So I woke up at 4AM, bright and early, ready to go. Mainly this was because I was exhausted after 2 days of driving and arriving here only to swim and tear around the resort, so I went to sleep at 8. Same thing happened today, fell asleep last night around 9pm, and here I am up at 4! Ugh!
Leah woke up around 6:30 and demanded I go back to sleep, so I did for a while. She watched movies on the iPad till about 7:30 and then decided she wanted to go look around. We got dressed, grabbed our cups and headed out to see all the different areas of the hotel. I loved, loved, loved 101 Dalmations and still do so I was excited to see Pongo and Perdy standing guard outside that area, and Herbie the Love Bug has also always been one of my favorites, so it was fun seeing him! Leah organized some races, meaning she ran and I chased her, around and around and around the Love Bug area, until I finally coaxed her back to the room around 8:45. we quickly packed our brown bag lunch and headed to the car.
The nice thing about Disney is that, so long as you want to go elsewhere on the Disney property, it’s all very well marked. We got to the Animal Kingdom in about 2 minutes, so I think it’s worthwhile to drive to the parks with the car. Our resort pass was our ticket to park for free and we arrived at Will Call and got our passes for the parks no problem whatsoever.
The Animal Kingdom is the largest of the 4 Disney theme parks. I decided to explore without the map, and we just sort of followed the crowd. We wound up on the African section and decided to go to the Kilimanjaro safari to see the animals. Basically you climb aboard a big truck and drive around for a good while, maybe 30 minutes? and see the animals. All the animals seemed to be on the right side of the truck and Leah had sat on the left, so that required a bit of shifting, but otherwise we enjoyed the safari very much. We saw elephants, rhinos, hippos, a sleeping lion, giraffes, gnu, and all kinds of stuff I don’t remember the names for. It was a lot of fun and she enjoyed it a lot.
After that, we strolled around some more and found a little train ride over to Discovery Island or something so we took that. There wasn’t anything to see except posters for Disney’s new movies, and the whole ride took about 2 minutes. Leah didn’t want to get off and go see Rafiki. So we took the train back, picked up the stroller and decided to go to see Mickey and Donald over at Camp Minnie Mickey. We were waylaid by a very enthusiastic Discovery Station employee who wanted Leah to reach into a log and see what she could feel. She flatly refused and hid under my shirt. Thankfully another kid came along and did the searching and then we listened to a short lecture on how animals protect themselves. She got a little Discovery pass and a stamp, and that was just fine, thank you very much, but we have Mickey Mouse to see!
We got over to the greeting trails as they are known there and got on the Mickey line. Mickey had just gone in to take a break, so we had to wait MAYBE 2 minutes for him to come back out. we were about 15th in line and when Mickey re-emerged, there were about 200 people behind us, but Leah was PISSED that we had to wait. Still, I made her be patient and she muscled through it. We got up to Mickey and she staunchly refused to go up to him unless I came with her. So I managed to get in those pictures, anyway! She shook his hand and then we posed for pictures and Mickey charmingly kissed my hand. Then the photographer pointed out Leah’s little puffs looked like Mickey’s ears, and so Mickey obligingly went wild over Leah’s hair, which thrilled her to no end.
We said goodbye to him and went over to King Louie and Baloo. Same thing, I had to go with her for pictures, but this time no cast member took our picture, so I’ll have to grab that off the PhotoPass website eventually. Then I saw the line for Donald Duck was very short, so we went to see Donald and she was actually fine being alone with Donald, which I was surprised about! I don’t know if it’s the cartoon voice or what, but I’ve always found Donald mildly terrifying, so I was proud of her to be so brave! Unfortunately my camera was on the wrong setting, but there was no line to go see Donald again, so I made her go back and pose and Donald was very nice about it and I got a good picture.
After that, she decided she wanted nothing to do with any more of the meet and greet stuff—she saw Pocahantas but didin’t want to wait in line, same with Minnie Mouse, Goofy and Pluto, and Chip and Dale. So we grabbed the stroller and decided to go over to Asia since there was a rapids ride that she was tall enough to go on. Unfortunately it was closed, and we just missed the flying bird show, so we walked over to Dinoland USA and rode the flying triceratops ride, which is like the famous Dumbo ride at Magic Kingdom, only dinosaurs. It was OK except our dinosaur didn’t go up and down, which was a disappointment. We left there and she wanted to go on a nearby ride that seemed to be a cross between a tea cup thing and a roller coaster, but unfortunately she wasn’t tall enough. So we found the Dinosaur ride and decided to go on that. Basically the idea is that you are working with a rogue paleontologist to go and get an iguanadon just before the meteor crash that killed all the dinosaurs. you board a Humvee type vehicle and go through. Had I realized what it was, I would have skipped it, but at the time it seemed like a good idea given the lack of much else to do. It was a lot of dinosaurs roaring in your face, black lights, strobe lights, loud noises, and the vehicle bounces all over. I looked at Leah and she was holding on for dear life with her eyes squeezed shut. Thankfully it was a 2 minute thing and it was over but she announced her intention never go to on such a thing again.
By now it was only noon. Leah didn’t’ want to go on the walking trails to see the animals and really, I was kind of disappointed in that there didn’t seem to be much really “to do” there. It’s a BEAUTIFUL place to go and look at, but if your kid doesn’t care much about seeing the animals, you’re kind of out of luck. So we found an obliging bench, broke out our picnic lunch, and discussed our next move. She said she just wanted to go back to the hotel and go swimming, which was fine with me.
As we were following the exit signs, I happened to see that we were just in time for the Finding Nemo musical show, and I convinced her to go see that, and I’m glad I did. It was Broadway quality as far as I was concerned. I’ve never seen the movie, but the stage show was pretty incredible. Leah’s favorite part was the bubbles coming down at the end, and after every single song, she’d ask me, “Is it over?” so I don’t know that she liked it very much, but I loved it!
It still took us almost an hour to get back to the park exit, so we got back to the hotel around 2pm. All in all, the Animal Kingdom is OK, but I didn’t love it and I don’t think it really lived up to my expectations of it. There is not a whole lot “to do” and it turns out my kid is more of a do-er and not a see-er, so unless that changes, I don’t foresee us going back any time soon.
I collapsed on the bed for a few minutes, but I had seen the housekeeping cart only 2 rooms away so I knew our time to relax was going to be limited.
Sure enough, about 10 minutes later, there was a knock on the door, so I told the lady we would be out in just a minute and got Leah to change into her bathing suit and off we went to the pool. We rented a lifejacket for the week so she could swim more independently and then swam for almost 2 hours. It was cooling off considerably and my teeth were chattering when we finally got out. We wrapped up in towels and I got Leah’s shoes on her, turned around to pack up the bag, and she was gone. Just like that. I couldn’t find her anywhere. I knew she wasn’t in the pool because the lifeguards are excellent about that sort of thing, but I searched under tables, in the shrubs, everywhere and the kid was gone. Finally after 3 or 4 minutes, I contacted a nearby security guard for help and he seemed very unconcerned about it. He looked around a bit, but not with any sense of urgency. I was fighting panic, when out from inside the hotel, Leah strolls, crying. Apparently she had run in there and then gotten confused and scared.
Needless to say, she remained firmly attached to me as I marched her back to the hotel and she was in a firm time out for quite some time. Mama was NOT happy. We had a stern lecture about running away, but the minute we headed out for the gift shop and dinner an hour later, she took off again. So I caught her and grabbed her and made her walk march step with me and she is now aware she will spend today on the kid leash, something I did not have to resort to yesterday. Grrr. We visited the gift shop at the hotel and she zeroed in on a hot pink tie dyed t-shirt without which nothing else would do, and I got her some flip flops to wear to the pool. I regained control of my senses enough to say “no way!” to the $90 Cinderella castle. Then we headed over to the cafeteria for dinner, where Leah decided she wanted a salad and I got a quesadilla.
sure enough, she had to go potty shortly thereafter, so we gathered up our stuff and headed into the bathroom I hung our cups on the bag hook on the back of the door, and she decided to play with the door while I was ‘indisposed’, and one of the cups fell off the hook and spread soda all over the floor. AUGH! I made her get paper towels and clean it up, and after we got it cleaned up, I grabbed the other cup and our bag and sure enough, the other cup fell to the ground and Leah’s orange drink went everywhere. Gawd, I was mad at myself!!! AUGH! And one of the cups broke, darn it!
After that fiasco, we came back to the room and watched TV. I was exhausted, got everything hung up and settled down for the evening, and decided that Leah could finish her movie and then it was bed time, when there was a knock on the door. I looked through the peephole and all I could see were balloons. COOL! So I opened up and a man was there with balloons, a Rapunzel doll, and an autograph book. He gave everything to Leah and I asked him who had sent it and he said they came from the front desk. I thanked him profusely and he left, and then I had to prevent Leah from all but gnawing through the box in her excitement to free Punzel from her cardboard prison. she managed to pop one of the balloons up on the cottage cheese ceiling, but that just made her laugh more than anything, and she played with Punzel for quite a while. Around 7:30, I told her it was lights out and I went to take a shower. When I came back into the bedroom area, she was passed out and snoring like a man, fully under the covers, not even her hair poking out. So I’d say she was good and tired.
So I sat up till about 9:30 and then I turned in as well. I am REALLY looking forward to today’s adventure, EPCOT, which is my personal favorite of all the Disney parks. I am excited to find out the Maelstrom has no height requirements, I know she’ll love Imagination, and there are just so many great rides over there, plus they have a new Phinneas and Ferb thing that will drive her wild. So I think we’ll have a fun day and will probably take a break mid-day like today, only we will go back to EPCOT later on rather than just sit around the hotel. Although frankly, Leah LOVES this hotel, so maybe it’s not such a bad thing!