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Magic Kingdom and MVMCP

MGM Studios

Epcot

Magic Kingdom

Downtown Disney and Chef Mickey's

It's a bright and sunny Sunday morning, albeit a bit on the cool side. I went for a walk this morning over to the Boardwalk Bakery for some fresh donuts. I'll tell you, they might be a bit expensive, but the donuts are huge, and they taste great!!. Being the WWII history buff that I am, I paused for a few minutes in the early morning calm to reflect on the events of this day that took place at Pearl Harbor some 62 years ago. I imagine the early morning calm day that day matched what I was experiencing at this very moment.

As I arrived back at the room, the kids and Mommy were just getting up. Deb and I grabbed a quick bite of the donuts, while Michael and Elisabeth chowed down on their cereal. It was then time to get ready to head off for a day at Animal Kingdom. Deb and I were both looking forward to this day because we felt that the kids would probably enjoy this park the most outside of Magic Kingdom. They really enjoy going to the zoo back home, and watching the animals. Being that Animal Kingdom is even more of a natural habitat domain than our zoo back home, we thought it would give the kids an opportunity to see the animals out in the "wild".

Pulling into the parking lot at Animal Kingdom we quicky realized that we were going to be a fighting our largest park crowd of our stay. I don't understand it either as this was not an EE day for the park. Oh well...it's Disney World and should be expected right?


Believe it or not, the tram ride to the Animal Kingdom gate was only the second tram ride we had to take in our seven days so far. Being that we were staying at the Beach Club Villas, we boated over to MGM, and walked into Epcot. Our two days at Magic Kingdom so far yielded close enough parking that we could walk to the TTC. This tram ride was a bit more adventurous seeing as though there were alot more people trying to crowd on. With strollers it was just that more tedious, but we managed alright. Michael and Elisabeth loved riding the tram. In fact, I hate to say it, but I believe the monorail and the trams were two of their most favorite things on this vacation...KIDS...gotta love 'em!!!

On our way in we passed the Animal Kingdom Christmas Tree, but other than some wreaths hanging up over the entrance gate, you really didn't see a great deal of Christmas decorations in the park. I guess it has something to do with the fact that the park closes so early during this time of year, that they really don't bother putting alot of lighted decorations up. No one would be able to see them. Of course one of our first stops was to have a family picture taken in front of the Tree of Life. Ok, ok...call us tourists, but hey that's what we are. It was still a bit nippy out, but as you can see there wasn't a cloud in the sky and it really was quite comfortable. This was the perfect day, weather wise, to visit Animal Kingdom. It was cool enough so that the crowd didn't make it too hot, and the animals were fairly active.


First things first. We made a bee line over to Kilimanjaro Safaris to get a FastPass. It was only 10:15, but the FastPass wait was already 60 minutes. We decided to take the passes, and instead take the trek down the Pangani Forest Exploration trails. I have to tell you, the scenary in this park is nothing sort of spectacular. For instance, as we started our walk along the trails, we ran into a beautiful waterfall. What a calming and relaxing site. As we proceeded down the trail a bit further
we encountered a shack-like building or hut that appeared to be done up as a study area for marine biologists.

As we walked through the building and looked at the the displays we eventually came upon a glass enclosed marine habitat. Elisabeth and Michael really got a kick out of being able to watch the fish swim at eye level.
Coming out of the underwater study area, we ran into a couple of gazelle family members dining on some of the native vegetation along the path. Our next stop was a viewing/study area for a family of gorillas. According to the Cast Member that was stationed at this point, there were a couple of silverbacks amongst this family. The only gorillas we saw, however, appeared to be two very young males, and it seemed as though they were very content to rest while we were there. We stayed for several minutes in hopes of catching a glimpse of a silverback, but when none came we decided to start heading back towards Kilimanjaro Safaris. The path out of the gorilla building
winds around the back of the building. As we approached the top of the hill we saw a huge crowd of people milling around. All of a sudden several people started pointing up at the top of a small rock formation. Sure enough here comes one of the silverbacks followed closely behind by the second silverback. The two of them were paying no mind to the throng which had gathered to observe them.

They appeared to be content to play around a bit before settling down. As the one silverback disappeared behind a rock, the second one decided to plop down on the ground. Here we all are, snapping pictures of this gorilla, and he could have cared less. He just sat there and didn't move a muscle. To tell you the truth, if I hadn't seen him come down off that rock formation, I'd swear that he was a prop, and not real. Time to get moving if we wanted to make it back to Kilimanjaro Safaris for our FastPass time.

Michael and Elisabeth were definitely looking forward to this ride. To them it was like taking a rid on the tram or monorail, except now we were going to be seeing all types of animals. We had a great driver. He joked around with the kids alot, and kept everyone enthused and informed about what we were seeing. We saw just about everything there was to see, from giraffes and gazelles to lions, hippos, and rhinos. Of course there was the "poacher chase" with us trying to help "Wilson" save Little Red from extinction. When Deb and I were down here for our honeymoon in '98, I seem to remember that there was a CM standing by the Jeep where Little Red was supposedly being housed. No live CM anymore...cutbacks I guess. It was getting close to lunch time by the time we got off our safari vehicle and found the strollers. We had heard that Dinoland had a McDonald's in it somewhere, so we decided to head off over there. Have to keep the kids happy, and happiness is achieved by that wonderful little toy in Happy Meals.


We decided to take the shorter route over via crossing the bridge that leads from Asia back over past the Tree of Life. I couldn't figure out why people were looking down at the water. There weren't any boats cruising down the canals as they once did. Then, I spotted what the people were looking at. Down below was a waterfall in the form of what I believe to be an alligator carved out of rock. The water was cascading from its mouth. I'll tell you if the people weren't looking at it, I probably would have missed it as it is fairly well camouflaged. They do have one of those Kodak photo moments signs up, but I walked right past it for some reason. I think it was partially due to the view I was getting of the Tree of Life from the bridge.

Is there a nicer view of the tree anywhere? Maybe the view from the bridge into Harambe is just as spectacular. But as I said earlier, there's just no beating the scenary here at Animal Kingdom.

After lunch we decided to walk around a bit in Dinoland to see some of the attractions they added since we were last here. Daddy wanted to go on Triceratop Spin, but Elisabeth was having no part of it, and Michael was too small. Instead, we started back towards the middle of the park, and headed over to Camp Minnie-Mickey. Unfortunately we missed the start of Festival of the Lion King, and the next showing wasn't until after the Jammin' Jungle Parade, so we headed over to the Character Greeting area. This turned out to be a break for us, as so many people had headed into Lion King, that the lines to see Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Pluto were very short.

It was now time to head on over to find a spot for the Jammin' Jungle Parade. As the trip has gone on, we have become experts in knowing when to pull out of our park exploring, and hunt for that special parade locale. We discovered a nice little spot on the main parade route, which had stroller/standing room only on one side of the road. This allowed for maximum character interaction for

Michael and Elisabeth. I'm pretty certain that this was probably their favorite out of all the parades that we attended simply because the characters were coming right up to them. Even the characters on the floats appeared to be looking directly at us. What was surprising to me with this parade was the amount of "families of the day" that were riding as special guests. I think I counted at least 5 vehicles with guest families riding in them. Unlike the other parks' parades, the Jammin' Jungle Parade left Mickey to bring up the rear of the procession. In my eyes this is the way it should be. Build up to the best known of all the characters. Just like the other parades, the throngs of people decided to follow behind the last float to get a head start on the rest of their day at the park. Being that this parade takes place at 3:30, there really wasn't a great deal of time left. We decided to join the crowd and walk behind Mickey all the way over into Asia. This portion of the park was not open when Deb and I were down here last in 1998, so we were eager to see the new addition.

As you walk into the Maharajah Jungle Trek, there is a map that you can take, which helps you identify some of the smaller wildlife species, birds, and plants that you may encounter on the path around the land. This made for a fun game to play with your children, if they're old enough. The first main exhibit we came to on the Jungle Trek were the Tigers. I expected to maybe see one Tiger roaming around, but to my surprise there was a whole bunch of them out and about. There were quite a few people milling around, but the
Tigers weren't really paying all that much attention to us. They were far busier going about their every day routines. The way Disney has this setup is great. You are actually very close to the animals. There is a glass partition (strong I hope) that separates you from the animals. It was almost as if you were standing amongst the Tigers yourself. The entire exhibit reminded you of an ancient Mayan temple. You can see the coloring and design in the picture above. I thought we might actually run into Tigger himself back here visiting some of his family members, but no such luck. Upon leaving the Tiger exhibit area we encountered what appeared to be a savannah of some sort. There were quite a few critters roaming around in this area, most of them
appeared to be deer of some form or another. There appeared to be some gazelle as well. With the sun starting to set it really set the entire mood of this area. A very calm, relaxing mood at that. Taking a look at my watch it was now getting near 4:30. The park was going to be closing at 5:00, and we still had to get in line to take a look at our "tourist" photo that we had taken in front of the Tree of Life earlier. So...we decided to start heading back towards the main entrance. We took our time and walked the rest of the way through Asia, past the Kali River Rapids Ride, which people were still in line for (I thought it to be a bit cool today to get soaked), and then past the construction site for Expedition Everest. There really wasn't much to see at this point. Looked as though most of the work was earth moving so far, but there were a couple of enormous cranes on the site.

When we arrived at the picture pick-up location the line was out the door. The line moved pretty fast, however, and I'd estimate we were there for about 15-20 minutes. As we started out of the park we pulled the strollers over to the side to get everything organized. As I went to go throw a couple of items in a garbage can I caught out of the corner of my eye a crowd of people milling over behind one of the little hut buildings that dot the main entrance of Animal Kingdom. To my surprise here was a character greet with Stanley.
Michael and Elisabeth both love to watch Stanley's program on Playhouse Disney. I, for one, couldn't figure out why Stanley would be at Animal Kingdom, but then I remember that there are strong animal ties to his show, so that must be the hook. I went back over to Deb and the kids, and said, "Come over here for a minute there's something that we missed". When we turned the corner behind the building, out of Michael's mouth came "STANLEY"!! A couple of pictures later and it was time to head to the tram station for the ride back to the car. Of course, I had to get a shot of the Animal Kingdom's Christmas Tree.

It's back to the villas and dinner from Spoodle's. The kids of course had to have McDonald's. This is where my off course adventure coming out of Chef Mickey's
on Saturday night paid off. We just decided that after dinner we would relax, and get ready for our last day in Disney World. The only plan for tomorrow is SpectroMagic at Magic Kingdom.