Day 4; Cooling Down At Blizzard Beach
Before we get started, please let me apologise for how long it has taken to be published. Since my last post I have been struggling with my dyslexia; sometimes managing one word written a day. Thankfully I am now back to normal and able to write and proofread without frustration.
Today we head to the first water park of our holiday, Blizzard Beach.
After the drinking of much rum last night, we appreciated the later opening of the water parks. The rum probably also helped us with waking up at the more reasonable time of 6am.
As the water parks don’t open until 10am, we had time for a relaxed light breakfast at the Riverside Mill.
For the first time in America, I had a pastry breakfast with a hot cinnamon stick bun. To go with my bun, I had a black filter coffee which are part of the resort mug refills.
I didn’t make a note of Donna’s breakfast, but I am sure she had an Iced Vanilla Coffee and a pastry or cake as well. Neither of us wanted to have a large breakfast with the upcoming time in water.
Finishing our breakfast, we headed back to our room to drop off the resort mug and pick up our waterpark bag.
When we left our room to head to the bus stops the days heat had arrived and we really felt the humidity. We had a while to wait for our first bus to Animal Kingdom for the day so we made use of the resort shop’s air conditioning. The resort shop being next to the bus stops meant we spent a lot of time absorbing the air conditioning here!
All The Busses
Neither of the water parks that Disney operate a direct from resort bus service. So for Blizzard Beach we had to transfer at Animal Kingdom.
The Animal Kingdom transfer went well, and we made it to the entrance of Blizzard Beach at 9:50am. While the water parks don’t open until 10am, they allowed us through the turnstiles on arrival.
As we couldn’t get in the pools straight away, we made use of the time by taking photos of the displays at the park entrance.
With our photographs taken, the park was open, so we went to get towels and rent a locker.
As we were staying at a Disney resort towel rental was free; though if you are paying out of pocket, they are $2 a day per towel.
Locker rental however I wish was included when staying on site as at $10 a day for something you have to have its a bit expensive.
Towels and locker gained, we went into the ski lodges to get changed. In classic Disney fashion, the insides of the changing rooms are themed with snow shoes and “log fires”.
Ready to hit the slopes, we made our way to the sun loungers by the wave pool to stake a shaded one out. Though we never made use of the sun lounger on this trip, doh!
As I am as blind as a bat without my glasses on, we did all the rides where we knew I would be safe with my glasses on. And what better way to get the lay of the park than by getting in the lazy river?
In keeping with the theme of the water park the water in the lazy river was cold, especially when getting dunked with water from Mt. Gushmore one dunking of which came when Donna pushed me deliberately in the path of a water flow.
After completing a lap and getting used to the water temperature in the park, we made our way up Mt. Gushmore on the chairlift.
Wanting to start off with raft rides, we headed for Teamboat Springs, on the green slopes.
The name of the ride gives away that it’s a family ride and the two of us wouldn’t be alone in a raft. Grouped with 3 other people we had a great ride and laugh with them on the way down the tubes.
Back at the bottom of Mt. Gushmore we headed over to the red slopes and two more tube rides. Run Off Rapids and Downhill Double Dipper.
Run Off Rapids is a lot of fun though despite my best efforts to get out of the raft I still got dunked. I didn’t lose my glasses, which was a good thing, but couldn’t see properly again for a few minutes.
Downhill Double Dipper is a side-by-side rating tube, with automatic launch of the participants. Donna won our race. I’m not making excuses here but I got stuck at the top as I hadn’t got the tube far enough in the water so didn’t move on release.
After we had our race, we headed to our sun lounger to grab our towels and dried off before we grabbed lunch.
We had planned to leave Blizzard Beach at about 1pm to go to Disney Springs and have lunch there. That said, we decided early on to have lunch in the park and visit the Springs later in the holiday.
Before our trip Donna had watched a Tim Tracker vlog where he recommended Avalunch. Based on that recommendation that is where for lunch and had bacon, mac and cheese hotdogs. On the dining plan, these dogs also came with a bag of Lay’s chips and a drink.
Also, being early in the holiday, we each had one of the fully loaded foot long dogs. This turned out to be a mistake as neither of us finished our dogs let alone open the chips!
Lunch done I swapped my glasses out for my goggles and headed up the chairlift to take on Slush n Gusher. Though it turned out that I couldn’t wear my goggles on the slide, so couldn’t see anything anyway 🙁
I will say though that the slide is a lot of fun and I enjoyed getting air on the second drop. Definitely one I will do many times on future visits to the park.
We finished up Blizzard Beach with Snow Stormers and Toboggan Racers. Snow Stormers is a good fun slide tube, not too extreme so suitable for all but a lot of fun.
We have nothing like the Toboggan Racers in the UK that I’m aware of; but it is a lot of fun to be going down the slopes with 7 other people.
Back To Pandora
With time pressing, we left the park at 2pm to head back to Riverside. We needed to shower and change ready for our evening plans.
All refreshed, we headed back to Animal Kingdom, arriving at around 5pm for a quick stop off in Pandora.
Pandora is a much prettier land in the evening and is more magical with the bioluminescent fauna. I still didn’t have any emotional connection to the land. Donna having a love for Avatar felt the emotional connection that the Imagineers clearly aimed for.
Yet even without that connection, I can appreciate the dedication to detail displayed in Pandora’s creation.
The reason we were back in Animal Kingdom was for our first Fastpass of the day on Flight of Passage at 6pm.
Even without a connection to Avatar and Pandora I can hand on heart say that Flight of Passage is the best simulator ride to date. The levels of immersion are phenomenal. Starting with the saddle you sit in and the restraint system making it feel like you are on a banshee. All the way down to being able to feel your banshee breath. I cannot explain in words how immersive this ride is.
The only downside for me is that they sat me at the end of a row and because of my wider than average peripheral vision could see the mechanics of the ride. Even knowing how it works, the ride blew me away.
As we exited the ride, night had completely fallen over Animal Kingdom enhancing the vegetation further.
Leaving Pandora behind for today, we headed towards our second Fastpass; Expedition Everest.
While we enjoyed the ride during the day; we adore it of a night. For me it’s a better ride as I’m able to see the Yeti with my glasses not transitioned into sunglasses mode.
We back to back rid the ride this evening as the standby line was showing a 10 minute queue time. I could ride Expedition Everest nonstop for a day and not get bored with it.
After finishing our second ride, we headed towards the front of the park. But as we were passing over the bridge between Asia and Dinoland USA, we spotted some of the River of Light floats.
Being a little ahead of time, we took the opportunity to watch some of the show from there. We weren’t planning on seeing this show as the write-ups didn’t spark our interest.
Seeing the show as we did from the bridge there changed our minds and later in our holiday made sure to do it from the seating area.
We watched 90% of the show before it spat with rain and we started again on our walk to the front of the park.
Tonight we had a reservation at Boma for 9pm.
Leaving a few minutes before the end of Rivers of Light meant that we got to the bus terminal ahead the crowds. Being ahead of everyone meant that we could get the first bus to Animal Kingdom Lodge.
There is a lesson to be learnt for any resort based restaurants. Learn which bus stop you need before you go. It hadn’t occurred to either of us that the lodge bus would make multiple stops; and it was only from help from a family on the bus we got the right stop.
Walking into Jambo House and 2 things struck me at the same time. First up, the smell; a warm, slightly smokey sandalwood mixed with vanilla and jasmine. It was like getting wrapped up in a blanket of rustic friendship. The second noticeable thing was there was a drum lesson going on, so the foyer area was a little noisy.
We were a little early for our dinner reservation so had a nosy around the resort shop. We liked a lot of the merchandise for sale there, but bought nothing as it wasn’t our resort. Maybe next time after a lottery win!
Completing the resort shop, we looked around the rest of the foyer area. The resort is absolutely stunning, and the big windows looking out over the savannah are amazing.
Taking the chance to look out over one of the selling features of the hotel, we spotted… a grand total of no wildlife! However, our reservation time came around before we could explore further so we went to eat.
Boma gets one of the more mixed reviews of Disney dining as it tends towards African inspired dish’s. Yet this suits both Donna and myself well as we enjoy trying new foods.
Our waitress guided us to a table by some windows which would have been lovely at sunset. By 9pm when it’s pitch black outside, we saw nothing from them.
My choice of drink for this evening was the whiskey breeze.
While not lacking in alcoholic content it was a nice and refreshing drink that rewarded sipping.
Boma is a buffet style meal, so we each took it in turns to go to the counters.
My first bowl was Harira, a northwest African vegetable and lentil soup. While it looks dull being brown, the flavours were amazing. Herbs and spices everywhere, though nothing over powered the flavour of the vegetables.
Following my Harira I made myself a second plate of African Carved Stip Loin; Mace and Cardamon-Roasted Pork Shoulder; Zulu Cabbage; Geel Rys and Cous Cous with Spinach.
The strip loin cooked to a perfect crust on the outside and pink in the middle melted in the mouth. And unlike in the UK where you get thin slices off a joint, I must have got the equal of an 8oz steak on my plate.
The pork shoulder was vary lightly spiced with the cardamon which gave it a fantastic aroma. I’m not sure what flavour I need to look for with Mace but it was again juicy and tender.
Zulu Cabbage matched the pork to perfection. Being gentle with the curry spices and packed full of other diced vegetables, fruits and nuts; including but not limited to sweet red peppers, peas, golden sultanas and almonds.
Turmeric gave the basmati rice in my Geel Rys its lovely yellow colour while the cinnamon gave it a sweet undertone. This side suited the Strip Loin by cutting through the fat the loin has on its top which bastes the meat during cooking.
Cous Cous with Spinach is a staple side for me no matter when or where it’s offered. And as expected from the food here, it had a lot of well-balanced flavours added during the cooking.
Once I finished the main, I needed a breather from food. We discovered that the plates Disney use are deceptive, there’s a lot more food there than you realise.
For dessert I made myself a mini taster plate of; Lemon Rose and Blueberry Meringue, the iconic Zebra Domes, Kenyan Coffee Tarts Malva Pudding and Ghanaian Chocolate Banana Bread Pudding with vanilla sauce.
The Zebra Domes for me were a bit of a letdown after hearing all the hype surrounding them. They’re ok, but something I wouldn’t miss if I never had again.
The Kenyan Coffee Tart was great however, the coffee was strong in flavour but well moderated in bitterness. I could have eaten a lot more than one of them if I had had room to.
Malva pudding was a nice enough sponge pudding again a bit like the Zebra Domes something of nothing for me.
And now to my two standout deserts.
Ghanaian Chocolate Banana Bread Pudding is divine and with the vanilla sauce a comfort food if there ever was one. While it could have being heavy, it proved to be anything but. It was light, and no flavour overpowered another. I got all the banana and a rich dark chocolate complement the sweetness of cooked bananas. The vanilla sauce was creamy without being heavy, making it the perfect accompaniment.
The Lemon Rose, and Blueberry Meringue could have done with being bigger than bite sized. As with the Kenyan Coffee Tart, I could have eaten a lot more than one. I usually find that anything rose is overpowering, but the chef’s at Boma managed to keep it a subtle background flavour. With the rose in the background, the lemon offset the sweetness of the blueberries. This for me is the outstanding desert item. To get three very strong opposing flavours in perfect harmony is a work of genius.
At about 10:30pm feeling rather full, we left Boma and called for a Minnie Van to take us back to Port Orleans. We didn’t fancy taking two buses to get back to our resort at this time of night when we needed to be up early the next day.
Until next time; Just because you grow old doesn’t mean you have to grow up