Day 6, March 30th - Animal Kingdom, Horseback Riding, Water Sprites, Magic KingdomReturn to Part 2
Today we started off at the Animal Kingdom (AK), arriving at 9 am. Our experience in the past has been that many people seem to visit the AK earlier in their vacations making the earlier weekdays more crowded than later in the week. Therefore, we typically go later in the week or visit on any day in the late afternoon, after much of the crowds have departed. Our first stop was at the Fastpass machines for Kali River Rapids, the raft ride in the Asia section of the park. There was actually almost no wait in the standby line but we wanted to catch the first Festival of the Lion King show of the day, which, along with the last show, we find to be the least crowded. We also didn't want to start the day soaking wet. :-)
Fastpasses in fanny pack, we made our way to Camp Minnie-Mickey, stopping along the way to look at the Tree of Life and some of the animals surrounding it. Upon arriving at the 1,000 seat theater, we were directed over to the Lion section. To keep Brian and Katie from complaining about not being able to see, we typically go up to the top row so they can stand up if they need to without obstructing someone else's view. The show itself has no real story but instead is a collection of individual talent (aerobatics, singing, dancing, acrobatics) woven into a colorful pageantry of sight and sound. The show is definitely on our "must see" list.
Since we got our Kali Fastpasses early, the return time on them came quickly. Our ride window had already opened by the time we finished the Lion King show so we walked to Harambe and picked up Fastpasses for the most popular attraction in the AK - Kilimanjaro Safaris. Upon returning to the Kali area, I noticed several changes had been made since our last visit. Fastpass holders now enter at the Kali exit and are able to see most of the queue, which is a welcome change since the Kali queue is one of the better parts of the attraction. Before, Fastpass guests bypassed most of the well-themed queue. Susan decided that she still wasn't ready to be drenched - we had left our Mickey ponchos in the Explorer - duh! - so she sat out and took this photo of Brian, Katie and I. As it turned out, we didn't get our usual soaking but we did get pretty wet.
Next we visited the Maharajah Jungle Trek, a walking tour through displays of tigers, tapirs, deer, antelope, komodo dragons, bats and birds. The pathway is themed to look like you're making your way through the ruins of an ancient palace garden. Disney did an outstanding job on the Jungle Trek in our opinion. We especially enjoy watching the tigers and the beautiful birds in the aviary.
After making our way back to Africa and the village of Harambe, we ate an early lunch at Tusker House, which is our favorite dining establishment in all of AK. We all had the BBQ chicken, ham and swiss cheese sandwiches with potato wedges - yummy! Total for lunch was $27.00. We finished up our day at the AK with a ride on the Kilimanjaro Safaris, a rambling, rocking jaunt through 100 acres of the African savanna in a safari truck. Along the way we saw Thompson's gazelle's, giraffe's, elephants, warthogs, lions, cheetahs, hippos and rhinos, among others. We still think the poacher storyline is lame - I'd hate to be the Cast Member with the gun who has to stand at the truck near the end of the attraction telling every vehicle that goes by that "Little Red is OK". Sheesh.
We left the park in order to return to our campsite where Susan and Katie could change into jeans in preparation for their horseback ride at Fort Wilderness's Tri-Circle D Livery ($46.00). This is something the girls had been wanting to do for some time but had never gotten around to it. Well today was the day. Brian and I planned to rent a water sprite at the marina for our father-son time but first we rode our bikes up to see the girls off. Kids below a certain age (Susan doesn't remember what the age is) had to wear a helmet or had to have their parent sign off accepting responsibility. Katie wore a helmet since she'd never ridden a horse before. The horses were very gentle and walk in single file at a slow pace so the trail ride would be good for beginners like Katie and Susan but would be boring for someone with much riding experience.
After the horses left, Brian and I pedaled to the marina and rented one of the new water mice boats for the both of us - big mistake ($30/hour). Brian has put on some weight since the last time we'd done this so the both of us combined were about 300 lbs - that was more than the 9.9 horsepower Mercury outboard motor could push. We wallowed around Bay Lake getting soaked by water spray splashing over the bow for a little while and then I let Brian drive solo. That boat was flying with just him in it! I was hoping that he would have sense enough not to run into anybody - he didn't (run into anybody that is, though I wonder about the sense sometimes too). :-) Just as we finished, the girls rode up on their bikes and told us all about the trail ride. They both enjoyed it. We then visited the petting farm, where there are sheep, goats, a pot-bellied pig, a donkey, Minnie Moo, chickens and plenty of peacocks hanging around.
After showers, Susan, Katie and I decided that we wanted to go to the Magic Kingdom. Brian had found some friends in a nearby campsite and he had been invited to go with them and their parents to the nightly Fort Wilderness Campfire. Minus Brian, we arrived at the MK just as the nightly parade (Electrical Light Parade) was starting. We made our way to Liberty Square and found a good viewing spot in front of the Hall of Presidents.
Circus Train & Dumbo
Pete & Dragon
After the parade, we made our way through Fantasyland and rode Peter Pan (15 minute wait) and then Snow White's Scary Adventures (no wait). We waited by The Legend of the Lion King and watched the Fantasy in the Sky fireworks, which I think have gotten a bit better than in the past - still no comparison though to the old Sorcery in the Sky fireworks show at MGM Studios. We finished out the evening with a ride on Cinderella's Golden Carrousel (always nicer at night), and a ride on Pooh (5 minutes in the standby queue). We caught the last boat to Fort Wilderness at 9:30 and were in bed by 10:30 pm.
Day 7, March 31st - Magic Kingdom, Epcot
Even though we stayed out fairly late last night (well, late for us) we were still able to get up and get an early start. We made it to the Magic Kingdom before rope drop at 9 am. We killed some time shopping in the Candy Shop on Main Street - Katie is little Miss Sweet Tooth. We'd decided to double up on Space Mountain first thing, i.e., we picked up Fastpasses (for 9:40 am) and then got into the standby line to ride. There was some type of delay in opening the attraction - someone said something about cleaning up the queue - hmmmm, one would have thought that the queue would have been cleaned last night - but it finally did open about 10 minutes late. We noticed that only one side was running until 9:25, when they opened the other side. Next, we rode Buzz Lightyear with no wait. Brian found the big point target and maxed out his score at 999,999 - Katie got jealous and mad despite getting her personal best score. Sibling rivalry. We walked back to Space Mountain and rode the other side using our Fastpasses (10 minute wait) - woo hoo! :-)
We crossed the park and made our way to Liberty Square and the Hall of Presidents (HoP). I have to say I won't be sorry to see Bill Clinton's speech go. Not that there's anything wrong with his message - it's just he's not in the same league as Abraham Lincoln. It'll be interesting to see what Disney does with the HoP after the next election. Next we did something I've had on my "To Do" list for the last several WDW trips but just never seemed to get to it - the Diamond Horseshoe Saloon Revue. Those dancing girls were sooooo fine. ;-) The magician was pretty good too. While enjoying the entertainment, we snacked on ham and cheese sandwiches with chips and sodas ($16.75). Definitely worth doing again.
Still in a frontier mood, we wandered over to the Shootin' Gallery and shot up about $5 worth of tombstones, cacti, cans and crows. Feeling the need for dessert, we sought out the nearest ice cream stand and churro cart. There's nothing like a warm churro...mmmmmmmmm.
After satisfying our sweet tooth, I had the urge to do Splash Mountain so we split up - me going to get Fastpasses while Susan and the kids took the raft to Tom Sawyer's Island. Again, our FRS radios came in handy as we were able to link up on the island after I'd gotten the Fastpasses. The kids wanted to play hide-and-go-seek. Susan and I pretended to play along giving them a radio while we kept the other. We never did actually go look for them, instead heading over to Aunt Polly's to sit and watch the Liberty Belle Riverboat and the crowds over in Liberty Square. Aunt Polly's is a nice place to get off of your feet and relax. We did eventually get up and make our way to - Fort Langhorne?...what happened to Fort Sam Clemens??? I wonder how long the name change has been in effect? As it turned out, both Susan and Brian wimped out on Splash so Katie and I rode together. We ended our MK day by riding the Tomorrowland Transit Authority, Carousel of Progress and then listening to the Tomorrowland Brass.
After returning to Fort Wilderness for showers and rest, we loaded up into the Explorer and drove to the Boardwalk for our 5:30 priority seating at the Flying Fish Cafe. Finding a parking place was impossible - I'd not seen anything so bad since a recent visit to Downtown Disney during the evening hours. After circling the parking lot a couple of time we gave up and valet parked. This was our first time to dine at Flying Fish. What attracted us to the place was that we'd heard from a number of sources that it reminded them of the California Grill restaurant - our favorite. :-) Looking back on my notes I see that I didn't write down what we had but after consulting with Susan (and looking at the Menus section of Deb Wills' WDWIG) we've decided she had white salmon (the waiter explained not to be surprised that when it came out it wouldn't be pink), I had the BBQ glazed center cut pork chop. We won't worry about what entrees the kids had. Susan, Katie and I ended up getting the chocolate lava cake, with warm liquid chocolate center and blood orange sorbet. Brian got a brownie ala mode. The lava cake was yummy but too small...I could have eaten at least two of them. :-) In summary, the food was very tasty, the service was excellent, the ambiance was good but not great, so overall we'd rate it about a 4 out of 5. Total for the meal was $131.
We waddled down the Boardwalk to the International Gateway entrance to Epcot and stopped to watch an excellent band - British Invasion - in the UK pavilion garden. Definitely give these guys a listen. Afterwards, we walked to the Millennium Village where our first stop was Brasil for a rowdy game of soccer - we won 10 - 9 on a last second goal! Next was Saudi Arabia where the kids and I did a team building thing where we work together to roll a ball through a Saudi Arabian scene. It was fun. We also followed the magic carpet through the "Rise of the Kingdom". Katie and I were both pulley operators. :-) While we were doing that, Brian got on the computer and looked at the Saudi family scrapbooks. Lastly, we did the "Journey to Jerusalem", billed as a thrilling ride through 3,000 years of history. It's not really that thrilling and I don't think the motion simulator adds anything to the attraction. Susan and I bypassed the motion simulators and watched the movie from stationary seats in the back.
We returned to Fort Wilderness and did some laundry and went to bed early...it has been a long day.
Day 8, April 1 - Epcot, MGM Studios, Animal Kingdom
Saturday - our last day in the parks...sigh. A week seems to go so fast at WDW. We started things out at Epcot and were overcome by the pin craze. We'd been avoiding the pins successfully all week but the crowds at the main pin trading station in Future World attracted my attention. Going over to check it out, I discovered that Disney was releasing some special pins for the first time - there was an Epcot pin trader pin, a Jiminy Cricket Environmentality pin, the first of four Artist Choice pins (Fantasia 2000 Sorcerer Mickey), and the April pin of the Month (Tokyo Disneyland Castle). I won't say how much we spent on pins but it was ridiculous. As it turned out, we sold most of them on ebay and made a nice profit (pin shark) but the best part was the fun the kids had trading pins in the parks the rest of the day. We picked up Fastpasses for Test Track at about 9:40 and were happy to get a more reasonable return time - about 10:40 am as I recall. We made our way to the Land pavilion and rode the Living with the Land boat ride (no wait) and then did Food Rocks (no wait). We finished up our time in Epcot with our ride on Test Track.
Our next park for the day was MGM Studios. We always work in at least one ride on Rock'n Roller Coaster (RnRC) on our last day. After getting our RnRC Fastpasses, we crossed the park and did Star Tours (10 min wait) and then Muppetvision 3D (no wait beyond the preshow). Upon exiting Muppets, we noticed that the fire engine had been removed. I wonder if that's permanent? Our RnRC Fastpass ride window was now open so we headed back down Sunset Blvd to the attraction. For those interested in the small details, RnRC was loading the 24 seats (average of two empty per limo) on an average 52 second cycle time for an approximate 1,523 guests per hour throughput. Brian made his first pin trade on Sunset Blvd. - trading one type of RnRC pin for the one with a scared Mickey on it. He had fun talking to the nice Cast Member about her pins and he really enjoyed the attention his new pins got.
We had lunch at the Backlot counter service restaurant located next to Star Tours. The cheeseburgers are good and the condiment bar is well stocked. Our favorite is the hot cheese sauce which is great poured over french fries. Our last attraction at MGM Studios was Doug Live!, a cute stage show based on the popular cartoon series Doug.
Our third and final park of the day was the Animal Kingdom. We really only had one thing in mind and that was to see the final show of Tarzan Rocks! at 4:30 pm. Along the way Brian and Katie both did more pin trading and Katie decided she wanted a lanyard like Brian's. After the Tarzan show, we made our way back to Fort Wilderness where the adults worked on laundry and getting ready to leave tomorrow and the kids played. After showers, we all went to the Campfire/sing-a-long.
Well, that's it. Feel free to email me any questions you might have about this trip report or anything in general about WDW.
Return to Spencer Family Homepage