Thursday, November 30, 2017

Our Disney Trip 2017: Exploring Animal Kingdom in the morning

While most people would probably argue that Magic Kingdom or Epcot are the best parts of Disney World, I would strongly disagree.  I saved our favorite parks for our last days at Disney.  Animal Kingdom is probably my favorite while Hollywood Studios is probably my boys' favorite.  Five years ago when Eddie and I planned our first family trip to Disney, we both really dreamed of staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge so we made that dream a reality.  We really felt like we got a lot of bang for our buck on that trip with the price for our deluxe accomodations, airplane tickets, meals, and a whole week of Disney park hopper tickets barely costing us $5,000.  With the extreme price increase in Disney vacations, a trip like that now would cost closer to $10K.  Yeah, I am glad we did that 5 years ago and felt no need to relive the experience.  Animal Kingdom Lodge is a very nice place to stay though because you get the added benefit of watching a safari right outside your bedroom window or from your balcony.  With this trip, we knew we wouldn't have the time to enjoy a Disney resort anyway so we were happy to save some money there.  Animal Kingdom park will still give you the experience of going on a "safari" and visiting places around the world.  The new addition of Pandora World of Avatar also made this park a lot more popular.  We also enjoy the character experiences at this park, including our favorite character dining experience at Tusker House, an African themed restaurant with delicious native dishes.  I do miss my many African inspired breakfasts that I ate on our last Disney trip.  Yum!

The lovely entrance to Animal Kingdom was also adorned with a huge Disney Christmas tree. 

Our picture in front of the tree of life was only mildly affected by a foggy start to the day.  Tinkerbell did help dispel some of the gloom. 

And seeing Simba, Timon, and Pumba brought some laughs as did our silly scary poses. 

We stopped by the animal sanctuary to see some beautiful wildlife like these colorful parrots. 

An interesting reptile and some pretty ducks. 

More pretty birds enjoying the lovely morning. 

We spied a Wallaby hiding in the shrubs. 

Next, we traveled over to Asia. 

And stopped in Nepal for a beautiful view of Mount Everest behind a Hindu temple. 

Evan and Brody would like to climb Mount Everest one day.  Um, not.  Haha! 

We did decide to attempt to "climb" Mount Everest to see if we could find a yeti.  He has been sighted there, you know.  Evan was supposed to be riding next to the red headed teenager in front of Brody and I, but he chickened out.  Brody was an awesome riding buddy. 

I love this brave and adventurous kid. 

Of course, my boys love visiting Dino-Rama. 

We all rode Triceratops spin together. 

Daddy got to ride with Grayson and Evan. 

Silly boys.  

I had to take a picture of my Brody and Mattox after I got off since my husband doesn't take many pictures of me.  Yes, Eddie, I think the evidence is in this post.  Thanks a lot. 

The Boneyard is a fun dinosaur fossil play area. 

Our kids love playing in the Boneyard play area. 

Exploring a dinosaur dig site. 

Mattox enjoyed running through the "cave" and getting wet. 

Grayson enjoyed crawling on the dinosaur footprints and hearing the dinosaur roar.  Brody enjoyed this spot too on our last visit when he was Grayson's age. 

Evan took Grayson on the slide. 

Mattox finds some fossils. 

And even sat on a Triceratops head. 

Playing in the water. 
Maybe a future paleontologist?  

The big boys were really looking forward to the Dinosaur ride.  I will say it was not as impressive as the Jurassic Park ride at Universal Studios and was too dark to really allow you to experience time traveling back into dinosaur times.  Definitely room for some improvement.  The photo kiosk was broken so Brody and I didn't get our photopass picture.  Eddie actually went to the desk to get his and Evan's. Brody and I did get to sit at the front of the car. 

After we completed our tour of Dinoland, we headed over to Africa for our lunch appointment.  Those huge carved doors into Africa were impressive. 

Some beautiful natural scenery in East Africa. 

We were pretty hungry when we arrived at Tusker House for our lunch reservation. 

The boys enjoyed their meals, and I piled my plate high with lots of yummy native inspired dishes.  Tusker House does a huge buffet style meal so you can eat as much as you want.  This was probably the most expensive meal Eddie and I have ever paid for and that is saying a lot.  Sigh.  It was a character experience too, but I don't remember it being quite that expensive last trip.  We really only paid for one extra child.  In Animal Kingdom, all of their cups and disposable containers have to be biodegradable and animal friendly.  No plastics at all.  The cup lids and straws were all paper. 

This little cutie was very excited to spy some of his favorite friends. Donald is a big favorite of his. 

Brody got up and danced and marched around the room with the characters. 

The boys loved seeing Goofy again. 

Mattox did give him a hug this time. 

But then, sadly, he refused to go up to see Donald when he came by our table.  All of the characters come by and visit at your table for pictures.  

Daisy is a favorite too, and Mattox didn't mind seeing her.  Grayson gave her high five and really liked her. 

Daddy seems to like Daisy so I let him take a picture with her. 

And with Mickey too. 

But I made him take mine and Mattox's picture with Mickey even though Mattox was acting shy again. 

I sampled lots of desserts, and the boys joined in the fun with the characters. 

Mattox got an impromptu drum lesson, and we watched some other native wood carvers and dancers. 

The boys got another chance to meet Donald. 

But Mattox still acted shy.  I guess I would be shy around my favorite celebrities too.  

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