Florida Vacation Day 9: Animal Kingdom

I so enjoyed Epcot and the Magic Kingdom that the bar was set SUPER high for Animal Kingdom to have any chance at all of being a favorite park. Being the last day of vacation, the fourth Disney park experience, and THE most hot and humid days of our trip - well, we didn't enjoy it as much as we should have. I'm going to chalk this up as something else that we'll enjoy WAY more next time. It just wasn't in the stars for us, Animal Kingdom! The park is gorgeous and it's home to some pretty awesome stuff, though, beginning with the Tree of Life:Blog01 You really do feel like you've been transported to another country in Animal Kingdom. Unfortunately, it's so real that I'm seriously wondering whether Disney has humidity specially pumped into the place. ;) Blog02 The first thing we did was head straight to the back of the park to get Fast Passes for the Kilimanjaro Safari, which we knew would be awesome. Once we got there, the line didn't actually seem to be all that bad, so we decided to get in line. I'm not sure if that was a mistake or not, honestly. We were in line quite a while, and whereas I'd been pleasantly surprised at the other parks with how the lines were shaded and cooler (with fans or air conditioning), well this line was rarely shaded and NEVER cooled in any way, even when fans could have easily been put into place. It was early in the day, and by the time we made it to the ride, everyone already seemed pretty run down! The tour itself was really cool! It's pretty amazing to see all of these animals and plants and surrounds that are native to Africa, right there in Florida!Blog07Blog08 Our next stop was "It's Tough to be a Bug," a 4-D show inside the Tree of Life. It was pretty cute, but some of the kiddos in our party were a little scared by it. It was definitely a welcome break from the sun and heat and humidity though, and it had some very fun and interesting little surprises!

After the show, it was time for lunch at the Rainforest Cafe. Brad and I had been before, so we knew what to expect, but the kids didn't. Some of them seemed to really enjoy it. Mollie really liked the fish tanks, but that was about it. Natalie was so leery of the periodic rainstorms where the animals "come to life" that what she really wanted was for me to hold her while we looked - or not walk around at all. She's just too heavy for me to do that at this point, so we ended up just heading back to our table. The food was really good, and we decided to combat the $$ by sharing a burger and having the girls share a kid's meal. After we ate, we wandered around in the gift shop quite a bit and let the girls pick out a new stuffed monkey, so they were super excited about that. :)Blog03 We planned to watch The Festival of the Lion King show that started in about an hour, so we decided to take the opportunity to finally go meet Minnie! Her line didn't seem to be all that long, but it felt like we waited quite a while, and again, the weather was just...not enjoyable. I wished Minnie had been wearing her red polka dot dress, but her Jungle gear was pretty cute. Minnie was very expressive, and it was fun watching her interact with the kids. Mollie, true to fashion, gave us a chuckle because she got out of the stroller to give Minnie her autograph book, but she literally tried to hand it to her from about five feet away. :) Brad jumped in to help her out and hold her for a picture with Minnie. She's totally grinning in the picture, but the only way she would take it was being held by Daddy. :)Blog04Blog05 The girls wanted to try to see Goofy, but we really didn't have time. I didn't realize until we got home that Mollie is so into Goofy. I asked her why, and it's because of his ORANGE shirt! I should have known - that's her favorite color! :) So we headed over to the entrance of the show. Again, I was so disappointed - there was absolutely nowhere to sit, and no shade at all, just a big open area for people stand in the heat and sun. I kind of hate being so negative about this part of our experience, but it's true and it was really not fun. We were SO excited when they began letting us into the theater! It felt WONDERFUL to be in a dark air conditioned room! They had 4 people going around teaching the audience how to do the Hand Jive, starting with our section, and they asked for volunteers to go help teach the others. Aubrey jumped up, and to our surprise, Natalie went with her! Try as I might, I couldn't get good pictures, but it was fun watching them! The entire Lion King show was awesome - it did not disappoint in the least! The music was wonderful, the sets and the costumes were gorgeous, and everyone was incredibly entertaining! A definite must-see at Animal Kingdom!Blog06
Our girls actually started nodding off at the end of the show, so we decided to just head home. The next Nemo show wasn't for a while, we were so hot, and none of the other attractions really stuck out to us as must-see, especially not with how tired we all felt. Our family stopped in a gift shop and we let the girls each pick out a souvenir. Natalie chose a plush baby Ariel doll wrapped up in a blue blanket and Mollie chose a baby Minnie wrapped in a pink blanket. We spent quite a bit of time in the store waiting out some rain and picking out a couple thank-you gifts for some friends at home. Mollie found a tiny spray bottle-fan keychain and decided that she NEEEEEEDED to have it. Brad even gave her a choice of that $9 keychain or her Minnie doll and she chose the keychain! We decided to let her have both, but the keychain was for the girls to share. I was just exhausted and I figured she would be sorry that she didn't leave Disney with a REAL Disney souvenir!

At home, we got some naps in and then just hung out around the house, starting to gather our things and pack. Sheila & Matt's family had decided to stay at the park for the Nemo show and they all ran in later in various states of soaking wet and undress - apparently they got caught in a downpour on the way out to their car! Luckily we weren't staying too far from the park, and their family didn't seem to be too bothered. Al, Deb, Lisa, & Caleb were flying home, so Eric took them to the airport and when he got back, our dwindling group set off in search of a cheap dinner. We used another one of our Restaurant.com gift certificates to eat at the Tiki Bar & Grill, which was inside another resort in Kissimmee. It was a poolside grill and everyone else had been completely scared off by the rain that continued to drizzle off and on. There was one guy working and he enthusiastically took all of our orders and single-handedly prepared dinner for all 11 of us! The food was good, and it was nice to let the girls run around a bit before our big drive in the morning. Once home, we got the girls to bed and finished packing up for the big DRIVE!

Animal Kingdom Instagram Wrap-Up: RoadTrip7

Next up: The long road home!

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