The Spencer Family's 1999 Flower & Garden Trip

May 26th - 31st, 1999

Part 2

Day 3, May 28th - Animal Kingdom, Blizzard Beach

EEEAHH!  Huh...what? I woke up and looked at my watch - 4 am - Yikes!  What was that noise?  Hmmm...after listening a minute or two and hearing nothing, I dozed back off.  EEEAHH - EEEAHH - EEEAHH!  D'oh!  Stupid peacock!  I crawled out of bed and looked around the camper...that sucker was close by somewhere.  EEEAHH - EEEAHH - EEEAHH!  I followed the sound with my flashlight and there he was - perched on a limb right over our campsite.  Hmmm...was it mating season?  After begging and pleading with the peacock to hold it down I went back to bed and held my pillow over my ears.  Unfortunately, I didn't get much sleep between then and when the alarm went off at 6:45.  I hope to myself he'll find another place to perch tomorrow night.

We hustled as we had planned to try to get to the Animal Kingdom fairly early.  We weren't terribly successful, arriving at 7:45.  We walked back towards the Kilimanjaro Safaris first but the line was *huge* so we headed for Asia and the Kali River Rapids instead.  We were able to walk right on as the entire land of Asia was deserted.  Kali River Rapids, at one time called Tiger Rapids Run, is a water ride that utilizes 12 person rafts to carry guests through "rain forest".  Things quickly go awry as the raft encounters a clear cut, burning area of forest that has fallen prey to illegal logging operations.  Some of the burning logs have dammed up the river throwing your raft into the ensuing rapids.  The really cool (and wet) part of the attraction is the big drop into the canyon.  Disney designers cleverly sculpted the walls of the canyon so that water that splashes against them curls up, over and down onto the riders.  This is one place where you can *really* get soaked.  Susan, Katie and I wore our Mickey ponchos but Brian thought that was "wimpy" and didn't wear his.  Guess who stayed the driest?  You got it - Brian - the turkey.  When we arrived back at the loading ramp the CM asked if we wanted to stay in (there was no line) - "Sure" we said and off we went - woo hoo!  After the end of the second ride the CM again asked us if we wanted to stay on..  Brian and I said "sure" - Katie and Susan said "let me outta this thing".  Brian and I ended up riding 4 times total (we could have gone again) and even with the poncho on I was still soaked!  It was a lot of fun though.  :-)

TapirAsia was still deserted so we stayed and did the Maharajah Jungle Trek, which is "an exploration of the Anandapur Royal Forest and hunting lodge, home to exotic creatures and colorful Asian birds."  The first creature one encounters is the komodo dragon, the largest lizard species in the world.  I remember as a kid seeing these lizards in the old B movies as dinosaurs and monsters.  The next animal is the Malayan tapir, which to me looks like a cross between a panda bear and an elephant.  Continuing on we came upon the Bat Cliffs, home of Rodriques fruit bats and the huge Malayan flying foxes.  The latter have wingspans up to 6 feet!  Following the bats are several tiger viewing locations.  It was fun to watch these two tigers playing king of the rock.  They got pretty aggressive with one another.  The wall murals in the tiger area are really well done.

***TIP*** Folks often crowd up at the first tiger viewing location.  If you encounter a crowd just keep walking as there are at least 5 other viewing spots ahead.

After the tigers, are the Elds deer and blackbuck, the latter being one of the fastest antelope species, who on this particular day were pulling the limbs off a tree in order to eat the leaves.  The final stop on the Trek is the aviary.  Those that don't like birds (blame it on Alfred Hitchcock!) or are afraid of getting pooped on can bypass the aviary and proceed directly to the exit.  I recommend going in as there are some really beautiful birds inside and they're not terribly shy.  We finished up our day in Asia by stopping by to watch and listen to the siamangs and white-cheeked gibbons (hoot - hoot - hoot!).

We walked over to Dinoland so the kids could play in the Boneyard playground while Susan and I did Countdown to Extinction (CtX).  We left them a radio so we'd be able to call them out in lieu of the normal hide and seek.  We *really* like the radios.  Susan and I walked right on to CtX with no wait.  For those that haven't ridden it, the signs warn that it's turbulent and it is!  It's also way too dark in my opinion.  We keep riding it hoping Disney will make some changes but we've not seen any as of yet.  We'll keep hoping.  We noticed on our way to the Festival of the Lion King (FotLK) show that Disney had changed the Discovery River Boats to the Radio Disney River Cruise - a "music filled boat ride" - Bah!  The wait was listed as 1 hour.  Any wait more than a few minutes is too long in my opinion.  We were able to walk right into the first FotLK just as it was starting.  We noticed as we walked through the queue that Disney had finally added some fans out there to circulate some air.  It really gets hot in that queue!

***TIP*** To avoid long hot lines, go to the first FotLK show!  Lines can be an hour or more later in the day.

The show was good as always; however, we noticed the bird lady part was conspicuously missing.  It was comical to watch the two accompanying singers sit and look up at the empty space where the bird lady was supposed to be flying.  I asked a CM what happened afterwards and she told me she was as surprised as I was that it wasn't included.  Maybe they were having technical difficulties.  We were able to walk right into the Pocohontas show after that.  Again, we noticed that Disney had added big fans to the back of the theater.  We took up position right in front of one.  Poca is a cute show but isn't designed to be on the same level as FotLK, BatB or Hunchback.  People who try to compare them are comparing apples and oranges.  We ended our morning at AK with a lunch at Restaurantasaurus...mmmm, I love those McDonald's french fries.  :-)

Cross Country CreekBlizzard Beach was our next destination, home of Summit Plummet, a 350 foot body slide that can accelerate guests up to 60 miles per hour (and give them a major wedgie in the process).  What a water park!  It was a bit crowded but not unmanageable.  After changing and stashing our stuff in a large locker ($5 plus $2 refundable deposit) we were off to Teamboat Springs, which Disney bills as the longest family raft ride in the world.  We had to wait 20 minutes but it was worth it - this slide is great!  We followed that up with runs down the Toboggan Racers, an 8 lane water slide where guests lie on mats and "race" to the bottom, and Snow Stormers, a trio of flumes that mimic a snow ski slalom course.  Both are fun and suitable for kids and adults alike.  We then split up with Brian and I doing Slush Gusher, the 90 foot, double humped body slide.  Katie and Susan opted for the more tame Ski Patrol Training Camp, an area geared towards preteen kids.  Afterwards, we met back up to ride Runoff Rapids, a trio of tube slides, two open and one completely closed and *dark*.  The boys and girls teamed up on double tubes for one ride and then we split up again with Brian and Susan going back to the Snow Stormers while Katie and I stayed and did the dark slide on single tubes - woo hoo!  This was definitely the best of the three tube slides.  I told Katie afterwards that if she liked that she should have no problem at all with the "darkness" in Space Mountain.  She agreed and said she'd ride Space next time we were in the MK.  Katie and I then caught a triple tube floating by in Cross Country Creek, a 3,000 foot slow moving waterway that circles the entire water park.  We met back up with Susan and Brian at the locker and, after an ice cream break, we cleaned out our locker and turned in the key for a Blizzard Beach mug (choice of the mug or your $2 deposit).

Creme BruleeAfter taking showers back at Fort Wilderness we drove over to the Contemporary for our 7:15 priority seating at the California Grill (CG).  If you've read some of our other trip reports you know that CG is our favorite Disney restaurant, so it was a no-brainer for us to decide where we wanted to eat to celebrate our 16th wedding anniversary.  By the time we arrived it was *pouring* down rain so we valet parked.  We were seated within minutes and were seated by the window - woo hoo!  Unfortunately, the weather was so bad outside we really couldn't see much except some vivid lightning and *lots* of rain.  We found out later that there had been a tornado warning but we were never told anything.  Erik was our server and he did a fine job of tending to us throughout the evening.  He brought Susan and me a glass of champagne compliments of the CG while we looked over the menu.  We started things off with a triple cheese flat bread that was very tasty.  For entrees, Susan got her usual - the tamarind BBQ beef filet - as did I - the grilled pork tenderloin.  Both were excellent.  For dessert, we decided to split the triple chip soufflé with peanut butter ice cream (very tasty) and were surprised when Erik also brought out a butterscotch creme brulee with a candle in it.  Happy Anniversary!  It too was yummy.  Just as we were finishing up dinner the gray skies cleared and it became really nice outside.

MSEP - CinderellaWe rode the resort monorail around to the MK, arriving just as the first Main Street Electrical parade started.  Our plan was to ride during the first parade and watch the second.  Town Square and Main St. were packed so we walked through the shops to get through.  Holding Katie to her pledge to ride Space Mountain, we rode it first after a 20 minute wait.  She was unsure while in the queue but afterwards said she liked it and wanted to ride it some more to "get used to it".  Woo hoo!  Big Thunder Mountain was our next stop but upon arriving we found a *long* line.  Plan B - we instead went to Pirates of the Caribbean which was a walk on.  The next walk on was the Jungle Cruise where "skipper Katie" guided us on a cruise down the dark and dangerous river.  It was hilarious to watch her - she was sure that she was actually piloting the boat.  :-)

AliceIt was now getting close to time for the second MSEP at 11 pm so we headed back to Town Square.  We were able to find great seats on the inside loop right on the curb across from the Kodak camera center!  It had been 15 years since Susan and I had seen MSEP and the kids had never seen it.  Wow! - what a parade.  The MSEP, inspired by the appeal of the Electrical Water Pageant, debuted as the nighttime parade for Disneyland in 1972 and later at WDW in 1977.  It continued at WDW until 1991 and at Disneyland until 1996.  The parade, which features a circus float with Dumbo, a pirate ship with Peter Pan and Captain Hook, Pete and his dragon, and Cinderella, culminates in a star spangled salute to America.  These flash pictures don't do it justice (especially when you can see inside the floats - look in the stem of the mushroom Alice is sitting on) but it's the best I could do.  Some don't care for the Baroque Hoedown music but really like it.  It was a wonderful end to a long but wonderful day.  :-)

Tomorrow - Part 2 of Nightmare on Peacock Street, Epcot, Typhoon Lagoon and Magic Kingdom

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