Wednesday, May 18, 2016

May 2016 Disney Trip - Day 3, Animal Kingdom and Mousesteps

Day 3 of our May 2016 Disney trip was Animal Kingdom Day! Although Animal Kingdom has a reputation for being a half-day park, it also includes some of our favorite experiences at Disney World, so we look forward to it just as much as any other day.

For Animal Kingdom Day, I wore a pair of awesome Lion King culottes I found on Ebay (they're sold by several sellers, just search for those keywords and you'll find them) with a black tank top and bolero, animal print ears I bought from an Etsy seller (and then embellished with a bow), and a "Hakuna Matata" shrinky dink necklace I made to match the rest of the outfit. This honestly wound up being one of my favorite things I wore the whole trip!

When we first entered the park, we saw a Photo Pass photographer taking pictures of people in front of the Tree of Life. We've never gotten our picture taken with the tree, so we thought "why not?" Once again, the picture with the characters (Simba, Pumbaa and Timon) cracks me up.

We have been told, and definitely agree, that the best time to go on the Kilimanjaro safari is first thing in the morning, before the animals wilt in the heat of the day. Now, Animal Kingdom is supposed to be extending their hours soon (very soon!) past dark, and if that happens, I'm sure the night safaris will be amazing as well, but as things are now, the best time to Fast Pass your safari journey is first thing in the morning.

We had an excellent safari driver who told us all kinds of factoids I didn't know (a group of hippos is called a bloat...a good way to remember that monkeys have tails and apes don't is to look at the words...monkeY looks like a tail at the end, etc), but we enjoyed the safari in the moment, rather than taking any photos of the animals.

After the safari, we wandered around the trails nearby a little bit, and then meandered over to the Asia area of the park. On our way, we saw that the Flights of Wonder show that we always meant to watch was about to start. The show was really fun, especially for a bird lover like me. At one point, one of the birds flew over our heads so closely, the wings brushed my mouse ears!

The show let out just in time for our second morning Fast Pass, Expedition Everest! Everest is our favorite roller coaster in all the Disney parks, and being native Ohioans, we are picky about our coasters (Cedar Point and Kings Island in one state, anyone?). Last trip, we waited extra time to get the front seat, and again this time we agreed that it is so worth it. At the top of the ride, we waved to Spaceship Earth before plummeting backward. Such fun.

After lunch (I haven't mentioned yet, but we pack our lunches for our Disney trips and only eat out one full meal each day, though we snack when we want to at the parks. We pack granola, toaster pastries, apples, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, etc) we got in line for our third Fast Pass, to see Finding Nemo the Musical. Tom and I both love puppets, (I used to be a puppeteer) and we really love the Finding Nemo show. This time, Tom asked if we could Fast Pass it so that we could get seats in the very front row. Most people might find these seats to be too close to the action, but we wanted to be able to see all the workings of the puppets, all the pulling of the strings and buttons.

And besides, where else but the front row of Finding Nemo the Musical can you have Marlin's puppeteer lean over to tell you he likes your mouse ears?

After the musical, we walked to Dinosaurland, which we'd never been to. We didn't stay long, but we did stop to meet Donald.

I love this picture because it shows how excited I am to meet the characters!

From Donald's meet and greet, we walked over to Minnie and Mickey at Adventurer's Outpost. To the best of my knowledge, this is the only place at the Disney World parks where you can meet Minnie and Mickey together, so we always make sure to do so! We told them that they were an inspiration to our relationship, and they loved that.

Finally, we stopped by to meet the only princess at Animal Kingdom, Pocahontas. I've ranted in the past about how non-muscular Pocahontas is at Disney World, and I'm always curious each trip to see if she's gained some weight and muscle tone. This trip, Pocahontas seemed to be having the best day of any time I'd met her. We talked about how our colors we were wearing were similar, and my necklace I had made.

It was about 3:00pm by this point, and we had done pretty much everything we really wanted to do. We could have gone to see the Lion King show, which is always good, but we also didn't mind missing it either. So we hopped on a bus to Epcot, stopping by Guest Services to leave a good word for the Mary Poppins attendant from yesterday. We also realized we hadn't gotten any pictures with Spaceship Earth the day before, so we remedied that.

Dinner on our third night was a special event. We met up with Jeff and Denise of Mousesteps, who we had met in person during our last trip. We have actively followed their Facebook pages and YouTube channel for three years  now, and they remain our absolute top favorite resource for all things Disney World (which is really saying something, folks, because there are a lot of resources out there). Last October, we met Jeff and Denise in line for Duffy's final meet and greet (insert sad face here) and wound up talking to them for almost two hours afterward. This trip, I suggested we make the hang-out official and go out to dinner.

We met up at the San Angel Inn restaurant in the Mexico pavilion.We've never eaten there before, but I saw a recent video of someone (was it KrispySmore maybe?) eating there, and it looked nice and dark and quiet, good for holding a conversation.


We had a really wonderful meal. When our waitress first came out, she asked us, as the restaurants at Disney always do, if anyone had a food allergy. I mentioned my difficulty with garlic, and she kicked into high gear. Twice she came back with recommendations directly from the chef on how they could accommodate my food allergy. I ended up getting steak on a bed of vegetables instead of rice (which had the garlic pre-mixed into it) and it was deliriously delicious. I think we were all pretty pleased with our meals, (I didn't have a single post-dinner issue, so clearly they respected my dietary needs) impressed with the service, and we all definitely enjoyed the company, as the server came back a few times to "just get a few plates out of the way" or "see if we wanted refills" (she was polite about it, but we just kept wanting to talk and wound up staying a bit past the time we paid our bill)

After dinner, we took a walk through World Showcase with Jeff and Denise, stopping to talk about interesting spots and info. (Baguettes in France for a super cheap tasty treat!) Before we called it a night, we stopped by Club Cool, since Jeff is one of the only other Beverly aficionados I know. I love Tom's face in this picture.

We found out that they were planning to head over to Hollywood Studios the next morning, however, for the first meet and greet of Minnie and Sorcerer Mickey in their new area with new backdrops. We already had a Hollywood Studios day scheduled, so we agreed to meet up again in the morning.

Next, Day 4 of our trip: Hollywood Studios, aka Tom's day of the trip with STAR WARS EVERYTHING!!!

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