Sunday, October 31, 2010

Day 4: Animal Kingdom

Today we made use of one of the perks of staying at Club Level-access to a special Sunrise Safari. We received our invitation the previous night for the event. We got up just before 6, checked in at the lounge, then went to wait in the lobby. We were directed to stand by the large yellow mask, we never found that mask. I really wish I knew what that employee was referring to!

Soon enough people started to gather and our guides Amanda and Tim showed up. It was quite a full tour, 2 buses worth. We left just after 7:00 and got to enter Animal Kingdom through a back entrance. While on the bus, we toured along the back of all the animal pens and got off just before the Kilimanjaro Safari ride entrance. The safari itself was just under an hour. The great thing about it was that the driver would actually stop to view the animals, so you could get several pictures, hear lots of interesting facts, and ask questions. Here's a whole slew of animal photos:

Tamara took these first three.
Here are some of mine:

I remember reading about this type of photo, and since I was on the right side, I had to try!

The tour ended around 8:30, then we walked as a big group over to Pizzafari for a special breakfast buffet. There were even place cards set up with the last names.

There was standard breakfast fare, as well as a few dishes with more of an ethnic flair. Some of those included plantains, a ridiculous banana French toast (French toast, coated in banana, then deep fried, rolled in sugar and served with a banana sauce), tropical fruits, as well as some spicy sausages. It was good!Here's a mural from inside the restaurant. I wish that restaurant had a different name, Pizzafari makes it sound like a lame Pizza joint.

We tried to be done by 9:00, since there were already early magic hours (the park opened at 8 for resort guests)- that way we could still fit a lot into the day.

We walked over to Asia and rode Expedition Everest. There was a 25 minute wait, so we picked up a FP, then went to wait in line. The queue is so amazing, it's practically an attraction in itself. The exterior line consists of sculptures, shrines, prayer flags, and bells, as well signs and advertisements.

The interior line is basically a yeti museum, there are so many details, it's fantastic. You almost want to have to wait in line at least once, just to see all the work that went into it. I really enjoyed it for a roller coaster! I didn't actually realize that it made me a bit dizzy until I got off it, and I wasn't really walking straight. I took a few photos while we made our way to another area of the park. You could say I get a little shutter happy at this park...

Next we went over to Dinoland U.S.A to ride Dinosaur. It had a 5 minute wait posted, but it ended up being a bit closer to 10. At that point they were only loading cars from one side, so that explained the slower load time. I was looking forward to riding it again for a couple of reasons. First, I didn't remember the ride at all. Second, it's described as being a clone of Disneyland's Indiana Jones ride (the ride itself, not the theming), so I wanted to compare them. Indiana Jones is definitely the superior ride, there's just more to see during the ride and it's not as stressful of a story. Now, I'm not saying the story stressed me out, it's just this whole race against time thing with Dinosaur, whereas with Indy it's just like you're part of one of the adventures.

We went to the Nemo musical after. It was so cute, it even made me tear up in a few spots. The costumes are so detailed, really beautiful! The songs are cute and go well with the original story.

We made it back to Everest at exactly 11:10 (which was when our FP was due to expire). Tamara wasn't too concerned. It's apparently very rare for them to turn you away for having a late FP. However, I didn't really feel like finding out. After the ride, we picked up a new FP for Kilimanjaro Safari (so we could ride it the "traditional" way) and basically ambled (aka I took pictures while Tamara waited for me) around the park until 12:00.

At 12:00 we headed over to Yak & Yeti for our lunch reservation.

We figured we wouldn't be that hungry (and we figured correctly), so we ordered drinks and two appetizers to share.
Here's my Cherry Shaved Ice Martini.

The Dim Sum Basket for Two (still confused-if it's meant to be shared by 2 people, why aren't there even numbers of everything! Since we had cutlery we just cut the odd numbered ones in half, problem solved, but still!)
And the Lettuce Cups. Since it's a construct your own type of dish, there's only a photo of the finished product.

After lunch we went to use our FP for the safari. The early morning one was definitely better as far as animal sightings go, however, we did get to see the cheetahs this time. Three of them were lounging in the shade.

We didn't quite make it for the 1:30 show of Festival of the Lion King, so we checked out some of the trails.

We made it to the 2:30 showing of the Lion King. The seating was somewhat poorly organized. We were probably in the middle-front of the line, so I expected an okay spot. First we were directed to one section, but then it filled up, then we directed to another, but that one filled up, so when Tamara saw 2 spots at the end of one of the rows we just sat there. They save the one section near the front for late comers, even though it's better seating. I was just a tad disappointed. It was an adequate spot as far as viewing the show, it was a terrible spot for trying to take pictures. It was also a really smelly spot. Someone near us had brutal gas and the floats that come out also smell gross, kind of like an old car garage. I realize this all sounds a bit negative, but the show is really well done, there's great singing, gymnastics, acrobats, and the costumes are great!

Our last ride of the day was It's Tough to Be a Bug. We sat in the 2nd row. I didn't even bother putting on the 3-D glasses, it was way too hard to focus. You can get the general idea from the show without them. It's a really intense show, I didn't remember it being that crazy. There is an awful lot of stuff that comes shooting out at you. I was a little surprised, the two kids in front of me actually did the grabbing at the air thing, cute!

Also, while we were in line, there's a buggy style soundtrack playing. It started playing Tomorrow, from Annie, and a whole bunch of people randomly started singing along. It was a bit strange, as I don't think they were all together.

We managed to leave the park just before the parade and checked out the Rainforest Cafe Shop. I finally found a giraffe that I was happy with! Yay!

We arrived at the hotel just in time for tea time at the lounge. While we were there, we tried to get our dinner reservation changed. We were told that we could just go in as a walk up and we'd be seated. Nice! We walked over to Kidani Village from Jambo House. It seemed short at first, but then we realized it was actually a bit of a roundabout, so it took a bit longer than expected, still under 10 minutes though. There are some really neat decorations at Sanaa.

We started with the Bread Service-Naan, Onion Kulcha, Paneer Paratha with sauces Garlic Pickle, Cucumber Raita, and Roasted Red Bell Pepper Hummus.

For dinner I had Seared Paneer Cheese with Dahl, Peas, and Vindaloo Tomatoes and
Tandoori Chicken with Apricot Chutney and Five Grain Pilaf.

Tamara had Today’s Sustainable Fish (which was Salmon) with Shrimp and Scallops served with seasonal Vegetables in a light Curry Broth.

We decided to head straight to Epcot from Kidani Village. We went to Spaceship Earth first, which was basically a walk on. I still had the 50mm lens on so I took a stab at taking a few more "dark ride" photos.

We decided to venture into World Showcase since both entries didn't seem so bad. It ended up being just as busy in spots though. The food booths weren't that busy, but there were a lot of drunk and drinking people around. I think I'll take families (even ones that stop in the middle of a pathway and consult their map) over drunk, obnoxious adults any day. I still managed to get a few shots along the way. It really is just as pretty at night! Although it's always nighttime in Mexico...
There was a nice sunset over the lagoon.

Italy has some nice architectural features.

In Japan, you have tourists trying to pose like ninjas (and failing, as they cannot maintain any sort of balance.)

Tamara got a few desserts in France. I was planning to get something too, but since Tamara had ordered 2 things, I guess it was assumed that I was with her. They took the next person in line, and then another. I was a little annoyed, so I took a few photos of the display, since I was there, then left. Key Lime Pie anyone?
How about a Cream Puff or Chocolate Pastry thing?

We came back to the resort, I checked out the Mara (the Quick Service restaurant) for a possible dessert, but besides more Zebra Domes, there wasn't anything too special. So we went up to the lounge and enjoyed some of the dessert selection there instead. There were some chocolate mousse in chocolate shells and guava or passionfruit jellies (really good!)

That wraps up another day. Tomorrow would bring the "official" Hollywood Studios day. In case it wasn't obvious, the first few days were pretty much each dedicated to a single park. The second half of the trip was much less planned in that sense.

Here's a little exterior Spaceship Earth to end on!

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