Thursday, April 19, 2012

Spring Trip - Day 2 - Disney's Animal Kingdom

April 8, 2012

Today is a holiday for some, and we hope to avoid major crowds, so we decided that Disney's Animal Kingdom (DAK) might be a good choice for today. (From what I later heard, the other parks were also rather uncrowded today as it turns out.)

Our daughter will not be working today since it is Sunday, so since she lives closer to DAK than to Pop Century, we will meet her at the park. Today, as usual, we get up and go to the food court for a late breakfast before heading out.

When we get to the park, I immediately get my camera out, as this is one of my favorite places to take photos - not just in Disney World, but anywhere. (You can see all of today's photos by clicking here.) As we walk to the park itself, I stop for a few photos.

As usual, we head back towards Harambe villiage and the Safari with plans of either getting fastpasses or waiting on the standby line if it is short. It is currently 40 minutes, but the fastpass return window is in about an hour. I decide to text our daughter to see what time we should expect her to arrive so I know if I should wait for her or get our fastpasses now. Since she is on her way, we decide to wait so we can all ride together. We find a table at the Dawa Bar and soon she arrives.

We get our fastpasses and then decide to get some lunch before our fastpass window opens. Usually it is either too hot or too cold to get lunch at Flametree BBQ which only has outdoor seating, but today it is comfortable so we decide to eat there.

Once we are finished it is time to ride the Safari. You never know what to expect, and today we see a rare sight, one of the hippos has left the water. I don't think we have seen that in all the times that we have ridden through the Safari, so naturally I have to get the shot. Happily it is a bright sunny day and I can use a fast shutter speed since the safari truck does have a tendency to be quite bouncy. Also, we are in the front on this trip which helps, as it it quite a bit more stable than the back, where we usually find ourselves riding.

Amazingly, I am able to get another once in a lifetime shot on this safari - of the scariest mammal on this adventure ... have a look! (Yes, it is my wife!)

We have a good driver, and she does make a few stops along the route to see the animals. Yet another unusual sighting is a troupe of mandrills. Most often they are not seen, but today is a charm. What we don't see, however, as we approach Pride Rock, is any of the lions. This is now the second time in a row that has happened, and it has been suggested that with the modifications to the safari (the poachers story will be dropped and that area will have a zebra herd occupying the space) that perhaps the lions will be moved and they might be getting acclimated to their new space, as the zebras currently are doing. Time will tell.

Since my feet are still feeling pretty good, my daughter and I decide to walk the Pangani Trail - while my wife heads to Rafiki's Planet Watch where we will meet her once we are finished.  Within Conservation Station at Rafiki's Planet Watch there is quite a lot to keep her busy, and best of all it is air conditioned and has plenty of places for her to sit while she is there.

Although I usually want to take the walk through Pangani, either my feet are hurting by the time we get here or no one wants to go with me. This time it is early enough in the week and the day so with camera in hand we walk through. One of my favorite animals to photograph here are the lowland gorillas, and sure enough, at one point on the trail, a few members of the bachelor troupe are within sight. In fact, two of them almost seem to be posing for pictures. This fellow seems to be playing peek-a-boo! (Don't forget, more of these photos can be seen here.)

Once through, my daughter and I head over to the train to meet my wife. This is sort of a homecoming for my daughter, since this is where she worked when she first started working at WDW ... almost 12 years ago now. She has since moved on to other roles within the company, but this is where it all started.

We all catch up at Conservation Station, and spend some time in Affection Section petting the goats and sheep, and then head back to the train station to catch the train back to Harambe and head over to Camp Minnie-Mickey to see the Festival of the Lion King. We almost make it before our way is blocked by Mickey's Jamming Jungle Parade. With no other choice, we settle in and watch the parade. Once it passes, we become parade followers until we come to the road to Camp Minnie-Mickey.

Even with the delay, we make it to the show before the doors open, and when they do we find seats and watch the show. This is one of our favorite things to do here, and no matter how many times we see it ... well, a show with Timon and Tumble Monkeys ... it's a must see. Oh yes, don't forget this guy. (Do I still have to remind you where you can see the rest of this photos from today, including the photos from The Festival of the Lion King? No? Okay then!)

At this point, we left the park, and our daughter drove us to see the neighborhood to which they would be moving the day after we go home. Unfortunately they don't get the key until then, but the neighborhood looked very nice, and the next time we are there we will get to see inside their new apartment.

From there we drive by her current apartment to pick up her husband and go out for a very nice dinner.

Tomorrow we will be heading to EPCOT.