Sunday, March 2, 2014

Trip Report: New Year's at Walt Disney World [Day 4] Animal Kingdom + Magic Kingdom

January 1, 2013 - Animal Kingdom + Magic Kingdom

I had planned for us to take our time getting to the parks today since we were going to be out late celebrating the New Year the night before. I didn't book any of our FP+ reservations until the afternoon. It's been a long time since we've done Animal Kingdom in the afternoon/evening. We'll usually arrive at Animal Kingdom first thing in the morning and leave in the early afternoon.

When we arrived at Animal Kingdom, crowds were low. I checked my My Disney Experience app, and it said that Kilimanjaro Safari had a 0 minute wait. Our first FP was for Kilimanjaro Safari in an hour! So I changed it to Dinosaur which had a 70 minute wait (probably because it had been raining and Dinosaur is indoors). This was the first time that I made a FP+ change while in the park using the app, and it was really easy.

The wait for Kilimanjaro Safaris turned out to be a little more than 0 minutes... it was around 10, but we weren't complaining. Right after the rain seems to be one of the best times to go on the safari because the animals that are usually sleeping or hiding come out to play. We've had the good fortune of doing the safari right after the rain maybe twice before.

Our guide was great - she was really knowledgeable about the animals. I've done the safari so many times that I always appreciate a guide who switches things up and can tell me things I haven't already heard. Unfortunately, the four rows behind us in the vehicle consisted of a large party of completely obnoxious Spanish-speaking people (I promise, guys, I don't get annoyed by all Spanish-speaking people! I actually almost minored in Spanish and took a language immersion program where I was only allowed to speak in Spanish for six weeks). They thought it was really funny to all say, "Ooooohhhhh," really loud at absolutely nothing, and they also kept trying to stand up. At first, the guide didn't seem to mind, but she quickly got annoyed by their frequent, "Ooooohhhhh," and said, "I'm not sure if they are actually fascinated by something, or if they just like making noise." And that of course made the teenagers who could speak English very happy, and they encouraged the rest of the group to be even louder. I was upset because our guide was really good, but they were being so rude that she stopped sharing so much information.

Disney Kilimanjaro Safari Animal Kingdom



When we were approaching the giraffes, our safari guide asked that the group in the back please be quiet because giraffes are very skittish, and she didn't want us scaring them away. They calmed down for a little bit, thankfully.

Disney Kilimanjaro Safari Animal Kingdom

Seeing the giraffes all together like this is rather unusual and was a result of them seeking shelter from the rain.

Disney Kilimanjaro Safari Animal Kingdom

Disney Kilimanjaro Safari Animal Kingdom

Disney Kilimanjaro Safari Animal Kingdom

And then, the most exciting part of the safari.... the male lion was awake!!! Lions sleep around 22 hours a day, so usually whenever you drive by the lion habitat, you can barely see them sleeping up on the rocks. But today he was up and looking over the kingdom!

Disney Kilimanjaro Safari Animal Kingdom

And then in another completely rare event, a female lion came and joined him! What spectacular timing!!

Disney Kilimanjaro Safari Animal Kingdom

At the end of the safari, one of the obnoxious people behind me tapped on my back. I turned around and she handed me her camera and motioned for me to take a picture (when you carry around big camera equipment, you get approached by many to take a photo... personally, I always try to find someone whose equipment looks more expensive than my own to take a photo). I instinctively went to take it of her and her husband and she said no and motioned to take the photo of the entire group. This was getting ridiculous. These people annoyed me for the entire safari, and here I was taking their photo. I half-hazardly held the camera above my head, clicked, and walked away before she could ask me to do anything more.
Rachel was disappointed in me. "You took their picture??? You should have told them no because they're rude and obnoxious!"

Disney Animal Kingdom

After, we headed for our new FP+ for Dinosaur.

Disney Animal Kingdom Dinosaur

Rachel says that to this day, the ride still legitimately scares her.

After Dinosaur, we went to Rainforest Cafe for a late lunch. As annual passholders, we get 10% off entrees. However, Mom ordered an appetizer for her entree, and Dad got soup and salad, so Rachel and I were the only ones to qualify for these savings.

Disney Animal Kingdom Rainforest Cafe

We both got the barbecue wrap. I highly recommend it.

Disney Animal Kingdom Rainforest Cafe

Afterwards, it was time for our FP+ for Expedition Everest.

Disney Animal Kingdom Expedition Everest

I love the view from the top!

Disney Animal Kingdom

We then headed to Dinoland USA to wait around for our Primeval Whirl FP+.

Disney Animal Kingdom Dinoland USA

Say what you want about the tacky carnival theme, but I love the mood it creates in rainy, overcast weather. I find the juxtaposition between the bright carnival lights and gray skies really intriguing.

Disney Animal Kingdom Dinoland USA

We took a whirl on Triceratop Spin.

Disney Animal Kingdom Dinoland USA

Disney Animal Kingdom Dinoland USA

Disney Animal Kingdom Dinoland USA

I think I'm one of few who appreciates the corniness of this part of the Animal Kingdom.

Disney Animal Kingdom Dinoland USA

Disney Animal Kingdom Dinoland USA

Disney Animal Kingdom Dinoland USA

We then headed to Camp Minnie-Mickey (which has now closed to make way for Avatarland) for Festival of the Lion King (which is temporarily closed until a new theater is built for the production in Africa).
I love this show. The Lion King Soundtrack is amazing (I'm listening to it as I write) and the performers are great.


Disney Festival of the Lion King

My favorite part is the tumble monkeys...

Disney Festival of the Lion King

Disney Festival of the Lion King

Disney Festival of the Lion King

Disney Festival of the Lion King

Disney Festival of the Lion King

Disney Festival of the Lion King

Disney Festival of the Lion King

After Festival of the Lion King, we exited the park and headed back to the Waldorf.

After relaxing in the room for a bit, Rachel and I decided that we wanted to hit up Magic Kingdom since it was open until 1AM. Dad was coming down with a cold of some sort, and Mom had had enough for the day, so it was just the two of us.
I'm not sure why, but it took some persuasion for Dad to let us drive the car. He wanted us to take the shuttle... which was obnoxious because we had just missed its hourly departure. He then was going to drop us off, and we could take the shuttle back. "Why can't we just drive?" "Oh, I guess you can take the car." Sometimes Dad forgets that his little girls have grown up...
I think I've forgotten to mention the valet at the Waldorf. You have to call 15 minutes prior to when you want to leave so that they can get your car. It costs $24 per day, and it's your only parking option, as they don't have a self-service lot. However, there is a giant, intimidating parking garage between the Waldorf and the Hilton which would be a bit of a hike, and I'm unsure of the price and if it's limited to Hilton guests only, but it might be worth investigating.
It was my first time driving anywhere in Walt Disney World (shocking, right?), and I must say that it's very easy. There are signs everywhere. As long as you have some general idea of where things are located, (okay, maybe we had a little advantage) you can't really mess up. I say this because my Dad took a wrong turn earlier during our stay and ended up at the cast member entrance to Epcot. This is not the first... or the second time that we have found ourselves attempting to go "backstage" when driving on Disney property.
As AP holders, we get free parking at the parks, but when I drove to the parking ticket window, there was no one there... so I just keep driving. I guess after a certain hour, they no longer care if people pay the obnoxious $16 for parking (we remember when it was $6!). I parked as close to the Transportation and Ticket Center as possible because I wasn't sure of the frequency that the parking lot tram was running. I actually accidentally parked in the handicap lot, and after debating, decided to move. I think I would have been okay because it was the end of the night and the lot was empty and I doubt anyone was checking, but I wasn't about to take any risks.... and I'm pretty sure bad things happen to you when you park in a handicap space and you aren't handicapped.
There was heavy monorail traffic. The monorail in front of us was having problems, so we were stop-and-go the entire way to Magic Kingdom.

Disney Bay Lake Tower

When Rachel and I arrived, they were doing the castle projection show. We thought that we had arrived just in time for fireworks, so we went to the castle hub. After further investigation, we realized that they were about to have the Main Street Electrical parade. We didn't want to watch the parade, so we headed on for Magic Kingdom and decided to do every attraction with a reasonable wait.
First stop: Tea Cups.

Disney Tea Cups

Disney Tea Cups

We then walked through New Fantasyland and rode Dumbo.

Disney New Fantasyland Dumbo

Disney New Fantasyland Dumbo

Disney New Fantasyland Dumbo

Here's a trick to making Dumbo exciting: press the lever up, and before you've actually gone up, push it right back down. You can make Dumbo bounce along really fast, and it's pretty fun.

We then did the Little Mermaid attraction. It was listed as a 20 minute wait, but we walked right on (after making our way through the long, empty queue which took a minute or two).

Disney New Fantasyland Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid has Rachel's favorite soundtrack, so she's a big fan of this ride.

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We then headed to the Haunted Mansion. After, we put our ponchos on and rode Splash Mountain. Then after we folded them up, we rode Big Thunder Mountain. When the train came in, Rachel asks, "Why is the seat wet?" "Well, you do go under that thing that squirts water in the beginning." As soon as our train left the building, we knew why the seat was wet! It was raining! Pouring down rain! We closed our eyes and shielded our faces as we went back and forth and back and forth in the seat. They guy behind us was hysterical - "It wasn't like this earlier! Not the rain! Ahhhhh, it came in like a wrecking ball!" I think it was the most exciting Big Thunder Mountain had ever been.... too bad we took off our ponchos after Splash Mountain.

We decided to go ride Space Mountain and that we couldn't get any wetter, so we didn't bother with the ponchos as we crossed the park. That walk feels much longer when the rain is pelting down on you. We finally made it to Space Mountain, and after we got out, the rain had lightened up a bit for our journey home. We had lasted in the Magic Kingdom until 1AM and didn't have to wait more than 10 minutes for anything.

NEXT: New Year at Disney World - Day 5 - Magic Kingdom + See Ya Real Soon!