Animal Kingdom

Waking up yesterday was HARD … after finally getting myself and the kids to bed around 1:30am the night before, that 6:30am wake up call came way too quickly but we had early dining reservations at Tusker House, so it had to be done.   I knew we were in for another exhausting day but we would power through it because I had an easy day planned for our 3rd day.  Everyone was grumpy getting on the bus and getting to Animal Kingdom, but we arrived on time for our reservation and after a little bit of breakfast and some great character interactions, the kids were happy and ready to start the day!   Tusker House breakfast is good … everyone raves about it and yes, the food is delicious, but its pretty much just breakfast.  There’s a wide variety available – from regular breakfast foods, pastries (Krispy Kreme donut holes!) to a few more adventurous options – strangely enough, my favorite thing was the curried chicken!   The characters we saw were Mickey, Daisy, Goofy and Donald … both of the kids loved them!

From there, I knew I’d have to follow a touring plan to get stuff done … I was most excited about Pandora, but our FastPass wasn’t until later in the day.   Disney went and threw a wrench in our Animal Kingdom day but #1.  Opening the park an hour earlier than we originally planned for (our breakfast was supposed to be pre-park opening).  #2.  Both Pandora and Kilimanjaro were set to close at 6pm, another thing that wasn’t originally in the plan  #3.  Our original Safari FastPass was for the nighttime safari but Disney erased this one and replaced it with a “free” FastPass that could be used for “any experience” … they fail to tell you that both Pandora rides are excluded.  I thought we were going to be able to use it for Na’vi River but NOPE!

We were already right by Kilimanjaro Safaris and the wait time was posted as 15 minute … perfect, lets get this over with (I’m not a fan of this ride, or really any of the animal related things in Animal Kingdom).  While we were in line, the wait time went up to 50 minutes … I think we waited about 40 minutes … no one was happy about this but thankfully, we had a really fun safari experience!   We saw tons of animals and the kids both said it was worth the wait … yay!   We are off to a great start!

From there, we walked along the Gorilla trails so that Emelyn could do some of the Wilderness Explorer spots.  Hayden enjoyed taking photos with my camera while she did this.  From there, we decided to head to Pandora.  We stopped at the little coffee place for the kids to get iced coffee then at Dawa Bar to get my first drink of the trip – Lost on Safari, a delicious rum drink … yep, this is going to be a great day!

Our Flight of Passage Fastpass was for much later, but I figured we could spend some time exploring and I wanted to try and use the free FastPass for Na’vi River.  Pandora is beautiful … its so neat how they just incorporate all of the “Pandora” plant life in with the real stuff, so it all just blends in and looks like it belongs there.  This land fits seamlessly into Animal Kingdom.   We weren’t able to use the FP for Na’vi River, which was disappointing because I knew there was no way we would wait in line for it so we weren’t going to experience it this trip… oh well.   We had plenty of time to explore Pandora … we sat down and watched the drummers for a bit, which we loved!   After that show, the kids were able to play with the instruments.  We stopped for another “mama drink” (the margarita in Pandora, I don’t remember the name, but it was a fruity margarita, maybe strawberry, with boba balls on top.)  I’ve never had boba balls before  but the kids and I loved them … they are fun to pop in your mouth!   We stopped at the gift shop and Emelyn turned into a Na’vi princess … she bought braids, a Na’vi princess crown and a knife … then decided to grab some lunch.

Satuli Canteen is the quick service place in Pandora and the food was good.   Emelyn got the kid’s rice bowl, which she didn’t really like … I feel like they could have used just regular rice for a kids dish instead of brown rice mixed with quinoa, or whatever it was.   Hayden and I split the cheeseburger pods with veggie chips … the pods were ok, nothing special but the chips were good!   By this point, it was time for our Flight of Passage FastPass!

This ride is nothing short of incredible … there isn’t much more to say about it … from start to finish, its awesome!   It literally took my breath away at points … I did have to close my eyes a couple of times b/c simulator rides with 3D screens can sometimes make me sick … it could have been the mix of drinks I had right before, too!   All 3 of us went on and on about how amazing this ride is … I wish we could have done it again, but there’s no way I’d wait in a 2 hour line for any ride!

After Pandora, we decided to head to Expedition Everest to use our “free” FastPasses.   We did a rider swap and Emelyn and I went first, then Hayden and I.  Both of them liked it … I’m not sure if they LOVED it, but they enjoyed it!   We were running on fumes at this point, truly exhausted … but I really wanted to see Rivers of Light and there wasn’t enough time to go all the way back to our room, then turn around and return for RoL.   We decided to go see Nemo the Musical (it was extremely hard to stay awake through this) then we hopped on a bus to Animal Kingdom Lodge.  I thought this would be an easy way to recharge, let the kids explore a resort and grab a bite to eat.  Hayden loves searching for hidden Mickey’s, so that’s what he did while we walked around a little then went to the quick service area to eat.  After we ate, we headed back to Animal Kingdom to see Pandora at night and Rivers of Light.   I was excited b/c I thought we wouldn’t get to see Pandora at night, with it closing at 6pm (I guess there was a special event or something) but when we got there, it was dusk and very slowly, we started to see things light up.  We walked around for a few minutes and Emelyn decided she wanted to purchase a banshee.  By the time we did that, it was close to 6pm, when Pandora was supposed to close … as we were walking past Na’vi River, I noticed the wait time was down to 55 minutes … did we want to wait?  YEP!  All 3 of us decided it would be worth it and maybe it wouldn’t be that long … 30 minutes later, we were on the ride!   I’m so glad we decided to try it … its a beautiful ride and the Na’vi animatronic was incredible!!

By the time we got out of this ride, Pandora was completely lit up … this land at night, though, is DARK … its very hard to see where you are going.   We got tons of neat photos, though, of the glowing plant life and even the ground … its really beautiful!   At this point, we were done so we headed out of the park.  On the way out, we caught a few minutes of the Tree of Life Awakenings, which is also really cool … Disney truly has some amazing technology!

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