Monday, January 9, 2012

Winter Break at Disney World - Day 6

December 31, 2011 - The last day of the year and our last full day here in WDW. Last year on this day my wife and I were at Disney's Hollywood Studios, but this year our daughter will be with us, and the only park she can get into today is Disney's Animal Kingdom (DAK), which is why we saved the full day here for today. Also, since this is the only park which is not opened for a midnight celebration of the New Year, it will be the least crowded of the four parks.

She meets us at our room and we head out to take the bus to DAK. It is another very comfortable day, with sun and no rain ... in other words, perfect. As we travel to DAK we see huge lines of cars waiting to get into the EPCOT parking lot, and our driver informs us that the Magic Kingdom has already been closed to cars and non-resort guests. It is only about 10:00 AM ... it can only get worse!

We arrive at DAK and, following our usual routine, head over to Harambe to get our fastpasses for the safari. With fastpasses in hand, however, we decide that since the standby line is only showing a 10 minute wait - having just been reduced from 20 minutes as we approached the queue - we get on the standby line and walk almost directly to the load area. Once again we are in the back row of our truck which bounces along quick a bit, but I still manage to get some good pictures of the animals we pass during our 2 week (cut short) safari. (Photos from the safari and the rest of the day at DAK can be seen here.)

Unlike the other parks, most of our time at DAK is spent watching shows. One of our favorites is still The Festival of the Lion King, so we head towards Camp Minnie Mickey where it is presented. However, along the way my wife wants to make a stop at one of the gift shops, so while she and my daughter head inside, I park my scooter outside and do one of my favorite things - actually look at the details of the construction of the park. Many people just rush by so quickly, and never see the details that went into the look of DAK. (The link above has some photos of that detail as well.)

My wife's shopping having been completed, we continue along until we get the the theater in Camp Minnie Mickey. Our timing is perfect and we go directly in to the theater where the show begins in about 10 minutes. The Festival of the Lion King has been playing since DAK has been opened, and almost always plays to a full house, and although this is still the least crowded park today, the theater is almost at capacity. And the show does not disappoint. How can you not enjoy a show hosted by Timon and featuring tumble monkeys? (Photos of The Festival of the Lion King can be seen here.)

Our well planned and well timed trip around DAK continues with Flights of Wonder, a bird show in which the natural beauty and behaviors of the birds are featured. Of course, sometimes the birds have a mind of their own and things don't go exactly as planned, but today it almost goes according to script. Again our timing is perfect, as we get there just moments before the show is about to begin.

Once done, and after we get a quick bite for lunch, we walk over to Expedition Everest, where my daughter checks the single riders line to see if there is time to ride. Have I mentioned how not crowded the park is today? In fact, there are only 2 people on the single riders line when she gets there, so she decides to ride. The stand-by line is less than a half hour at this point. My wife and I wait this one out today, and before we know it, she has returned!

Our next show will be Finding Nemo - The Musical, but there is still a bit more time until the next show, so we once again head into Dinoland where my wife plays some more carnival games, and then she and my daughter ride Primeval Whirl while I take some more photos. It's a nice, relaxing break, and once everyone is finished with what they want to do in this area, we get on line for the show. As has been the case all day, we get right in and only have a short wait until the show starts. (Photos from Finding Nemo - The Musical can be seen here.)

As always, we enjoy it thoroughly, and when we exit, it is just about time for dinner. We have reservations at Yak and Yeti this evening, and once done we decide it is time to leave the park and head back to our room where my son-in-law will be meeting us.

Originally we had planned on heading to the lounge in the resort to celebrate the new year, but once we were all in the room (and my son-in-law was wrapping Chanukkah presents from him and my daughter for their nephews back home) we decided to stay in the room and see in the new year.

Tomorrow morning my wife and I pack and start our trip back home. Unlike the cold visit we had last year, this year was always comfortable (at least during the day) and there was no aftermath of a blizzard to deal with when we got home. And unlike our last trip, in August, there was no earthquake or hurricane at home which kept us here for an extra 4 days.

Your comments on the reports and/or the photos and video are encouraged. Please take a moment and comment below to let me know if you have enjoyed reading these posts and seeing the pictures.