WARNING: If you don't love us (I mean, really love us), skip the next three week's worth of posts. We are on holiday and these blog posts are likely the equivalent of the post-dinner party two hour vacation slide show...just saying.
Today was the first day of our vacation. Yesterday was the REAL first day, but after flying all night, getting our rental car, finding our condo, bringing up our bags and grocery shopping...it didn't feel much like a holiday.
Today, on the other hand, was pure vacation fun.
It was our first day of theme park madness. We hit Animal Kingdom. My expectations were modest, since I wasn't too sure about a Disney zoo...but, wow. I was impressed. It was a fantastic day. The weather was warm (around 80 degrees). The crowds were minimal. The park was phenomenal. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised.
The scenery around the park was incredible. The level of detail is such a treat to discover. I really loved it. The picture above is Finny in front of an offering site outside of the Operation Everest ride (great ride, too).
Below, the kids are pulling a prop rickshaw. Molly is making a face to show her exhaustion (there is something a little funny about prop rickshaws, something that must be an absolutely gruelling job. "Here kids, we have a lag time between rides. Pose with this developing country's transportation...for fun!"
There were Nepalese prayer flags all over.
Even the animal exhibits were thoughtfully displayed. You can see the bat below in a beautiful enclosure.
Lukey's favourite thing was seeing tigers.
As you can see, he got close (there is glass there). He is soaking wet from the Kali Rapids ride. We got seriously wet. Well, not everyone. Somehow Omi and Molly stayed very dry. They said it was because I was taunting them. Might be true.
The tiger enclosure was spectacular.
Finny in a crumbling ruin.
We were also impressed with the Fast Pass system. We picked them up for two rides today and both times it worked beautifully. We were excited to get on the Expedition Everest roller coaster. Molly was...apprehensive. As our Fast Pass time approached, I kept turning around to see this face on my girl:
The Tree of Life is behind Omi and the kids. It has over 300 different animals depicted on it.
There were entertainers throughout the park. One of our favourites was this lady: DeVine.
She was able to blend into her surroundings so well that passersby could not figure out what people were taking pictures of...can you spot her?
One of the aspects of this park I found most remarkable was the level of knowledge the staff had about the animals. There were experts standing by many of the exhibits to answer questions. We talked to one guy whose whole job was mole rats. Just mole rats. We learned a lot about these bizarre little creatures.
This is a pancake turtle. We thought he was stuck. He wasn't.
There were a bunch of different trails to follow, along with spotting guides to help find the animals. Lukey was our guide.
We took a long safari ride. Driver controlled safari jeeps drove around a huge area. It was packed with animals.
The scope of this attraction was amazing. They simulated a wildlife reserve and the animals are allowed to wander freely. You see what you see.
Having been on safari in Kenya, I can't say that it was a truly authentic experience (there was a collapsing bridge and abandoned poacher's camp), but it was great mix of realism and fantasy.
These are hippos. Molly was very happy to learn that they are both the most dangerous animal in Africa and vegetarian. I am not so sure. That means they kill...for fun.
Crocodiles. Very large and sedentary.
Finny. Another wild animal, for sure.
The elephants were Molly's favourite.
I think Lukey bought the whole experience hook, line and sinker. He is a safari master tonight.
This white rhino was uncomfortably close to the jeep. I didn't have to zoom the camera. That's him. Right there.
I did a quick look around and asked the rhetorical question to everyone and no one within earshot..."Don't rhinos charge...?...?" No one answered.
Lukey wasn't as worried as I was.
Tricera-twirl. Basically the old Dumbo ride from Disneyland, but with dinosaurs.
Eric liked it so much, he went on it again...by himself. Just kidding...but it does look like it in this picture.
We went on a ride titled "Dinosaur", which seemed simple enough. I expected a "It's a Small World" type of ride with a dino-theme. Instead, it was this crazy, super loud sprint through screeching beasts, who were lunging and snarling out of dark holes.
This picture (which I took a picture of at the ride's exit...how cheap is that?) pretty much captures our kids. Lukey is terrified. Molly says she had her head down like this for the whole ride. Finny is eyes wide open (and sensibly shying away from a very scary T-rex).
We caught a parade.
Two shows. Both the Lion King and Finding Nemo were great, but I thought Finding Nemo could easily have been a Broadway production, it was so good. The costumes and originality were amazing.
End of Day 1. The time difference is a bit killer. We had our alarms set for 8 am this morning, which is 5 am our time. The good thing is that as I write this, it's 9:50 (6:50 our time). I am exhausted and going straight to bed. Eric is asleep in a chair and everyone else is asleep in bed. It might be easier than I thought to get us on Florida time...
Bonus picture: Imagine this scene in 0.04 seconds, when Eric asked the kids if they had seen the big snake right beside them.
There was no snake, but it was still a great opportunity to view animal behaviour like running and squealing...