Day 2 brings us to Mission Animal Kingdom! Before we left on vacation, Matt and I constantly tracked the weather forecast for the week. Unfortunately every weather site informed us that rain was in our future for at least the first part of the week. So as we packed for the outing, our trusty retro yellow ponchos made there way into the backpack. The morning looked amazing, and we secretly hoped that the rest of the day would be just as nice. As we strolled along the grounds making our way to the bus stop, it seemed like there was a bounce in our step. Today was our first day at the park!! :) I could not contain myself. My goal was to make it to rope drop every morning. I wasn't sure how long the shuttle was going to take and if we had to make any stops, so I instructed Matt to be ready to go by 8-8:30am. We took a quick pit stop to fill up our refillable mugs and then took off to the bus stop. There was not alot of people waiting at this time. The bus for AK arrived promptly and we were on our way. YES! Direct shuttle to AK! We made it to AK before 9am and took our place amidst the crowd waiting for Mickey & Minnie to make their arrival.
Like clockwork, the music started and a faint jubilee sound can be heard from afar. All of a sudden, Mickey, Minnie & the gang roared up in a safari truck with a big sign that read "Let the Adventure Begin". Oh man, this is exciting stuff!! After a brief celebration, the mass crowd made there way through the park. The first thing on the agenda was to grab FP's for Exhibition Everest. This was my first time to AK, so I researched throughly on how we could go about touring the park. On our way to Everest, the Tree of Life seemed to have popped out of nowhere. I was in awe of how detailed the carvings on the truck were. Of course, no time to stop and take pictures when Everest is a priority. We knew we had plenty of time later to check out the tree.
Once we got to Everest, the wait was non-existent! YAY!! No need for FP! The only disappointing thing was that the queue had alot of fun and interesting things to look at. (Typical of all Disney park lines). But we didn't get a chance to really look at it since we basically walked the line. :( Oh well, I guess I can't really complain since we were on Everest in a matter of minutes. WOW! Was Everest fun or what! I have to say that this was the best ride at AK! :) It's so cool how Disney incorporates the Yeti into the coaster. And it wasn't simply your get on, whip around for a few seconds, then get off type of coaster. I really enjoyed the track changes and the riding backwards into darkness aspect! FuN FuN FuN!
Next stop....the Safari. On our way there, there was a faint sprinkle coming down on us. No need for the ponchos just yet. We hoped that this would be the worst it would get. (To be continued on the status of the rain...muhahaha). The line for Safari was about 15 minutes long. Right when we got to the front of the line though, it seemed like there was a slew of safari guides in training. So the majority of our wait was waiting for a trained safari guide to arrive. I was really wishing that the animals would be pretty active since it was morning and the sky was pretty much an overcast from the rain. But I was wrong. It was really cool to see the animals close-up, but you can get the same feeling from Natural Bridges in Texas. I wanted to see the Lions the most, however none were in sight when our truck came around. Sadness. :( The safari guide was a charismatic girl. She also provided a story line for the basis for our safari trip which I think the kids really enjoyed. Although, I think it turned out corny for the older folks. In the middle of the ride, the truck was informed that hunters were nearby capturing animals. So the safari sped off to go help the animals. I thought the build-up was intense and great. However, it ended up being a pretty big let down. Once the truck arrived at the poachers' camp, a man on the PA came on saying that we scared the hunteres away and the animals were safe. WHAT? That's it? After a big chase, then nothing. :(
The exit to the Safari is actually the beginning to the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail. It's a self-guided walking tour. I think the highlights of the tour were the gorillas. There was a huge observation window looking out towards the gorillas. Some were nestled right at the window just peacefully sleeping away! It was pretty cool cause you could really see how ginormous they were. BUT that wasn't the end of it. As you continue walking on the trail, more and better views were up ahead. We got a good sight of one of the gorillas squatting to take a dump! Awesome! haha. Too bad that didn't make it onto the camera reel.
By the end of this, we were famished! The Disney Dining Plan is probably the best benefit of staying at the resort. Tamu Tamu Refreshments seemed to be a fast-food type of stand. We got ourselves some cheeseburgers, apples and shakes! Woah, the shakes were huge! I barely made a dent in mine. It tasted fantastic with the burgers! The rain was still doing a very slow sprinkle on us. Nothing alarming at the moment. Feeling replenished, we made our way to Finding Nemo, the Musical. I must say, the show was pretty darn good. Especially since the songs were created just for this show, I was impressed. All the actors wore black attire as they danced on stage with the fish puppets. The underwater sea creatures were so bright and colorful. What a nice break after lunch!
After the show, we ventured towards Dinosaur. Oh man, I was a little apprehensive about this ride. Reviews told me that it's pretty intense and dinosaurs pop out of nowhere. My verdict...yes and yes! The ride has the Indiana Jones feel, but with dinosaurs. At first, you're surrounded by a serene environment filled with peaceful dinosaurs. Then BAM! You're sped off into dark areas with dinosaurs so close they are breathing on you. Yes, I know...it's all animatronics, but still! Freaaakkkyy! Extremely fun, but Everest was still better!
After Dinosaur, the rain picked up a bit and it was time for ponchos! It was getting a little heavier, but still tamed. We wanted to check out the Festival of Lion King. I saw the show at Hong Kong DL, but it was still different from AK's. I <3 the music in Lion King. Those actors are SO good. The music was paired up with acrobats and circus acts. Hearing it always gives me goosebumps. "The Cirrrclllee of Lifffee. Boom!"
Yay! The rain stopped after the show. Matt wanted to check out "It's Tough to be a Bug". I think he really likes the 3D/4D shows, but I didn't question him on it. On our way there, we took a pit stop at the Tree of Life. A woman asked me to take a picture of her group and I asked her if she could return the favor of taking a pic of the hubby and I as well. Well, she took a GREAT picture of us, the tree, AND her group! HAHAHAHA.. Omg, this picture was both awesome and creepy. She got a shot of her group with their backs towards the camera, but their heads turned toward it with their eyes all wide-eyed and in shock. It was classic! I need to find a way to crop them out.
Off to "It's Tough to be a Bug". Let me start off by saying, this is 4D and the title has "Bug" in it. So putting two and two together, you know there will be bugs in your face. Why do parents still think their child will like it if they hate bugs? Within minutes of the first bug entering the show, you can hear children crying all around. Funny, but still, I could imagine the torture. The show was pretty good. Although at the end when all the maggots and little bugs were supposed to be "exiting" the thearer, that was pretty gross. The show gave the effect of the bugs running all over the floors and seats. Yuck!
After the show, we walked back to the Discovery Island Trails. The rain started to get heavier....uh oh! Doesn't look good. We started on the trail that took us around the Tree of Life. The highlight of the trail was probably the giant galapagos tortoise. I think those things live to be hundreds of years old. Too bad the rain was just getting worse. We probably would have enjoyed the trail more. After quickly making our way through the path, Kali River Rapids stood before us. Why not, right? We were already wet. As we wandered through the line, the people exiting the ride looked really wet! At that point, I already decided that I was going to bury myself in the poncho. One guy standing in line in front of us decided to chicken out when he saw a young woman exit completely soacked! haha. Once we were strapped in, the raft took off. It was fun and exciting and the poncho came in handy! I came out of it still pretty dry. Yay for the poncho!
BUT IT ONLY GETS WORSE.....
Matt wanted to grab a snack after the rapids, and we found Yaki Yeti Local Food Cafe. They had some Asian inspired food, and we ordered some delicious egg rolls. The rain at this point was completely pouring down on us. It was an all out attack. There goes our hope for staying dry. The hubby and I, food-in-tow, snuggled up near a table that was partially covered. Our bodies remained dry, but the backsplash from the rain to our feet was a nightmare! We might as well have dunked our shoes in a pool. Let's just say for the next few days, our shoes were filled with water. After the meal, our magical mood was fading. LUCKILY we basically did everything we wanted to do at the park. We really wanted to ride Everest again, but the rain was just not cooperating. The hubby and I decided to hang out in a dry spot and wait for the rain to let up. But with no end in sight, the most viable option was to go back to the hotel.
We got back to the hotel and decided to have dinner. Chicken quesadillas for me and a taco salad for Matt! Once again...not bad! The rain may have been a blessing in disguise. The NBA Playoffs were underway and Matt's precious Spurs were playing that night. I mentioned to him that the Boardwalk has an ESPN Club. Even though he kept saying, "if we have time", I knew he really wanted to watch the game. hehe. So back at the hotel we dried off and took a nice warm shower. The rain wasn't as heavy as before and we were off to the Boardwalk.
Wait a minute, how do we get there from here? Let's ask the front desk. They kindly informed us to go to Epcot and then take a bus to the Boardwalk. Got it, let's go! We get to Epcot and thank God Matt asked the bus driver for directions again. She stated that the only way is to go through Epcot. But we don't have park hopper tickets? Oh no! Problem! God was totally on our side. The sweet bus driver said she'll make a quick stop at the Boardwalk since she was headed to Hollywood Studios anyway. Yay!! We're rescued!
The boardwalk was quiet (probably cause of the rain), but the restaurants were packed. We decided to sit in the bar area surrounded by hundreds of TV's. Why were more TV's focused on hockey than on basketball? Really? Hockey Fans in Orlando? Oh yes, the restaurant was invaded by hockey fans. Beers later and heartbreaking Game 1 loss to the Mavs, it was time to head back to the hotel.
Looking forward to Day 3 - Hollywood Studios!