Thoughts on a Disney World Vacation: Day 2: Visiting Animal and Magic Kingdoms

No recaps here. To catch up go to:

  • After a good night's sleep (Benadryl always helps with that), I got up first (as always) and got myself together. Once the boys were up, we headed over to the food court at OPR for breakfast. The boys were able to split a breakfast of pancakes and bacon (along with another cinnamon roll). My son and I shared a juice (thanks to the mug) before rinsing it out and having my husband fill it with coffee. So although the mugs are expensive, we were able to get three drinks that morning in one. The day was off to a good start. Review: If you use it right, the refillable mugs are worth the cost. (And being a small family we were all able to utilize that same mug). Food court breakfast was good and reasonably priced.
  • From OPR, we headed directly to the bus stop. Again, I loved the board which told us what bus was expected when. We and another family were the only ones headed to Animal Kingdom that morning. (They were even crazier than we were the previous day. They had left the west coast around midnight and had just gotten in and were hitting the park before all their energy tapped out.) Of all the parks, Animal Kingdom is our least favorite. (That doesn't mean we don't like it; it's just our least favorite out of the 4 theme parks.) The main reasons why it's on the bottom of the list is that I'm too much of a type A personality to kick back and enjoy and it's the hottest of the parks, which really gets to my husband. I had three FP+s planned for the morning: Dinosaur, Kilimanjaro Safari and Finding Nemo the Musical. After my son's positive experience with Star Tours, I figured Dinosaur would be a breeze. I was wrong. There was no motion sickness issues, but he didn't like it. (The photo shows this). I was hoping to do the Primeval Whirl (a spinning coaster), but neither of my guys were up to it. So instead, we all did the Triceratops Spin (Everyone knows the Dumbo ride in the Magic Kingdom; it's the same thing only with dinosaurs) which we had never done before. (And it's nothing to write home about.) We still had time before our FP+ for the safari, so we headed over to the landmark Tree of Life and went inside to see the 3D show, It's Tough To Be a Bug. Cute show which we had never done with our son. He was only so-so on it, so it's something we might not do again. (Of all the 3 D shows in the parks, this is the most intense and there is always a crying child somewhere in the middle of it.) Onward to the safari which is always a wonderful experience as you never know what animals might be wandering. There used to be a "back story" to the attraction about poaching (which is still slightly touched upon), which has (thankfully) disappeared. All you really need is a driver who can tell you what to be on the look out for and that's enough. Despite it being mid-morning and hot, there were a lot of animals out and about (including the male lion lazing on his air conditioned rock and two females). Plenty of hippos and giraffes as well. It was hot though and my son wanted to go his favorite thing, go to the gift shop, so that is where we headed. I honestly can say we left empty handed because we had our purchases sent back to our resort. Once again my son walked away with new stuffed animal friends (a naked mole rat and an anteater.) The park was getting crowded as we made our way through the Asia section back to Dinoland where our final FP+ of the day was, Finding Nemo the Musical. We passed by Expedition Everest, which I thought the boys might want to do. The boy said no, so my husband passed too. So instead we headed directly to the Theatre in the Wild for the show. We had never seen this and it was the perfect attraction to end of morning at Animal Kingdom. (The fact that it was Father's Day made it all the more special. And yes, I cried) I'm so glad we had a chance to finally see this. The only other thing I had hoped to do in the park was Kali River Rapids, which I have only done once (right after the park opened), but I didn't want to do it alone, so we headed to the bus area and back to the resort. Review: Animal Kingdom is a lush and lovely park; I only wish I could manage to slow down and enjoy it more. It is also the hottest of the parks, so if there is someone in your party who is heat sensitive, be aware. The safari is not to be missed; no matter how many times you do it, no safari is the same. I'm sorry we never got back for any of the new night time activities. With summer crowds and all that we wanted to do, it just didn't happen. But that is part of life.

  • Back at OPR at CBR we had lunch. My son is a big pasta fan, so he had an adult's pasta meal and I had the children's pizza (with a side of grapes and a Go-Go Squeeze applesauce). He took the children's drink and I refilled the mug. Can't remember what my husband had Review: This worked out perfectly for us. You don't have to be a child to partake of the children's menu.
  • We took a mid-day break back in the room. My son refuses to nap (sigh) as he's "too old" but did play games on his phone. After I had charged my electronics (which CONSTANTLY needed to be recharged; I believe it was after this day that I started to carry the portable charger with me and use it in the parks so my phone would not die), I wandered around a bit and took some photos around the beach area (where fences were going up). There was a cast member "on duty" at the beach area who told me they rotated beaches every half an hour or so. Sounds like a long, tedious job, but I guess once all the fences go up around the beach areas at all the resorts there will be no more of that. I also spent some time at the quiet pool, but it started to rain, so I retreated back to the room. I also called Bell services because I wanted a taxi to take us from the CBR to the Polynesian resort on Tuesday morning. (I had debated using Disney transportation, but figured that a taxi would be easier in the long run.) Bell services wasn't much help (I thought they'd make arrangements for me). They did give me a number to call for a car service. They were very helpful and a plan was made to have them pick us up in the Jamaica parking lot at 8:15 on Tuesday morning.

  • Midafternoon we took the bus to the Magic Kingdom. My son's eyes got big when he saw the monorail and then the boats. (All this told me that the plan to move to a monorail resort during our stay was good. I only wish we could have afforded to stay at one the whole time.) We were not heading into the MK until after dinner (I gave the boys a choice on this), but instead hopped on the monorail. We got out at the first stop, The Contemporary Resort, which had been our "home" on our previous visits. Getting off the monorail, there is a distinct smell to the Contemporary and I was so happy to experience it. As we made our way down from the monorail to the concourse (main floor), we could see several characters out on the room floors waving to the guests below. They were obviously preparing for their evening stint at Chef Mickey's restaurant, but it was so cool to see them just out. (Can't imagine what it must have been like to walk out of your room on the 5th or 6th floor and come face to face with Chef Mickey or Goofy!) Another reason why I miss staying at the Contemporary. We wandered around and did some window shopping. Sadly, I could find no Contemporary specific merchandise. (Something that exists at just about every other resort, so I don't understand this.) We eventually got back on the monorail and headed to the Grand Floridian where we were to have dinner at the Grand Floridian Cafe. Review: I SHOULD have stayed at the Contemporary. (Even though I couldn't afford it.) There is something that just draws us in there

  • My son also loves the Grand Floridian. My husband and I have stayed there (1999) and liked it, but didn't LOVE it (like we do the Contemporary). But then my son loves all things "elegant" which is why he also adored the Grand Floridian Cafe. I'm sure he'd love the higher end restaurants (Narcoosees, Citricos and Victoria and Alberts), but the Grand Floridian Cafe fits our budget a little bit better and as he is a VERY picky eater it was the best choice. With an early dinner (5:30), the restaurant was not crowded. Our server was Rob and he was very attentive, immediately bringing out Chef Nick to review my allergies and what he could do. I cannot say enough good things about Nick. Besides providing me with a delicious meal (He modified the Miso Salmon for me), he checked back with me several times to make sure everything was all right, as did Rob. This is the kind of service that has made Disney MY place to relax. (Having Florida Sunshine: Peach Schnapps, Chambord, Skyy Vodka, and splash of Cranberry and Orange Juices) didn't hurt either.)  It was a lovely and delicious meal.  Elegant but family friendly.  Review:  A perfect way to start our evening.  This might still be an undiscovered gem (so perhaps I shouldn't have said anything).  I would return to this restaurant in a heartbeat.
  • After our delightful dinner, we got on the monorail for the Magic Kingdom.  As I had used up our 3 FP+ earlier in the day, I managed to get one more for the evening for Peter Pan's Flight.  (Which seems to always have dreadful lines for such a short, but charming ride). My son wanted to head to Frontierland, but we ended up in Liberty Square and walking on his favorite attraction (and probably mine too), The Haunted Mansion.  (Love that the hitchhiking ghosts now identify you by name or location.  Another reason to love the magic bands.)  It was now time for our FP+ for Peter Pan, so we headed into Fantasyland where we flew with Peter Pan and sang along with the children of It's A Small World.  We then ventured into the new (to us) section of Fantasyland.  The 7 Dwarves Mine Train had a long wait (if I recall correctly every time I looked it was at least 50 minutes or more) so we passed on that for the evening (I had FP+ for it later in the week), but there was no wait for Under the Sea - Journey of the Little Mermaid, so we did that.  Impression:  Cute but not a must do again for us.  Moved into Tomorrowland where we found light crowds and were able to do the Peoplemover (2 x), Stitches' Great Escape, Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin and The Monster Laugh Floor with no real waits for anything.  We even were able to see some of the evening parade from the Peoplemover.  (Parades are not necessarily our thing so we did not even attempt to wait and see any of them.)  We decided to head back to the CBR and were pleasantly surprised that we were allowed to exit the park from behind Main Street (as the streets were packed with people).  We found our bus stop and while we waited for a bus, took in some of the fireworks from the park.  The packed bus pulled away just as the fireworks ended.  Review:  A wonderful evening at the Magic Kingdom.  Crowds were very manageable (a rarity on this trip) and I was thrilled that we were able to do so much with such ease.

  • The evening ended at the CBR.  I was very thirsty, so I went back to OPR to fill the mug. On my way back to the room, I somehow got turned around and couldn't seem to find Jamaica.  I stopped a cast member on a bike but unfortunately she was of no help.  Obviously new, she had a map, but couldn't read it (and I couldn't make anything out in the dark).  Not exactly what I would expect from a Disney Cast member.  She went on her way, I back tracked to OPR and tried again, this time realizing where I had gone wrong and got back to the room with no problem.  

And so ends day two of our trip.  Two days and we've visited three parks already.  Tomorrow it would be time for Epcot.


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