Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Animal Kingdom

Today is our last day visiting Disney theme parks (tomorrow it's Islands of Adventure and HARRY POTTER!) We picked an absoultely awesome park to end with - Animal Kingdom!

This is the first time for all of us to ever visit this park. It's somewhat new, so we've just never had the chance to.  We've heard nothing but good things about this park so we were very excited to get there and experience it.

According to Disney's Website:

"Home to more than 1,700 animals from 250 species and sprawling across 500 acres of lush landscape, Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park is the largest animal-themed park in the world!"

We couldn't wait to try it out!!!

The park is pretty much a center 'island' with 6 or 7 different paths leading to various themes from that center. Right when you enter the park, you get to walk through lush garden/vegetation areas that have different plants and some animals in it. That leads you right to the epicenter of the park - The Tree of Life.

The whole park is so uniquly decorated. Full of color and exotic type of buildings, trees and animals.

This awesome statue was towards the beginning of the park. And seeing as I come from a family of "Ryno's", I only felt it right to pay homage.
We had decided that we would make the journey over to 'Asia' and ride Expedition Everest first thing. We figured that it being the most popular ride of the park, the lines would fill up fast and we wanted to be able to ride it without having to wait forever and a day to do so. But in order to get to 'Asia', you had to pass through 'Dino Land' first.

On our way, we ran into these crazy critters...


Eeyore! (BTW, Jason is SO my Eeyore, lol)

And finally - The Pooh man himself!

A few pictures of Dinoland as we passed by it. No worries, we would be coming back!

As we round the end corner of Dinoland, we get a glimpse of what awaits us ahead...

Expedition Everest!

This is part of the park that I think ended up being my favorite (followed VERY closely by Dinoland). I just loved the whole look of it.  You have ruins, temples, tons of bamboo, tons of exotic birds, awesome food (like chicken satay). It was just extraordinary! It really helps give you the feel that you're 'there'. I absolutely loved it!

First things first - we get in que for Expedition Everest. We're on the hunt for the Yeti!

The ride has you climbing up and through the mountain, trying your best to escape the Yeti. He rips up the tracks and before you know it, you barreling backwards back through the mountain, in the dark while hearing the roar of the Yeti!

Jon, Cassie and I loved it so much we wanted to get right back on it and do it again. The lines were super short, so it was hardly any wait at all. But the boys both had 'to go' and Jack was a little frightened by the Yeti, so I stayed behind and let Jon and Cass go again while I took the boys to the little boys room and we explored for a little bit.

Jack trying to find his Zen after the ride....
We decided after Jon and Cass finished the ride that we would back track and head back to Dinoland. That way we didn't have to keep zig-zagging through the whole park like we did with Hollywood Studios.  Our first stop was the triceratops ride...

Ok...yes...it's a little kids ride but we figured those boys were being so awesome going on all those big rollercoasters, the least we could do is entertain them by going on this ride.

Posing with this awesome looking creature after the ride...
We came up on the main ride for this part of the park - Dinosaur! Cassie used to LOVE this movie and the boys have seen it quite a bit.

I 'borrowed' this picture from the Disney website so you could get an idea of what the ride was like. We all loved it (Jack was iffy on it). It was like the Dino's were really RIGHT there about to eat you! It was AWESOME!!

Here's a good description of the ride I got from Allears.net:

"You wind your way through the entrance of the Dino Institute past fossils, lab notes and photos. You are invited into the rotunda with large murals, fossils and dioramas of the early days when dinosaurs inhabited the earth.
Dr. Grant SeekerThe waiting area goes through several different multimedia shows, lighting up different panels on the diorama, explaining how scientists believe a fiery asteroid slammed into the earth and devastated all known life forms.
Lights are brought up and you walk through the turnstiles into the Institute's Briefing Room. A live video conference is in progress hosted by Dr. Helen Marsh (Phylicia Rashad). Dr. Marsh introduces you to the Time Rover -- your transportation vehicle to the past.
Suddenly, you are listening to Dr. Grant Seeker (Wallace Langham) tell you how he needs you to travel to the end of the Cretaceous period to find the Iguanodon. Without spoiling the remainder of the pre-show... the doors open and you find yourself descending into the loading area (guests in wheelchairs will be directed to elevators by Cast Members).

Time Rover Vehicle You board the 12 passenger, all terrain vehicle, fasten your seat belt and are OFF!!! This is a very herky-jerky ride through time and space (there are no drops). When the light emerges, you find yourself in the prehistoric forests and dinosaurs are everywhere.
The sky darkens once again and meteors come flying out at you. You speed through the alioramous as he enjoys a giant lizard. Your Time Rover is caught in the Meteor shower and has lost its headlights. You are face to face with a carnotaurus!
The radio signals that there are 60 seconds to impact! You dip and swerve still looking for the Iguanodon. The homing signal attaches to the Iguanodon just as a meteor hits earth! The force of the impact creates a tremendous vacuum, sucking everything forward.
ITS OVER! You survived! And not only are you alive and OK, but Dr. Seeker's Iguanodon came back with you!"

Posing with Aladar as we left the ride. Doesn't it look like he's looking right at us?

After that we made our way to the fossil dig that was basically a huge play area for the kids. We took this chance to let the boys run off some steam and us older kids to drink some water (it was a warm day) and just chillax.

Notice the trunk above Jack....it's the 'Jack Hammer'!


 The boys digging for fossils...

After spending some time in Dinoland, we decided it was time to catch the Kilimanjaro Safaris tour. We've had a few people say to us that this is the closest thing to an actual African Safari you could get without actually being in Africa. We were really looking forward to it!

On our open-ended safari vehicle was a list of all the animals we could possibly see...
Now, I realize that people don't generally like to see a bunch of pictures of animals, so I'm not going to post a lot of them. But I will say that the tour was really amazing. We didn't get to see about 40% or so of the animals because by this time, it was super hot out and the animals were taking refuge where we couldn't see. The best time to do this tour would be early morning or late evening. As it was, we were going on sometime in the early afternoon (1ish or so, if I remember correctly).

But in any case, I'll show you a few pictures of animals that really stood out to me. For example, these crocodiles. Normally, they're not all that special to me. But the fact that there were SO many in one spot, freaked the heck out of me! EWWWW!

A good picture Jon took of the tours...

I love giraffes!

After our safari, we took the Discovery Island Trails and got to walk through tunnels and over bridges to see kangaroos and turtles and a bunch of other fun wildlife.

We also went on the Maharajah Jungle Trek. This is where we got to see all the tigers, a komodo dragon and BATS!

I know bats freak some people out but I think they're FANTASTIC! Look at 'em just hanging there like that! So cool!

This is all part of the Tiger Trek. Absolutely beautiful scenery and statues. Plus they had all these amazing flowers everywhere. I seriously thought this was one of the best parks!

What Mom doesn't feel like this at some point?

When we were done exploring we decided to hit up 'Finding Nemo - The Musical'. It was sensational! So colorful and whimsical! It was just really cool. I highly recommend seeing it if you go.

After checking out the rest of the park, we decided it to call it a day here and head down to Downtown Disney to finish up our day. By the time we made it down there, we were starving and we picked out a really fun restaurant to eat at - the T-REX Cafe!

It's kinda like the Rain Forest cafe, only dino style! They had tons of life size creatures all around. The ceiling was full of stars and asteroids and they even had an ice cave that would change colors and almost explored (it's what it seemed like anyway) when the asteroids started to fall.

The ice cave...

Love the jelly fish!

It was probably one of the funnest places we had eaten during our WHOLE trip! I would definitely go back there again!

Now on to the part the boys in our family had been looking forward to the whole trip - the LEGO STORE! My Mom had given the kids some money to spend for Easter while we were down here, so the boys decided to save it and use it at the Lego Store.
Walking up to the store, you get to see all these cool sculptures made out of Lego's. It really is amazing! I don't know how they do it!

Here's the boys with the dwarfs from Snow White....

Check out Woody and Buzz! These guys were right in front of the store.

One of my favorite movies - Sleeping Beauty. LOVE this lego sculpture!

Inside the store they had another Woody and Buzz. This time the boys got to get a pic with them. I was happily surprised when Jack wanted in on it. Guess all it took was some legos.....

The kids (and by this I also mean Jon) checking out all the legos....

After we spent a small fortune on legos, we hit up a few more shops. I bought Cassie a pair of shoes she's been wanting and the boys got their pictures with some skeleton pirates from Pirates of the Caribbean.

Inside on of the shops, Cassie finally found her buddy....

I would have to say that out of all the days so far, this one was turning out to be my favorite. It was just an incredible day all around and everyone one of us was happy the WHOLE day! What could be better?

But our trip wasn't over yet, because tomorrow was HARRY POTTER! Can't wait!

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