decided to ride Triceratops Spin, attraction #16 & 17.

Since we didn't feel like there were that many other options at this time of the day here for us to do, and since Patrick is a sucker when it comes to Littlecjc, she got to play some of the carnival games that they have here in this area.

By the time she was done, she actually had won two of these little seahorses.

The time had finally come for us to go to the new arena to see River of Lights.  This show may not be my favorite, I'll admit, but I was so impressed.  The technology was impressive and more importantly, it was beautiful.  First of all, the seating did seem very limited.  For as empty as this park felt this day, especially after 4:00, the seating area was packed.  From my understanding, one side of the theater is reserved for guest with fastpasses.  On the side we were seated on, the inside section was reserved for dining packages and the outside section was the only area for standby seating.  So, if you are wanting to see this show, I do highly recommend getting either a dining package or a fastpass.  I know these pictures don't do it justice, but here's some of the best moments I captured.

Before just leaving the park after the show, we had to stop in front of the tree of life to watch one of the awakening videos.  

We always seem to catch the same one, but I know there are at least three of these videos, if not more.  We felt like we had a great day here.  We met 9 characters, got in 17 attractions, and finally saw River of Lights!


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