Saturday, September 12, 2009

Walt Disney World Vacation - Day 4: Disney's Animal Kingdom

Birthday at BomaThe fourth day of our Walt Disney World trip was my son's sixth birthday, so we let him choose the park. Because he isn't crazy about meeting large costumed cartoon characters, he chose Disney's Animal Kingdom, where we didn't expect to run into too many characters.

SafariWe started the day at the park (after picking up a $68 birthday gift from Walt Disney in the form of a gift card) by riding the Kilimanjaro Safari. We rode in a Safari car through the jungles of Animal Kindom, where we saw rhinos and lions and elephants and animals whose names I don't remember.

Some animal pics from the safari:


I got to ride my first Disney roller coaster, Expedition Everest. I had to ride it alone, unfortunately, because my son (who was just tall enough to ride) doesn't like roller coasters, and my little three-year-old girl (who would probably love roller coasters) is too short to ride, of course. It was a pretty exciting roller coaster, as Disney coasters go. Expedition EverestBut if you're a roller coaster nut, you'll enjoy the rides at Kings Island or Cedar Point more. Of course, you don't go to Walt Disney World for the roller coasters, so Expedition Everest was a pleasant surprise. If you click the picture to enlarge it, you can just see me in the front seat of the last car. I'm the guy riding alone with the black and blue shirt on.

EverestThe ride actually runs through Disney's man-made mountain, which is actually the fourth highest summit in the entire state of Florida. EverestIt also makes a great backdrop for pictures, though it looks much smaller in pictures than it is in reality.

One of the most popular non-ride exhibits at Disney's Animal Kingdom is the Tree of Life. It's not a ride, but still a very interesting attraction, as the tree (which is made of wood) has the faces of many animals carved into it. Tree of LifeYou can walk beneath the tree, where there are additional carvings, where we also enjoyed the 4-D Disney attraction, It's Tough To Be A Bug, fearing Flik, from It's A Bug's Life. Tree of LifeIn addition to being a popular attraction, it's also one of the most popular photo spots at Disney. I actually got a rare picture of my wife standing in front of it -- she's usually the one behind the camera.

FlikAt some point after our journey under the Tree of Life, my daughter got to meet Flik. He was one of the more interesting characters we met, as she tickled his toes and he actually made the character greeting more fun than just getting a picture and an autograph.

While there weren't many characters at Disney's Animal Kingdom, there were a few that my little girl got to meet. Some pics:


My son didn't particularly enjoy his time at Disney's Animal Kingdom. He was anxious to return to the Magic Kingdom the next day. But the evening ended with a wonderful dining experience at Boma's Restaurant at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. The food -- mostly African and Asian fare, but with just enough traditional American food for even myself and the kids -- was delicious. The service was incredible. It was by far the best dining experience of our trip. Of course, he can say he didn't really enjoy it, but I think the video tells a different story.

Direct video link.

We watched two musical productions while at Disney's Animal Kingdom, including Finding Nemo and The Festival of the Lion King, both of which were very enjoyable. My little girl actually got to participate in the closing to the show, when she was one of several children pulled from the crowd to dance around the stage with the characters.

Direct video link.

It wasn't the best day of our Walt Disney World vacation, but just as every other day we made memories that we'll never forget.

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