Saturday, January 8, 2011

Animal Kingdom

On Tuesday we were up once again before the sun and on our way to spend the day at Animal Kingdom.

We did have to wait for the rope drop here. Once again there were many cast members out and about, but they were working with big heaters. We thought they were trying to keep the trees from freezing, but later we found out it was for the rare orchids that are around the park. They had to keep them from freezing.

The beautiful Christmas tree in the center court.

One of the decorated boughs over the entrance.

Chris, Rick, Sydney, Madison, and I all headed off at a rather quick pace to Expedition Everest to pick up some fast passes and see if we might be able to get in a ride before the crowds got too bad and the standby line too long. Candy and Peyton headed over to the Dinoland section of the park. We were very lucky to be some of the first to reach Expedition Everest, Chris grabbed some fast passes and then we all went up to go on our first ride. Sydney and I rode together. It was AMAZING...but everything happened so quickly. We were laughing and talking away as we exited the ride. When we met up with everyone outside the souvenir shop I reached for my sling bag and Sydney and I just looked at each other in a panic ~ we had BOTH left all our things on the ride! Back through the shop we trooped, found the lost and found and retrieved our belongings even as they were putting them on the shelf! I had many panic attacks after that about losing it or leaving it somewhere, but this was the only time I actually did!
Now we were off to Dinoland to meet up with Candy and Peyton, or so we thought! I guess while Sydney and I were retrieving our "lost" items Chris had spoken with Candy. She suggested we ride Dinosaur. Sounded good to us so off we went.

Dino Sue ~ another place for photo op pictures.

Once again the standby line was not very long, so I was able to grab only a few shots of the waiting area that the line normally snakes through because I was holding everyone up!

Prehistoric bird model
BIG Dinosaur skeleton from tip...

to toe.

Layers of earth with fossils along the walls.

Once there we found we would traveling back in time to try to rescue a small dinosaur before the meteor hit that caused their extinction.
The entrance.

The ride was quite intense, but so much fun! I do think however this was the only ride in the park that Madison didn't want to ride again...I think it was more the noise than anything else, but once was enough for this one.
We headed further into Dinoland looking for Candy and Peyton. We stopped and rode the Primevial Whirl with the girls while Chris went to meet them. Another great ride...smaller than Everest, but with plenty of surprises of its own we had a wonderful time laughing together.

This one reminded me of the "Sinclair" Dinosaur they used to advertise gas back when I was a kid.

Now that we were all together again we were going to walk back over toward Everest again. This time at a little slower pace so Rick and I were able to get a few pictures.


Prayer flags.

The paintings on the side of one of the food carts.

One of the boats on the river.

The bird on the boat.

Entrance to Everest.

Decor in the Souvenir shop.

Closer view.

We rode again, this time picking up a parent swap pass since Peyton couldn't ride. I rode the first time, this time I was with Rick. As we got into the ride I asked if it were possible to take pictures while you were on a roller coaster. He told me yes, so I got ready for the shot I wanted. Just as I placed the camera up to my face we hit a rough patch and BOOM!!! Right in the that hurt. We both laughed at that and Rick told me I would have to hold it away from my face a little so that wouldn't happen. (He thought I knew that)...So I held it out to try again and BOOM!!! same eye once again. This time it REALLY hurt. Lesson learned. HE may be able to take pictures on a roller coaster, but I am WAY too clumsy to try!
After that ride I swapped out with Candy and let her ride while Peyton and I watched the riders come out of the final tunnel...he thought that was fun.
Now it was time to head over to the restrant for our Donald Safari lunch. This was to be a character meal and we were all looking forward to it.

One of the cast members outside the restrant as we waited to be called

Doesn't he look fierce?

Candy had set up our reservation so we were there for breakfast, but they would be switching out to the lunch food as we ate, so we were able to sample many different foods. There were traditional American food as well as some African dishes. EVERYTHING was delicious! Peyton and I waited at the table while everyone else went through the buffet. When Rick came back with his plate Peyton cried out, "You brought me a donut!"...that donut was off Rick's plate and in Peyton's mouth before Rick even realized it was gone. I don't think anyone actually saw him take it, he was so fast! It was sooo funny! What was even funnier was when a little later Rick came back again. This time he brought an extra donut ~ just in case ~ Peyton took one look and said, "You brought me TWO donuts!" Of course the entire table cracked up laughing. Needless to say he got one of them and Rick finally got his donut!
As we began eating the cast members announced that there would be a parade the kids could join in. Of course the girls jumped right up!

Mickey leads the parade.

Goofy joins right in.

Sydney marching along and having a great time.

A grinning Madison joins in.

I don't remember exactly what happened here (maybe she tried to take his donut!) but this picture is worth at LEAST a thousand words about the relationship of a brother and sister!

Too funny!

The theming in the restaurant.

One of the paintings on the wall as we exited the restaurant.

Masks on the wall outside the restaurant.

Now we were ready to go on the Kilimanjaro Safari. I was looking forward to seeing all the animals. We boarded our truck and off we went! Once again I'll let you see it as I did through the lens of the camera.

After we got off the ride we spent some time walking around the park just enjoying the decor and theming.

Another Hidden Mickey.

The Tree Of Life was fascinating to me!

Our next stop was the Bird Show. I think Sydney was the most excited of all of us for this one. She was practically bouncing in her seat while we were waiting, and she was trying to make sure we would all volunteer to be part of the show!

Hidden Mickeys.

Man these things are hard to get pictures of!

The first time they asked for a child volunteer Sydney just about came out of her seat as she raised her hand, she was so excited! They picked her and brought her up on stage. She was going to be in a Math competition with Kiwi, the parrot. Needless to say Kiwi beat her even though the problems were pretty easy. Then the trainer explained how they got Kiwi to answer so quickly. It was one of the highlights of the day!

Sydney on stage competing with Kiwi.

"Baby bird."

Toward the end of the show they brought out this eagle.

Before the show one of the trainers brought out a Great Horned Owl named Twister. He talked to us about the birds and then asked if there were any questions. I think our entire group became totally shocked when Madison's hand was the first one up in the entire audience. Madison is so quiet and soft spoken and rarely ever looks for the spotlight. I was so glad they selected her. Her question was "Why can an Owl turn there head all the way around?" GREAT question. We found out that Humans and Giraffes both have seven vertebrae, while an owl has 14 along with the extra tendons and ligaments that go with the extra bones. This allows them to turn their heads about 260 degrees (not quite totally all the way around). Later we were all talking about how none of us could think of a question at all, even though we all had wondered about this before. Way to go Maddie!!!

The trainer and Twister.

After the bird show as we were walking toward the front of the park I was delighted to find the purpose of a wonderful structure I had been curious about all day. It was Monkey Island!

More of the scenery.

One of the wood carvings.

Even the lamp posts go along with the various themes within the park!

This guy REALLY wanted the fry that was on the ground by my knee!

Hidden Mickey
Huey, Duey, and Louie are going to meet...

Pluto, Mickey and Goofy for some fishin'!

The final shot!

We made this a short day. Animal Kingdom closes earlier than the other parks, and we were all pretty tired anyway. Tomorrow was going to be a very long day because I was going to realize another dream....Fireworks over the castle and THE MAIN STREET ELECTRICAL PARADE!!!!

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