Day 3; Revelations At Animal Kingdom
Today we planned to get to Animal Kingdom for rope drop; knowing that we would be awake early again, while adjusting from GMT.
And wake up early we did, at 5am. Though this morning we didn’t go back to sleep; instead choosing to start the day slowly with more Disney TV.
Following a Joffery’s coffee – we loved the in-room individual drip; we headed to the Riverside Mill Food Court to grab breakfast.
Following all the food from yesterday and already starting to feel like there was too much food we both chose light breakfasts. Donna choosing Applejacks and myself going for a fresh strawberry and blueberry parfait. We had a nice surprise with the Applejacks coming with milk as part of their snack credit. The plan was to get the Applejacks, Parfait and Milk as a single quick service meal; however, as the milk came with the Applejacks, Donna also got an iced vanilla coffee. I opted for a filter coffee using our refillable mugs.
With breakfast finished we walked through the resort shop on the way out to the bus stops; wanting to stay within the air conditioning for as long as possible. While walking through the shop we looked for the resort pin they didn’t have it this morning, unfortunately.
Using the resort shop to and from the bus became a staple of our trip the air conditioning really was blissful. This morning we didn’t have long to wait for our bus out to Animal Kingdom. This park was my biggest unknown for me on the trip; having not broken ground for construction the last time I visited WDW.
One quick bus trip later, and we made it to the park for about 9:20am; where we started to record video for our planned vlog of the trip. It was at this point I started to feel unhappy about the vlogging aspect of this holiday.
Simply put I didn’t feel like we were on holiday; we were both worrying too much about recording everything that we weren’t experiencing anything. And as this was a park I’d never visited before I felt that I’d missed the experience of seeing it for the first time with my own eyes.
After discussing my feelings with Donna she agreed that I should stop trying to vlog, and I switched my focus back on blogging; something that I was happier to do as now I could look a fresh at Animal Kingdom.
I love this park entrance “engraving” every time I look at this photograph I see some new detail in the banner. At the time we were in Walt Disney World we were also at Animal Kingdom during its 20 year celebrations. These celebrations had their own unique banners.
I would have loved to have been able to buy these banners. I love everything about the design of them from the prayer flags on the boarders; to the earthy tones of the background and the tree of life representation.
While Animal Kingdom had Extra Magic Hours today; arriving after 9am we had to wait for the general opening. Thankfully, though the queue for park rope drop was in the shade so for the 40 minute wait we could keep cool.
In Search of the Yeti
Our first fastpass for today was for Expedition Everest; as this wasn’t until 10:30am we had some time to to find Donna some rose gold Minnie ears. We found the rose gold ears at Discovery Trading Company; while we were there Donna also looked for some animal print ears that she’d seen online but there were nowhere to be found.
Shopping done we made our way towards Everest for our train trip up the mountain. We made a brief stop on the bridge into Asia for some photos as we really liked the texture and detail on the bridge.
I fail miserably in looking enigmatic for photos I only ever look startled!
Photographs on this bridge done we carried on into Asia walking through slowly to enjoy the theming; with a distinctive direction of the home of the Yeti.
I will admit now that I was a little ambivalent towards this ride before riding it. I’m not a big fan of long lift hills; the anticipation of a climb does nothing for me and I just want the ride to start.
Thankfully, the YouTube ride videos do not do any justice to this ride and it turned into being one of my favourite rides in the whole of WDW; though I am not sure anything can top Space Mountain for me childhood nostalgia.
The backwards section of the ride is a lot of fun and I’ve not been on a coaster with this longer reverse section; I wish that the Yeti animatronic can be repaired though, the strobe effect is ok but I imagine having the Yeti active again would raise the ride experience to the next level.
Walking With Gorilla’s
With fastpass one done, we made our way over to Africa. This park really invites more leisurely walking and enjoyment of the theming than any other in Orlando.
Our plan following Expedition Everest was to go on Kilimanjaro Safaris; however, when we got there, the wait time was too high for us. By the time of the queue we’d have been on the ride at about midday, meaning most of the wildlife would shelter from the sun.
Looking at what else was in the immediate vicinity we saw the Gorilla Falls Trek and gave that a go. This turned out to be a very good decision as there is copious amounts of shade on the trek.
Another good thing with this trek; and later found the same with Maharajah Jungle Trek; is the conversation and education elements to them.
I didn’t take many photographs in this trek; though I was happier not vlogging I still wasn’t 100% myself when using my camera; that said I did take this slow shutter speed shot:
There is an aviary in both the treks and in the Gorilla Falls it has a waterfall. I love water and seeing the motion of it in long-exposure photographs.
Post aviary we saw zebra and meerkats sharing the same enclosure; the keepers were feeding the meerkats while we were there and kept circling a round to get more food. Meerkats are a lot of fun to watch as they’re very inquisitive and playful animals.
After seeing a lot of other animals and birds native to Africa the final enclosure holds the treks’ namesake. I’m not sure how many gorillas are in the troop but we only saw a juvenile playing with a branch. I suspect the remaining members were sheltering from the midday sun.
Back To Asia
I enjoyed the trek a lot; and it made me forget that we were in a theme park, but we needed to get back to riding rides.
Leaving Gorilla Fall’s we had a quick look through the Africa gift shop, but didn’t pick anything up though there are a lot of non Disney style gifts available in there.
Our next fastpass was the Kali River Rapids back in Asia; on our way we noticed that there was a photopass photographer by Yak and Yeti so we stopped to get our photo taken.
Getting better with the magic shots here; though helps when you have some direction from the photographer. That said though, snakes don’t bother me so I wouldn’t be making that face!
Time To Get Wet
Something I like that Disney do is provide free lockers for the Kali River Rapids; as we’d heard that you can get drenched on this ride we made use of this facility.
Our fastpasses worked well for us on this ride though the standby time was fairly short at 60 minutes we were really walk on by the time we walked the queue.
Something different to all rapids in the UK is that the ride starts with a lift hill; in this rides case towards a geyser which subsides as the craft reaches the top. This got us a little wet from residual water in the air, which we welcomed as it proved a little cool down for us.
While we found this nice, the people who we shared the raft with commented that Disney turned down the water flow and power of the geyser during the cooler months! really I know October is a cooler month by Orlando standards but by British standards it’s still as hot as our summers.
The ride theme suits the conservation nature of Animal Kingdom well; with the ride starting out in a heavily forested area; with an area of complete decimation showing the effects of deforestation being blind to the ride; then finishing on an area dedicated to conservation. On the bridge entering the station there are water cannon’s which can soak riders by those who’ve just finished the ride. Though again these effects seemed to have disabled; we could never use them during any visit.
We escaped this ride without getting truly wet and collected our bags from the lockers before heading for lunch.
Our lunch time location for today was Yak and Yeti Local Foods Café; partly because of its proximity to the Kali River Rapids and partly because I had heard good things of the chicken-fried rice here from the DIBB and wanted to try it.
As neither Donna nor myself were feeling thirsty, we forwent a drink with lunch; choosing instead to have a Minute Maid frozen lemonade. Because of the ability to change a quick service meal to 3no. snack items, we had a spare item each left and added a pork egg roll each.
Various vlogs and blog we’d watched and read before the holiday suggested that all the Disney egg rolls were tasty but greasy; I can confirm that we found these to be delicious, but also extremely crispy without being greasy. And they must have been very crispy as I highlighted extremely in my trip notes.
Hindsight being the perfect thing that it is; next time we would get a drink and a single frozen lemonade to share. Neither of us could finish the whole frozen container. We gave it a good go though!
On Our Way To Pandora
Our final fastpass of our day at Animal Kingdom was in the world of Pandora; leaving Yak & Yeti we walked back through Africa to use the Harambe bridge; meaning that we’d crossed both continents bridges to Discovery Island today. Going this way we happened upon another photopass photographer doing magic shots.
Again Donna did a better job than I with the acting to suit the image.
We were running a little early for Pandora, so we headed into the park’s Starbucks to see the “you are here” mugs. Unfortunately, we didn’t like the design that got released days before our trip started; we didn’t end up getting any of the mugs on this trip as we’d want a complete collection rather than individual ones.
Still running a little early we headed to Island Mercantile to soak up some air conditioning; in there we saw the 20th Anniversary baseball cap for Animal Kingdom that I debated buying throughout the holiday; I just wasn’t able to justify the $85 they were asking for it.
Leaving the Island Mercantile we saw Aimee from the DIBB; though didn’t clock it until she’d gone by. Both Donna and myself are big fans of Aimee and Lauren’s trip reports and Instagram; and we based a lot of our trip on their own experiences.
The World Of Avatar
I will always be the first to admit that the movie Avatar didn’t engage me. As an environmental awareness movie it got too forceful in its message; and as a sci-fi movie it was sub par. However, I will admit that visually it is a stunning film to watch.
And because of its visual appeal turning a CGI world into a living and breathing land would be no mean feat. Something I am thrilled to say that Disney have managed in spades.
The floating islands that are a feature of the world of Pandora in the movie are spectacular.
And the waterfalls just make the world feel that much more alive. Yay for more slow shutter water flow shots in this post (:
While I can totally appreciate the work that Disney put into creating the world of Pandora; Donna fell in love with it, she has a much larger connection to the movie and franchise than I do.
We only had a brief walk around Pandora before our Fastpass for Na’vi River Journey opened; we headed for the entrance as soon as we could desperate to cool off a little. With the colour of the pathways reflecting a lot of heat and the lack of breeze from the sheltered layout we started to feel overheated.
Na’vi River Journey is an okay boat ride; it’s really nothing special until the end where you meet the Na’vi Shaman, making the ride worth going on. While I would do this ride as a standby in future I’m not sure I would want to use a Fastpass on it again.
Upon leaving Na’vi River Journey, Pandora thankfully was a little more shaded; this allowed us some time to explore the land more comfortably until we had to leave for our hotel to get ready for this evening’s plans.
On the way out we passed a cart selling the banshee toys. We stopped to look at them here but Donna decided not to get one from here; she wanted the experience of buying one from the rookery if she was to get one.
Heading To The Polynesian
Leaving Animal Kingdom and heading back to our hotel to get ready for the evening proved easy; with no wait time for the bus a rare occurrence on this holiday.
Everything that we read prior to our trip said to leave 45 minutes for travel between resorts for meal reservation. Not liking to push times to the limits we left our room with 90 minutes to spare; thinking this would allow us some time to look around the Polynesian first.
Leaving 90 minutes tonight was nearly not long enough. The bus to Disney Springs took forever to arrive; though the live bus times kept it at a 5 minutes to arrive. By the time the bus to Disney Springs had arrived the one to Magic Kingdom was just pulling in behind it.
Hindsight now says that we would have been better on the Magic Kingdom bus; and then getting on the monorail. Luckily we didn’t have a long wait for the connection bus to the Polynesian; and we got to the resort with 10 minutes to spare.
As we had arrived so close to our reservation time we forwent looking around the resort, going straight to the ‘Ohana check-in. This check-in queue was the slowest of the holiday taking 20 minutes to clear.
Because of the queue time we checked in after our reservation time; that we would face a 20 minute wait for a table to become ready for us. We welcomed this though as it gave us a breather before eating.
Having time for a break we got drinks from the bar behind check-in, Donna had an Island Sunset; I had a Lapu Lapu; when I heard about this cocktail my immediate reaction was; “cocktail served in a pineapple they say, sold I say”.
While I was waiting to at the bar, they called our table for ‘Ohana; Donna let our server know I was picking up drinks from the bar because we hadn’t expected to our table to be ready so soon.
Drinks in hand I rejoined Donna and our server led us to our table. He sat us in the back; a location that is quiet and fairly romantic with dimmer lights. While romantic we felt that we missed out on being part of the experience of the restaurant.
Once sat our waiter for the evening brought our salad and pineapple bread out. I also finally had time to sample my Lapu Lapu.
There are unfortunately no photographs of the meal; it was just too dark.
Prior to the holiday I had read people complaining that there was a lack of fresh vegetables/salad at Disney World. I can say that we never found this to be an issue; and all the salads we had were flavourful and fresh. This one was no exception and the pineapple bread paired with it perfectly.
Next up in the meal our waiter brought out our sharing platter; they had replaced the chicken wings on the menu with drumsticks. The rest of the platter contained noodles, stir-fried veg and pork dumplings.
The real selling point of this meal is the grilled skewers of beef, chicken and shrimp. Being allergic to shellfish I passed on the shrimp but found the beef and chicken well marinated with great flavour and very succulent.
While the selling point are the skewers, the star of the meal is the desert; ‘Ohana’s bread pudding has the greatest accompaniment of the holiday; Banana Fosters Sauce, a rum and sugar based banana caramel affair. Like the short cake the night before it was too much for the two of us; easily able to feed 4 people instead.
Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto
On our original plan for tonight we would go to the Magic Kingdom to watch Happily Ever After; by the time we finished our dinner we wouldn’t have been able to get there in time for the fireworks.
Rearranging our evening we went to Trader Sam’s while at the Polynesian; a bar we’d planned to visit later in the holiday as Donna had read about it online.
When we arrived, the bar was at its capacity so we got given a pager to allow us to walk around the resort while waiting. Taking the pager we walked out to the beach just in time to see the Electrical Water Pageant pass by; and a Magic Kingdom to Polynesian ferry dock.
For the second time tonight our wait time was lower than initially advised and we could go into the Tiki bar before exploring any further.
I cannot state how much fun Trader Sams is; when we got there, there was nowhere to sit though we soon got invited to a table and got chatting to the other people sat there.
I ordered a Krakatoa Punch, and Donna chose a HippopotoMai-Tai; and with the ordering we both got I.D’d the only time this holiday.
It was the only time an order got taken incorrectly. While Donna’s drink arrived correctly, I ended up with a Shrunken Zombie Head.
I didn’t complain though as I was struggling to choose between this and the Krakatoa, anyway. When my drink got served the lights in the bar got dimmed, and the waitress came over with post-it notes covering her eyes and a torch pointing up at the bottom of her face.
There are three other drink/bar interactions I’ve made notes on; when the Krakatoa gets served one picture hanging on the wall has the volcano erupt and the bar lighting changes red; the other drink interaction of note was the Nautilus where the entire bar staff carried water spray bottles around the bar spraying people while fans blew wind around and the lighting turned blue.
The final interaction noted was a lesson not to use your mobile phone in this bar. One unfortunate lady took a call and the bar staff all took megaphones out asking for people to be quite as there was someone making an important phone call. While they did that red flashing lights and klaxons also sounded.
While Donna and I only had one drink in the bar, we’d spent 90 minutes in there joining in in the antics “two shots of rum!”. As we’d had so much fun there, we brought our tiki mugs as special memory souvenirs; vowing that on our next WDW holiday we would make time to visit Trader Sams more than once.
Following Trader Sam’s we made our way back to Port Orleans to end day three of our Disney holiday.
Until next time; Just because you grow old doesn’t mean you have to grow up
To learn more about FastPass+ please click here
To learn more about Memory Maker and Photopass please click here
To learn more about ‘Ohana please click here
To learn more about Trader Sams Grog Grotto please click here