Today was Animal Kingdom. I had heard that you want to catch the African Safari early in the morning because that is when the animals are the most active. So that was where I headed first thing, me and about 500 other people.
I had a nice conversation with the one of the cast members named Sara. Her boyfriend is from Oregon so it was fun for her to meet someone else from there. We talked about fry sauce, and how he has told her all about Bugerville. I also taught her the word “spendy”, which is local colloquialism for when something costs a bit much. She was so excited to work it into the next conversation with her boyfriend.
I was able to get onto the safari pretty early, and its really well done. You load into a giant truck and they treat it as though it is an actual safari. Even though the animals are in specific areas, they are not behind bars, you see them in the space as that you’re in. The habitats look large and lush. It felt very cool to be on.
After that, I went on the Gorilla Falls trail to see some more animals, including gorillas. They also have a train you can take to a working animal clinic. I wasn’t able to go out there, but they said today a female gorilla was getting her medical checkup. They also said there are character greetings there, including Rafiki, and oddly… Pocahontas. Because she was known for her time in Africa…?
I had a FastPass for Expedition Everest next. This is a great ride! You ride up very high! And the when it appears that tracks you’re on have been destroyed you get to the real part of the ride. This is a backwards dark rollercoaster, and boy howdy, is it exciting! And the whole time you’re trying to get away from a yeti that’s hunting you!
At the point in the ride where you stop (so you can start going backwards) a bunch of hair ties have been thrown onto the scenery. I can’t imagine that many people have lost their hair ties, so it must be a thing. Come prepared!
Next, I explored the Asia trail where I saw tigers, including babies! As well as some other animals and birds.
I got distracted by the offering of seasoned fries topped with tzatziki. It was a great midmorning snack. Both spicy and cooling. Yum!
Then I headed over to Discovery Island. They have a few animals here, but the centerpiece of the island and the whole park is the Tree of Life, which has all kind of animals carved into its bark. Its something you can looking at from all angles and always find something new.
Next up was Dinosaur, this ride has some major similarities to the Indian Jones ride in Disneyland. I would bet that they used the same jeep set up. And it has that same jerky driving that makes it more exciting. Except in this you’re tracking down a dinosaur to bring back to the future. Did I forget to mention that the jeep takes you back in time on this ride? Cause it does. It’s not as sophisticated as some of the rides, but it’s still fun!
I then went next door to Dino-Spin, which is just a little carnival style rollercoaster except that your ride vehicle spins. Not quite as fun as a Tilt-a-Whirl, but still worth a ride. There are also several carnival games around the area, and a large play structure for the kiddos.
I finally decided to catch Avatar Flight of Passage. The wait time for this ride are ridiculously long. Before the park even opened they had the wait time at 90 minutes. It fluxed throughout the day from there but was never less than a couple-hour wait. The queue for the ride is great, they do a wonderful job of transitioning from scene to scene so that you don’t get too bored waiting. You’re always looking to move forward to the next area. Now, full disclosure here, I haven’t actually seen the Avatar movie so I don’t get all the references, but I still enjoyed what I saw.
For the ride, you sit on a mechanism that is a bit like the motorcycle rides at arcades, where you actually straddle it. The ride itself is amazing and pretty indescribable. It makes it feel like you’re actually flying on a banshee (which is a kind of flying lizard), to the point where you can feel it breathing. You fly through Pandora, over the waves and into caves. It really shows where the future of rides could go!
My final ride of the day was Na’Vi River Journey, this one is a dark boat ride. All in all, not the most exciting ride in the world, but it also has some cool effects. They have animals move in and out of scenes, that look really cool and surprisingly realistic. And the animatronic Na’vi moved so gracefully it’s hard to believe its related to the old school pirates and President Lincoln.
Animal Kingdom is great! I mean, where else can you see Pluto and Goofy greeting guests together?