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A 30-something living in the foothills of the Virginia mountains; I'm saved by grace, addicted to coffee and my little sister is my best friend! I devote most of my time to exploring, reading, attending as many Nationals games as possible and documenting life here. My Prince Charming got lost somewhere along the way...but I'm trying to remain hopeful that true love exists.

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Friday, August 1, 2014

The Orlando Experience - Going Wild

The Animal Kingdom was our Wednesday experience and let me tell you, you've got to get up pretty early to go hang out with the animals! How early you might ask? Why, 6 AM my dear! The park opened just for Disney resort guests from 7-9 and since there are relatively few rides at The Animal Kingdom, you can get a lot accomplished in two hours with only a certain amount of people in the park...

So, we rose at the crack of dawn (literally...dawn was cracking on the horizon) and caught the delightful Disney transportation bus to the kingdom of the animals so we could go wild! Let me tell you, at 6:20 AM the lobby of the Wilderness Lodge is deserted - it's amazing.

The sun rising over the trees at the Wilderness Lodge!

The Animal Kingdom - I love it!

The "magic" of the magic bands - if there hadn't been people in line behind me, I'd have taken another picture that showed it turn green...as in, green means GO!

The Tree of Life - as well as some renovation things...
The first place we went was straight to Expedition of Everest - a ride I was planning to ride but I had another moment of weakness (a moment of wussness?) and decided I'd pass. I have issues with heights, drops and basically just the general issue of being a pansy....oh well, such is life. I got good pictures though! The family rode twice in a row and then we were able to go to Dino-Land and ride Dinosaur, Primeval Whirl and Triceratops Spin...by the time 9 AM rolled around, we'd rode everything but Kilimanjaro Safaris and Kali River Rapids! Not bad if I do say so myself!

Can you spot the three Summerlins in this picture?

Riding Dinosaur - I'm not sure what kind of face I'm making but I'm assuming I thought a Dinosaur was about to eat me...

Taking a Triceratops Spin!

Everyone climb in - we're heading to Dino Land!
Since we'd finished up so much before 10 AM even rolled around, we were able to stroll through the Maharajah Jungle Trek, stopping to look at Komodo Dragons, sadly not bats (it was too hot) and tigers...as well as some smaller animals! I especially love this trek because I do love big cats and the tigers were pretty active on the day we were in the park. I also love the set-up and design of the trek; it really does seem like you've been set down in the middle of an Indonesian jungle. It was nice to step away from the hustle and bustle of the park and into the "wilderness" a little bit. It was also nice to enjoy this trek because when we took the walk through the African section of the park later in the day, there were so many people it was like being in a herd of cattle. Yikes!

A tiger enjoying his nap in a patch of shade.

Tibetan prayer flags throughout the trek...so pretty. Sadly there wasn't much a breeze to ruffle them.

We also spent a cool thirty minutes watching The Festival of the Lion King - such an awesome show!
The last thing we did before going to lunch was to climb onto a jeep and take a safari through the African wilderness - although we did have a slight hiccup at the start. The first safari jeep we climbed onto only got about a hundred yards before a loud, tinny alarm started going off and nothing our guide could do made the alarm cut off...so, we got to experience the safari emergency bail out system! A Disney cast member brought over a ladder that hooked into the side of the safari jeep and slid it down from row to row, helping everyone disembark. We were loaded into the next jeep that came through and off we went - and I have to say, I think in the three times we've done this "ride" (if you can even call it that) at Disney, this may have been our best time - we saw so many animals and really had a great time!

We followed our safari with lunch at Tusker House with a character lunch with Mickey, Donald, Daisy and Goofy - and yes, we took pictures with all of them! I loved this restaurant because it was set up to look like an African outdoor market and had a mix of American and African favorites to munch on!

The safari jeep meltdown...eek!

Just taking a soak on a boiling hot day!

Check out those giraffe! They were everywhere!

These white rhino crossed right in front of our jeep and kept right on going...we certainly weren't cramping their style!

Ostrich alert!

Elephants were also all over the place and they were also running around, which was neat to see!

Hanging with the main mouse during our lunch at Tusker House!
Wednesday was a warm day to say the least and after lunch my parents decided they would head back to the Lodge for the afternoon - we'd ridden everything but Kali River Rapids: we had a Fast Pass for 3:30 and thought we'd ride it early but the wait time was 120 minutes, so they decided to pass on that ride. Lindsey and I struck out across the park with a plan: Lindsey would ride Everest for a fourth time (yes, fourth) then we would go see the Finding Nemo show at 3, then ride Kali River Rapids with our Fast Pass. Once we'd done that, we were planning to hop a bus back to Hollywood Studios for more rides, supper and catching the showing of Fantasmic and the Frozen Fireworks we missed on Monday night because of the rain. Surprisingly, every aspect of our plan worked out perfectly!

I found the Yeti while I was waiting on Lindsey in Serka Zong....

Fish are friends...not food!

This gentleman drew Winnie the Pooh with the water from his bucket - & Lindsey & I stood there watching in amazement.

Lindsey and I got to Hollywood Studios quick as a breeze, jumped right onto Star Tours for a second time (and had a completely different ride than we'd had on Monday - hello Darth Vader!) then watched Jedi Training outside the ride before climbing onto the Great Movie Ride for a second time. Once we disembarked, we met up with Jeff and Ging and had supper at The Sci-Fi Drive In and I guess we have never eaten there but it was awesome - you sit in cars in the "drive in movie", give your order to a car hop and watch old sci-fi previews and cartoons while you eat. It might be one of my new favorite spots to eat at Disney!

We finished the night with my personal favorite show at Disney World - Fantasmic! I absolutely love this show and I was so sad when the rain caused our Monday night viewing to be cancelled, so I went through all day Wednesday praying that the rain would stay far, far away...and it did! Lindsey and I munched on our cake pops before the show and once it started, we bounced and hummed along to each and every tune that played. While Lindsey rode the Rockin Roller Coaster for the third (yes, third) time I watched the Frozen fireworks with the parentals and you guys, it snowed in July! It was delightful and the perfect end to our Wednesday!

I'm freezing...can't you tell?

Darth Vader interrupts the Jedi Training....uh-oh!

Sorcerer Mickey's giant hat...I love it!

Olaf hitches a ride with Lindsey to get some supper!

I think at this point Olaf has melted a little bit...bless him, summer is hard on a snowman!

Fantasmic - the best show ever! Go Mickey Go!

Oh noooo - not a giant snake. That would be my nightmare for sure!

A happy ending, courtesy of Mickey's imagination!

Snow in July, courtesy of the Frozen fireworks - awesome!
So there you have it - another delightful day at Disney World. As if there was anything but a delightful day at Disney World, am I right?

Do you want to build a snowman?

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