Today was an “on” day of park touring but felt like an “off” day because Animal Kingdom is easy to see in one day. Everyone tells you this, but I didn’t believe it because we like to explore every nook and cranny of every park. But they are right! We had to get up heck-of early to check out of the Contemporary, check into Animal Kingdom Villas, and make it to AK in time for rope drop. Not only did we make it, but we were first in line at the turnstiles!
When we checked out of the Contemporary, we discovered some people had added more money to our Disney Honeymoon Registry in the last few days – very cool! Checking into AKV was pretty painless, but I was white-knuckling it for a bit because non-members can’t talk to Member Services to confirm their room reservations on rented points. So at the back of my mind I had these “what if the reservation didn’t go through and we don’t have anywhere to stay for 5 nights?” thoughts until we actually got our room keys. Of course, the fact that we had a printed confirmation directly from the Disney Vacation Club should have reassured me…
We left our bags with Bell Services and left the O Mobile in the lot, grabbing a bus to AK. When they opened the turnstiles, we hustled past the row of animal wranglers they station just beyond the gates to distract you as you hotfoot it for Everest – or at least the rope to the area closest to Everest. We did the patented Disney “I’m not running” walk-run just so we could all go wait at another rope for the interminable park-opening ceremony with a truckload of characters. FINALLY we got to walk-run behind the cast members to Everest. We grabbed FASTPASSES, zipped through the line, and then waited a minute or two to ride up front.
Sweet merciful crap, is that ride fun! I know most of the other roller coasters inside and out, so it was fun not to know what was going to happen next. The theming is, of course, amazing, and the ride itself is scary but smooth, and it doesn’t feel too short. Anyway – you guys all know this already, but now I’ve caught up! After Everest we hoofed it over to Africa to ride the safari – probably the longest line we waited in on our entire trip at about half an hour. There were a decent number of animals out, but I don’t know how anyone gets good pictures from those jouncy safari vehicles. I liked how long the ride was, and Patrick liked all the details, like fake tire tracks in the fake mud.
When we got off the ride we grabbed FASTPASSes for later. I can’t remember when we rode Dinosaur – I think it was next. I was all ready for a fun excursion to see dinosaurs with Claire Huxtable, but then some jerky employee of hers sent us to right before the meteor wiped out the dinos so we could bring back a dinosaur for him to profit from. (Why an entire dinosaur? Why not just an egg? Wouldn’t that have been a little easier to carry?)
As we were walking back through DinoLand U.S.A. we ran into a couple with anniversary pins on who congratulated us on being newlyweds, and the husband said “This is what you get to look forward to in 14 years!” I thought that was sweet – and encouraging!
We got to Yak & Yeti a little before they opened. I guess they were still working the kinks out, because it took them a while to open the doors, and a lot of the people ahead of us in line seemed disgruntled about it. We, however, were perfectly gruntled! While we were waiting to be seated we met DISer Pretty In Tink in line, which was really neat, and I think Yearbook50 was there, but I hadn’t met her yet so I didn’t know. It’s a small world after all…
We got to sit upstairs by a window overlooking the front of the restaurant.
The theming is really neat. The food is… well it isn’t typical Landry’s – it’s better than Rainforest Cafe food – but it’s way overpriced and not particularly authentic. Plus they don’t have a Disney DIning Experience discount, and their AP discount is a measly 10% off up to 4 entrees. Boo!
At least they had another “stick the mouse ears on a [fill in the blank]” photo op! And we’ll totally eat there again just cuz it’s air conditioned.
After lunch we hit the day’s most popular, most crowded showing of the “Flights of Wonder” bird show. They had a neat pre-show Q & A with a handler and an owl. We got seats down toward the front of the stadium on the left. Whenever they asked for volunteers, we were shameless in our grandstanding (“Looky! Lookit us! We just got married!”) and Patrick got to be in the show!
Here’s what it looks like when you’re sitting onstage and a gianormous bird comes swooping down at you from the back row of the audience and nearly whacks you in the face with its talons:
Stoopid slow camera….
I guess some of the birds didn’t do what they were supposed to at this show, but we didn’t care – it was cute! Afterward we got to meet some of the birds. They are too-cool-for-school and won’t sign autographs.
After the show we walked all the trails in Africa and rode the train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch. I thought it was going to have lots of places to meet and pet animals. I like to pet animals! But all they had was a typical kiddie petting zoo with nothing but goats and donkeys. Boooooooo-ring!
So back to Asia we went to use our Everest FASTPASSes and collect some more. Even on our second go-round we couldn’t figure out if we’d actually gone upside down or not, so we had to embarrass ourselves by asking a cast member. (Answer: No, you morons.)
By then our Safari FASTPASSes had opened up, so we went trekking back to Africa (we wore a path between Asia and Africa that day) only to find that the ride was shut down due to “animal difficulties.” When we got back from our honeymoon we learned that one of the safari vehicles caught fire! Luckily no one was injured.
We got some frosty chocolate milkshakes and watched a group acrobats outside Tusker House. We poked around Tusker House cuz we’ll never eat there now that it’s a buffet, and then we went to check out the animal trails in Asia. They were GREAT! We loved the theming of the tiger area especially.
After our third ride on Everest, we poked around the trails at the base of the Tree of Life looking at all the animals carved in it and trying to find the otter exhibit. This turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the day because there were lots of secluded spots for necking!
The last thing we did was go over to Camp Minnie Mickey so Patrick could look for dragons. He is a fan of the idea that Animal Kingdom should have a land devoted to fantasy animals, and he heard about how they originally used dragons in some of the signage for the park. So he wanted to look for more dragon clues in what became Camp Minnie Mickey instead of Beastly Kingdom, or whatever it would have been called. I sat on a bench.
As we walked to catch our bus to AKV, we tried to call and have Bell Services send our luggage up to whatever room we’d been assigned, but they won’t do it unless you’re in the room. Duly noted.
I was disappointed to see that we faced the construction of the new DVC wing – it wasn’t much to look at, and I thought the noise had scared all the animals away from our savannah because we hardly ever saw any (finally, on our last day in the room, we came back in the middle of the day and discovered that’s when all the animals are out).
Also, the rooms in the main building are converted hotel rooms, so the studios are not as big as other DVC studios. And, as people have mentioned, there is not a whole lotta storage. Our closet was filled with a portable crib. We just lived out of our suitcases for 5 days.
BUT… you can’t beat having real-live giraffes and zebras and ostriches walking around under your balcony!
We had the luggage brought up and started getting ready for our dinner at Jiko. I had the not-so-brilliant idea of starting some laundry before dinner so it would be done when we finished. When we called to ask where the free DVC laundry room was, no one seemed to know. We were on hold for 10 minutes before we got directions to a laundry room, but when we got there we found all the machines were coin-operated. So we called from there to ask how DVCers got free laundry and were told just to turn on the machines without putting coins in. That didn’t work, of course, so we called again and were told they’d send a maintenance guy. Ten minutes later he hadn’t arrived, and finally I had to go keep our reservation at Jiko while Patrick stayed behind to wait. He ended up being 20 minutes late to dinner because it turned out we’d been given directions to the wrong laundry room – there’s a DVC laundry room on the fifth floor… And we went through all this because I feel compelled to do laundry when it’s free!
Our dinner at Jiko, when we finally got to eat it, was amazing. I’d been waiting years to try the filet with macaroni and cheese, and it was fantastic – but Patrick’s sturgeon was even better!
Also, they gave us a really sweet card signed by all the servers to congratulate us on our wedding. And we got free pistachio creme brulee. I’m not a big fan of pistachio flavoring so I skipped it and cut into our cake topper for dessert instead. Here’s how it went (note the addition of ice cream!).
I’m not sure what happened here – I guess I popped the top off and then put it back on? I dunno… I just needed cake and it wasn’t happening fast enough!