Today was supposed to be our one day at Animal Kingdom. I don’t know why I only ever schedule one day there – once we’re in the park, we always wish we had more time. As it worked out, we spent the day park-hopping like crazy, so we really didn’t even get one day at AK!
We arrived in time for rope drop (outta the way, cast members holding small animals – you can’t distract us from our Quest for Everest!).
We did the usual FastPass grab before walking right on to Expedition Everest not once, not twice, but THREE times in a row thanks to one of the cast members.
The first two times we sat in the very front row, and both times we were chatting with the CM at the podium. In those short meetings, we discovered he was a HUGE Imagineering fan, just like we are, and we were breathlessly comparing notes before the ride started. When we asked if the Yeti was in A Mode or B Mode that day (i.e. swinging his arms or just standing there with a strobe light on him), the CM told us he was actually in B+ Mode, where the strobe is on but he swings one arm.
So when we got back into the station the second time, our CM buddy ran up to us and said, “I wanna show you something!” And then he led us into the ride control booth! What a treat! We figured we shouldn’t take pix, so all I have is the door, left tantalizingly open….
Inside, we saw the video monitors they use to watch what’s going on inside the ride, along with the big computer that controls the show effects. He showed us just how many of the original effects are no longer turned on – it’s pretty sad. There’s a bird that flies up at one point as you pass – off…. There are steam/mist effects swirling around the mountain – off…. and of course the full A Mode of the Yeti is only ever turned on when designer Joe Rhode visits the park. Our new pal also told us about the original plans for the ride, which would have had more mountains behind Everest and a longer track. But of course the budget was cut, and since people seem so happy with the ride in abbreviated form, you can bet they’ll never expand it.
When we were done, our friend walked us straight on Everest for a third ride, but he had us sit in the very back this time. It was a lot different! You can see way more of the Yeti from the back of the train.
After Everest, we went straight to the Safari and had a great ride. I should mention that the weather that day was perfect – I couldn’t believe it was September. It was cooler than any other day we were there, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.
Now I had heard that they do a preview of the Food & Wine Festival the day before it starts, so we left AK after the safari and dashed over to Epcot for 11am when the World Showcase opened so we could have lunch.
On our way in, Patrick suddenly had a complete mental breakdown and dashed into a store to buy a starter set and begin a life-long addiction to pin trading.
The reason he started trading is that he had discovered a new series of WDW cast member-only Muppet pins featuring lower profile characters and wanted to get them all. Like most addicts, he claimed that it would be “just this once” and that he could “stop at any time.”
When we got to the World Showcase, we discovered that the food booths weren’t scheduled to be open for business until 1pm – right when we had a hot date at AK with … Pocahontas and Her Forest Friends!!! (We wanted to see the show for the first and last time, since it was to be cancelled at the end of Disney’s fiscal year).
Instead, we wandered dejectedly around the Pearville Farm area, sponsored by the National Pear Council or whoever… Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!
Then Patrick had a great idea. Instead of going back to AK for lunch, we should eat at Morocco’s counter service. I didn’t know this was a great idea at the time, cuz the thing I’d had there on our honeymoon was no great shakes. But this day, it was perfect! We split a combination plate to save DDP credits, and it was plenty of food, and really fresh and tasty.
Let the gratuitous shots of Morocco begin!
After lunch, we dashed back to AK for the Pocahontas show. All that trouble, and it turned out not to even be the show! For some reason, the only thing on the times guide was actually the “how we train the animals” show. The real show didn’t happen for another 45 minutes, or something. So we sat in the blazing sun (seriously – couldn’t they get a real canopy and not this flimsy gauze?) and watched a raccoon walk across a log a few times.
Oh, and there was a porcupine too…
Now I love animals, so I was hoping it’d be a real cute behind-the-scenes look at how they’re trained, but it was just “enter stage left, get treat, exit stage right, repeat”…. And to add insult to injury, we hadda come back in 45 minutes to do it all over again, but this time with music and hammy acting! Oh and a wisp of a storyline about looking for an animal who can save the forest.
In the meantime…
Then it was back to Pocahontas & Her Forest Friends – and you can imagine how THAT went! (Spoiler alert: The moral of the story is, humans are the only animal that can save the forest. I think Smokey the Bear should sue.)
After the show we had a couple of hours to bum around AK til our dinner reservation at Boma. I love poking around the Tree of Life during It’s Tough to Be a Bug cuz there’s no one around…
We discovered a little info station behind the show exit where a cast member had two cool giant spiders on display and answered our questions. There was also this photo op…
Eventually we decided to give Dinosaur! another try. It’s my friend Lisa’s favorite ride, and I felt bad that we hated it so much the first time. This time we didn’t hate it AS much, but we still think it needs music!
Um, sorry there are no pix of the actual ride…. I’d never been on it before, so I had Patrick snapping shots of the queue right and left!
And then we saw…
…Mr. Sleepy Tiger…
…Lurkyloo live blogging…
Around this time, we realized we needed to be heading over to the Animal Kingdom Lodge for our coveted reservation at Boma. But when we tried to leave….
We got jambo-ed by Mickey’s [Traffic] Jammin’ Jungle Parade! Everywhere we turned, there was a crowd or part of the parade!
I still don’t get this. At Disneyland we have parade stops where they open the rope and let you cross through a gap in the parade. At WDW, if you get stuck behind a parade, you better pray you don’t have a 5:10 ADR at Boma… or a flight to catch (that’s foreshadowing!)….
Finally, mercifully, the parade ended and we were caught up in the wave of people pouring out of the park. Fortunately, AKL is right nearby, so we burned rubber for, like, 500 feet, and made it to Boma on time!
I was completely stuffed after one plate but refused to accept it. How could I have squandered my appetite on just one trip when there was all this bounty?
After dinner we rolled out the door between Boma and Jiko to get this shot of my Favorite Place at AKL:
Then we hopped in the car again and made tracks for Epcot to see IllumiNations and get dessert from one of the soft-open Food & Wine booths.
I was surprised how long the lines were for soft-opening, but I guess it’s a thing to do after work on a late-September evening in Orlando. We waited about 15 minutes so I could get a chocolate creme brulee from France.
What a disappointment! It wasn’t chocolatey at all!
Here’s me either being disappointed or being “French” again – someday I’m going to meet a real French person who’s seen all these photos and get punched in the face!
I threw away the creme brulee and decided I wanted gelato instead, so it was off to Italy.
But the gelato tasted all gritty and powdery, so I threw it away too!
We wanted to see IllumiNations properly this time, and I’d heard Italy had a great view. We staked out a spot directly behind a dessert party on Italy Isola, WAY early. Then Patrick realized he was no longer wearing his pin lanyard! So he went running back to where we’d last been and, fortunately, it was still there. WHEW!!! To think he almost had to stop pin collecting!
I forgot to mention this earlier: We have had a deal for a while that if he ever started pin trading, I was allowed to start collecting Robert Olszewski miniatures of Disneyland and eventually have the whole setup with the giant board and working lights and stuff…. my evil plan has now been set in motion….
Anyway, so we sat around for, like, an hour waiting for IllumiNations – we never do that! But it was worth it when the crowds came and we had the bestest view of the show ever – we could even see Wishes fireworks in the distance! The only thing was, the lights on the globe kept cutting out. But otherwise, it was fabulous, and I declare Italy a prime viewing spot for IllumiNations!
(That’s Wishes on the left)