Catch up with Part One of my Disney Adventures here.
I had a truly difficult time falling asleep because I was majorly keyed up, so I made use of Stacey and her “Must-Do” list to lull me in to semi-unconciousness. I guess it didn’t hurt that I had already watched Stacey on my computer at work (ad nauseam) for weeks and practically knew the script by heart. It gave my brain something else to do besides worry about the next day’s plans.
For as late as we had stayed out the night before (really, it couldn’t have been past ten but felt like midnight) I’m surprised we had as much energy as we did for our first “real” day at Disney. I was the one who had been in training for a month to get ready for the early mornings we had ahead and Greg was just kind of playing it by ear. He is pretty used to getting up early, though, so it probably wasn’t as much of a deal to him. He just wakes up, runs around under the shower for a couple of seconds and then hops in his clothes—rearing to go. I, however, had to specifically schedule my showers for the evenings, braid my hair for the next day, and have all of my clothes sitting in a pile next to my toothbrush and deodorant. (And it is extremely important not to forget the deodorant!)
The alarm blared (well, I shouldn’t really say blared—more like twinkled) us awake and I jumped up– instantly get hit in the face with the remote. Didn’t matter though because I was at Disney! Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios were the first parks on our agenda and there were early morning hours to deal with. Bus! We needed a bus. What if they already on their way and we were just dawdling in the room? What if we didn’t make it to rope drop? Let’s go! Let’s go! Who needs deodorant anyway?! (Did I mention that it’s important not to forget the deodorant?) We grabbed our magicbands and our munchies for the day and sped to one of the equidistant bus stops that we had at our disposal.
As we walked with purpose, we noticed an ANIMAL KINGDOM bus heading for our stop. I started waving my arms like crazy again (this is a big theme with me) but to no good end. We got to the little bus stop building just as it was pulling away. Dang it. I found the television with the anticipated bus times and there was nothing else listed for Animal Kingdom. It was barely even seven. That would teach me to take the time to freshen up in the mornings. From then on out the great people of Disney World would just have to take me in my most basic form. They’d just have to be happy that my body was covered. I didn’t have time for anything else.
I managed to find a small perching spot at the end of a bench and began to spiral into my own insecurities and made up doomsday scenarios. Every time a new person entered the bus stop my hands would clench a little bit more. They’re not getting in front of me! I don’t care how many cute kids they have with them. Please, please, please be going to Magic Kingdom for breakfast! I don’t need anyone else going to Animal Kingdom right now. I jumped up over and over again to check the monitor and yet nothing was popping up. The hubby saw me getting more and more tense and decided it was in his best interest to hang closer to the soda machine. Oh, hey there, INTERNAL BUS and EPCOT bus. What’s up MAGIC KINGDOM AND EPCOT…again? INTERNAL BUS. MAGIC KINGDOM. HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS…I don’t think I can paint a clearer picture.
The touring plan that was burning a hole in my pocket through the phone that was housing it, was becoming a less and less likely scenario with every second an Animal Kingdom bus failed to arrive. Finally, FINALLY, at 7:37 am, correct bus arrived to put me out of my misery. By this time there was half of a busload of people going the same way as us and I didn’t even care. I would have taken a seat on the bus driver’s lap if I could just be assured that I was on my merry way. Fortunately, it didn’t come to that and I was actually able to find a seat for myself. So did Greg, but he chose to sit in one a few down and across from me. I guess he knows me too well.
Luckily, it was still pretty early and the traffic was light. We also benefitted from the fact that the bus didn’t take the full circuit around the resort. Just one stop more and we were out of there. My anxiousness began to melt away and I really started to enjoy myself. There’s nothing quite like the lead up to a Disney day. Especially when I was nursing a slightly smug feeling for being one of the few (ha!) people that was actually going to make use of an early morning rope drop. As I sat there and mentally raced through my perfect Animal Kingdom scenario I flexed my feet and did a few leg stretches. If I was going all in I had to go ALL the way in. I was completely on track to dust any toddlers, mobility impaired guests and large family groups that may step in my path. It was fifty-fifty odds against anyone else. I was ready.
We managed to get off of the bus in record time and no one was hurt in the process! We walked/ran our way to the bag check and mentally patted ourselves on the back for not carrying any backpacks or purses. Sailing past a huge amount of people we made our way to the ticket lines. Now, it is a proven scientific fact that whatever line I choose to stand in that line suddenly stops moving. Happens all the time and it happened again in this case. But, it wasn’t too long of a line and whatever problem was solved fairly quickly. I made my way to the tall silver q-tip that I needed to scan my magicband on and made my way to the left.
As soon as Greg joined me a loud announcement was made and everyone started surging forward. Apparently it was time to go. I am happy to say that most people were more than ready to get to their first destination and there was not much dilly-dallying to be had. We skirted past the shady trees and bright birds until we reached the bridge where both left and right crowds were forced back together. It was very surprising to me to see so many people already standing in the middle of the bridge trying to get a family photo in front of the Tree of Life. I would think that it would be more beneficial use of time to get to the first attraction instead of pictures but to each his own. They weren’t slowing us down very much and we quickly left them in the dust.
If I had been harboring any doubts that the group of people that I had ensconced myself with were all heading to the Kiliminjaro Safaris like we were, they were soon dashed because it seemed that EVERYONE was heading for that ride. We were led past the unobtrusive walls guarding the new Pandora land and the currently abandoned Lion King show and continued on to the safari. The touring plan that I had put together was constructed to get as much time on Expedition Everest as possible, yet still get to see the safari. It had been a surprise to me to see that the plan suggested we go to the safari first and then to Everest, but I had promised myself that I would relinquish my control to the will of the plan that day. And I must say that it worked out perfectly.
Even though I started to get a little dismayed by the amount of people that were still ahead of us I took a deep breath and just went with it. We entered the standby line (which I have to admit I had never used before) and basically just kept walking. And walking. And walking. And when I was sure that we were going to suddenly stop and be subjected to a 30 minute wait I started to hear the murmurs of a voice on a microphone. We turned the corner and Blam! We were at the front of the line and only one truck away from our tour. Oh happy day!
We squeezed ourselves into the last row of the bus and were soon on our way. I looked around to see how the line was doing behind us and it was like watching a well oiled machine—they were stuffing people on buses left and right and it looked like there was going to be at least a few more good minutes of not waiting in line. Our driver snaked through the trees and soon began regaling us with tales of the various animals. A bird here, an alligator there, and if you looked a little bit in the distance you could see a large amount of humans bouncing around in at least seven (seven!) trucks. I had probably ridden the safari around six times in my life by that point and I had, maybe, seen two or three other trucks during each ride. I could really see how Disney was pumping us through the ride as fast as possible. Luckily we were still getting great views of the animals and ended up not being too distracting at all.
Soon I could hear a soft murmuring of voices and then a stirring of the people in front of me. Kids started bouncing up and down and there was a noticeable shift of weight to the right. There was a mama and baby giraffe not five feet from the front of the truck! We slowed down considerably and began to just skim by the mama so that we wouldn’t run over her. She didn’t seem to have the same idea as our driver because she came so close to the back of the bus she almost put her head inside. Large black eyes (on a cute body, I’ll admit) staring at me so hard that I thought I was thisclose to getting snatched by my shirt and pulled out of the back window. Pushing myself as far forward to the bench in front of me, we finally got past the giraffe. I couldn’t stop looking away and realized that I was interested to see what waited for the truck behind us (and I mean right behind us). You could see the mass of bodies rising up under the canopy and looking at the mama, who had decided that she would stand in the road and block their way. It was awesome.
We continued our journey over the bumpy roads and rickety bridges and came upon the cougar/leopard/big cat enclosure. I don’t even know. It was the first time I had ever seen a big cat in there. I officially declared the rope drop to Kilimanjaro Safari a success! A couple of turns later and we got to see both a male and female lion—the male was laying on top of a rock outcropping with his mane blowing in the slight wind. A few whispers of “Simba” later (and a couple of bars of Circle of Life) and we were on our way to the end. It was a beautiful morning that I won’t soon forget.
We shimmied our way off the bus and turned back to our handy dandy touring plan to tell us what to do next. I actually already knew what it was, but Greg had the need to see the information with his own two eyes, and I had a need to get to Expedition Everest as soon as possible. I tossed him my phone as I began marching us back through Africa and over to the other side of the park. “Oh, see the Tree of Life? Isn’t it gorgeous? Don’t stop now, we can get a picture later.” “There’s Yak and Yeti—we’ve never eaten there before, we should give it a try. No! We can look at the menu online! Don’t stop now.” “There’s the mountain! Let’s do this!”
Just before we had left on our trip I had found out that single rider line at Everest was under refurbishment (I still don’t know what was being done) and we were forced into the standby line. Hence the reason for poking and prodding my hubby through all of Animal Kingdom that morning. I had made all of our fastpass reservations for the evening at Hollywood Studios and going early and being aggressive right then was the only way we were going to get a good go (at least three trips) on the rollercoaster.
The standby wait sign said five minutes (which I didn’t believe for a second) and we decided to jump in. Back. Forth. Back. Forth. Beautiful bells. Hard to reach bells. Very loud bells. Greg started reaching up to the ring the bells and inspired a symphony with the people walking behind us. We barely got to hear the peal of the bells fade off though because we were walking quickly and without stop to the front of the line. Five minutes my behind—it was really just two minutes! As far as I was concerned, it was a freaking miracle. We were told to sit in the very last row (which I usually hate) and we were speeding along the track. My brain barely had time to process the last few minutes. I was on Expedition Everest, Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida, USA…Whoop!
It was exhilarating and it was crazy and it was oh, so wonderful! We laughed and screamed and our heads got jerked around like nobody’s business. We survived our last lurch at the exit and made sure we hadn’t suffered from any whiplash. We grabbed our stuff, pushed our way past the crowd looking at their photos and rode the ride again. And again. And again. I couldn’t say that our early morning wasn’t a success. We finally decided that we needed a break and sat to watch other riders plummet down the mountain. It was a great gesture by the hubby who understood my need to just sit and take in the atmosphere at Disney. But he got bored by the fifth round of screaming and rumbling and we continued our way around to DinoLand USA.
Now, I like the Dinosaur ride (I mean, I don’t love it—I have never really cared for the plot set-up) but the hubby loved it. We snaked our way past all kinds of information that we have never stopped long enough to see (and it wasn’t going to happen that time either) and were allowed into the pre-show area. Someone decided to be very kind to us and let us in after the movie had already started and I only had to suffer for a few minutes. Okay, I didn’t suffer, but it was nice to not have to stand through the whole darn thing. We were finally let into the last part of the queue and found ourselves which I can only describe as a large underground facility (aka, kind of like what I thought it must be like in the utilidors under Magic Kingdom).
Again, the line was not very long and we soon found ourselves ensconced in the second row. Next to a little girl who was already regretting that she had to be put into a seatbelt. Everyone tried to reassure that best that they could and before she could start really insisting that she didn’t want to go we were on our way. Let’s just say that the ride doesn’t have much in the way of build up—we were bouncing up and down and all around within the first fifteen seconds. Dark and loud. Scary and cute. Shaky and shaky. Dark and shaky. Loud and scary. Loud. Loud! LOUD! I looked at the little girl beside me and she had burrowed her head into her dad’s armpit. I felt her pain. I really did. We finally got to the end and checked for minor bruising. But not for too long because we were soon being run over by the next group of people excited to try to outrun a meteor. They could have it. My slightly shaky knees (I admit it) had a bit of a problem getting me up the stairs that we were required to climb to get out. But I made it. But I needed to finally sit down for a second.
But not really—we had plans, people! I got two blissful (you read that right) minutes in the bathroom and then it was time to keep going. To the real gem of DinoLand USA—Primeval Whirl! Nothing says taking a break from jerking rides like going on the Whirl (or as we began to refer to it—the Evil Hurl). Again, there was no real line so we just went for it. No wait? No problem. I thought it was going to be really cool to be able to ride in car on our own. That had never happened before. We got to the front gate and was immediately told to join another dad and daughter in their car. But, wait. There’s no one behind us. Can’t we have our own car? No? Oh, okay. We jumped in the car and had a (great?) time anyway. But between Everest, Dinosaur and “the Hurl” it was time to do something sitting down. It was Bug time! Yipee!
I’m going to spare you the blow by blow for It’s Tough to Be a Bug! (there will be plenty on about it later in my writing) but I do want to just take a second to reveal just how very much I love that show. It’s my favorite in all of Walt Disney World. By far. I could sit there all day watching it over and over. It wouldn’t be a waste of my over $100 admission—not by a long shot. Greg and I got to relax for a few minutes and I got to see my bestest insect pals. It was fantastic. When it was over, we shuffled out with the other two hundred people and decided to take a tour around the Tree of Life. So many hidden pathways (that ended up being closed) and fantastic carvings. It really is one of the most beautiful things on Disney property.
But, since there we couldn’t really go around the tree we snaked our way around to the new Pandora area. We (okay, me) thought we might have enough charm to get through the small door that a couple of cast members were guarding but it wasn’t to be. Turns out that the only people getting through that day were other “special” cast members that were lucky enough to be chosen through some sort of raffle (or something like that). We didn’t get in, but it was interesting anyway because we saw a parade of cashiers, bus drivers and character wranglers going through the doors. One quick flash of their credentials and they were in. I was so freaking jealous. We hovered for a few moments and then finally just let it go. Our time would come someday. Someday.
We didn’t have too much time to mourn, though, because it was time to implement the next stop in our plan—lunch at Sanaa! Our beautiful and action packed morning at Animal Kingdom was at an end, but we knew we would be back. We just didn’t know when (turns out it was much earlier than we thought). Taking a few minutes to walk back to the buses we scoured the trees for Divine (no luck) and meandered through the gift shops. A nice peaceful way to wind ourselves down.
We were already tired but we also knew that our day was barely beginning…
To be continued…
Read part 3 here.