Friday, February 29, 2008

February in Florida--Part 4, Animal Kingdom

Disney's Animal Kingdom has been open for 10 years now, but this was our first visit. Previously, we have stuck with the Magic Kingdom and Disney-MGM Studios, because of Chris' preference for theater and movies over animals. However, both Kieran and Nicholas enjoy animals (especially Nicholas), and we thought it would be nice to explore a new park.

I loved the Animal Kingdom--it's a perfect example of Disney's "imagineering," full of incredible detail and realistic touches. Plus it has what the guidebooks say are the best two live shows in all of the Disney parks: "The Festival of the Lion King" and "Finding Nemo: Live." Since we are a family that loves shows, we thought it would be worth a look.

Unfortunately, we did not take the weather forecast seriously enough, and we set out in shorts and sweaters or light jackets...but it was in the 40s until noon! Needless to say, we were FREEZING! Mike had to go buy a sweatshirt as soon as the shops opened, and we opted for the inside activities in the morning because we were so cold. That decision nearly cost us the opportunity to go on one of the best rides, the Kilimanjaro Safari.

To get out of the cold, we began the morning with the spectacular Lion King show, full of acrobatics, wonderful costumes, music, and audience participation.

After the Animal Kingdom show, the kids waited in a short line to get autographs from and photos with Lilo & Stitch. Nicholas wasn't too sure about them. This is the photo BEFORE he burst into tears.

This was the best ride--it's called Expedition Everest and is a thrilling roller coaster with jerky twists and turns as well as one part (photo below) where the tracks appear to be broken, and you are swung violently backward. Chris went on it twice, once with me and once with Mike.

This was my favorite, and Mike's least-favorite, ride, the Kali River Rapids. Chris and I went on this three times in a row because of the short line. Mike went once and got completely soaked...just by the bad luck of where he was sitting in the raft. What impressed me most about this ride was the preride environment...the waiting area snakes through a Buddhist temple and it looks like Nepal.

This is a photo from the Finding Nemo show, which was done with puppets and live actors. Very well done.

This was one of Chris' favorites, the very intense Dinosaur ride. The Disney cast member who ushered us through the line told us that Disney and McDonalds (the sponsor) spent some ungodly amount of money on this ride and the sister ride in Disneyland, Indiana Jones...something along the tunes of $24 million. Each car was specially built and cost $2 million to create.

Kieran enjoyed meeting Goofy and Pluto in his new Pluto hat!

Here Mike and Nicholas are waiting for the Triceratops Spin in Dinoland:

We almost missed our opportunity to go on the Kilimanjaro Safari--because by the time we got there, the sign said it was a 90-minute wait. Fortunately, during the parade the line was shorter, and I'm so glad we were able to fit it in. The safari showcased Disney's innovation and creativity, and it was a great opportunity to see the animals in the "wild." Here are a few photos from the safari:

Crocodiles lazing in the sun

Some kind of African cattle...?

The backside of an elephant!

Chris took this photo in "Asia"

This is my all-time favorite photo of my three beautiful boys!

The intricate Tree of Life, which is in the center of the park
and akin to the Magic Kingdom's castle

At the end of the day, right before leaving the park

All in all, it felt like we didn't have long enough time in the Animal Kingdom. Because it was February, all of the parks close early at this time of year, and it was open only from 9 to 5.

I look forward to returning someday--it was a beautiful theme park!

1 comment:

  1. OK...You know I'm not a Disney fan....BUT this last blog makes me a little curious. It looks like so much fun! Mom