Day 153- Animal Kingdom & the Tree of Life

Today is beautiful! There’s not a cloud in the sky. It’s a bit chilly today, but the breeze is soft. It is 63 degrees and the sun is so bright! I think we will head for Animal Kingdom on this perfect day. As we get to the entrance for parking, I am surprised that there are 3 cars in each of the lines. We get through the parking entrance and notice that the parking lots are full.

As we get around the long driveway, we see that they are parking in an area that has not been used on any of the days that we’ve come these past few months. Soon, I realize that all of the parking is almost full! We park and walk to the entrance. We get our bags checked, scan our MagicBands, and enter into the main gates. Tonight Animal Kingdom is open until 8:00 P.M.

We go around the Oasis where there are many animals that you can watch. It is so cool to see the unusual birds and animals. It is beautifully green as you walk up the walkway. We walk across the bridge to Discovery Island, and that is when we notice the amazing amount of people who are here today.

One of our quests today is to see the new additions to the Tree of Life! We heard that they had finished the new carvings and I can hardly wait to get to see them! As we approach the area in front of the Tree of Life, it is bustling with people taking turns getting pictures in the midst of these new “roots.” They are fabulous! The detail in the deer and its antlers are so wonderful. There are several animals, including an elephant, a buffalo, and even a Komodo dragon! It is amazing and the detail is fabulous.

We tried to get some Fastpass+ before we came, but now that we are here, I can see why the attractions we were interested in didn’t have any availability today. It is the busiest I have seen Animal Kingdom! We checked wait times, and they are all very busy,

The next stop for us is coffee at the Royal Anandapur Tea Company. The line is very long, but it will be worth the wait. We order the Cupid’s Kiss, an espresso drink with milk, chocolate, caramel, and coconut, topped with whipped cream. It was amazing! Oh, Happy Valentine’s Day!

After we get our coffees, we walk over to Expedition Everest: Legend of the Forbidden Mountain, where we find a nice bench to sit on and drink coffee as we watch the roller coaster speed by.

We had not talked to very many people today. It seems that everyone has been busy and focused. But then, a young mom and her little one sat near us. The little one was having a meltdown since she was too little to ride Expedition Everest. I said, “Hi, I love your sweater!” and the little one got quiet as she munched on her Mickey Ice Cream Bar. Soon, she was happily talking, telling us all about her dad and brother riding Expedition Everest. She was so cute! We soon said our goodbyes and she was smiling.

We went around past Finding Nemo the Musical. A little ways down the path, you can find DinoLand USA. It is a fun place for kid’s rides, but we will stay to the right and continue around.

There are still so many people everywhere we go. I am just amazed. We are choosing to search for pins to see if there are some we want to trade. Soon, we find that we can go back toward the Oasis and search for pins near the entrance. So, we turn that way and make it to the front of Animal Kingdom.

As we are leaving, it seems that there are almost as many people coming into the park as there are leaving. It is busy, but so much fun. We figure out that it is perfect timing for us to go home since the sun is going down and the wind is kicking up. It is getting chilly really fast! Goodnight, Animal Kingdom, it has been a good afternoon!

Day 83- Animal Kingdom

It is beautiful today. It actually feels like the sun is hot enough to get a sunburn. The temperature will have a high of 82 or 83 today, and it is hot. However, the breeze is wonderful and keeps us cool. We are going to Animal Kingdom today. As we enter the parking area, it looks really busy until we see the new changes. Yes, they have refinished one huge section of the parking lot and repainted the lines; it looks great!

We ride the tram to the entrance and the tram attendant is so funny. These cast members make Disney so much fun! Soon, we are at the entrance, our bags are checked, and our MagicBands are scanned. Now, off to check the pin stroller at the stroller rental, but once we get there, we find that it is out and about. Not a problem! So, we make our way up and around the Oasis, viewing the animals on our way up. Once we are almost at the top of the Oasis, we make a turn to the left, and step across the rope bridge! I love this bridge! It reminds me of my childhood, crossing rope bridges on vacations.

Now we cross the bridge to Discovery Island, passing the Wilderness Explorer sign up station. It is so cool to find the different animals and get reward stickers! It is a fun way to make your way around Animal Kingdom.

We are heading to Island Mercantile for pin trading. As we enter, we see so many different items in the shop that we haven’t seen before! As the girls are pin trading, I browse all of the cool gifts and hats. As we leave the shop, we make our way through Discovery Island and cross the bridge into Africa. As you are crossing over the bridge, look to your right and you can see Expedition Everest. We on the side of the bridge and enjoy the view for a few minutes. There is a really cool bird that hangs out on the riverbanks here, sometimes he spreads his wings; they are so beautiful and so massive! Today, he stretches one out and also stretches his foot out along his underside. It is just beautiful!

It is rather hot, so we stop at Harambe Popcorn to see what cold beverages they have. We see Jungle Juice Slush and grab one. It is so very good! It is a perfect beverage for a hot afternoon. We enjoy our fun and tasty drinks as we continue to walk toward Asia, then cross the bridge back to Discovery Island. As we walk, I have to chuckle as an ibis sits right above a couple, watching to see if they drop any food. I had not noticed that seat before, it looks like it was carved out of rock, but the ibis sitting above them made me notice. It is a funny picture.

We are finished with pin trading for the day, so off to the rope bridge, and around the Oasis. Out the front entrance, oh, let’s check the Outpost Shop for pins! Found one! Yay!

Now, off to the tram! We sit at the front of a car, and a whole family jumps on with us. I sat by the little oldest son. I asked him, “Are you the oldest?” He said, “Yes!” I said, “You are doing good.” His dad looked at him, then me, smiled really big, and nodded. He was helping with the other 3 siblings and I was impressed with his actions. He did do a good job. See you later, Animal Kingdom; it was a very good day!

Day 68- Animal Kingdom & Magic Kingdom

It is a beautiful day with sunny skies and a few white clouds. The temperature is in the mid-seventies, with a bit of a chill in the air. We are off to Animal Kingdom, and later, Magic Kingdom. Both are very busy the week before Thanksgiving!

We park at Animal Kingdom and catch the tram. The tram attendant is so funny and has a great sense of humor. We were waiting on more people to load up, and a young man ran back to his car to get something. As he came back, the attendant called for no more boarding… just kidding! Tooti needed to run back to the car for something, and the tram attendant said we had time, so she hopped out and came back quickly! We waited for a few more people to climb aboard, and then we were off to the entrance.

Walking up to the gate, we spot Meeko and Governor John Ratcliffe off to the right. We’ve never met either one, so we venture over to the short line to get some pictures. They were a lot of fun. Apparently the Governor does not like high fives… hehe!

Animal Kingdom is nice and cool in the shade of the trees. I love the foliage! We notice how many orchids and other tropical plants grow up in the trees. It is absolutely fascinating to see how many plants can grow on the trees. Then, we grab some lunch at Rainforest Cafe. The atrium area is so cute! There is a green alligator, a purple elephant, and plenty of frogs to take pictures with in the courtyard. It is a fun place to eat.

After our meal, we re-enter the park (Rainforest Cafe is just outside of the gates) and watch the different birds that are in the Oasis. The ibis are up in the trees; they are so pretty and white. We are calling it an early day at Animal Kingdom, and head out about an hour before they close today.

Animal Kingdom now has its Christmas tree up! The decorations are so cool and there are many animals all over the tree.

We are now off to Magic Kingdom! As we enter, I hear that the Flag Retreat Ceremony is beginning. We stop, watch, and sing along. I love hearing our country and our American Veteran being honored.

After the Flag Retreat Ceremony, we head to Main Street Bakery. It is starting to get very chilly and the wind has picked up. We decide to make it a short trip since we don’t have our coats with us. So, I grab a coffee and we head back out to the Monorail. Magic Kingdom closes tonight at 7pm, unless you have a special ticket for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. The front entrance is bustling as people pour in for the party tonight.

We go up to the Monorail and the platform fills quickly. The Monorail pulls up and it is absolutely packed with Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Partygoers! As they finish unloading, we hop on, and our car fills up fast.

The last few moments of the Monorail ride, I asked a young mom and her little daughter if they had a good day. The mom said, “Yes, it is our first time to come to Disney World. I wish I had someone who knew what the best thing to do is. We only have 2 more days, and she [her daughter] loved Magic Kingdom.” I said that we love Magic Kingdom and that I would probably go to Animal Kingdom. We recommend getting a FastPass+ for Kilimanjaro Safaris; it is wonderful. Also, Animal Kingdom tends to close earlier than the other parks, so (since they had Park Hopper tickets) they could come back to Magic Kingdom or go to Hollywood Studios. She was curious about Hollywood Studios. Twinkie suggested it since they have a lot for the little ones, including a Disney Junior show. We had a nice chat and the mom looked refreshed as the Monorail arrived at the Transportation and Ticket Center. I love getting to meet fun families and offer suggestions!

After we get off of the Monorail and walk toward the exit ramp, I see an older lady on a scooter dressed in fabulous Christmas attire. Her daughter had a Mrs. Claus dress on, too! I stopped and said, “I want to go with y’all!” The older lady grinned and they both laughed! They were so cute in their festive Christmas dresses! I love Christmas, and it lasts about for 2 months at Walt Disney World!

Day 58- Animal Kingdom

It is an absolutely beautiful day. We checked the temperature for the day at 10am and it was 71 degrees. By the time we left at 10:45, it was 78 degrees, sunny, and hot! We are headed to Animal Kingdom and I am looking forward to going; it has been way to long since we headed this way!

We park near the end of the row and get to walk to the front gates! We go through bag check, scan our MagicBands, and walk into Animal Kingdom! Instantly I am looking for DeVine, I check and cannot see her anywhere. So, we go on up and around the Oasis and walk to Discovery Island. The path around the Oasis is all uphill, it is a good walk. There a various animals and birds that you can watch here if you choose to seek them out.

As we get to Discovery Island, my goal is to photograph the signs that mean a lot to me. These signs feature words of wisdom from Mr. Walt Disney, and I love reading them. The signs are posted on the construction walls that are scattered around the park. I love seeing these walls because it means that there are new projects being created, and soon we will get to see the new things that Disney is building!

Here are a few of these posted signs:

We take a moment to get Babycakes gluten free mini-cupcakes and Twinkie got a gluten free cinnamon donut. The lady in front of us is new to the gluten free lifestyle and seems a bit nervous about the whole process, which is completely understandable, it’s a lot to learn! The young man that is taking the orders gives her a sheet with all of the Animal Kingdom restaurants that work with allergies. She turned around and was concerned, so I added, “Disney is great about working with gluten free and they will work with you on this. They have even made something not on the menu for us to help us eat safely!” She was so excited and asked me about Yak and Yeti’s quick service restaurant, I said, “Oh, yes, they are really good about gluten free.” Twinkie let her know that they can specially prepare their sweet and sour chicken with grilled chicken, and it is very good! The lady was happy, relieved, and smiling when she headed out to eat.

During our stop to eat the treats from Babycakes, these little dudes showed up…

Now, off to Asia to see more signs! I love crossing the bridges to the different areas and seeing all of the sights. Oh, look! There’s Baloo and King Louie! As you walk, there is so much detail and so many things to see.

It’s finally cool enough for the monkeys to be out, so we paused for a while to watch them! They were snacking on lettuce and swinging from the many ropes on their house.

We pass by another area of construction and see one of my favorite sayings, “TOGETHERNESS. FOR ME, MEANS TEAMWORK.” –Walt Disney

Now, we are hungry! It is a good walk around Animal Kingdom. Today the crowds here are very courteous, kind, and so relaxed. We decided to go to Flame Tree Barbeque. This is the kid’s favorite place to eat at Animal Kingdom. We already know we can have the half a chicken (specially prepared) and Tooti loves the southwest salad. The manager is great as she talks to us and helps us get our gluten free food started. It does take a few minutes longer if you need special allergy-friendly food, but it is so worth knowing that the food you are eating is prepared specifically to help avoid your allergen(s). Disney Chefs are the best and we are grateful that they care so much to make sure that we are eating safe foods! Thank you!

While the kids are waiting for our food, I see a flock of Macaws and hear a cast member talking about these beautiful birds. This is the coolest, most beautiful, spectacular display of birds. This is my must see, I love seeing the Macaws as they fly in with their fantastic variance of color. The cast member tells about the Macaws and describes which varieties they are. Near the end of the presentation, she is going to send them out. I had hoped to tape it, but one loud, “Caw!” and they were gone. The cast member explains, “The loud ‘Caw’ is a warning sound that they do in the wild. With that warning, they all leave.” Oh, cool! The “Caw” is sort of like the Macaw’s safety alarm! No problem, another day we will come back and get the beautiful flight recorded so we can share it.

I walk back to Flame Tree Barbecue and meet back up with the kids. We get to eat in our favorite area by the water and enjoy our gluten free dinners.

Now, we are heading for the Oasis, I think I can just walk to the front. Just kidding! I have to walk across the rope bridge! I love rope bridges and I wait until the family in front of us crosses, then Twinkie and I enjoy walking with enthusiasm across the bridge! It is so much fun.

It is a beautiful day and an equally beautiful walk to the front entrance! We enjoyed Animal Kingdom and all of the kind people today!

Day 39- Animal Kingdom & Sanaa

We decided to go to Animal Kingdom today, it is our 39th day in a row! It is a beautiful sunny day as we park and walk to the gate. I love how friendly the people are at Disney and the cast members are so wonderful! We stop at the stroller rental to see their pin stroller, and then go around the Oasis.

We get to Discovery Island and stop to look at the kangaroos! As we watched, there were two male kangaroos sparring! It was so cool to see how they use their tails to balance as they spar and box with each other. Their tails are so very strong as the boxing and balancing is happening. What a wonderful thing to get to see and experience! As I was watching, there was a vulture sitting near the kangaroos, and it looked like it was refereeing; the moment seemed so surreal.

I wanted to find how to get to the other side of the kangaroos. We found the path that wraps around to the other side, and watched the kangaroos hanging out in the shade.

You can hear the music of Africa as we head over the bridge. This evening is cooler with the sun beginning to set.

We walk for a while and as we are going back across the bridge to the Oasis, there are so many birds roosting in the trees. I love seeing so many ibis in one area. If you watch for a short while, they will flutter around and sit on another limb of the trees, or a stalk of bamboo. Beautiful!

Now? I think that Sanaa at Animal Kingdom Lodge would be a great place to get dinner! It is beautiful to see the animals that are right outside. First, you can see them through the windows, and then, you can go out onto a walkway and watch as they eat and move through the large open area. If it is late at night and chilly, there will be a fire in the fire pit.

Gluten Free Naan is our favorite and it has been perfected! You can get the bread service with Gluten Free Naan and 9 different dips. The flavors are so varied and delicious! It is worth the wait, and I cannot wait until we get to go again! Naan! Naan! Naan! Oh, did I say that I love Naan?

Day 28- Animal Kingdom & Finding Nemo- The Musical

Today is a beautiful day to go to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park. If you are planning a trip to Disney right now, it is hot! As we get out of the car, there is a wonderful breeze on this 91-degree day. We are parked close enough to walk to the gate.

I am surprised how many people are still coming to the park at 4pm. We found that Animal Kingdom is open tonight until 8pm, so there is plenty of time to have a great visit. My first stop is the Allergy Kiosk for a gluten free Cinnamon Donut, next, Royal Anandapur Tea Company for iced tea. Then, we sit and watch people go by as we eat our Cinnamon Donuts. Yummy!

Our next stop is Finding Nemo – The Musical. This is the first time we have had FastPass+, so we get to sit way down front, second row to be exact! Soon the entire theater is full, and the show begins. It is so beautiful as the actors make the movie Finding Nemo come to life! A young family from Minnesota is sitting beside us; this is their kids’ first trip to Disney! They are so very excited to see Nemo and his dad, Marlin. I love this musical and all of the detail; the songs are so well written that it draws you into the music. Soon, it is over and there is thunderous applause for all of the characters we saw! There are even bubbles floating down from up above. Beautiful.

We pass by DinoLand U.S.A. and I love seeing the huge dinosaur that stands as the entrance into that area of the park. Then, back around through Discovery Island on the way out. It is a busy day at Animal Kingdom, and a fun day!

Since we are at Animal Kingdom, the Disney Character Warehouse is just a few minutes away, so we swing by for a few minutes and then head home! I love the Disney Character Warehouse.  We found some cute shirts and it’s always fun to see what new stock they have at the moment!

Day 20- Animal Kingdom & Pin Trading at Coronado Springs

Yay! I want to go to Hollywood Studios to explore the Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream attraction. As we approach the parking lot, we see it is pretty full and it is not quite 11:00 a.m. This morning there was a 5K and then tonight there is the Tower of Terror 10 miler. As I assessed the growing crowd, we chose to go to Animal Kingdom instead.

On the way to Animal Kingdom, we were going past Coronado Springs Resort (one of our favorites!) and decided to drop in for some pin trading. Pin trading is a fun event, especially if you are in the parks for more than 3 or 4 days. It is fun looking for specific pins. We also took a moment to look at the beautiful lake.

Animal Kingdom proved to be a great choice. The weather was hot, but the clouds were rolling in and soon there was a good cloud cover. We parked in the Peacock parking lot and I caught the Tram while the kids walked to the gate. We arrived at the same time! I forgot my regular shoes but had a spare pair in the car. I try to keep backup shoes in the car just in case it rains or if I accidentally make it out to the car in my heeled Crocs slides.

I wanted to stop at Guest Relations to check on how many days have we been to Disney World Parks. Yesterday, we were stopped three times to take a quick survey and one of the questions was, “How many times have you been to Disney?” I said that we should pick 40 and the kids said 80… they were closer. We upgraded our Disney Tickets to Annual Passes last fall and the total to date for the annual year is 83. Then, we added in the trips since 2012, and the one trip we made in 2001. So, our grand total is, as of today, 100 park visits!

There was such a quiet bustling to the day. It was laid back, and the animals were busy enjoying the cooler air. Of course, our first ride is Kilimanjaro Safaris, my favorite. It is busy, but calm today. Our time out on the Safari was longer than normal, as some of the animals were crossing the road at a slow pace. I love these days; I can enjoy watching the giraffes and the rhinos, of course all of the other animals too, but these two are my favorite. The question of the day is: Are zebras white with black stripes or black with white stripes? The Safari was about twice as long as usual and totally amazing.

As we were walking to get tea, I noticed that the owl on the Tree of Life was standing out more than usual. The cloud cover and angle of the sun made me need to stop and take a picture. It is the most amazing tree.

We grabbed a peach tea and went to sit by the water on Discovery Island to watch the birds and reflections on the water. Now, off to find more pins and head for the front area.

As we were walking down the Oasis, a lady was talking and her friends asked her what she was saying. She told them that she was finishing a conversation from something someone in another group had said; she likes to do that. I leaned in and said, “I never do that. I never say anything about a conversation someone else is having.” They busted out laughing. I love fun people. She ended up on the same Tram we were on! I know because the guys behind us, from England, joined into our conversation and I told them about the lady at the Oasis, and she, sitting two rows in front of us, said, “That was me!”

A fun day!