Disney: July 11: Animal Kingdom

Dad went to the Marine Corps Exchange entertainment services office for our Disney tickets.  Four days of Park Hopper fabulousness for $125 a person (and Ya was free).  Average price without the serviceman’s special was more than $200.  And with so many days to experience everything, I didn’t need to rush the park experiences at all.

As the trip master (self proclaimed), it was up to me to determine which theme park we’d attack each day – – in reality, though, it was the parks that seemed to attack us.  We set out from the hotel room hoping to catch the 9:40 a.m. bus to Animal Kingdom.  A minor snafu at the gate (oh, we have to show military ID, give all personal information and a finger print to use these tickets? wow), and then we were armed with maps and no clue what to do next.

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We ventured forward into the area known as the Oasis and tried to take pictures of the Wallaby and the Giant Anteater. Both were shy.  Furthur wandering led us to a small sign indicating character meet up.  This was the first of many lines to see Disney creations in person.  We had nothing for them to sign, having missed the memo about the autograph book, so Chi carried her map (too glossy for the pen) with her to meet Eeyore, Pooh, and Tigger, too.

We received an official PhotoPass card to give to each professional photographer. The first meeting for Ya was precious.  He wasn’t at all timid – walked right up to the furry, big animals and gave them a “hu-llo” and a hug without fuss. 

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The turn and smile part of the experience, however, was yet to be mastered.

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Next stop, a vendor for a real autograph book!

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I let Chi choose the rides she wanted and hoped beyond hope that she was tall enough to get on them… but as we were headed to her first choice, we saw the entrance to a live production of “Finding Nemo.” Incredible.  Then, back to the rides.

We started with a Ya-friendly ride, TriceraTop Spin.  Chi was embarrased to get on such a “baby” ride.  She was not tall enough for Primeval Whirl® – the shoes worked against her, as any sneaker with a cushioned sole would’ve put her right at the required 48 inches. She hovered at 47″ and no matter how she stretched her neck, it was not a ride she was getting to experience this trip.  So we stood in line to meet Goofy and Pluto (Chi begrudgingly) while deciding what action to take.

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We headed toward the next advertised “big kid ride,” DINOSAUR, which had a long wait.  We elected to test the Fast Pass option and return later. 

Next up? Asia. Chi wanted to ride Expedition Everest™ desperately, and we were able to get past the initial height checkers with no issues. Phew!

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I expressed concern about the roller coaster and Chi told me matter-of-fact, “Hold your breath and if you have to throw up, throw up in your mouth.  That’s what I do.” Too much gross information, dear child. Yuck.

As we stood on line (30 minutes from the entry), though, the skies opened up and rain started to fall. The line was covered, so I was counting my blessings for being protected from the frequent Orlando showers.  They’re so common that it was no big deal for the rides until the thunder claps sounded 15 minutes into our wait.  Then the ride announcers reported to us that the ride was now closed until the inclement weather system passed.  Some people in front of us immediately squeezed past toward the exit (no easy line bailing), but a great number stayed put.  The minutes dragged on, however, and the 30 minute wait stretched.  I spent my time reading through the museum-like information placards in the ride’s line que.  There were typos – which I was quite humored by considering someone was paid a lot to authenticate the park’s attractions.

I was lamenting leaving my camera with Oma, as the artifacts from Kathmandu, Tibet were intriguing and artistic.  I resorted to cell phone pictures (which are captive on the mini SD until I find my converter).  Poor Chi was bored, so I told her there was a quiz at the end she had to pass to ride the coaster. She didn’t for a second buy it, so she continued to fuss (but refused to give up her wait).  I was left to wonder if Yeti were actually used to eat bad children…

Finally, 40 minutes into our wait, Chi gave up and told me we were leaving ‘Now.’

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Fast passes were still not usable, so we stopped for lunch.  I bought two hamburger meals at the low, low price of $27.  We lounged just long enough to run down the time and made it to the line at 2:02.  The attendant insisted that we wait until the 2:15 call time, so we were sent into the returned rain to suffer.

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Then, our time for entry arrived and PopPop joined Chi and I inside DINOSAUR.  I hated this ride.  It’s sort of like an inside roller coaster on a bumpy, choppy track with animatronic dinos jumping out from all sides.  Fog bursts, water spritzes and loud noise added to the fear factor.  It was no surprise that the ride photo shows PopPop happily pointing at things while Chi covers her face and I was averting my gaze to my shoe.

We left Dinoland, USA in search of Africa, hoping to catch the safari on the Harambe Reserve.  By then, though, the heat and the remnants of moisture from the rain were reeking havoc on my camera.  It fogged, it blurred, it refused to do anything right.  My photos are pretty terrible… never should’ve switched to the superzoom!

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As soon as I switched back, we found ourselves in the middle of a street festival.
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Chi limbo’d and danced to traditional African music. And I oogled over Venetian made, hand painted masks (why in Africa?).
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I begged for a picture of my trip to ‘Africa’.
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And then we headed to Camp Mickey & Minnie for more lines and more characters.  On the way there, we passed The Tree of Life.
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I insisted we sit for It’s Tough to be a Bug!® 3D show.  Ya clutched me tight, turned into my shoulder and said “No, no, no” from beginning to end of the A Bug’s Life based video.  And when something crawled passed my behind on my chair, I was beyond done, too.  PopPop (and the rest of us old folk) were beyond fatigued at this point, but we trudged on.
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Thumper and Miss Bunny (Bambi)
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Goofy (again)
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(Safari Minnie – cute outfit!)
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Donald Duck (we were told Daisy was shoe shopping)
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By the time we got to our bus pickup, we were pooped!
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