Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Around (Walt's) World in 3 Days: Animal Kingdom & Conclusions

We kicked off our last day at Disney World with breakfast at Be Our Guest (I'm still amazed I was able to get reservations at all on Mother's Day). The food is overpriced ($20/person if you're paying out of pocket instead of using a dining plan), but the experience of eating in the Beast's castle is wonderful. There are 3 different themed dining rooms: the grand ballroom, a smaller ball room, and the forbidden West Wing. The attention to detail is exquisite; it's like stepping into the movie. 

I ordered a croissant/doughnut hybrid smothered in chocolate sauce and topped with caramelized bananas. Breakfast entrees come with a fruit cup on the side and 4 assorted pastries for the table to split. The miniature cinnamon roll was not quite as good as its counterpart at Gaston's. I didn't care at all for the bran muffin. The chocolate-drizzled croissant was tasty, but my personal favorite was the miniature blueberry muffin, which features a streusel-like topping made of white chocolate.

After touring the castle and taking tons of pictures, we boarded the bus to Animal Kingdom. I've loved going to zoos since I was a little girl and my expectations were high, given the general quality of Disney entertainment. Animal Kingdom left me sadly underwhelmed. The exhibits were nicely designed and the animals seemed happy, but there weren't enough of them. Rides are also in short supply, which leads to long waits everywhere.

Expedition Everest, the newest Disney coaster, seemed kind of short considering how long you have to wait. I wasn't aware the ride would go backwards and that part kind of jarred my neck unpleasantly. Primeval Whirl is jerky enough that Paul and I agreed it should be renamed Whiplash. The signs at the entrance of Kali River Rapids should probably say "You WILL get drenched," but I'm not complaining; it was fairly hot while we were there and it's a fun ride. Festival of the Lion King did not live up to expectations; it was a bit too Cirque du Soleil for my taste. Dinosaur was fast-paced with great jump scares, easily the best ride at Animal Kingdom. It's something else I wish we'd had time to ride more than once. 

Overall, our trip was amazing: not too hot, not too crowded. You can cram all 4 theme parks into 3 days if you absolutely must, but it will require sacrifice on your part. Paul and I got to each park about half an hour before opening and stayed until closing; rinse, lather, repeat. Even though I was being pushed around in a wheelchair, the schedule was exhausting.

On the off chance any cast members are reading this post, I'd like to end this post with some shout outs to the ones who helped make my trip magical:
  • Patsy at The Great Movie Ride: You were an energetic, awesome tour guide. You even remembered Paul and I when we came back late in the day for a re-ride! We were really glad we got to travel through movie history with you twice.
  • The older gentlemen at Magic Carpets of Aladdin: You let us go into the Fastpass line even though we didn't have Fastpasses for it. Your kindness was much appreciated.
  • The handicap attendant at Splash Mountain: I really wish I could remember your name! You told us we would get the VIP treatment and you delivered! It was really fun talking to you.
  • Food service workers: My boyfriend couldn't carry our tray and push my wheelchair at the same time. I was worried about spilling our drinks if I tried to hold it on myself (I'm clumsy). You were all more than happy to take our tray to a table (a few times, we didn't even have to ask). 
  • The host at Belle's Enchanted Tales: You noticed I was wearing a tank top with a Beauty and the Beast stained glass design on it, came up to my wheelchair after the show, and asked me, "Princess, would you like your picture taken with Belle?" I said yes and hobbled my way to the line. When it was my turn, you introduced me to Belle as a princess; it made me feel like a kid again!
  • Shop workers: Fantastic every place I went. One of the things I wanted to buy most was pretty specific: a small plush Figment doll. It took going to many places, but with your help, I was able to find exactly what I wanted. Every one of you made it a point to chitchat with me and all the other customers to make us feel welcome. It really is the little things that make you smile, like the woman at the shop near Gaston's, who offered me a Beauty and the Beast sticker. A gift shop worker at Pop Century threw in a Lion King sticker when I bought a Simba doll.

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