Thursday, January 22, 2009

Disney Was Great - Animal Kingdom

We just got back from Orlando, FL, after a nice visit to Disney World. Growing up in So. Cal., I thought that I had experienced the Disney experience often...but the Anaheim version is nothing like the Orlando version. Walt Disney bought up hundreds of square miles of Orlando do that he could create this incredible place to visit -- four huge theme parks and over 10 huge resorts. It's amazing!

We left on a day that had a high of negative five -- what a great temperature to leave! It turns out that Orlando was having some Arctic air, so the temps were in the 60's and low 70's, but if felt like Spring to us. In the mornings, the temp was in the 50's and all of the "cast members" in the theme parks had on their winter gear -- heavy coats, hats, and gloves. We wore pants and fleeces and felt so free without our snow gear. One day it hit a warm 74 degrees and we just loved it. We made it to the pool and hot tub every evening. The pool was heated to about 80 degrees. Even if it was 65 degrees outside, they swam in the warm pool and loved it (I made it in the pool once, but went in the hot tub every night.) What a nice break from all the snow, ice, and freezing temps we have been having here in the midwest.

I took 250 pictures, but will share a few ones to highlight the trip for you. We went to the parks five days in a row, often getting back to the hotel in the late afternoon for a rest, dip in the pool, and dinner. Even with those rest times, we were pooped when we got on the plane to come home!

We stayed at the beautiful Animal Kingdom lodge and went to the Animal Kingdom park the first day. Here the boys are sitting in front of the Tree of Life. A beautiful huge icon in the park that is comprised of carvings of a bunch of different kinds of animals.

Here is the back of the tree, with a better view of the animals on it.
My favorite ride of all the parks is Expedition Everest at Animal Kingdom. This was the boys' favorite too, until we went to Disney Hollywood Studios, and rode Rockin' Rollercoaster. Anyway, we rode Everest four fun-filled times. I screamed my face off and totally loved it. (I tried three times to get the picture below turned around and it never worked, so you'll have to cock your head to the side. R and T are standing in front of the Everest ride.)

We saw two amazing shows at Animal Kingdom. One was based on Finding Nemo, and it had "puppets" that were controlled by actors/singers that you could see. It was incredible. I had a smile on my face the whole time. We also saw The Lion King show, with amazing singing, dancing -- it was a huge production based on the Broadway show. Wow! Disney is incredible!

T really loves musical instruments. He had a great time playing all sorts of African drums. He bought a Kalimba, an African instrument, as a souvenir. (I had a Kalimba as a child, so it's cool that he bought one. His is beautifully painted. He also bought a maracas in Mexico in Epcot.)

Both boys played instruments with an African band in the middle of the street. At first T was shy, but the lure of the instruments finally got him involved.

One of the highlights of Animal Kingdom is the Safari Tour. You drive through open environments similar to what is in Africa and can see animals in their natural habitats, with no cages whatsoever. The animals roam as they please. This guy blocked our truck for about five minutes. We just had to wait for him to move.

Finally, when he did move, he decided to come right by the truck. Yikes!

We had a great time at Animal Kingdom. We spent two half-days there. Here are the boys after a fun filled day. (You may notice all of their pins on those lanyards -- they collected those and traded with cast members every day. They had a blast doing that.)