You guys. The internet connection in Tahoe was really lousy, and I was too excited about drinking wine and hanging out with the dog (who, we learned, really enjoys the snow) to really think about fighting the interwebs. But…we’re back! And I have half a vacation still to recap, so…
Animal Kingdom was the park that I was least excited about seeing; not that I was not excited to see it, but in the hierarchy of all the parks, it was not near the top. However! I was very pleasantly surprised by everything that we saw, ate, and did throughout our time there. As the name suggests, there are actual animals at the park. This means that it closes a little earlier than the other parks (Mickey and Minnie have a later bedtime than the rhinos and tigers do), and that there is a bit more variety in the types of attractions that are present– there are rides, of course, but there are also a couple animal exhibit areas and several shows (Finding Nemo and Lion King, both really cool if you are a complete Disney nerd, which…yeah).
First, the animals…here is one of several jaywalking giraffes that we saw on our “jeep tour” that goes through several animal habitats, including swamp and savanna. Each tour is different, because the animals are just walking around out there. For instance, this guy:
Also–and completely awesomely– there is a Rafiki Conservation Area, complete with petting zoo! Not the most educational, it turned out, but for some reason I find sheep and goats completely adorable. Here I am with a new friend that GP wouldn’t let me bring home:
Isn’t he adorable? Fine, maybe I am inordinately excited about animals. Not to worry, we also went on some rides. They ranged from the pretty terrible Dinosaur– which is way too scary for children, like this guy right next to me with his head buried in his dad’s lap for the entire ride…
…and I don’t blame him. That is real fear on my face, folks. Dinosaurs, were they alive today and not killed off by cave men (I know, shut up), would want to eat our faces right off. They are not cuddly, and I want nothing to do with them. By far, though, the best ride that we went on while on this trip was Expedition: Everest. The newest of the Disney mountains, it is the result of Imagineer research (there is a Yeti museum that surrounds the queue– it is pretty intense) and is basically a runaway train ride through a mock Himalayan mountain. You go up the first lift, around a bend, and then! The track has “been destroyed by an angered Yeti, guardian of the mountain!” So you go backwards, in the dark, and lifted into a cave, where you are shown a sequence of projected images, the main message of which is something like “Yeti smash!”
Scary, yes, but it is a much more satisfying ride than Dinosaur (to say the least). The climax of the ride is when the train hurtles past a gigantic, Animatronic Yeti, who takes a swipe at you as you whiz by.
Because there were Extra Magic Hours on the evening that we spent at Animal Kingdom, we got to ride Everest over and over and over and over…I was sad to leave! The bonus, however, of getting to spend some extra magic time at AK in Walt Disney World’s low season, is getting to take awesome pictures of (gasp!) empty park areas at night. How in love am I with these lights?